Friday, February 08, 2013

Brush pens - the review... :)

Those who know me also know I have a love / hate relationship with brush pens.  I was first introduced to these bundles of joy a few years ago by fellow CCGB forum members, who raved about them.  At the time I was using dip pens, because I like having a variable line in my cartoons, but dip pens have their problems, especially when it comes to portability, and as I work in serveral locations, that was important to me - so I took the plunge, and started using brush pens.

I am however heavy handed, and working with a brush doesn't come easily to me, so it was always going to be an uphill struggle.  Over the past few years, I've evaluated loads of brush pens - some with felt nibs, some with brush nibs, some with plastic nibs (!), and it really has been a trial by fire at times, not made easier by the fact that the best brush pens come from Japan / China, and are therefore hard to find.  Thankfully, those lovely people at CultPens have started stocking more and more brush pens, even some very hard to get ones, so I can now do my very own brush pen review.  All of the pens below I own, and I intend to use them with alcohol based markers (like COPICs), so the ink has to be smudge proof - but remember, "smudge proof" depends quite a bit on the paper...

Pentel Brush Pen


In the UK, the Pentel brush pen is the first brush pen you're ever likely to use, simply because it's the most available.  The Pentel's tip is of the nylon hair variety, and is quite long and pointed - in fact, it holds it's point very well, and you can get some lovely fine lines and very good line variation, so it almost feels like a really good brush.  And it's refillable using cartidges - perfect...
Well, almost.  The problem with the Pentel is that it it requires a very light touch - if like me, you have hands that tend to mash brush heads into the paper, the Pentel can be a frustrating experience.  My biggest problem with it however, is it's wetness.  I may have a faulty pen, but I find that I can use it for a minute or two, and then I'll get a huge globule of ink forming, which fattens the tip - the only way back from this is to wipe the tip - very annoying...

Zig Art & Graphic Twin Pen TUT-80


Zig/Kuretake have a winner with the Zig Art & Graphic Twin.  This wee beastie was introduced to me by Steve Bright, who used them for years, and who suggested that I might find these better for my ham-fisted style - how right he was!  The "Twin" has two nibs, one at each end.  The smaller of the two is a bog-standard medium felt tip, the other end has a large rubber "brush" nib, with a sharp point.  It looks like it might be unusable, but it just isn't - it's fabulous!  Not only can it give you thick and thin lines, but it stands up to abuse very well, and unlike the Faber Pitt brush tip, it doesn't fray.  It's a real all rounder - and it's cheap!  It's only downside?  Make sure you use the right paper, as the ink can bleed a bit...

Platinum Fude Brush Pen CF-2000


This is one of the most expensive brush pens on the market - nearly £20!  However, if you like quality, you won't be sorry.  The Platinum CF-2000 is Platinum's attempt to take on the mighty Kuretake weasel hair brush pen (reckoned by those in the know, to be almost as good as a really good Windsor Newton Series 7 brush).  The Platinum uses carbon ink cartridges, which means that the ink is as waterproof as it gets.  It has a nylon hair nib, much like the Pentel, but much smaller, and easier to control.  The smaller nib means that the line is not as variable as the Pentel, but if you prefer the control aspect, it's a better bet.  It does leak in the hand a bit though...

Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pen RB-6000A


This is another nice little thing from Zig / KuretakeLike the Pentel, it uses a nylon brush tip, but like the "Twin", it's not refillable :( .  Never mind however, because it feels and draws like the Pentel, but it doesn't flood, and again, it's a cheap old hector.  Worth a look...

Pilot Petit 3 Fude Brush Pen


Take one look at this pen and you'll think it's a toy, but Pilot make some lovely brush pens, that have only recently become available in the UK.  The Pilot Petit 3 Fude Brush Pen is a new addition to the Petit range of pens, which all follow the same basic pattern - small, colorful and refillable (the other pens are a fountain pen and sign(felt tip) pen).  Although the Petit line is a little dry, it is just so controllable - even for lunks like me!  Almost as good as the Zig Twin in my view (and it's easier to carry)...


Pilot Fude Brush Pen SV-30


This is a much more serious looking pen that the Petit - much chunkier and business like.  Unlike the Petit, this pen is not refillable, but it makes up for that in wetness - unlike many felt nibbed pens, it doesn't produce a dry line on fast strokes - it also has a very "black" ink.  The nib comes in two versions - soft and hard.  I tried the hard nib which, compared with the Petit and Zig Twin, seems quite soft - in fact, you have to be a little bit careful not to apply too much pressure - it does produce some lovely lines however, and with time, I think this'll be one of my favourites.

Zig Mangaka Flexible Tip Pen



I expected so much from this pen.  This is from the new "cartoonist" range from Zig / Kuretake, comes in fine / medium tips, and is supposed to be alcohol marker proof.  The trouble is, it isn't really anything special.  The tips are both fine, but tend to bend a bit in use, so you have to rotate the tip every so often to keep it sharp, but the real let down is the ink.  It's black enough, but the pen is so dry that even small lines are affected, and marker proof?  Don't think so.  Maybe I'll try refilling these and see if I can get a good pen out of it...

Zebra WSSF4 Super Fine Brush Pen


I can't reccommend these enough! I got a bunch of these when I could, because these are one of the best all round brush pens for the truly ham-fisted.  The silver-speckled blue body has a hard fiber / plastc tip (sorry, it's hard to tell), that gives a lovely variable line, similar to the Twin, but requires more pressure to do it.  The ink works well with alcohol markers, and there are reports that you can refill these pens by taking the end cap off and putting a few drops of your favourite ink!  The only downside, is that these pens can have a bit of a "dry" line.  They are also one of the hardest to find if you live in the UK, which is why I haven't supplied a UK link.  I eventually bought mine from China using Ebay...

That's it!  Hopefully, I've wet your appetite for these little cuties, so look out for them and give 'em a try!

1 comment:

Mikey B said...

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