How I Use Brush Pens

Annie Pancake // How I Use Brush Pens

So, the other day I posted about the stationary I bought in Japan, in which I included a lot of brush pens. I mentioned in the post that I was going to do a separate post that was a bit more detailed, so here it is! Don't worry if you can't get to Japan to pick up a set, there are plenty you can get over here! I'll link a few later on in the post. Anyway, I wanted to share how and what I use them for, so here you are!

Types of Brush Pen

So, it's probably best to start with the main types you can get:

1. the actual hair brush 'nibs' like a generic paintbrush like this Pentel Brush Pen

2. Soft, 'felt tip' 'nibs' that are shaped like paintbrushes  like these Tombow brush pens

3. Soft plastic nibs like these Kuretake lettering pens or these Brush Sign Pens

On the left of the image above are the first kind, the middle is distinctly the second kind and the far right is a Brush Sign Pen. I generally use these for different things, and they are better for certain things, so next, I'm going to offer a bit more insight on each of the kinds.


1. Brush Nib Brush Pens

I like to use these kind best for hand lettering. Currently my favourite is this beautiful Copic brush pen that is the sparkly one below. Sadly I can't find a link for this guy, but I have read good things about the Pentel one I linked above. The reason I like it is because of the length of the brush. As you can see, it is the smallest and most compact of the brushes. It gives me a lot of control over my hand lettering, especially as a left-hander when you have to work right-to-left in order to avoid smudging! However, the longer brush tips do help if you want a fatter line.

Annie Pancake // How I Use Brush Pens

Here I'm using the left pen, a Kuretake Bimoji Brush Pen and as you can see, it creates a really nice thick line when used sideways like that. As a left hander, I tend to fill in the downward strokes right-to-left first, and then fill in the 'up' strokes afterwards. (working left-to-right as a left hander tends to buckle and scrub the brush, ending in a very flicky and smudgy effect). Below the wet ink lets you see how I did this!

Annie Pancake // How I Use Brush Pens

One detriment/perk, depending on how you view it, that you seem to get with  longer brushes, is that 'dry brush' effect at the end. You can usually remedy this by working more slowly, but I personally like the added texture and it has a bit more of an authentic 'brush' feel to it.

Annie Pancake // How I Use Brush Pens

2. Felt Tip 'Nibbed' Pens

I used to struggle with these pens. I had one that I couldn't get on with, but when I picked up one in Japan, I gave it another go and did a bit of doodling. I prefer this kind for drawing than lettering. It gives a really dark, inky line that is crisper and smoother than the brush nibbed pens. It reminds me of the kind of line in black and white ink drawings. It is a smoother, pointier line. I find it hard to use for lettering because, as you can see, the nib bends in a kind of 'unnatural' way, which creates a kind of skid when you attempt to flick up and down whilst lettering.

Annie Pancake // How I Use Brush Pens

Annie Pancake // How I Use Brush Pens

3.Flexible Plastic Nibbed Pens

These pens are much skinnier than the rest of them, so I have found them pretty useful for lettering, especially because they are the best for emulating the pressure of calligraphy pens. They are definitely not exactly the same, but they are good for practicing. I love how this one gives a grey line too, which I am intrigued to play with more. Again, like the felt tip, it kind of bends in a way that the brrush tipped pens don't, but the small length gives you a lot more control that the other types.

Annie Pancake // How I Use Brush Pens Annie Pancake // How I Use Brush Pens

So there we are! I hope you found this information helpful. I'd like to add that I'm not a 'professional' and haven't yet learned all the subtle nuances of the millions of brush pens out there, I'm just sharing what I have learned so far. Please share what you thought of this post in the comments, tell us if you have more tips, and let me know if you are inspired to try them out for yourself.