Brushpen Review

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/grumbles Stupid Blogger, rotating my pictures when they were in the correct orientation /end grumbles

I've been told, and had always assumed, that the Pentel Pocket Brush is the best and cheapest brushpen available.  Commonly sold in art stores, and easily available online, it is certainly the best cheap brush you're going to find.  However, the ink is extremely thin, and this has caused me problems in the past, so I decided to put the Pentel Pocket Brush, and several other brushpens, to test.

There are three categories:
  • Cartridge Style
  • Disposable
  • Self Filled

I'm going to break my purnty layout with this post so you guys can actually SEE the scans.

I tested these pens on the two types of Strathmore 300 series Bristol that I use the most- plate finish and vellum finish.

Akashiya Natural Bamboo Brush Pen - Clover Carving 

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen + 2 Refill Cartridges
Pilot Petit3 Mini Brush Pen - Clear Pink Body 

The Scans

Vellum Bristol

Kuretake No. 13 Fountain Hair Brush Pen - Black Body


 Tombow Dual Brush Pen

Kuretake Bimoji Felt Tip Brush Pen with Special Grip - Broad 

The Scan



Piston Filler Waterbrush/water Brush Pen with Metal Cap - Set of 2
 With these pens, there's a little screw back that extends the piston.  To take in ink, first you have to screw the piston all the way to the top to expel all the ink, then you stick it in the ink and screw the piston all the way back to suck in the ink.
Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush, Large Brush, Fine Point Tip, 1 Pack

Notes:  I filled both these pens with FW Acrylic Ink because that is what I have inked with in the past.  I will do an ink test later.  I suspect FW may be too thick for this application and may clog the pen.

The Scan


Akashiya Natural Bamboo Brush Pen

Bristles look to either be hair or golden takulon
Brush tip seems nice
Cartridge has a metal ball in it
Pops into place easily
Ink comes to tip quickly
Very attractive
A bit too big for my pencil/pen case
Tip doesnt regain point immediately

Pentel Pocket Brush:
Ink isn't very opaque
Old standard, I'm used to it
Cheapest of the 'nice' brushpens
Individual bristles make for a nice brush feel
Easy to come by/replace/buy carts for
Cartridges do not have metal ball, slightly harder to pop into place

Pilot Petit 3

Not a brushpen as comic artists think of brush pens, but a fude pen or a sign pen
A surprising amount of give to the tip, might be fun for faces instead of using tech pens, decent line variation
Mostly a gimmick, it is small and cute, I mean, c'mon, have you seen those carts?  The packaging makes them look like adorable little pills or something.  This is definitely a toy compared to the other pens
The screw cap doesnt have as many threads to it as other brands, so it feels a little cheap

Much nicer than the Pentel Pocket Brush, but not quite as nice looking as the Akashiya.
Nice solid body feel
Cartridge has little metal ball in it
Pops into place fairly easily
The tip holds up well/reforms quickly

This thing is a piece of crap.  I don't understand why comic artists use it.
We were assigned these in undergrad, my knockoff one has a much nicer tip than this thing, the tip is rigid.
Single felt tip
These things wear out easily, especially on vellum

Kuretake Fude Pen
Another pen that is not a brush pen in the comic artist's sense.
Has a nice rubber grip that would make it easier to ink for a long period of time
You can't put the cap on the back because it has that cutesy little string loop
This thing has zero flexibility in the nib

Piston Pen
These things are really poorly made
Poorly glued at the front
Looks like it'd leak in your pencil pouch
Plunger mechanism has grease in it
Terrible ink flow
Great idea, poor execution

I couldn't even get the ink to flow down, its been a day and a half.  Maybe it's the brand I'm using?


Pricewise, the Pentel Pocket Brush is the winner, but the Kuretake Brushpen is every so slightly nicer.  I'm not sure if I"ll switch yet, since it's harder to find and get refills for, and much more likely to get stolen.



  1. I don't usually think about the paper much. Interesting to see how much difference that makes.

    For me, Pentel Pocket brush is the top pen. The tip springiness suits me better than the Kuretake #13 (and I haven't tried the others here). I fill it with Noodler's Ink though, which might make a difference (it's somewhat more waterproof, at least).

  2. Great comparative review. Nicely done.

  3. I use the same aqua brush as the last one, except I fill it with Windsor Newton black india ink and it works phenomenally.

  4. Terrific review and I may try the Kuretake sometime in the future, but I'm rather happy with the Pentel.

  5. I must have gotten a bad Pentel pocket brush pen or something, because judging by how poorly mine works, I can't understand why anybody would use the things. (I've switched out the ink a few times, thinking it might be that.) Maybe it's just a matter of personal preference, or maybe it's just that I was exceedingly annoyed by the tip that kept splitting, the ink quality and the intermittent ink flow.
    I think perhaps I'll try a different one, perhaps one of the ones you mentioned here, or try experimenting more with an actual brush.


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