Sunday, November 15, 2015

Brush Pen Review: Sakura Pigma Professional Brush MB

A couple months ago, Jetpens sent me a care package of brush pens to review, and for the most part, I reviewed them post-haste.  Although I tested this Pigma Sensei Medium Black almost as soon as I unpackaged it, somehow between conventions and freelance, I didn't realize I neglected this pen.  I'm going to amend that today


Sakura makes a few different types of technical and inking pens

Micron- sizes 01(.25) -08 (.5), comes in a variety of colors that feature Pigma archival ink, although only 05 (.45) is available in all of their Pigma colors.
Graphic- Bullet nib (1mm)  and two calligraphy tips (2mm and 3mm)  Available in three colors- red, blue, black (I find these useful for drawing panel borders)
Pigma Brush- Available in several colors.  Fine tip brushpen.
Pigma Sensei- Uses Pigma ink, aimed at beginner artists.  Looks like the nibs are harder to crush if you have a heavy hand, but while there's a lot of hype available on the Sakura site, there isn't much hard information.
Pigma Professional Brush- Available in three sizes- FB (looks like a fude pen) MB (looks like a Super Brush) and BB (REALLY looks like a Super Brush)

I think most comic artists are familiar with Sakura Microns to varying degrees. I used Sakura Microns in undergrad for comics and inking pieces I intended to marker, as they're Copic-proof once fully cured.  These technical pens are widely available at most art, hobby, and craft stores.  Sakura Graphic are also fairly widely available, I think I purchased mine at Michaels, and I have used the 1 mm bullet nib for inking lettering and panel borders, and the 2mm and 3mm calligraphy nibs for inking panel borders.  Pigma Brush is a little harder to find, but most art supply stores should have them in stock.  I own one, and I've used it for inking, but I prefer fude pens.  Since it uses the Pigma ink, it should be water and Copic proof once fully dried.

The Pigma Sensei is the newest addition to Sakura's inking pen family, and is aimed at aspiring mangaka and comic artists, whereas the Microns are aimed at professionals.  Before Jetpens sent me this Pigma Sensei MB, I'd never used Pigma Sensei products before.  Recently, Aryana Guerrero sent me a sent of the Pigma Sensei pens to review, so that Pigma Sensei follow up should be coming soon.  Thank you again, Aryana!

That leaves us with today's review, the Pigma Professional Brush.  I've seen these at larger art stores, like DickBlick and Jerry's ArtaRama, but usually in sets rather than openstock.  Jetpens carries the FBMB, and BB and sets that have two FB, two MB, or two BB, but I don't see any sets that have one of each pen on Jetpens.  FB, MB, and BB all cost $3.90 individually.

The Pen

The body is matte black plastic with white printing on the barrel that reads Pigma MB, Sakura Japan, and has a barcode.  The cap does not have a clip, but it does have a nub to prevent it from rolling when you set it down on your desk.

The nib is solid, no individual bristles like the Pentel Pocket Brush or the Sailor Fude Nagomi, but I prefer solid brush nibs anyway.  If you like drybrush effects, avoid solid nib brush pens and go for individual bristled brush pens, but if you need to easily do solid fills, go for a solid nib.

 The cap is embossed with a gold MB on the top- Medium Brush- and posts to the back of the pen while you're drawing.

Since I'm reviewing an inking brush pen, I decided to pull out some of my other inking brush pens.

From Left to Right:  Pigma Professional, Copic Multiliner's Big Brush, Sakura Pigma Brush, Pitt Pen Brush

From Left to Right:  Pigma Professional Brush, Copic Multiliner Brush Medium, Sakura Pigma Brush, Pitt Pen Brush
 Of this batch, the Pigma Professional is just slightly smaller than the Copic Brush Medium, and far larger than Sakura's Pigma Brush.  Unlike these inking brush pens, there's no clip on the Pigma Professional, and the body is comparatively minimal in design.  None of these brushpens have the metal sheath that many good technical pens have around the nib- that sheath is meant to help keep felt nibs firm, which would be detrimental in a brushpen's performance.  The Copic Brush Medium's brush is much more like a Copic Super Brush Nib, and its one of my preferred larger brush nibs.  The Copic Brush Medium has a lot of give to it, much more than the Pigma Professional MB.  The Pigma Professional Brush BB is probably more similar to the Copic Medium Brush than the Pigma Professional MB brush.

I also pulled out my calligraphy-intended inking pens, the Kuretake No. 33 and my Pilot Small Soft Tip Fine (both are from Jetpens, but the Pilot Small Soft Tip Fine was part of the care of Jetpens lucky dip bag) to compare.  The Kuretake No. 33 is $3.30 and the Pilot Small Soft Tip Fine is $5.00.

Unlike the Pilot Small Soft Tip Fine or the Kuretake No. 33, the Pigma Professional MB does not squeak when you ink with it.  The ink is richer than the Pilot Small Soft Tip Fine, but not as velvety as the Kuretake No. 33.  The body is only slightly less smaller than the Kuretake No. 33, but much larger than the maybe-too-thin Pilot Small Soft Tip Fine, and feels good in the hand.

From Top: Kuretake No. 33, Pigma Professional Brush MB, Pilot Brush Pen-Soft Small- Fine

From Top:  Kuretake No. 33, Pigma Professional Brush MB, Pilot Brush Pen-Soft Small-Fine

The Pigma Professional looks a lot more like these brushes, which are meant for calligraphy (but I use them for inking) than it does the inking brushes.  The cap does post, but there's no clip, and like the Pilot Small Soft Tip Fine and the Kuretake No. 3, there's a nub on the cap to help keep the pen from rolling when the cap is on or posted.

None of the aforementioned pens are refillable, and none feature replaceable nibs, although I have heard you can remove the Pitt Pen brush nib and flip it.

From left to right:  Copic Multiliner Brush Medium, Pigma Professional Brush MBB, Kuretake No. 33, Sailor Brush Pen Soft Small Fine

The Field Test

The Verdict

While this isn't a bad brush pen, if you're looking for a larger brush pen, I prefer the Pilot Pocket Brush pen ($5.00) or the Pilot Small Soft Tip Fine ($5.00), although both do cost more than the Pigma Sensei MB ($3.90).  The ink in the Pilot pens is just so velvety and rich, and the brushes are so responsive, but this is personal preference.  I found the Pigma Professional Brush to be a little stiff, like the Copic Multiliner Bold Brush, and not as responsive as I'd hoped (I was hoping for Copic Super Brush levels of sensitivity, but that may be my endless grail.)

I definitely think the Pigma Sensei MB is a step up from Sakura's Micron brush, and it's fairly close to a Copic Super Brush.  If you guys are interested, I can do a Copic and water fastness test on the Sakura Pigma MB- drop me an email (or a tweet, or send me an Ask on Tumblr) and let me know you're interested!  If enough of you write in, I'll do Copic and Waterfastness tests for Copic Multiliners, Sakura Microns, Pitt Pens, Pentel Pocket brush with the standard cartridge, and Kuretake Fudegokochi.   However, I didn't deem that necessary for this review, because in the past, Pigma inks have been both Copic and waterfast if you give them at least 24 hours to dry, and I can't see that being a trait Sakura is eager to be rid of.

If you found this review useful, please consider emailing Jetpens and letting them know what you thought!  I THINK they're aware of these reviews (I've pointed a lotta traffic in their direction over the years), but it would probably mean a lot more if my readers chimed in with support too!  Maybe with your endorsement, I could unlock another lucky dip care package, or even store credits like RobotNinjaMonsters or KWernerDesign have received.  I've got a wishlist full of goodies I'd love to review here, and the recognition would warm the cockles of my dark, shriveled little artist's heart.  Jetpens has gotten so much of my money and support over the years, and this little one woman business  could certainly use some support in return, so please do consider dropping them a line in my favor.