“Which Pen Is This?” (Brush Pen Edition)

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Okay, here’s whats up. Every time I post ANYTHING on Instagram, I get a ton of comments asking what supplies I am using. I compleeeeetely understand the desire to know what the best tools are for  your lettering and calligraphy- and when you’re starting out, you want to buy the good stuff. But that said, it’s a bit discouraging as an artist having so many of those comments. Having people wondering what pen made that writing look so nice… but knowing that it isn’t the pen that matters- it’s the amount of time you practice with that pen! Okay, rant: over. Seriously, I don’t mean to sound bitter. I just can’t get to all of your comments, but I do want to help you choose tools that are right for you!

So without further ado, I bring to you the “Which Pen Is This?” series. This series will be a comprehensive list of supplies that you will see all over my feed, and others. The best part? Click directly on the photos I’ve attached here for a direct link to buy from my Amazon store.  If you’re like me, ordering from Canada, make sure you check Amazon.ca too. These links are for Amazon.com, simply because they have more products available and they arrive faster. If you don’t mind wait times, or ordering from strange suppliers, definitely save your money and use .ca! (Note: you should also check www.jetpens.com or  www.paperinkarts.com-  but beware of the shipping & exchange!)

Stay tuned for further editions of this series- for modern calligraphy supplies, general crafty stuff, and more. 


Image from Amazon.  (CLICK TO ORDER)

1. Tombow Dual Brush Pens
Tombow dual brush pens are definitely the most talked about brushes on Instagram. They have one end with a brush (flexible) tip for creating thicks and thins, and one end with a normal felt tip smaller point. They are commonly seen for “blending” colours together (which is super cool) and they can make some really cool watercolour effects, too! 
You won’t see many on my feed, simply because I don’t typically write things big enough to use a pen like this. I do own them, and I do use them, but more for when I am teaching and I need to write big on a flipchart.

Image from Amazon.  (CLICK TO ORDER)

2. Tombow Fudenosuke Hard & Soft Tip Brush Pens
These are my #1 recommendation for beginners and pros alike. Order them in bulk! The hard tip pen has a fairly stiff brush on the end, allowing you to use a decent amount of pressure if you’re heavy handed (like me) and still not wreck it. The soft tip has a very similar tip, but slightly more flexible. It will require a bit more practice. They both create great thicks and thins, and last a pretty long time (just make sure you use them on good quality paper!). They are great for achieving the look of pen and ink when you can’t use pen and ink (on finicky envelopes, for example).


Image from Amazon.  (CLICK TO ORDER)

3. Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pens
FIrst of all, BE CAREFUL buying these ones! DO NOT CONFUSE THEM for the Pentel Felt Tip Sign Pens. They look the EXACT same, but they will not have a brush tip! (I may or may not be saying this from experience!)
These pens are wonderful- they are very very similar to the Tombow Fudenosuke Soft. Their tip is very similar, in that it requires a bit of practice, but it is still a great beginner pen. The upside to these is that they come in various colours, which the Tombow’s do not!

Image from Amazon.  (CLICK TO ORDER)

4. Pentel Aquash Brush Pens
This is that cool pen you’ll see everyone doing awesome watercolour (or ink) blending techniques with. You can do two things with it- fill the barrel with water and dip the tip in your colour, or fill the barrel with ink/liquid watercolour directly. They are versatile that way!
I want to say that switching to this type of pen is flawless if you’re used to a brush tip, but it’s not. At least it wasn’t for me. It does require some practice and manoeuvring at different angles! But still very fun. It comes in different sizes, too (and they’re sold separately, but I linked to the three pack).

Image from Amazon.  (CLICK TO ORDER)

5. Pentel Pocket Brush Pens
The pocket brush is a bit less popular on Instagram for whatever reason, but has a similar tip to the aquash brush pens. It is pretty darn flexible, like a real brush. The black that it produces is also very dark and “juicy” (which is weird to say, but if you’re obsessed with brush pens, you’ll get it). 
This pen comes with refillable cartridges, which is awesome, because it’s reusable. They can sometimes be a little finicky to get the ink flowing properly. And they definitely require some finesse and practice to master for consistent strokes.

Image from Amazon.  (CLICK TO ORDER)

6. Pentel Color Brush Pens (“Art Brush”)
This pen is very similar to the pocket brush pen, but comes preloaded in a certain colour (and is bigger). Again, the plus is that you can buy a full barrel of colour to replace it when it runs out rather than buying a whole new pen. And again, they require some finesse and practice.


Image from Amazon.  (CLICK TO ORDER)

7. Sakura Koi Water Brush Pens
These water brush pens are very similar to the information I listed for the Pentel Aquash pens above. Koi also makes a shorter, more “portable” version, but I find it a bit awkward to hold. Same as the Pentel Aquash, though, in that you can either fill it with water, or with ink/liquid watercolour. I don’t notice a big difference between the two!

Image from Amazon.  (CLICK TO ORDER)

8. Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens
These are very similar to the Tombow dual brush pen, except that it isn’t dual tipped! The brush end is similar. It has a nice “juicy” (there’s that word again) colour. It is also blendable, meaning you can create those cool mixed colours or ombré effects you see all over the place these days.


Image from Amazon.  (CLICK TO ORDER)

9. Kuretake Zig Clean Color Brush Pens
These brush pens have a medium size tip- slightly smaller than the Tombow and the Koi listed above. I definitely find them more accurate-these brush pens have actual hair tips and they make a nice fine line. Again, it requires some practice since it is fairly flexible, but these are definitely great pens.


Image from Amazon.  (CLICK TO ORDER)

10. Lyra Aqua Brush Duo Pens
These Lyra pens are very similar to Tombow dual brush pens. They also are dual tipped, one end has a brush and one end has a felt tip. The difference, to me, is in the ‘juicyness” of the colour, as well as the flex of the brush. I find the Lyra slightly more stiff than the Tombow, meaning it works well for people with a heavy hand like me. They are also blendable, and have watercolour capabilities!


Photo from pens-galore.com (CLICK TO ORDER)

11. Faber-Castell PITT Brush Pens
The PITT brush pens are  a bit different than anything we’ve listed above so far. People either love them, or hate them. I love them because of the rich colours, the size of the tip, and the fact that they’re readily available in Canadian stores. However, I hate them because of the way the tip frays. I have a heavy hand (in case you didn’t hear me say that the first 3 times above) and I find that after the first 1-2 words I write with these pens, they lose their stiffness and they don’t bounce back. They also fray reeeeally quickly if you use them on the wrong types of paper. (Interestingly, I find the black ones fray more than the coloured ones. Maybe that’s just me).


Image from Amazon.  (CLICK TO ORDER)

15. Sharpie Brush Tip Markers
Who doesn’t love Sharpies? When I found out they made brush pens, I was SO excited. I think I own every single colour of Sharpie that exists, so this was another way for me to expand my collection.
I really like the tip on these brushes, it doesn’t fray much and it does “bounce back” after you press on it. The colours are as vibrant as you expect, and they definitely do bleed through paper like any old Sharpie would. And yes, they are definitely permanent. The biggest downfall to these is that they die (dry up) fairly quickly, so sometimes you’ll be half way through a word and it’ll just start to fade a bit. (Again, like any old Sharpie).

Got any input you’d like to add on my reviews above? Think there are some more types of brush pen I should add in here? Let me know below!

And stay tuned for my next “Which Pen Is This” post!

If you’re new to brush lettering and are looking to learn, join my FREE basic strokes course: Show Me Your Drills!


  1. If you have ever tried the Staedtler fine liners, you might interested to know that they have a dual-tipped brush pen as well! They’re technically called the: Staedtler Marsgraphic Duo Brush Markers, 3000WP10. One side is a thicker hard felt tip, the other side is a flexible brush tip that I would guess (having never used them) would be closest to the Tombow Dual Brush Pens (in that they’re best suited to larger work). But, they come in some of the same vivid colours as the fine liners (less variety) and I find them to be very high quality and fun to work with! Staedtler also has the benefit of being widely available for purchasing in stores around the world, so it might be helpful to include them here!

    1. Hi Nicole!
      Thanks for the tip! I had never heard of them… but I will definitely be looking into it (not that I need to add to my collection!).

      Becca 🙂

    2. Yeah, Nicole, you are absolutely correct. I also use the Staedtler brush pens for brush lettering and they are absolutely amazing. I thought that they are underrated but reading your comment proves that they are great.

  2. It would be awesome if you had sample photos showcasing what these pens offer and they cans you can acheive with them. That way we can purchase the tools based on the art we are wanting to create.

    1. Hi Stephanie! Thanks for the comment!
      I initially created this post so I could point people to what pen I was using when I got questions on specific art I was posting on Instagram. People were seeing me create something and wondering what pen I used for it! So, you’re right- people want to know what they can create with each pen!

      I will definitely keep this in mind for a future blog post 🙂


  3. Hi Becca,

    What do you use/recommend using for a white marker on paper? I have tried the oil-based Sharpie (Micheal’s) on both wood and paper application but don’t find it to be saturated enough. I often have to go over the same lines over and over and slowly the marker picks up residue from the paper and builds up.

    Any recommendations would be great!

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hey Adriana! Thanks for reading!
      Two things I’d recommend- neither of which are shown here cause they’re not actually brush pens!
      1- White Sakura Gellyroll (its a gel pen, but goes on super nice and opaque on black paper!!)
      2- Dr. Ph Martin’s Bleedproof White (it’s a paint- but I use a Pentel Aquash, featured above, filled with water… and dip it into the paint!)

      I also use a lot of white pastel pencils, or white coloured pencils if I want to add highlights on lettering. Something to consider!

      Hope that helps! You’re totally right about the Sharpie (and other) paint pens- not the best option!


  4. Thank you so much for this! This just answered all my questions about which pen is which and which one(s) I might want to start out with. I signed up and got the "Show Me Your Drills Basic Challenge" when it first was going, but I had just had hand surgery and was unable to write or draw for several weeks. I’m just now getting to where I can write a little. I’m excited to try the challenge and do the exercises.

    1. As long as you’re working with quality paper (marker paper, tracing paper, Rhodia, etc.), they shouldn’t bleed!

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