Best Brush Pens

Why buy a brush pen

Brush pens are essentially paintbrushes that come pre-filled with ink. They are primarily used for calligraphy but work well for a variety of artistic illustrations. With calligraphy being such a popular and fun hobby, there are tons of brush pens on the market. Everything from the material of the tip to the pace of the ink flow is something to consider when finding the right brush pen for you.

That being said, we’re here to help you narrow down your search for the perfect brush pen, so you can get it quickly and with no hesitation in knowing if it’s right for you. Before purchasing your first or subsequent brush pen, it’s important to ask a few questions.

Questions to ask yourself

What characteristics am I looking for in a brush tip pen?

Material of the tip:

The three most common brush tip materials are natural hairs, synthetic tips and felt tips. Natural hair brush pens are probably the hardest to write with. They most mimic the writing that can be accomplished with an actual brush. The tips are flexible and require a greater degree of stability to create consistent lines. Synthetic tipped brush pens are made from nylon, and also mimic brushes. However, synthetic tips are a bit easier to handle than natural hair tipped pens. And finally, felt tips are made from plastic and considered the easiest ones in producing consistent, steady lines.

Flexibility of the tip:

Going along with the material of the tip is the flexibility of the brush tip. As mentioned above, natural and synthetic tipped pens will have softer tips, making them a bit more challenging to write with. Because of the tip flexibility, greater control is needed to create unique line variation with minimal errors. Felt tips are firmer and don’t require as much hand stability, but will be a bit more challenging when it comes to producing a greater array of line variation.

Size of the tip:

The size of the brush pen tip will determine the width of the lines that can be produced. Usually, sizes will include “fine”, thinner lines, or “broad”, which have thicker lines.

Ink Flow:

Measured by wet, medium or dry is the ink flow of the tip. This is how much ink runs to the tip of the pen when pressure is applied. Wet brush pens will produce darker ink lines whether you are pressing hard or soft. However, depending on how fast or slow you are writing the ink may puddle or smear. Dry brush pens will produce lighter lines and may even leave streaks of uneven ink if you don’t apply enough pressure. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re looking for an added artistic effect to your calligraphy. Medium flow brush pens provide a middle ground between the two.

Do I consider myself to be a beginner or intermediate calligrapher?

Identifying your calligraphic level will help you determine the right brush for you. Obviously, if you’re just starting out, you’ll want to stick to brush pens for beginners. However, don’t feel too restrained by the type of brushes and feel free to experiment with all different kinds.

Characteristics to look for in a brush pen for beginners:

When getting into calligraphy, a smaller or shorter tipped pen will be much easier to write with. As a beginner, one of the biggest aspects to practice is controlling the amount of pressure you use on your paper. This technique is one of the main focuses in calligraphy because it allows for the unique line variation. Some beginner calligraphers find it easier to practice pressure with a softer tip, while others prefer a less flexible tip. This is because the flexibility helps you master the difference in upstrokes and downstrokes. Your best bet is purchasing both a hard tip and soft tip pen to find out what works best for you when just starting out.

Characteristics to look for in a brush pen for intermediate to advanced calligraphers:

If you’ve been doing calligraphy for a bit or would like to practice at the next level, look for pens that have longer tips. These are more challenging to write with, yet allow for greater line variation. Though not true for all aspiring calligraphers, soft tipped pens are a bit more challenging to write with because of the greater flexibility. You may find the opposite to be true for you, so experiment with soft and hard tips to find what will take your calligraphy to the next level. Pens that are super flexible, may also fray easily. Knowing the correct technique to avoid fraying is needed for calligraphers using these types of pens. Make sure you know how to care for your pens before purchasing one that requires careful attention to maintain.

Best brush pens for calligraphy

Here’s a list of the most commonly purchased brush pens. I’ve identified the brushes as beginner or intermediate level brushes. Don’t let the label of difficulty deter you in any way! You may find you prefer the “harder” brushes even just starting out!


Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tombow Fudenosuke pens are by far the most popular brush pens. The smaller brush tip promotes an easier writing experience and allows you to write smaller than you would with some other large tipped pens. Purchasing a hard and soft tip will allow you to figure out what feels best for you.


Difficulty Level: Beginner/Intermediate

Tombow Dual Tips are also great pens for beginners. They are a tiny bit more challenging to use than the Fudenosuke pens because they have larger tips, but do come in a variety of colors.

Tombow 56185 Dual Brush Pen Art Markers, Bright, 10-Pack. Blendable, Brush and Fine Tip Markers
  • Water-based pens ideal for coloring, fine art, illustrations, doodling, journaling, hand lettering and more.


Difficulty Level: Beginner

Pentel Fude touch pens are also great pens for beginning calligraphy. They are easy to manage pens and also come in a bunch of different colors!

Pentel Arts Sign Pen Touch, Fude Brush Tip, 12 Assorted Colors in Marker Stand (SES15CPC12)
  • The richly saturated colors are fully blendable with water and other Sign Pen Brush colors


Difficulty Level: Beginner/Intermediate

Zig Clean Brush pens are bit more paint-brush like and have more tip flexibility. They also come in a bunch of different colors to play around with! You won’t be disappointed with these pens.


Difficulty Level: Beginner

Pentel Aquash pens are just like paintbrushes! You fill the pen with water, dip the tip into watercolor and paint away! These are fun if you’re interested in blending colors and creating your own palette.

Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush Assorted Tips, Pack of 3 (FRHBFMBP3)
  • Create a watercolor masterpiece with the Aquash Water Brush


Difficulty Level: Beginner

If you’re an avid Sharpie user, you’re in luck! Sharpie has its own array of brush pens. They work great, but do tend to bleed through paper, so make sure you have something underneath!


Difficulty Level: Intermediate

The Pentel Color Brush is unique in that you have to squeeze the ink from the barrel of the pen down into the pen bristles. It’s a more technical pen to use because you have to make sure you’ve squeezed the right amount of ink into the bristles so you don’t run out halfway through your word.


Difficulty Level: Intermediate

The Ecoline pens are a bit more pricey, but come in a ton of colors! They require a bit more care as the tips tend to fray if used incorrectly or on the wrong type of paper. However, the colors are blendable and very bright!


Difficulty Level: Intermediate

The challenge with Crayola Markers is that they have a broad, firm nib instead of a brush-tipped nib. Creating line variation is more difficult because you really have to angle the marker. However, these are relatively cheap, durable and perfect for anyone up for a challenge!

If you’re interested in learning about other pens, check out Cross Pens, Rollerball Pens, and Ballpoint Pens.


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