I have used a LOT of brush pens – which are basically just marker pens with a brush nib. They are really good for calligraphy, but brush pens are also just nice to illustrate or write with in general.
Pilot Pocket Brush Pen
Movement: The nib is very soft and squishy, and releases a lot of ink when you give even a little bit of pressure. This makes it a little harder to control the direction of the pen, but at least you can get a larger variety of line weights.
Ink: The ink is slightly blue/black, as opposed to a pure warm black, which is a downer for me, personally. However, the ink flows very well and fortunately does not feather with thicker papers.
Durability: I haven’t actually used this for very long! I am worried that with the flow of the ink and the softness of the nib that the brush will not have as much use as some of my other brushes, but, so far, the brush doesn’t dry out.
Comments: The soft nib makes it harder for calligraphy or typography because it doesn’t allow for as much control over the movement. However, the line weights vary a lot more with this brush, so inking sketched illustrations is enjoyable. I highly recommend using this pen to ink in larger surface areas, like for dark clothing or hair.
Sakura Pigma Brush Pen
Movement: The pen nib is a very stiff single nib with a fibrous tip. This pen also does not allow for as much variation of line weight.
Ink: The ink is a warm black, which is highly more preferable over blue/black ink. However, the ink also tends to feather on thinner paper.
Durability: This pen does not last as long as I expected it to. The packaging looks very similar to a Micron pen, so I bought it under the impression that it would last as long as a Micron pen. However, for some reason, the pen gets really dry after only about a week and a half of use – and that’s barely using it once a day.
Comments: This pen isn’t great for inking illustration; the only thing I recommend it for is taking notes or doodling. You can do a couple styles of typography and calligraphy with it, the kind with a consistent line weight.
Kuretake Brush Pen
Movement: The nib is an actual brush, with individual hairs like a paintbrush, so you get the exact movement of an actual calligraphy brush. Great for calligraphy, extremely preferential for illustration because of the variation of line weights.
Ink: The ink is a pure black (not blue/black, which is something that a lot of water based pens use). The ink also flows very well, and when the brush seems to run out, you just have to squeeze the pen at the base of the head.
Durability: The pen surprisingly lasts a long time for its size – I used it at least twice a day for 3 weeks, which is a lot more use than I get from Faber-Castell or Micron pens.
Comments: The only reason I’m knocking a point off of its rating is because it is very hard to get these pens. There are order-able through Amazon, but shipping takes awhile. It’s a lot cheaper to buy them in bulk in Japan, which is what I did. Obviously not everybody can go to Japan or afford to shell out $8 for a single pen, but it is a great inking tool and a valuable investment for illustrators and typographers.
If you’re looking for some new tools for design or illustration, hopefully these reviews will narrow down your decisions. To check out more tools, I highly recommend jetpens.com, and if you want to see more content about physical tools, feel free to let me know!