Brush Pens Review

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.

I’m going to review 3 of my favorite brush pens: the Pilot Pocket Brush Pen in Soft, the Sakura Pigma Brush Pen, and the Kuretake Brush Pen.

 

Pilot Pocket Brush Pen

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Rating: 8.5/10

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

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Rating: 6/10

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

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Rating: 9/10

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!

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How To Design A Logo

In one of my last posts, I made this infographic.

hero image

However, I have condensed this process into even simpler 5 steps – which are all you need to design anything. I’m going to go a little more in depth by going step by step the creative design process, and what better way to illustrate this process than with making one of the simplest yet most difficult deliverables of designers everywhere: a logo!

This past month I worked on designing a logo for my university’s Sound Design Club, so I’m going to use examples from that process. However, you can apply this guide to, hopefully, any logo design that you need.

What You Need:

  • Drawing materials: pencil, pen, paper, etc. Whatever gets your hands moving.
  • Digital editing software: Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.
  • Friends, or a network of trustworthy people
  • Plenty of coffee
  • The assignment (either from a client, for a project, or for yourself)

Step One: Empathize

Empathy seems like it might be an odd term to apply to a step of a very logistical process. As empathy means understanding the “feelings” of somebody or something, how can you try to understand the “feelings” of a design project?

This is where a word map, or a concept map, comes in handy:

Somewhat Of A Word Map

For the Sound Design Club logo design, I had to familiarize myself with the concept of sound design, and by writing down all the things I associated with sound design, I could do better research about the assignment I was tasked with .

Not only should you empathize with your client or your project, but you should empathize with your materials as well.

With more hands on projects, like sculpture and apparel design, this involves just spending some time with your physical material – not worrying about what to design or form, just playing around a little bit.

With digital projects like logo design, it’s a little hard to get comfy with your Adobe Creative Suite. You can help yourself out a little by referring to step 2.

 

NEXT: STEP 2

 

 

 

 

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How To Design A Logo: Step 5

Step 5: LaunchSDC LOGO 5-4

So you made a logo! Hooray!

You reach your deadline, you send proofs off to your clients, and you wrap up your business without any lingering or tears.

You can feel relieved that your design will be used in their branding, and that you designed something, dude.

And now it’s onto the next assignment. 

To go back to step one: click here.

How To Design A Logo: Step 4

Step 4: Feedback

Combining this with the “test” step – this is where you show your designs to a test audience and see how fresh eyes see your design. I also like to call this the “survey” step because that’s how I treat it – take a couple of your group chats, spam them with your sketches, and demand that your beloved friends vote for their favorite.

In the case of Sound Design club, however, it was easy to chat with the club officers and show them the Phase 1 sketches.

This resulted in another poll, but it also allowed more in depth feedback on the designs.

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At the end of the day, you’re still designing for your client – listen to your client, and work off the feedback that you receive.

This is a loop of a process – everytime you receive feedback, you have the opportunity to improve. It’s very difficult for artists and designers alike to really finish a project, step back, and let it go. This brings us to our final step of the process: Launch!

NEXT: STEP 5

How To Design A Logo: Step 3

Step 3: Ideate

Ideation is literally just making ideas – and sketching all those ideas down. Consider this the brainstorming step: no idea is a bad idea. The only bad idea is not sketching more than 1 idea.

Brainstorming and sketching is imperative to the creative process. It is highly unlikely that the first idea that pops into your head will be the only good idea. The more sketches you make, the more scrawled notes you have, the more ideas you throw at a wall – the higher the probability that one of those ideas will stick.

The best way to explain this is probably just to show it, so here are my sketches for the Sound Design Club logo:

And once you have a couple of cleaned up sketches – it’s time to send them out into the world.

NEXT: STEP 4

How To Design A Logo: Step 2

Step 2: Define

There are always 4 things that every branding designer needs to define first:

Your Assignment (What You’re Designing)

  • What will the final product be? A single logo? Extensive branding and a style guide? And if you’re doing this for work: how much would this project cost?

Your Client (Who’s Assigning You)

  • Who needs this logo? This could be a single client, a small business, a large corporation, or even yourself. And figure out who arthey, really. What’s their background/history/story?

Your Audience (Who The Design Is For)

  • Separate from your client, this design is going to reach with a target audience. Who is your audience? What are their demographics/reach? And, most importantly, what should this design do for them?

Your Constraints (What Can You Use)

  • Every project has limitations. How much time do you have? What resources do you have? What are your skill limitations (or what is the capacity that you as a designer have for a specific skill)?

The step of defining is fundamentally narrowing down all your whos, whats, whys, whens, wheres, and hows.

For designing for the Sound Design Club, I had this list to define the project at hand:

  • Assignment: A single logo and a style guide outlining font, colors, themes, etc. which can be used in various image aspect ratios, to be used for the club’s social media, posters, flyers, and any branding really.
  • Client: UTD Sound Design Club; they represent the students of UT Dallas who major in or are interested in sound design for video games, television, or film as a career path or even just as a hobby. They host events, share tips, and foster a community for a relatively small sector of UT Dallas Arts & Technology students.
  • Audience: UT Dallas; to narrow it down, UTD Arts & Technology students (soon to be Arts, Technology, Communication& Media), but the club aims to bring in ANY and ALL students who are interested in sound design. Not only will the average 18-25 year old college student be most likely to join or see the branding, but UT Dallas faculty, staff, and even actual industry sound designers may encounter the Sound Design Club.
  • Limitations: Time, resources, and skill: fun fact, we are young college students – which means we’re not exactly professionals.  While I am not an amateur, I am also not getting paid and am therefore not designing on a professional standard level. Also, the logo has to be finished before the summer to allow plenty of time for printing and marketing and all that jazz.

Since we have all of our facts defined, we can now start ideating, which is step 3:

NEXT: STEP 3