Brush pen review

Lately I’ve been interested in brush pens for both English and Chinese calligraphy. In Chinese calligraphy, there is a distinction between brush and hard pen calligraphy. Brush calligraphy is written with brush and ink. This results in different thickness in strokes. Hard pen calligraphy is written with pencil, ball-point pen, or even fountain pen. This is different from brush calligraphy, since there is only a single width of the strokes.

I saw that many manufacturers from Japan produce brush pens, and was curious to give them a try. I was able to purchase the pens at my local Blick store and JetPens.

For English calligraphy, I hold the pen angled to the paper. For Chinese calligraphy, my preference is to hold the pen perpendicular to the paper.

Tombow dual brush pen
This pen has two sides: one with a brush felt tip, one with a hard tip. It comes in many wonderful colors, and can be bought individually or as part of packaged sets.

English brush calligraphy
This is my go-to pen for brush pen calligraphy. Pretty much everything I have written so far is with this pen. I love the different colors available. I have noticed that different pens will have different pliability in the felt tip. I’m not sure if it is due to the different colors or just due to the pen. So I have some pens that were soft to begin with, and others where I need to place more pressure for the desired width.

Chinese brush calligraphy
It is difficult to use this pen holding upright. The brush is a felt brush, not a bristle brush, so I did not get the result I wanted writing Chinese calligraphy.

Chinese hard pen calligraphy
The hard tip part works very well for writing hard pen calligraphy. The colors are a great bonus!

Akashiya New Fude Disposable Brush Pen
Brush bristles.

English brush calligraphy
This pen works well for brush calligraphy. I think it’s a great pen for getting used to bristle brushes.

Chinese brush calligraphy
Unfortunately this pen is much too light for my liking. It is difficult to hold upright. It is better to hold this pen angled to the paper to write Chinese.

Kuretake Bimoji Brush Pen
This pen has different widths and mostly comes in felt tips. I chose the medium width with bristles.

English brush calligraphy
This brush felt a bit too soft and pliable for writing English. It is possible that I am not yet used to writing with a bristle brush pen, since I found it hard to control.

Chinese brush calligraphy
Of the three pens I reviewed here, this was the best for holding upright to write Chinese calligraphy. The pen felt sturdy, and the brush was soft enough to produce the type of strokes I wanted. The amount of ink produced when pressing perpendicular seemed too much compared to the other pens (which never had additional ink spread out). But a regular brush does that as well. I really like the result from writing with this pen.

The three brush pens I tried all have their pros and cons for the types of calligraphy I do. The only problem is that the three pens are not refillable. When the ink is done, the whole pen will need to be thrown out. I should probably try some pens with refillable ink cartridges next!


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