In this guide, we will recommend 10 of the best brush pens for artists based on performance and price. The review includes markers, watercolour markers and brush pens designed for calligraphy. All the brush pens on this list are artist quality and suitable for illustration and fine art practices.
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Winsor & Newton ProMarker Watercolour Markers
Attributes: watercolour pens, 36 colours, professional quality
These water-based markers are perfect for those who want the control of a pen with the pigmentation of paint. They have a dual-ended design with a brush tip and a fine point, making them versatile for both thick and thin lines. The ink is odourless, non-toxic, and low-bleed. They also come in a range of 36 colours, so you can mix and match to create your own custom palette.
Watercolour markers make for the perfect brush pens for those who want to achieve painterly effects and delicate washes. They are also pretty versatile in how they can be used, create colour swatches on a watercolour palette, then wet a brush and paint with them like watercolours. Alternatively, draw with them like regular markers then wet a brush and paint over the top to blend colours.
Copic Sketch Markers
Attributes: 358 colours, alcohol based, not water soluble, professional quality, refillable
Copic sketch markers are some of the most popular brush pens amongst artists. They are alcohol-based, which gives them rich and vibrant colours. They have a dual-ended design with a brush tip and a chisel—create broad strokes and fill in backgrounds with the chisel tip.
There are a wide arrange of colours to choose from, with 358 shades of refillable ink. Get a large set, or get a specific set of primaries, pastels or deep shades, depending on your project. The colours are intense and vibrant and because of the high quantity of ink in the pen reservoir, the pens will last.
Copic Sketch markers are the golden standard of marker for professional artists, cartoonists and illustrators, so per marker they are on the expensive side. However, if you want the same quality at a lower price, the Copic Ciao range is much cheaper. With fewer colours and a more slimline design, they are a more economical option of brush pen.
Attributes: calligraphy pen, comes in basic colours, budget friendly, hard brush tip
The Tombow Fudenosuke is a pen designed for calligraphy and lettering. It has a soft and flexible nylon brush tip that makes it easy to produce both thick and thin lines by changing the pressure on the nib. The ink is water-based and odourless.
The tip is harder and finer than some of the other brush pens on the list, so the lines will appear much thinner. This pen is incredibly affordable, at only a few dollars and it’s a great option for those who want to achieve precision in their drawings. The pens are non-refillable and come in a variety of basic colours.
Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush
Attributes: watercolour pen, 80 colours, flexible nib
The Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush pens have an extra fine, but flexible tip, allowing you to vary line width to create sweeping thin or medium strokes. The great thing about these brush pens is that they come in some exciting colour packs and selections. Choose from their packs of pop colours, pure colours and portrait colours.
Use these brush pens for cartooning, illustration, manga drawing, or for creating wonderful watercolour effects. When using water to create washes, make sure to work on a thick watercolour paper. Watercolour paper is more absorbent than regular papers, so it will be able to handle washes of water without buckling.
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen
Attributes: calligraphy pen, pigment ink, not water soluble, flexible bristles, refillable
This is the perfect pen for line drawing, contour drawing and monochromatic illustrations. With this pen, you get two refills of jet black pigment ink, that is both permanent and long lasting. The nib is flexible, so you can create broad strokes or very fine strokes depending on the pressure applied.
The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is an affordable and reliable choice for artists who want to achieve consistent results. However, it’s more expensive than the Kuretake Zig Clean Color pens. The tip glides across the paper and feels soft to use, but it takes practice to achieve ultra thin lines, due to the nib flexibility. When the ink is running low, you can use the brush to create dry brush effects of broken ink. If you enjoy creating a little texture in your drawings, you can use it right until it runs out before replacing the cartridge. If you’re interested in learning more about ink drawing and how to get started, check out our guide.
Kuretake Brush Pens
Attributes: calligraphy pen, jet black ink, not water soluble, flexible bristles, refillable
This is a sumi-e fountain brush pen that contains black ink, within a sleek black casing. The nylon bristles are ultra fine, taper to a point and have the right amount of snap to enable the artist to create controlled strokes. It comes with three ink cartridges and is inspired by traditional Japanese calligraphy pens. This pen is a great option for artists wanting to draw with jet black ink to create line drawings, calligraphy or lettering designs.
Tombow Dual Brush pens
Attributes: watercolour brush pen, affordable student grade, 108 colours
This is another watercolour brush pen, with a double sided design, with a brush tip and a fine point for detail work. These pens are more affordable than the Winsor & Newton Watercolour brush pens and there is a larger colour range. Artists can also buy a colourless blender to create gradients and soft edges. Choose from colours of skin tones, ocean colours, sunset colours and more. Draw on the paper with the marker brush pens and then add water to create watercolour effects, or dip the tips of the pens in water to create washes.
Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens
Attributes: India ink, waterproof when dry, lightfast, professional quality, 58 colours
These pens come in a selection of 58 colour choices, are pigment based and lightfast. This means that the colours won’t fade over time, unlike some of the other pens on the list that are dye based. The pens are available in brush tips, or in fine tips and are cheaper than Copic Markers and Winsor & Newton brush pens. Blend the richly coloured brush pens to make new tones, or use them on their own to produce detailed line work.
Royal Talens Ecoline Brush pens
Attributes: watercolour brush pens, 29 colours, large size
These are Dutch-made watercolour brush pens that have a soft and flexible brush tip. The Ecoline range are large in size, so they hold a lot of ink. This also means that you will be able to achieve broader lines when applying more pressure. The ink is pigmented, vibrant and the colours blend wonderfully to create new tones. You can also get a colourless blender to help with gradients.
Copic Gasenfude Brush Tip Pen
Attributes: calligraphy pen, flexible nib, black ink, affordable, not water soluble
This brush is designed to resemble a traditional Japanese sumi-e brush.
With long lasting, jet black ink, this is the perfect tool for creating line drawings, manga art and comic book art. The tip is flexible, so vary the angle and pressure of the nib to achieve varying line thicknesses during strokes. With a nylon bristle nib, the hairs taper to a point and snap into place, enable the artist to create quick, sweeping strokes and fine details.
The ink of the pen will pick up the texture of the paper, so just like with all pens on this list, make sure to get a smooth and thick marker paper to work on for optimum results.
We hope you’ve found the perfect brush pen! Whether you’re looking for a pen to practice calligraphy or comic book art, to add detail to your drawings or to paint watercolour effects, there’s sure to be a pen on this list that’s perfect for you. Experiment with different brands and find the one that suits your needs the best. For a review of the best pens for artists, check out our review!