Brush pen comparison

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A while back, I ordered a couple of ink pens to play with, but I’d been so busy with my summer job and Harry Potter projects that I hadn’t had the time to try them out properly. This week, though, I finally got my chance!

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After a little research, I decided on the Kuretake No. 8 Fountain Brush Pen and the Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen. Both had overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon, and seemed to be favored by artists and calligraphers alike. My experience with calligraphy is virtually nonexistent, but I enjoyed working with ink in college, so a $20 investment to try both of the pens sounded pretty reasonable to me. This also gave me an opportunity to try out my Rendr sketchbook, which boasts “no-show thru” pages for all media, including markers, ink, and paint.

I opened up the Kuretake pen first.

brush pen collage1

As you can see in the first photo, the Kuretake No. 8 pen is quite a bit longer than a regular brush pen, making it more like a traditional calligraphy brush. It comes with two spare ink cartridges (note: the ink is not waterproof), and the brush itself is made from synthetic bristles. The instructions on the back of the package were, unfortunately, written in Japanese, so I had to do a little research on Google to figure out how to insert the ink cartridge correctly. Here’s a quick rundown for those who, like me, can’t read Japanese characters:

  1. Remove the cap and unscrew the brush cap from the barrel
  2. Insert the cartridge into the pen so that the end with the metal ball (pictured above on the right) is pointed down into the brush cap
  3. Push the cartridge down carefully until it locks securely into place
  4. Screw the brush cap back into the barrel, and hold the pen with the brush tip pointed down so that the ink can flow down into the bristles

Once the ink has saturated the bristles, you’re ready to go!

After I’d gotten the Kuretake set up, I turned my attention to the Pentel.

brush pen collage2

Like the Kuretake, the Pentel pen is tipped with synthetic bristles, but is about an inch and a half shorter, making it about the length of a micron pen. It’s also packaged with two refill cartridges – and this ink is waterproof – which are conveniently marked with gold arrows to show you which way it’s supposed to be inserted into the pen. Fancy!

Once I got both of my pens put together and ready to go, I broke out my new sketchbook and started doodling.

brush pen collage3

All in all, the pens are very comparable in quality. After drawing with each for a while, I found myself liking the Kuretake for its length, which, rather than making the pen unwieldy, let me use the brush at different angles and resulted in a wider variety of brush strokes than I was getting with the Pentel. It also seemed that the Kuretake pen allowed the ink to flow better even when I moved the pen quickly, giving me crisp, dark lines no matter how fast I was drawing. On the other hand, drawing quickly with the Pentel gave my lines a feathery, brushy quality, which was appealing in its own right.

As someone with next to zero experience with calligraphy, I wasn’t expecting to be drawn (pun intended) to the Kuretake over the Pentel, but the longer pen body let me hold the pen at more angles, giving me more control over the marks I was making. I’m also a big fan of bold, solid lines, so the increased ink flow was a definite plus for me. Despite going into this expecting to favor the Pentel, I have to say I ended up liking the Kuretake No. 8 better!

And finally, in regards to my “no-show” sketchbook…

brush pen collage4.jpg

…I’m pleased to report that it has lived up to the hype! I’d be interested to see how this paper responded to a wetter medium, such as acrylic or watercolor paints, but there were absolutely no signs of the ink bleeding through the pages. The paper itself is still smooth and doesn’t seem to have been distorted or warped by the ink whatsoever. I’m definitely looking forward to experimenting more with different tools in this sketchbook!

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