I remember when I first set out to purchase brush pens. I was so excited to try out brush pen calligraphy! Then, I saw the overwhelming online selection. I ended up blindly choosing a few brush pens. While I connected with some, there were others that ended up in the junk drawer! The goal of today’s comparison post is to prevent you from buying brush pens that won’t work for you. My hope is that, based on what you read here, you can choose beginner-friendly brush pens that you connect with!
Large Brush Pens
When I think of brush pen calligraphy, I usually think of large brush pens. When I say “large brush pens”, I’m talking about pens with a fairly big tip that can make bold, dramatic downstrokes. All of TPK’s brush pen learning resources center around larger brush pens like the ones outlined below!
Pigma MB: The Practical Brush Pen
The Pigma MB brush pen has a nice, flexible tip that is fairly short, which makes it easy to handle! It features a consistent flow of archival black ink. This is a brush pen that I recommend for beginners because its tip is responsive, but not overly so!
It must be noted that while other brush pens come in fun colors, the Pigma MB doesn’t. Should you choose to purchase this pen, your options are black, black, or … black. But! It’s a wonderful pen to learn on, and you can write with all sorts of fancy colorful pens in the near future. This is the pen for you if you:
- Have never worked with brush pens before (pair it with a TPK brush pen worksheet + video course!)
- Don’t mind just writing in black for now
- Are okay with having permanent, archival markers around (this may not be great if you have kids in the house)
Zig (Kuretake) Fudebiyori: Arguably the Best Beginner Brush Pen
I recently discovered the Zig (Kuretake) Fudebiyori and have fallen in love! This is probably my current favorite brush pen — in fact, I think I like it more than the Tombow Dual Point. The fairly hard tip of the Fudebiyori quite easy to control, without a lot of fuss. The tip is just a tad bit harder than the Pigma MB, which makes for easier upstroke/downstroke transitions!
Since the Fudebiyoris have a stiffer tip, they don’t fray as badly as Tombow Dual Point brush pens or Pigma MBs. They also feature super vibrant, wet ink that dries very quickly! While the Pigma MB is a wonderful beginner brush pen, I would say this pen is just as good — if not better — for those who are brand-new to brush pen calligraphy! This pen is for you if you:
- Have never worked with brush pens before
- Don’t want to spend a ton of money on Tombow Dual Point brush pens
- Like the idea of writing with vibrant colors
Tombow Dual Point: The Darling of the Brush Pen World
Brush pen calligraphers love Tombow Dual Point brush pens, and for good reason! First of all, it comes in a multitude of colors. Since Dual Point brush pens are water-based, all of those colors are blendable! The tip is long and flexible, which means that you can create some very dramatic calligraphy with this pen.
While I personally love the Tombow Dual Point brush pen, I wouldn’t say it’s the very best pen to start out with. The tip can be intimidatingly flexible for beginners! I’d begin with a Pigma MB or Zig Fudebiyori, then move onto this pen once you’ve gotten the hang of one of those. This is the pen for you if you:
- Want to blend colors to make cool writing effects (see the “Juicy” Brush Pen Calligraphy Tutorial)
- Love to have a huge selection of different colors to write with
- Like the idea of having two different kinds of tips at your disposal
- Appreciate water-based, non-toxic inks
Let me be clear: Crayola Broad-Tipped Markers aren’t brush pens. However, their brush pen-like results and incredibly cheap cost make them worth mentioning in this post! The technique for “Crayola calligraphy” isn’t the same as it is for brush pen calligraphy, but no worries! It’s easy to learn, and I will teach you in this tutorial.
I recommend writing with Crayola markers after you figure out regular brush pen calligraphy. The writing techniques are quite different, so it’s good to have the basics of “true” brush pen calligraphy down first before you tackle these broad-tipped markers! This is the pen for you if you:
- Have children at home who like to write/draw with you
- Are on a limited budget (I bought 10 markers for $1.00!)
- Love having a variety of colors
- Don’t mind switching up your writing technique
Small Brush Pens
When I say “small”, I mean that these brush pens have a small tip that renders fairly thin strokes. People generally use small brush pens for projects like mail art and place cards! The Pentel Touch and the Tombow Fudenosuke are my two beginner favorites in this category.
Tombow Fudenosuke: The Dip Pen Substitute
The Tombow Fudenosuke pen comes in two versions: hard tip or soft. I generally use the hard tip because I find it easier to control! The tip of the Fudenosuke is tiny and reasonably flexible, which makes it perfect for creating dip pen-like calligraphy. In fact, I have noticed several people filling out TPK dip pen worksheets with the Fudenosuke on Instagram, so I tried it for myself. Indeed, the Fudenosuke’s small tip made it perfect for writing elegant, dip pen-esque calligraphy!
The Fudenosuke has a consistent ink flow that’s not overly wet. Many calligraphy brush pen beginners find it approachable because of its small size! This is the pen for you if you:
- Want to write brush pen calligraphy that resembles dip pen calligraphy (e.g. to make elegant mail art)
- Don’t want to work with a super flexible nib
- Want to write in several different colors
Pentel Touch: The More Flexible Fudenosuke
The difference between the Tombow Fudenosuke and the Pentel Touch is tip size and flexibility. The Pentel Touch’s tip is just a tad bit bigger, so your upstrokes won’t be as delicate! It’s also more flexible than the Fudenosuke. The larger size and flex means that your lettering will be larger than calligraphy created with the Fudenosuke!
I recently used the Pentel Touch to write out place cards, and I was happy with how it wrote. Furthermore, I did it with a baby on my lap! The pen is easy to control and rendered lovely results. This is the pen for you if you:
- Don’t mind upstrokes that aren’t super delicate
- Want to write small brush pen calligraphy that was obviously created with a brush pen (no one will mistake this for dip pen calligraphy)
The truth is that with patience and practice, you can master any brush pen! I love brush pens because of how quick and low-maintenance they are. I especially love working with the water-based brush pens when there are kids around! You can create lettering while they do their own thing.
If you feel intimidated about using brush pens, get yourself a Pigma MB or a Fudebiyori! Then, fill out the Janet Style Brush Pen Worksheet or the Kaitlin Style Brush Pen Worksheet. (Just choose the style that appeals more to you! The Kaitlin is pretty whimsical, and the Janet is more traditional/elegant.) Make sure you watch all the videos that come with the worksheets!
I hope that this article serves to help you decide which brush pens are right for you. If you have any questions about brush pen calligraphy or the brush pens outlined in this post, let me know! I’m always glad to help. Thanks very much for reading TPK, and happy writing!