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April 11, 2014 - Posted by Miriam to Guides

Brush pens are oftentimes the secret behind beautiful script. They're used for everything from writing calligraphy and Chinese characters to creating art. If you can find the right one, a brush pen is more than a tool -- it's an extension of your writing hand.

Though it takes a certain amount of practice and control to use a brush pen, you don't have to be a serious artist or calligrapher to enjoy its virtues. But with more than 40 product lines on our website, we want to help you find the best brush pen for writing script. To see our brush pen recommendations for art, please read part two of this series. Click on the images below for a larger view.

Characteristics of a Brush Pen
Tip Types
There are three main types of brush tips: natural hair, which is made from animal hair, usually weasel; synthetic hair, generally made from nylon; and felt. Felt tips are good for those just starting out, because their firmer tips are more marker-like, and offer more control, while synthetic and natural hair brushes require more practice to get used to.

Firmness
Brush tips range from very soft to very firm, depending on the type of bristle, how densely they're packed, and size. The harder the tip, the more predictable the results. However, softer tips are able to achieve more effects and respond better to the movements of your hand. It takes more control to use a softer tip.

Fineness
Brush tips vary in thickness, to be used for different purposes. For bold strokes, the thicker the brush tip, the better. For detailed work, a fine tip is ideal.

Flexibility
When a brush is flexible, it's soft enough that you can manipulate its shape to get the desired effect, but still have enough structure to bounce back to its original shape. It should have a certain spring to it that demonstrates its flexibility.

Ink Flow
It's paramount to find a brush pen that dispenses ink smoothly and evenly to prevent the much dreaded effect of streaking, unless that's the look you're going for. On the other hand, it can't be too juicy, or you'll have a huge blotchy mess on your hands.

Pigmentation
If the color is supposed to be black, we don't want to see a dark gray. That's what gray brush pens are for after all.

Brush Pens for Calligraphy

Brush pens allow you to effortlessly switch from thin to thick lines to create those personalized flourishes associated with calligraphy. A good brush pen for calligraphy should have a soft tip, but be able to bounce back to its original shape quickly. It's ideal to find a brush with a thin, precise tip that expands toward the base and has good ink flow no matter the pressure, to create the different lines required in calligraphy.

Brush pens for calligraphy.
Pilot Futayaku Double-Sided Brush Pen
Video demonstration.

This felt tipped brush pen is perfect for those who are just starting out on their calligraphy journey. The felt tip is hard for easy control and predictability, but responsive enough to create slightly thicker lines. It comes with both a fine and medium tip, so you can experiment with different styles.

Also consider: Pilot Futayaku Double-Sided Brush Pen - Gray and Black.

Akashiya New Fude Disposable Brush Pen
Video demonstration.

If it's time for you to graduate to a brush pen with bristles, this synthetic hair brush pen is our next choice. It's pigmented, can create thin to thick lines, and is extremely responsive. However, it takes some practice to get used to the way the brush responds and dispenses ink. If you're not careful, streaking may occur.

Also consider: Pilot Pocket Brush Pen - Soft

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen
Video demonstration.

We had to mention the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, a cult favorite. Although made from synthetic hair, this brush pen mimics the expressiveness of real brush hair beautifully. It's perfect for those who have a little more experience with brush pens. It's springy, retaining its shape after each stroke, with good ink flow and nice pigmentation. Like the previous choice, this brush pen takes a bit more practice to get the hang of, but it's definitely worth it.

Applications
Hand-lettering

Take advantage of the versatility of brush pens to play around with typography. You can make a font that's uniquely your own while showing off your personality! From delicate cursive fonts to bold chunkier scripts, the possibilities are endless.

Products used: Pilot Futayaku Double-Sided Brush Pen and Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

Paper Crafts

From invitations to cards, brush pens let you show off your creativity and beautiful handwriting. Whether it's one-of-a-kind wedding invitations or heartfelt thank you cards, people are sure to be wowed by your calligraphy skills.

Product used: Pilot Futayaku Double-Sided Brush Pen.

Logo Design

If you run an online Etsy shop or own a physical boutique, branding is important. What better way to show people who you are and what your brand represents than by designing your own logo? After you finish, just clean it up in Photoshop for a polished look.

Product used: Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

Brush Pens for Chinese Characters

Brushes are the traditional and preferred tool for calligraphers who write Chinese characters, also known as kanji in Japanese. Unlike in English calligraphy, streaking can be considered artistic in Chinese character calligraphy, so ink flow is not as much of a concern, though consistency is important. If you're planning on holding the brush the traditional way, the body of the pen should be slightly longer to provide more balance.

Brush pens for Chinese characters.
Kuretake Bimoji Felt Tip Brush Pen
Video demonstration.

"Bimoji" means beautiful letters in Japanese, and this felt tipped brush pen is named that for good reason. Amazingly easy to control, it allows you to create those heavy to light strokes effortlessly, with just a slight change in pressure. It's not meant for artistic calligraphy, as its effects are limited, but for beginners, this pen is perfect.

Also consider: Zebra Brush Pen FD-303 - Hard - Fine.

Platinum Japanese Art Pocket Brush Pen
Video demonstration.

If you're ready to tackle a more responsive tip, the Platinum Japanese Art Pocket Brush Pen is our next choice. The felt tip on this brush is flexible, so you can make thick, weighted strokes. The tip bounces back quickly, letting you take advantage of its fineness to write those graceful hooks on the ends of the characters. The ink is a true, dark black, and flows even with the lightest pressure.

Kuretake No. 50 Fountain Hair Brush Pen
Video demonstration.

We've finally reached the realm of natural hair brushes. Using this sable hair brush pen is an entirely new level of flexibility, and it takes an incredible amount of control as every tiny little movement changes its course. It moves from the thinnest of lines to the thickest, from conservative to dramatic in seconds. This brush pen does take a good deal of practice, but once you've gotten the hang of it, the finished piece speaks for itself.

Also consider: Sailor Profit Brush Pen

Applications
Different Styles of Chinese Calligraphy

Like the English alphabet, Chinese characters can be written in different styles and fonts. You can mimic the old style of ancient hieroglyphic-like characters, or do a more script-like writing that is reminiscent of cursive.

Product used: Kuretake No. 50 Fountain Hair Brush Pen.

Cards

It's common practice in Japan for people to personally write New Year's postcards and showcase their calligraphy skills. You can do the same and surprise your family and friends with unique cards, be it holiday, birthday, or thank you cards.

Product used: Platinum Japanese Art Pocket Brush Pen.

Decor

You can hang the fruit of your labor to transform the look of your home or your office. They make for great conversation starters and you can impress your friends and coworkers with your amazing Chinese calligraphy skills.

Product used: Kuretake No. 50 Fountain Hair Brush Pen.

Staff Favorites
Uni Brush Pen Set
Video demonstration.

This felt tip brush pen set is perfect for those on-the-go. Slim and compact, you can whip the brush pens out anywhere and practice your calligraphy or Chinese characters in your downtime. You can also play with different effects using the different tip sizes and colors, or even do some quick sketches or doodles.

Kuretake No. 13 Fountain Brush Pen
Video demonstration.

This synthetic hair brush pen is superbly pigmented with a rich black ink, but its flexibility is what we fell in love with. Extremely responsive, this brush pen creates thin to thick lines in a snap, so this is our go-to if we want to do any fancy calligraphy. The ink flow is steady, with little to no streaking.

Kuretake No. 8 Fountain Brush Pen
Video demonstration.

We like this synthetic hair brush pen for writing Chinese characters. The ink dispenses evenly, but can streak if you like that effect, and its tip is springy and responsive. The longer body of this pen means that you can hold it the traditional way if you choose and still have the same level of control.

Keep Calm and Brush On

There's something magical about the way ink flows from a brush pen. The expression it conveys with each beautifully placed stroke makes the brush pen an essential in our pen case. For brush pen picks for art and illustration purposes, please click here.

Check out the rest of our brush pens here and tell us below in the comments what you use your brush pens for. We'd love to see some examples of your work too!

Model Tip Type Firmness Flexibility Ink Flow Water/ Copic-proof Best For
Pilot Futayaku Double-Sided Brush Pen - Fine/Medium - Black Ink Felt Smooth and pigmented Yes/Yes Calligraphy
Pilot Futayaku Double-Sided Brush Pen - Gray and Black Felt Smooth and pigmented Yes/Yes Calligraphy
Akashiya New Fude Disposable Brush Pen - Black Synthetic hair Inky, but can be streaky Yes/Yes Calligraphy
Pilot Pocket Brush Pen - Soft Felt Very inky, may pool at the ends No/Yes Calligraphy
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen for Calligraphy Synthetic hair Very inky and pigmented Resistant/Yes Calligraphy
Kuretake Bimoji Felt Tip Brush Pen with Special Grip - Medium Felt Smooth and pigmented No/Yes Chinese characters
Zebra Brush Pen FD-303 - Hard - Fine Felt Smooth and pigmented Yes/Yes Chinese characters
Platinum Japanese Art Pocket Brush Pen Felt Smooth and pigmented No/Yes Chinese characters
Kuretake No. 50 Fountain Hair Brush Pen - Sable Hair Natural (sable) hair Very inky Yes/Yes Chinese characters
Sailor Profit Brush Pen - Medium Synthetic hair Very inky and pigmented Yes/Yes Chinese characters
Uni Brush Pen Set - Gray Fine & Broad Tip Felt Smooth, but can be streaky Resistant/Yes Calligraphy
Kuretake No. 13 Fountain Brush Pen - Black Body Synthetic hair Very inky and pigmented Resistant/Yes Calligraphy
Kuretake No. 8 Fountain Brush Pen Synthetic hair Smooth, but can be streaky Yes/Yes Chinese characters



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