Calligraphy with brush pens is perhaps considered a little less traditional than with nibs and ink, but very convenient. They also offer the ability to write in dozens of colors – some companies have over a hundred shades to choose from!
A brush pen doesn’t make blobs, it doesn’t flood your desk, you can write on a coffee table or you can use it at school. No wonder that brush lettering conquers the world. And since they’re so popular, they are available everywhere – in art and paper shops, stationary and online.
How To Learn Brush Lettering?
If you understand how to write letters (thick line down, thin line up and horizontal) and operate a brush pen, you can start with brush pens right away.
For complete beginners, for whom the brush pen is a new tool and the first attempts at calligraphy are difficult for them, I recommend this order: faux calligraphy, (helps to understand the structure of letters) pencil calligraphy (teaches to shade the letters) calligraphy with thick felt-tip pens and only after a while – brush pen writing.
What Brush Pens To Avoid In The Beginning
Before I start talking about the best – in my opinion – brush pens for beginners, I’ll write about what I wouldn’t advise starting with. Don’t get me wrong, I used and love each one of them, but I think they are better suited for a more intermediate level.
These are pencils finished with a real brush made up of single hairs. These types of brush pencils are great for hand lettering inscriptions because they are carried out on a piece of paper on a scale and give an interesting effect.
Thanks to their super-elastic tip they can be used for both very wide and thin lines. However, drawing letters according to calligraphy rules with such a brush pen is very difficult. Brush pens with a brush are for example Pentel Pocket GFKP, Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Real Brush or Akashiya Sai.
Also, what I wouldn’t recommend for beginners are brush pens with a very soft and large nylon tip, like Kuretake ZIG Art & Graphic Twin. I would also not recommend the popular Tombow ABT Dual. Although they are a bit easier to tame than the mentioned ZIGi, they may discourage beginners.
Some brush lettering teachers recommend “difficult” brush pens for your start. Their argument is that if someone can master writing with them, then they can do everything and progress faster.
However, my recommended approach is different. Tombow Dual has alienated me from brushing calligraphy for months and I think it’s best to learn one by one, slowly and stress-free. Calligraphy is supposed to give joy, not frustration.
Best Brush Pens For Beginners
When I first started holding calligraphy workshops, I always recommended the quartet to beginners: Tombow Fudenosuke with a hard tip, Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pen, Ecoline Brush Pen, and Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen.
More than two years of teaching and practicing calligraphy have definitely changed my preferences.
First of all, brush pens with a very small and hard tip – while yes, they are writer-friendly, my students were often disappointed by the thickness of the line they draw. The shading of the letters was actually not very visible, so now I use slightly larger and softer brush pens in my workshops instead.
Faber-Castel Pitt Artist Pen Brush Pens
The Pitt Artist Pen is a waterproof pen, available in 61 colors (including recently white). If the tip of the pen is damaged, just take it out with your fingers and turn it over, because it is double.
Note: Not all Pitt pens have a brush tip, so make sure you have a B (brush/big brush) or SB (soft brush) mark.
Kuretake Bimoji Brush Pen
Kuretake Bimoji can be bought in five versions (including one with a brush). Extra fine has a tiny and hard tip, similar to Tombow Fudenosuke hard. The fine version resembles Tombow Fudenosuke soft.
My favorite Kuretake Bimoji is the medium one, it gives a very different line and has a hard and easy to use tip.
Recently I’ve been writing a lot with other Kuretake brush pencils – ZIG Mangaka Flexible. The F version has a small and hard tip, the M version is also easy to control and good for beginners. You can buy it in black and sepia.
The Tombow Fudenosuke (marked with a pink square on the body) is small and easy to control brush pen, available in black or – in double-sided version – black and grey. It is more flexible and therefore gives better letter shading than the hard one I used to recommend (there is a purple square on the packaging; recently produced in ten colors).
- Contains both the soft and hard tip Fudenosuke Brush Pens
- Features a flexible brush tip for different lettering and drawing techniques
- Create extra fine, fine or medium strokes by a change in brush pressure
- Great for calligraphy and art drawings
- Soft tip and hard tip water based, pigmented black ink
Although it is no longer my favorite, I still consider Tomobov Fudenosuke to be a good choice for quite beginner calligraphers.
Another popular brush pen for beginners is the Pentel Touch Brush Pen. You can buy it in twelve colors and it is similar in hardness to Tombow Fudenosuke
- The richly saturated colors are fully blendable with water and other Sign Pen Brush colors
- Tip can be diluted with water to get a full range of values
- Great for a variety of techniques, including feathering, cross hatching, outlining, calligraphy and detailed line work
- Wear-resistant, pressure sensitive, flexible tip
- Will not dry out if left uncapped and can be cleaned with a paper towel
These were my recommendations and tips on the best brush pens for beginners and I hope you find some useful information here.
Soon, I will discuss brush pens for the intermediate. I think it’s worth buying them after you know how to draw the letters and experimented a bit. They have larger and softer tips, so you can write quite large letters with them.