Previously, I wrote a post covering my top three favourite brush pens of all time. Those brush pens however, may not be the best for those starting out with brush lettering (or brush calligraphy). When you start learning brush lettering, you don’t really want to fuss around with the brush pen you’re using. Rather, you want to focus on getting the letter forms correct and getting your thick and thin strokes in the right place. For this, you’ll need a brush pen that is flexible but still stiff enough to give you the control you’ll need when brush lettering. A well designed brush pen will have a tip that holds its shape; it flexes easily but still returns to its original shape for hairline upstrokes.
For the past year, I’ve been learning new tips and techniques to further improve my brush lettering. Through this journey, I’ve found some of the best brush pens to use for a beginner trying to learn brush lettering.
Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen
This is one my my absolute favourite brush pens for a fool-proof smooth line and easy flex. The nib of the brush pen holds it shape perfectly, and doesn’t fray at all. You can really abuse this pen and play with the flexibility of the nib to get varying thick and thin lines, albiet not as thick as the ‘traditional brush style’ pens. The pen has a felt style nib, which I usually don’t enjoy, because they tend to fray very quickly. However this isn’t the case for the Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen.
Below is a video using the Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen:
Kuretake Brush20 Water Brush (medium)
I know that the Pentel Aquash water brushes are much more popular, however, I find that the bristles on the Kuretake Water Brush are slightly firmer, which gives a beginner brush letterer much more control. Although it may not seem like it, the Kuretake Water Brush gives as thin of a line as the Pentel Aquash. With this water brush, it is a lot easier to create consistently thick down strokes. Both water brushes are great and personally, I like the Aquash more for its flexibility, but the Kuretake water brush is definitely easier to use. You can easily fill either brush pen with a sumi ink and water mix (3:1 ratio) so you can have a brush pen on the go.
Here’s my comparison between the Kuretake and Pentel water brushes:
Both give incredible thin lines but the flexibility of the Pentel means that the thick strokes are wider than the Kuretake. However, the Kuretake’s thick strokes are more uniform in width.
I may write a detailed review between the two if there’s enough interest, so do let me know! Below is a video using the Kuretake water brush:
Winsor and Newton Cotman Series 111 round brush
I bought this brush when I decided to learn to paint with watercolours. Instead, I found that the sharp tip and great spring back of this brush to be perfect for brush lettering. The bristles aren’t too long to be a nuisance and it’s very easy to create smooth curves and ovals with this brush. It’s very light in the hand and is a pleasure to use with watercolours, gouache and even indian/india ink.
Below is a video using the Winsor and Newton Cotman round brush:
I know that many of you may be wondering why I didn’t include the ever popular Tombow Dual Brush. It’s a popular pen for many reasons; it’s flexible, comes in many colours and the dual tip is great. HOWEVER, the felt tip nib is very soft and the pen is very long. For beginner brush letterers, it can be hard to control for those thick and thin lines. My first ever brush pen was a Tombow, and I can still remember the frustration of trying to find the right angle for the nib, trying to stop the nib from fraying and trying to get those perfectly consistent hair lines. I did eventually get the hang of those pens, but I spent far too long trying to get used to the pen than getting better at my brush lettering. Once my skills improved, I went back to the Tombow and had no trouble at all! It’s a great pen once you get the hang of brush pens.