I hope this is useful for anyone trying to decide on a new tool. I’ll be as excruciatingly detailed as I can.
For these tests I’m using my sketchbook, with which I’m very happy. The texture reminds me a bit of leather and it takes all the mediums I’ve thrown at it so far. The paper (yellowish white) is a bit thicker than average and I’ve yet to bleed through it.
This is one of my more disappointing purchases. It’s pretty expensive ($9.95 on the Copic website but I think I paid about $12.00 for it in-store) and it’s refillable… but why? The brush wore down and started fraying almost immediately and the ink quality is only black-ish, not greatly opaque, and smears on itself if you go over the same spot. It looks like Copic provides replacement nibs for regular multiliners, but I don’t see the same option for the brush. Even if they did, it’s not worth it. The tip only survived a drawing or two and now it languishes in my pen-jar for whenever I need something scratchy for effect.
Prismacolour Premier Illustration Marker.
In purple, because black was always sold out. I’ll assume these are a popular choice. So far, the tip on this has held up pretty well, and I don’t have any complaints about the ink quality (obviously I can’t speak to the opacity of the black, the purple layers over itself and darkens up all right), but it’s weirdly hard to control once it comes to actually drawing. It’s difficult to maintain a long, curved stroke and it varies in thickness in some places I just don’t want it to. It’s not very expensive ($2.00 or $3.00), it’s fun to play around with, I like to use it for shading small coloured drawings, but for inking it’s not useful.
Futayaku Double-sided Brush Pen.
This one is interesting. The tips are very firm and I’m comfortable putting more pressure down when I want a good, thick line from either of them. There isn’t a tremendous amount of line variance in a single stroke, but I don’t see that as a downside since I can just switch tips, and I think it allows the pen to be more sturdy in general. The ink is thick and black, with crisp edges. I can see this being my go-to pen for inking detailed sketches. The body of the pen miiiight be too thick for some people. It’s markedly bigger around the middle than the previous two pens. I’ve got kinda large-sized hands myself, so I find it comfortable and easy to grip, but if you’re on the daintier side it might be awkward.
Kuretake No.33 Brush Pen.
The Kuretake has the advantage of feeling most like an actual brush and ink. The tip is fat and very bendy, but it doesn’t show any signs of fraying or threadiness after a few drawings. The ink kinda blossoms as I draw with it, at least on this paper, and it leaves a watercolour-looking shadow on some, otherwise thickly black, strokes. I like the effect, but it might not be great if you’re looking for tight, dark detail. The body of the pen is streamlined and feels like holding a brush or dip-pen. There’s no clip and the cap is difficult to click onto the back end (and remains there tenuously), but otherwise I have no complaints. It’ll definitely be a staple in my sketching kit.
My usual ink and brush combination. Low quality of the doodle aside this is what I use for almost all my inking purposes and it’s what I find most comfortable. My quest to find a good brush pen is largely in an effort to replicate this feel and versatility without all the mess. The brush still has the advantage of line variance, from thick to hairline with very little effort, and the liquid ink has the advantage of also acting as a soft shader without changing tools. The pens win in terms of being able to produce thin, dark lines without skipping.
Overall, I’m happy with the the two new additions to my repetoir, and I’ll edit this post after I’ve used them a bit more.
I hope this has been useful! Let me know if you have any favourites or recommendations. I’m always looking for an excuse to blow more money on drawing tools.