Best brush pens for sketchers, illustrators, and creatives

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As a stationery buff, I completely understand the urge to buy all of the art pens you can get your hands on — but I find brush pens particularly irresistible.

Providing color variety and smooth performance, brush pens are the perfect match for everything from straightforward papercrafting to more intricate artwork and mixed medium compositions. Personally, I love transforming brush pen sketches into digital art!

Looking to add a new set of brush pens to your kit? Check out which to buy and where in our handy guide.

Affiliate disclosure: Articles on Tiny Workshops may contain affiliate links.

Best overall
  • $23.94 ($2.39 / Count)
  • Description:

    These top-quality smooth brush pens are highly pigmented and blend beautifully with water, making them fantastic for all types of artwork, amateur or professional. 

Best value
  • $48.88 ($4.07 / Count)
  • Description:

    Available in different sets and themes, these prestigious Winsor & Newton brush pens guarantee vibrant colors and seamless blending.

Best for beginners
  • $11.19 ($0.93 / Count)
  • Description:

    These affordable brush pens suit beginners and students and can be used for sketching, coloring, calligraphy, lettering, and more. Each pack includes a water brush pen to create watercolor washes.

Best professional
  • $23.40 ($3.90 / Count)
  • Description:

    These premium quality art pens come in various colors and are the best match for demanding, longtime illustrators. These refillable, sustainable art pens can be used as markers or watercolor pens.

Best overall
$23.94 ($2.39 / Count)
Description:

These top-quality smooth brush pens are highly pigmented and blend beautifully with water, making them fantastic for all types of artwork, amateur or professional. 

Best value
$48.88 ($4.07 / Count)
Description:

Available in different sets and themes, these prestigious Winsor & Newton brush pens guarantee vibrant colors and seamless blending.

Best for beginners
$11.19 ($0.93 / Count)
Description:

These affordable brush pens suit beginners and students and can be used for sketching, coloring, calligraphy, lettering, and more. Each pack includes a water brush pen to create watercolor washes.

Best professional
$23.40 ($3.90 / Count)
Description:

These premium quality art pens come in various colors and are the best match for demanding, longtime illustrators. These refillable, sustainable art pens can be used as markers or watercolor pens.

09/21/2023 10:39 pm GMT

Best brush pens

Best brush pens_FEATURE
Photo via Stephanie Bento (Tiny Workshops)

If you’ve never used a brush pen, I highly recommend it! They’re fun and easy to use and come in all kinds of exciting variations to suit every creative.

I’ve lined up my favorite brush pens for drawing below, keeping everyone from beginners and hobbyists to seasoned sketchers in mind.

Best overall: Tombow Dual Brush Pens

Tombow Dual Brush Pens_

Tombow brush pens are an excellent pick for seasoned artists and crafters looking for first-rate art supplies. And while they may be a little expensive for true beginners, I think they’re worth the splurge.

These dual-tip brush pens come in different sets to cater to different artwork themes and styles. I’m particularly fond of the brand’s pastel and primary color sets, as they provide the essentials when starting out. However, if you’re looking for something more specific, you’ll definitely find it!

For example, the Tropical, Desert Flora, and 20-pack Floral brush pen sets are perfect for botanical illustrations. You can also find a Portrait set to draw realistic skin tones, Retro tones for calligraphy, Greyscale pens for comics and storyboarding, plus lots more.

One of these pens’ best features is that they are streak free and won’t bleed unless you layer lines really heavily. Also, they blend effortlessly with water, allowing you to incorporate delicate washes into your work. Always keep in mind that the paper you use will affect the overall outcome of your work, though.

I recommend using standard 80g paper and avoiding textured paper in general. But — I’m a sucker for experimentation, so if that’s your thing too, I say don’t hold back. After all, the art of trial and error is a big part of any creative hobby! Either way, Tombow provides color guides and printable worksheets to help beginners get started.

Best value for money: Winsor & Newton Promarker Brush Pens

Promarker Brush pens 12 Winsor and Newton

If you’ve been buying art pens for a while now, you’ve probably come across these gorgeous brush pens by Winsor & Newton. Not only are they fantastic, but their elegant packaging and extra blender pen are a stationery lover’s dream come true.

These high-quality dual-tip brush pens feature bold, vibrant pigments that blend seamlessly with little to no smudging or botching — a great fit for lefty pen enthusiasts. Brush tips feature a mix of soft and hard bristles, making them smooth and flexible but sturdy enough to achieve precise lines of different thicknesses.

And although I don’t use the chisel nib as much, I have to say it’s an excellent backup for coloring in larger areas more effectively. In addition, there are several variations of these sets, both in pen capacity and theme. For example, besides the Vibrant Tones set featured above, other popular picks include the brand’s Skin Tones, Neutral Tones, and Pastel Tones sets.

Winsor & Newton Promarker Brush Pens are available in 6-packs, 12-packs, 24-packs, and 48-packs. Nevertheless, the 12-pack is my favorite because it includes an additional blender brush, perfect for adding new textures and watercolor effects to your projects. And yes, although these pens go for great value, they are still fairly expensive.

It’s important to know the color displayed on the pen’s color code may not always match exactly what you put down on paper. But remember that this is common among all art pens. Ultimately, trying out multiple brands and sets will help you determine what suits your projects best!

Best for beginners: ARTEZA Real Brush Pens

ARTEZA Real Brush Pens

When picking up a new creative endeavor, there’s really no need to spend a lot of money on top-of-the-line supplies. However, this isn’t to say you should settle for something low in quality either.

Arteza’s art brush pen sets are a reliable pick that won’t break the bank and will give you plenty of items to work with on your first projects. You can purchase a 12-pen pack for under $15 on Amazon and select from various color themes.

Sure, I would suggest something a little more pro-grade for experienced artists. Still, these Arteza pens are perfectly suitable (and affordable) for beginners, students, and hobbyists who enjoy sketching and creating during their free time.

You can use these Arteza pens, wet or dry, for sketching, coloring, calligraphy, lettering art, and more. Adding water allows for lovely pastel colors and gradients for shading — I love how each pack includes a water brush pen! It’s a handy bonus tool for experimenting with different techniques and textures.

Know that these aren’t dual-tip brush pens for drawing; you’ll have a single brush nib to work with. Personally, I like the transparent caps — they make picking out colors extra easy while at work!

Best for advanced sketchers: Copic Ciao Brush Pens

COPIC Ciao Brush pens

Copic Ciao brush pens are your answer if you’re looking for premium pro-grade quality art pens.

Although this brand and pen line is expensive (Copic Sketch is another great line for illustrators), you can purchase these 6-pack sets to get started. In this particular case, I really recommend buying these products on Amazon as they are often available at discounted prices.

These highly pigmented dual-tip art pens are available in many themes and hues (the entire catalog features 180 colors) and perform smoothly, whether as markers or when blended with water. Ink lays down very well on different surfaces too, including ordinary copy and construction paper, as well as watercolor blocks and sketchbooks.

Nevertheless, I like how colors pop on lightweight cardstock best, making these pens ideal for card-making, scrapbooking, and poster-sized works. You can also buy paper from the brand to ensure superb, bleed-free results and quick-dry streak-free lines.

Better yet, Copic Ciao markers are refillable, meaning you can purchase extra ink to use your pens up to roughly nine times more. This is definitely a more sustainable approach to crafting, which we always like to keep in mind and encourage. Refills can be purchased here.

Best for calligraphy and lettering: Sakura Pigma Micron Brush Pens

SAKURA Pigma Micron Brush Pens

If you’re looking for exceptional drawing materials, Sakura pens are definitely worth considering. While the brand’s fineliner pens are my first pick, these high-quality, colorful Sakura brush pens are just as fantastic — especially if you’re after a quality calligraphy brush pen.

You can find these pens in 6-packs and 8-packs on Amazon (and more options on Blick). Pens contain high-quality, fade-resistant pigments that are perfect for various art projects and creative endeavors. I like especially like them for calligraphy and lettering but they’re just as effective for scrapbooking, card making, art journaling, and more.

Because brush nibs are finer than those featured in some of the previous items, these pens are particularly handy for more detailed precision work, such as map illustration, manga sketches, or fashion illustration. However, you can always play with bolder, thicker lines by testing out drawing from different angles.

Sakura brush pen ink also dries very quickly and is smudge-free, an excellent fit for left-handed artists. And not only are these pens functional, but they’re also very aesthetically pleasing. I really love their unique design, and if you ask me, will easily impress anyone with a special appreciation for pens.

Best watercolor brush pens: STAEDTLER Watercolour Brush Pens

STAEDTLER 3001 TB36 brush pens

Our guide lists a variety of brush pens that double as watercoloring pens. But if you’re looking for a worthy alternative to standard watercolor sets, I recommend Staedtler’s watercolor brush pens.

This brand’s larger set includes 36 dual-tip vibrant watercolor brush pens, suitable for kids and adults alike. With its wide range of colors, you’ll have plenty to experiment with here, whether for watercoloring, sketching, drawing, bullet journaling, or illustration work.

Sets are reasonably priced, too, considering the quality and variety it offers. On the other hand, if you prefer to start with something less comprehensive, Staedtler’s 18-pen sets will be more than enough and significantly cheaper.

The upside to using watercolor pencils and brush pens is that it cuts down on the classic mess that comes with this creative hobby — although I have to admit I do love a good watercoloring mess. In addition, these pens are perfect to carry around and easy to store, making them a great solution if you enjoy urban sketching on location.

Remember that if you’re purchasing these specifically for watercoloring vs. sketching, using the appropriate paper, whether a watercolor sketchbook or a watercolor block, is fundamental. Also, note that this set doesn’t include a water brush, so you’ll have to source one separately.

Best for coloring books: Prismacolor Premier Art Markers

Prismacolor Premier Brush Pens

Coloring books are a practical (and cheap!) way to relax, especially when you’re not inspired to create your own artwork. Do you love coloring too? These Prismacolor brush pens are a great option to fill in the blanks.

This 12-pen Prismacolor set features rich, saturated color and long-lasting pigments. These dual-tip pens are finer than most brush pens and lay down color consistently no matter which of the nibs you use: each pen contains a single ink source vs. one per tip.

And, of course, you don’t have to limit these pens to coloring books, although their vibrant hues make mandala art and zentangle coloring particularly remarkable! On the other hand, they’re excellent for children’s book illustration and fashion design projects.

The only downside to this product is that it’s costly. These are more of a unique addition to sets you may already own or for more sporadic work or detail: unless you’re more than happy to make the best out of them every time!

Are you looking for a memorable creative gift? This set is certainly one to consider if you have a pal or family member who enjoys dabbling in doodling, drawing, and other related creative hobbies.

Best for hobbyists on the go: Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen

While sketching at your craft desk or couch is enjoyable, grabbing a sketchbook and a few pens and taking your art outdoors is a great way to find inspiration.

Pentel’s black-ink pocket brush pen is a super convenient, quality item to add to your on-the-go drawing kit. These items provide beautiful dark pigment and feature synthetic bristles that allow for striking broad lines in a single stroke.

These pens are slightly smaller than standard pens (and easy to store!), and each set includes two ink cartridges for refills. Mind you, your pen will come empty, so you’ll only have one extra refill cartridge. However, you can purchase these separately at any time; Amazon sells them here.

Although a bold black ink pen always comes in handy, brown ink has always been my favorite for writing and drawing. If you’re anything like me, you can also purchase Pentel’s sepia ink brush pen instead: it’s all about personal preferences!

Note that this is not a dual-tip pen, unlike most of the items listed above. On the other hand, if you’re searching for a creative budget-friendly gift for a fellow illustrator, these make for a fun treat. Make your pick extra special with one of these unique limited editions: Pentel’s Bamboo, Marble, Indigo, and Mahogany brush pens.


That’s it for our guide to the best brush pens you can buy! Any advice for other intrepid crafters? Let everyone know in the comments below!

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