Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pentel Brush Pens

The Pentel Brush Pen - looks like a fountain pen, but really it's a Chinese brush

I've had several enquiries about the Pentel Brush Pens I was using for sketching at Bristol. They're effectively fountain pens with a Chinese brush tip instead of a nib; they're refillable, using Pentel's own proprietary cartridges.

They're much easier to control than ordinary brushes, but still give you a lovely flexible line. The nylon tip is very hard wearing too; my oldest one is fifteen years old, and still going strong. The ink is permanent and reasonably waterproof (it takes Tipp-Ex well and will resist the odd water drop but a full-scale coffee spill might be a problem). The only thing I found is that heavy erasing will lift the ink from most paper; if you're drawing for reproduction, pencil in pale blue pencil* - scanners and copiers can ignore this colour, so you don't have to erase the pencil lines.

* If you buy coloured pencils, look for "Sky Blue" or ask an assistant to find you "non-repro blue" , otherwise Pentel do blue leads for mechanical pencils which is what I use. They're reasonably rare, so you might have to order them. They're a bit more crumbly than the graphite ones, so get 0.7 or 0.9 width; the 0.5's snap all the time.

I buy my brush pens from the London Graphics Centre, who had them in stock last time I looked (December 2006) but who don't list them on their website; I've also found a couple of websites that list them:
  • London Graphics Centre - 16 Shelton St, London, WC2H 9JL (nearest tube Covent Garden), Telephone 020 77594500 - if you' re phoning, make sure to specify Pentel brush pens, as they sell several kinds by different manufacturers).
  • sell the pens and cartridges
  • sell the pens and cartridges
I've never used either of the above websites, but they list the pens and cartridges at a good price. These things change quickly, so it's worth Googling "Pentel brush pens" to see if you can get a better deal.
You get a pack of four ink cartridges with each pen, but you'll probably want to get more if you use the pens a lot.

  • The ink cartridges are pretty expensive; it's a good idea to use something else to fill in big chunks of black. I've used black marker pens (Pentel's own "N" series are pretty good) but if you don't like the stink, try a cotton bud dipped in Indian ink for fast cover.
  • You can get lovely texture effects on rough paper when the brush pens start to run out of ink; if you like texture effects, it's worth getting two pens, one to keep full and one to use empty for textures. When the empty pen runs out, you refill it and by then the full one should be running out.
Thanks to Stephen Morse for inspiring this post.


Dave Shelton said...

Ooh yes, they are lovely. I have a couple but more in an effort to always be able to find one of them rather than with anything clever about wet and dry alternatives in mind.

I once had a brief go of Charles Burns's fancy brush pen (I think it was one of those expensive Japanese sable ones the name of which escapes me right now) and that was really quite lovely.

Derek the Sheep said...

I buy my pens from Cultpens and their service is excellent.

Anonymous said...

I have a few mates who use these. I never really got too enthusistic about them myself.
However, I recently swiped a Faber Castell brush pen from a friend and I am really impressed with them.

They are permanent - which suits me as I use a lot of washes over the inks. They are also disposable - which bothered me at first as the 'brush' tip wears before the ink is done - but a friend of mine told me that if you take a pair of tweasers - you can lift the tip out and turn it around and you have a brand new tip. Which it does.

The same mate gave me a home made brush pen with 'proper' brush and it's refillable. I'll let you know if he has any plans of upping production on these.
Oh dear, I'm getting all excited about pens - I need to get out more.

Anonymous said...

I love these pens too. I also have two on the go at the same time so I can have one running out one for dry brushing and one full one for smoother lines. I find that if I leave my drawings to dry overnight they're waterproof enough to paint over with watercolour. I get my pens from a local art store, which isn't very reliable so I'm glad to hear about some other suppliers.
That 'proper' brush pen sounds interesting Nulsh!

Anonymous said...

A Chinese brush pen made in Japan. Hmm. Funny.

Actually, I may want to get one of these at some point. Either the Pentel Brush Pen or the Sailor Profit Brush Pen, which is also Japanese.

FQP Dave said...

I've taken the plunge and ordered from cult. The pen and a pack of cartridges cost me just over a tenner, which is pretty reasonable.

Cheers for keeping the link Matt!

dave said...

I've started using them myself. My mate picks them up in Wolverhampton for me. After years of using dip pen and brush, I find that this is a wonderful tool that just makes things so much easier. With a bit of practice you can even use them for intricate and fiddly detail. I've found it cuts inking time by over half

Anonymous said...

Pentel's Brush Pen has a flexible nylon tip which i LOVE that is ideal for designing and sketching. It’s perfect for stylized design work, oriental artwork, calligraphy, and cartoons.

The brightly colored liquid ink is fade-resistant and waterproof. Ink is valve activated for a smooth flow without leaking. It dries quickly, and it can produce beautiful translucent color effects as well as a range of line widths. Enjoy a variety of lines, from fine detail to broad sweeping strokes.