Brushes and brush pens are an integral part of Japanese black ink painting, or sumi-e, and Japanese calligraphy, and it’s worth every penny to invest in premium brushes. Natural bristles, such as weasel or sable hair, are springy and responsive, ideal for making fine, thin lines and sweeping thicker marks, but high-quality nylon bristles mimic the excellence of natural bristles and are more durable and affordable. Brush pens are a convenient alternative, combining the best of traditional calligraphy brushes with the latest fountain pen technology. Browse our picks of the best brush pens to find the one that’s right for you.
1. Tombow Brush Pen Set
This trio of pens vary in tip style. One is hard, another is soft, and the third is a dual brush with both black and gray ink. The set is a great option if you’re seeking variety or trying to decide which stylus type is best for your project. The pen barrels are thin and easy to maneuver, and they provide a clean and simple way to practice your calligraphy without worrying about messy jars of ink.
2. Kuretake Sumi Brush Pen
Kuretake’s affordable Sumi brush pen features a durable nylon tip with bristles so fine and responsive, you will think they are made of all-natural, premium hair. The tip retains its shape over time to create fine, thin lines and thick, sweeping ones. This set comes with three replacement cartridges of non-waterproof ink. However, the pen is compatible with the Platinum Fountain Pen Converter, which allows most types of inks to be used, including waterproof.
3. Pentel Fude Brush Pen
Pentel designed its brush pen with traditional Japanese calligraphy brushes in mind. This pen is affordable and convenient, an ideal pen for introducing calligraphy to students. The nylon brush nib has an extra-fine tip for creating extremely thin yet nuanced lines. Its handle serves as its inkwell, and the amount of ink that flows to the brush nib is controlled by squeezing the handle. Refill handles are available; just unscrew the old handle and replace it with a new one. The pens hold a lot of ink and won’t run out quickly. Teachers love these pens because they are affordable and durable.
4. Kuretake No. 40 Brush Pen
The tip of this high-end brush pen is made of authentic sable hair, which makes applying ink seamlessly easy and true to classic calligraphy. Also setting it apart is a durable, all-metal body, which is coated in thin rubber for a comfortable hold and no-slip grip. The pen comes with three ink cartridges, and replacement sable tips are also available. This pen is not for the beginner, however, as it takes practice to learn how to achieve the strokes that you desire.
5. Kaimei Sumi Brush Pen
The bristles of Kaimei’s much-beloved brush pen are made of resilient, responsive weasel hair, which can produce marks ranging from ultra-thin lines to sweeping strokes. The pen’s ink cartridges, three of which are included, are easy to replace and the ink within is a deep black.