5 Types of Brush Pens for Hand Lettering Beginners
Your problem is there are so many brush pens out there. What are the best brush pens for hand lettering beginners? As a beginner, how can you possibly choose which one is going to work for you? And there are some pens that actually make hand lettering harder? As a calligraphy beginner when it already feels a little hard, how will you know?
The good news for you is that I’ve tried hundreds of pens over the years (that’s probably not the best news for my wallet). Regardless, some pens are great, some are not so great.
Let’s talk about 5 types of brush pens for hand lettering beginners so you don’t have to try the hundreds of pens. Don’t waste your money on pens that are no good, get the pens that are good from the start. Pens that are going to help you feel good about your lettering.
5 types of brush pens every hand lettering beginner should have:
I have a lot of favorite pens. My 3 favorite brush pens for beginners are Pentel Touch brush pens, Kuretake Fudebiyori, and Crayola markers. These are great brush pens to start lettering with. You could get just those and go on your happy way. If you’re still here, it means that’s not enough for you. Welcome to the pen addiction. You can stop anytime right? Yeah me too.
I wanted to organize pens in a more universal way to be the most helpful for you instead of just saying these are my 20 favorite pens. That doesn’t help you if they’re too expensive for your current budget or don’t fit with your style or if you can’t find them in the part of the world where you live. So let’s face it. There isn’t an easy answer to “what’s the best brush pen?” I don’t think there is one universally perfect pen. But instead, there are universal TYPES of pens that every hand lettering beginner should know about.
If you want to see demos of each pen in this blog post, check out my youtube video here:
1. Small Brush Pens for Hand Lettering Beginners:
The first type of brush pens every calligraphy beginner should have are small brush pens. Why small? They’re easier to control than large brush pens. You get a feel for how to work with the flexible tip and how to give it heavy or light pressure.
Monami Plus Pen 3000
The first ones you see here are my Monami Plus Pen 3000. You might like these if you like a really firm tip. So you like pressing really hard as you’re lettering. I personally love these. They’re really cheap and they have lots of colors.
Tombow Fudenosuke and Pentel Touch
The next two are Tombow Fudenosuke and Pentel Touch brush pens. They’re really similar and they’re both really popular. Tombow has a hard tip pen and a soft tip pen. If you get the pack of each of those, that can help you decide which one you like best because it’s a personal preference. Tombow has different colors in the hard tip. If you like the soft tip, pentel is also the soft tip. Pentel comes in lots of colors. If you have no idea where to start, get a set of pentel for small brush pens. I recommend starting with that first.
Marvy LePen Flex
Next are Marvy Lepen Flex brush pens. These ones have a really nice brush tip and I recommend them to anyone who is ready to try a new small brush pen. The only problem for me is that the colors are deeper more natural tones which you may love. I personally love bright rainbow colors and that’s why I don’t use these as often as other pens.
Zebra Funwari brush pens
Next are Zebra Funwari brush pens. These ones kinda feel like they’re in between the hard and soft tip. But they feel pretty similar. I haven’t found these ones to be as easy to find as Pentel or Tombow. They do have some unique colors.
These are not all of the small brush pens out there. These are my favorites or ones I hear about the most. But I have so many other random small brush pens that didn’t make it on this list for one reason or another, but these would work too. You’re going to find what works best for you. You definitely want at least one small brush pen in your collection so get one that is available where you live. When doing small lettering, you can fill up more of your page so you can practice even more which may be helpful when you start. They are pretty good quality so they don’t fray as soon as other brush pens.
2. Medium Brush Pens for Hand Lettering Beginners:
The next type of brush pen every beginner should have is medium brush pens. Why medium? They’re easier to control than large brush pens and they have a different kind of bounce than small brush pens. You can start to do some larger lettering but ease into it.
The first one I love is Kuretake Fudebiyori. It has a really nice bounce and it’s easy to find on Amazon for a good price. I like to get individual colors from Jetpens. These brush pens are great to start with.
Stabilo Pen 68 brush pens
Next is Stabilo Pen 68 brush pens. These were a more recent find for me but the tip is amazing. It’s easy to control and has good flexibility. It was a little more expensive for me in the US but I’ve heard from letterers in other countries that these are a great price so that’s awesome.
Faber-Castel Pitt Artist
Next is Faber-Castell. These are really nice. The tip has a really unique bounce and they’re really good quality. They’re also water-resistant so they’re a little more expensive, but if that’s what you’re looking for, they’re worth the cost. They are a little easier to find. I got some individual colors from my local art store. I know they have them at Blick and I’ve seen sets at Michaels and Hobby Lobby.
Edding brush pens
Next is Edding brush pens. They are so nice!! The bounce definitely helps you to get good transitions between thick and thin strokes. They weren’t the cheapest from Amazon but once again, I’ve heard these are cheaper in certain countries.
Caran d’Ache Fibralo
Next is Caran d’Ache Fibralo brush pens. They’re so smooth and I love this tip so much. It just feels so good to letter with like the rest of these medium brush pens. The full-color set wasn’t cheap so I just got black and pink individually from Jetpens.
Sakura Koi Coloring brush pen
Next is the Sakura Koi coloring brush pen. I’m mentioning these in case you like a softer tip. These feel similar to the Kuretake Fudebiyori but they’re a little softer. I prefer a hard tip but I know some people like these better for the softer tip. So keep that in mind when you’re deciding.
You definitely need a medium brush pen in your collection because it’s going to make you feel like you know what you’re doing since the pen is working with you, not making it harder for you. And honestly, you could get any one of these medium brushes and be happy. You don’t need all, just choose the one that’s easiest for you to find.
3. Large Brush Pens for Hand Lettering Beginners:
The third type of brush pen for calligraphy beginners is large brush pens. If you love large lettering, you may want more of these. They can be a little harder to control, but they definitely give a different look to your lettering that small brush pens can’t get.
Side note: In my opinion, you don’t need large and medium, probably just one that feels good to you. Let me explain how it feels good. Brush pens should bounce back into place which helps you get better upstrokes because it’s working with you instead of flopping around like a fish. Your brush pen can actually do most of the work. As you use a brush pen, it should feel good. It may be hard to know how that feels when you’re a hand lettering beginner because they all might feel hard but you would be able to feel the difference in comparison.
I’ve heard from so many people who told me that they thought they couldn’t letter because they struggled to get thin upstrokes but when they tried a better pen, it solved it for them. All of the pens you see in this post are ones that will help you feel good about your lettering instead of making it harder.
First is Karin Markers. Of all the large brush pens, I would say these are one of the easiest to control because they have a firm tip. They are more expensive though so I understand that’s not going to work for everyone. In my opinion, these are worth the cost if you’re ready to spend a little more. The tip is great quality so it won’t fray as soon as others. I also use them as watercolor so that’s another way to justify the cost.
Marvy ColorIn brush pens
Next is Marvy ColorIn brush pens. If you love a really chunky look with really thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes, these are probably the easiest to get that look. The way the nib is so flexible in just the right place makes them great for this style. I have all of the colors because I like these ones.
Zebra Mildliner brush pens
Next is Zebra Mildliner brush pens. I love these brush pens so so much. The brush tip looks similar to Tombow dual brush pens, but they feel bouncier to me. They also have a fine tip which is great. I love the colors as well. I think these would be a great large brush pen to start with.
Ecoline brush pens
Next is Ecoline brush pens. These ones are really soft. They have actual watercolor ink so they’re really juicy. If you love soft brush pens, these are the best large brush pens for you. They’re a little more expensive but they are great quality. I only have a few colors since I don’t love using soft brush pens as much.
Winsor and Newton Watercolor markers
Then we have the Winsor and Newton watercolor markers. Not the brush markers. Those ones are different and don’t work well for lettering. These ones are really smooth and bouncy. They also have a fine tip which is nice. They are a lot more expensive but their ink and brush tip quality is really good. But because of the cost, I maybe wouldn’t say these should be the first brush pens you get. I just have a few individual colors that I got from Blick.
Tombow Dual brush pens
Next are Tombow Dual brush pens. I think these ones are one of the most popular which means they’re easy to find so that’s definitely a bonus about these. They have the bullet tip as well which I always love. They’re a little soft and not really bouncy so they take a little more control. They come in lots of colors and I know some people love having the whole set of over 100 colors. I personally just have a few colors here and there and that’s enough for me. If you try Tombow Dual brush pens to start and you notice that you’re struggling with them, try another kind of brush pen just to see the difference.
Next is Sharpie Stained brush pens. These have the best bounce. They’re not advertised as brush pens but they’re really good. They’re the kind of brush pen that actually helps you get thin upstrokes because they bounce back so well. They are water-resistant because they’re fabric markers. The colors are really neon which isn’t my style so I only use pink and black.
Kuretake Zig brushables
Next are Kuretake Zig Brushables. These also have a really nice bounce and they help you get good lettering. They’re also water-resistant. I think they may be easier to find in some places but they’ve been really hard to find for me in the US lately. They used to be in Hobby Lobby which is where I got them but they’re not anymore. Even though I think the brush tip works for everyone, it’s hard to recommend them since I don’t really have a reliable place to find them.
Camlin brush pens
Along with that note, these next ones are Camlin brush pens. They are from India and I found them on Amazon for way more expensive than they are in India. I wouldn’t say someone in the US needs to get these, but if you live in India, these are great. They’re better than a lot of other cheap brush pens I’ve tried. They’re really soft though and not everyone likes soft brush pens. They are probably most similar to Ecoline brush pens when comparing them to all these other large brush pens. This just goes to show that it depends where you live.
4. Fine Tip Pens for Hand Lettering Beginners:
I think everyone should have a bullet tip or fine tip pen. I personally think a bullet tip is easier to letter with for faux calligraphy. A bullet tip is just a little bigger which means it’s a little more forgiving for faux calligraphy and you don’t have to spend as long coloring in the downstrokes. I also think a bullet tip is a nice size for monoline lettering that goes really nicely with your brush pen lettering. If you really like smaller lettering maybe you’d prefer a fine tip, just find what size works for you.
Tombow Twintone pens
First, I really like my Tombow Twintone pens because they have a bullet tip and a fine tip.
You can also use the bullet tip of Tombow Dual brush pens or Zebra Mildiner brush pens. These are definitely great options especially if you only want to buy one kind of pen to start.
Other Bullet tip pens
Next is Stabilo Pen 68. These are nice bullet tips. Stabilo also has a fine tip if you prefer that.
Another pen similar to Tombow Twintone is these Monami Live Color pens. You don’t need both, Honestly, just whichever one is easier for you to get.
Black, White, and Gold pens
In my desk setup, I have black, white, and gold pens right next to where I letter because I tend to reach for these the most often. I have so many because I haven’t narrowed it down yet. I’m still trying to decide which ones are most essential.
I will say for a white gel pen I love my Uni-ball Signo. And my favorite gold gel pen is the Uni-ball as well. I use these for any white or gold details in my lettering pieces. And for a larger gold pen, I love my Marvy Decocolor. You may have also heard of Gelly Roll gel pens. I love these ones and they have a variety of options. I really like my black one, it’s really smooth. You may want gel pens because they are opaque so you can add details to your lettering. I mostly add gold or white to colorful lettering.
Watercolor Brush Pens for Hand Lettering Beginners:
A quick side note, maybe these are honorable mentions: watercolor brush pens. I wouldn’t say everyone needs them, more if you want to get into watercolor lettering. Or if you like lettering with a real brush with real bristles like a paintbrush. They can be harder to control because the individual bristles will do their own thing. I really like the brushy look it gives which you don’t really get with brush pens.
There are several different brands and a lot of off-brands that make these. I used to have a few but now I just have my Color It watercolor brush pens and my Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush. Once again, I wouldn’t say beginners need to have them, but I get a lot of questions about these so I think they’re important to know. Since they have individual bristles, they won’t fray. And that brings me to the last type of pen every beginner should have.
5. Brush Pens that Won’t Fray:
I think it’s pretty obvious why you might want brush pens that won’t fray as a calligraphy beginner. There’s no worry that you are going to ruin these. You won’t. You can practice heavy and light pressure without worrying about figuring out how to get a really thin upstroke. They are more firm so they’re easier to control. There are other brush pens that won’t fray as soon as others but these ones actually won’t fray. They’re also cheap and you can use them on any paper. That’s why these are great for beginners to start with.
The ones I started with are Crayola Broadline. There are also the Crayola Supertips. It’s a personal preference if you are going to like one over the other. Supertips are just smaller.
I’ll also say that there are a lot of markers that are like Crayola if you don’t have easy access to Crayola. Like Mala markers from Ikea. If you don’t live in the US, you probably have some form of this marker, basically a kids marker. In my international pen review I had a lot of comments about pens like this in a lot of different countries. They have this squishy tip that can be flexible when given more pressure.
Staedtler Triplus Highlighters
Currently, my favorite markers like this are the Staedtler Triplus Highlighters. They are more rounded and I feel like I have good control. I also like the pastel colors. These were surprising, I didn’t know you could get any pressure with them. So maybe look around at what markers you already have and try giving them a little pressure to see if they can do this too.
After seeing all of these pens, just remember, the best brush pen to start with is the pen that you have. You definitely don’t need all of them. Choose one from each section or only choose one. These 5 types of brush pens for hand lettering beginners will help you stay focused.
The Ultimate Brush Pen Guide: Free Workbook
If you are feeling overwhelmed, download this free guide that shows you each brush pen I talked about with a direct link to find them. I hope this helps!
Download The Ultimate Brush Pen Guide.
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Tombow is also my favorite brush pen set. I bought three sets for my black and white hand-drawn cards. I highly recommend this set if you are wanting to start a lettering or calligraphy practice. It would also make a great gift for someone who is interested in lettering.
Thank you for sharing your experience!