Well, the pens aren't big, but... oh, you know what I'm talking about. Firstly, let me say that I was lucky enough to receive a package full of goodies from Jetpens to review. This will not affect my reviews, which are always unbiased. If the pen sucks, I will say it. And hey, that's not store's fault, anyway. Plus, I may use pens differently to what they were intended. For examples, most of these are made for writing Japanese characters, not for the long sweeping, and fast art strokes that I am doing. What I will say is that I've been a customer of theirs for a couple of years, and am very happy with the service. Ok.... with that out of the way, let's get on with it.
There's nothing like a real brush and ink, and if you draw with a very varied and expressive line like I do, you are spoilt with this medium. I use a Winsor & Newton Series 7 #2 and they are sublime. But you need to be gentle with them, wash them, and use an open bottle of ink. So for quick sketches and travelling you need a substitute. I have been using the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, Pilot Brush Pen (soft) and the Akashiya Bamboo Barrel brush pen (not reviewed here), both of which are pretty good, but with flaws. So far, there is no perfect brush pen to substitute the brush.
And while I prefer the 'real' brush pens (with hair bristles, as opposed to felt tip) sometimes having a felt tip can be of advantage. On a bumpy train or when you've had a few too many wines (or both!) the control of these pens can be handy. Also, the barrels are larger than traditional brushes, making it more comfortable to hold for some people. Both hair and felt-tipped brush pens are reviewed here.
I've included product images from the Jetpens site, and for each pen I've drawn and scanned a sheet of quick sketches and doodles to test its drawing capacity - no pencil, just pen on paper - all done in a minute or two. To get an idea of the pens' line thickness, the paper is A4 size.
1. J. Herbin CreaPen Pinceau
I was very keen to try this pen. The J. Herbin CreaPen Pinceau is one of the only brush pen (with bristles) that is made outside of Japan (it is made in France) and I thought that this would mean it would be tailored for more artmaking than Japanese lettering. Alas, it disappoints here. Like other brush pens, the ink flow cannot keep up with fast strokes.
The CreaPen feels light and somewhat cheap - more like a disposable pen, although it is refillable using cartridges.
To its credit, it does feel like a brush, and if used lightly is fairly wet - much better than the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen that is widely used. Unfortunately, the bristles do not stay in a sharp point at the tip, and often flatten out, like a chisel. I had to twist the pen continually to try to retain a decent point for fine lines. There is little good snap back, either. The CreaPen feels somewhat floppy.
EDIT: After drawing the sketches, I put the pen down for a day. While writing this review I tried to use it again, but it has gone very dry, even after much attempt to revive it drawing. At this point it is only good for dry brush effects. Not recommended.
2. Kuretake Clean Colour Real Brush
I was surprised by the Kuretake Clean Colour Real Brush (actually spelled 'color', but I can't bring myself to spell it that way). It looks like a regular disposable art pen, but behaves quite nicely. It has a synthetic hair tip much the same size as the refillable Kuretake brush pens and keeps a nice point. It loses the ink on the fast strokes, but for lighter, shorter inkwork it is pretty good.
The Clean Colour (named so, as it is part of a colour set) has a good girth, and feels pretty good in the hand. It is also quite fun to use, and I felt pretty loose doing my sketches with it.
The cap doesn't have a pocket clip, though, making this one a pencil-case only, and not pocket pen.
3. Zebra Disposable Brush Sign Pen - Fine
The Zebra Disposable Brush Pen is pretty disappointing as a drawing tool. Perhaps for someone drawing in a different style it may suffice, but if you want a varied line it just won't do. It is fairly dry as well, and only suited for short strokes.
It is, however, pretty useful as a lettering pen, as you can see in the sample.
4. Platinum Japanese Art Pocket Brush Pen
The Platinum Japanese Art Pocket Brush Pen is really a felt pen with a pointed tip. It reminds me a little of a softer Faber-Castell Pitt Pen, and has a good feel for fast sketching. Being felt, the ink flows nicely due to constant contact with the paper, but it really doesn't feel like a brush.
The tip seems to wear easily to (like the Pitt) and even after a few minutes of drawing it seemed to lose it's original sharp point.
I'm not overly keen on the look and feel of this one, either. It has a girly pattern, and is quite thin. I doubt this one will make the rotation.
5. Kuretake Disposable Pocket Brush Pen - Fine
The Kuretake Disposable Pocket Brush Pen...I really hated this one. Can you tell from my sketches? While it looks kinda cool and sparkly, the tip feels scratchy and sharp on the paper, and it is terribly dry. I struggled to fill the page, as I wanted to put the pen down.
6. Kuretake Bimoji Felt Tip Brush Pen with Special Grip - Medium
The Kuretake Bimoji Brush Pen. When I pulled this one out, I so wanted it to be good. Besides the silly, tiny plastic lid, this pen looks different, and has a great rubber grip. The pen itself has a nice girth, too, and it is very comfortable to hold and use.
Unfortunately that is where the pros end. It is a very dry pen with no line variation. The tip started to wear after just a few minutes, and to top it off the lid doesn't post. Being clear and small, I would say that it is a very high possibility that the lid would be lost before the ink runs out.
7. Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen
I hate to continue the bad reviews, but the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen doesn't perform very well, either. Besides the technical-looking body, this pen is dry, has little variation and is somewhat dull to use. Another one I just don't want to pick up again.
8. Uni-ball Pocket Brush Pen - Fine
Finally, a pen that is fun to use! Like some of the others above, the Uni-Ball Pocket Brush Pen is a felt tip on a rubber base. It definitely doesn't feel like a brush, but it is fairly wet and very fun to use.
Like most of the others, it dries out on longer, faster strokes, but does provide a pretty good line variation for this sort of pen.
It is extremely similar to the Pilot Brush Pen - Hard, which I have reviewed here. It's almost like they are made from the same parts, yet have different bodies. With that in mind, I find the Pilot version slightly wetter, and I prefer the feel of the body; slightly tougher and more rounded than the Uni-Ball. But the difference is minimal, and I would be happy with either. Definitely a stable pocket pen to have.
Well, that's it for this batch of reviews. Again, thank you to Jetpens for supplying the pens and product photos. You can visit their online store at jetpens.com.
It has been fun! Stay tuned for more reviews in the near future, and please feel free to share your thoughts.