Are Watercolor Brush Pens Good? An Honest Review

There are many different options of tools that you can use when it comes to painting. You may instantly run for the watercolor paint brushes and lots of neat paints for those who get started with watercolors. However, you may find that watercolor brush pens are a good alternative to help you with your creations. 

Watercolor brush pens are a good tool to use on your watercolor paintings. They come in various colors, and they reduce the amount of time it takes to set up and clean up when you are ready to work; and they work with different forms of art, including watercolor, calligraphy, and more. 

This article will take a look at how watercolor brush pens work and how they compare to traditional watercolor brushes, the benefits of using these for your watercolors, and some of the best pens you can use to make amazing masterpieces. If you are still not sure whether to try watercolor brush pens and you think maybe you can salvage the ones you have, you might benefit from reading our article on How to Look After Your Watercolor Brushes: 21 Do’s & Don’ts

What Are Watercolor Brush Pens?

Watercolor paintingOpens in a new tab. is a lot of fun to work with. You get the chance to create something beautiful and unique with the help of special paints and a lot of water. However, working with a traditional brush is not always the best option. 

When you get to work with a watercolor brush, a mess will usually happen. It would help if you had quite a bit of water to make these paints work and get the effect you would like. This is often the price an artist has to pay to work with watercolors at all. 

Using a Watercolor Brush Pen

The good news is that there is a new tool that you can use that helps solve some of these problems, and that is the watercolor brush pen. While some low-quality options in this family of products may make a bigger mess than the watercolor brush, most of the time, these pens can save you a good deal of headache and make life easier. 

The idea of the pen is to have the water stored in one place. They are an easy alternative to using a full set of watercolors and can create some beautiful artwork, whether you are interested in painting or not. 

Choose the Style

This pen also allows you to focus on any style you would like. You could dip the pen into some water before using it and getting more water and lightness into the painting. You could leave the pen alone with just the colors and water placed into the reservoir and enjoy the watercolor-like wash. 

You can leave it all alone and not use any water at all. This helps to create a picture that is similar to the dry-brush technique. Each watercolor brush pen that you choose will have different options based on how to use them, how much water to add in, and even the tip’s size so you can experiment with making your picture exactly how you imagine. 

You can even choose what kind of line you need to add to the picture. The more pressure you add to the paper using the pen, the thicker and bolder the line will be. If you want a smaller and not as bold line, simply let off on the pressure a tiny bit. 

How Do They Compare to Watercolor Brushes?

The pen will do many of the same features as the brush to create a good watercolor painting. It will help to combine the paint and water to create something unique. However, the pen is often more efficient at doing this and can help you get the artwork done without the big mess. 

The pens can also take on other tasks for your artwork. If you plan to work in more than one style, the pen may be a more efficient and cost-effective way to go. The watercolor brushes work nicely too, but there is more portability and versatility in the pens. Unless you plan to work exclusively in watercolors, then the pen is the better choice. 

How Can I Use a Watercolor Brush Pen?

It is simple to use the brush pen if you already have experience using watercolors with water brushes. The techniques you use with other painting methods on this medium will work on the brushes. The main thing to learn is how to control the flow of water out of the brush. Consistent pressure will make sure your lines and artwork look well. 

Using the Brush for Painting and Drawing

One common way to work with the watercolor brush pen is to use it on your paintings and drawings. You will be able to use regular water to complete this. Filling up the reservoir is simple. Just take the brush and put it on a pan before squeezing it a bit to release some of the water. Then you can mix the ink and the water before applying it to the paper with the color you want. 

It is possible to use this to mix two or more colors. This is possible by putting all the colors and water onto the paper directly or using a palette. Both will work; it just depends on your own preference. 

Using the Brush for Lettering

Outside of using this pen to help paint some amazing watercolor pictures, you may be able to use it for calligraphy and lettering on some projects. 

There are two options when using the water brush for lettering. You can start using the first option, which fills the reservoir inside the pen with water and then picks up the paint you want to use out of the watercolor pans to start. 

The second method is to take the diluted watercolor paintOpens in a new tab. you want to use and add that to the reservoir in pen. This will work the best if you use watercolors in tubes instead of in pans. You feel like you might need some reassurance in using your tube watercolors? You can read our article on Tube Watercolors: An Introduction for Beginners. This one allows the color to be more consistent and prevents you from running out of color or water halfway through. 

Adding Ink

One neat thing we can do with these pens is to add some ink. Not all brushes can do this, and it may add a new way to do your work as well. Depending on the type of lettering you want to finish, this may be better than working with watercolor paint. You can choose what kind of ink to add in and when to use this as a watercolor brush or pen. 

What Should I Look for in a Watercolor Brush?

There are several types of watercolor brushes you can choose to use. There are different colors, shapes, sizes, and more. Deciding which one is the best is hard to do. Some things to consider when picking out your watercolor brush pen includes:

Is It Flat or Round?

First, take a look at whether the brush is flat or round. The round brush comes in three sizes, fine, medium, and large, to get the different sized lines you would like. But the flat brush is better when you need to apply a wash of color or have a large area to cover up with paint. 

How Much Water Does It Hold?

The length of the brush will help you determine this factor. The longer the brush, the more water it can potentially hold. And the more water it holds, the longer you can paint and work on your art without having to stop and refill it. The tradeoff is that some of the longer brushes may struggle to fit well into a regular pencil case for easy travel. 

How Do I Fill Up the Water Reservoir?

The way you fill-up the watercolor brush pen will depend on how it is designed. Some brushes will have a removable tap that you can take off and add to the water. If the pen doesn’t have this, you may need to use suction to bring in the water. It would help if you shopped around to decide which one is best for your needs. 

The Benefits of Using Watercolor Brush Pens

Before choosing to work with these pens, it is important to know a little more about their benefits and why some artists love to use them. When compared to watercolor brushes, you may soon see why pens are the preferred tool to use. Some of the benefits of choosing watercolor brush pens for your artwork include:

Ability to Use Different Techniques and Colors

When you get a watercolor brush, you are stuck with one style of painting. That is all they are designed to do. But when you introduce the pen to the mix, this will all change. The watercolor brush pen allows you to work with various techniques and colors, allowing you a chance to do something amazing. 

The watercolor pen will use water-soluble ink. This means that you have the ability to create different effects, and all you need to do to make this happen is add in different amounts of water. The brush strokes you use can even change up the lines and styles of the painting; adding more pressure makes a thicker and bolder line while less pressure gives a smaller line. 

Basically, you need to add a bit of water and decide how much pressure to put onto the pen’s tip. From there, you can get to work trying out different techniques and colors as much as you want. 

Less Mess

One of the biggest perks of these watercolor pens is that they create less of a mess at your workstation compared to other art tools. You will get a break from all the extra clutter, and you won’t have to worry about all the paint and water getting all over the place. When you only have one or two pens to pick up, cleaning is easier. 

To make this work, you need to take your brush pens and add the lid back. Pack them into their storage case, and you are done! It takes a lot less of a mess to handle this than some of the others, and it is one of the best ways to help you get to work without having to clean up all the time. 

Easy to Start Using and Portable

Many times the prep work required to get into the painting and creating can seem to take ages. These pens help to limit the time so you can sit down and get to work. There isn’t a ton of setup required with these pens. And you will not need to worry about dipping the brush first into the paint and then the water each time you want to use it, unlike with a watercolor brush. 

This pen allows you to use the same tool the whole time without needing to switch brushes. To make it work, you need to take out the pen, uncap it, and start painting. You may need to switch out the colors used depending on which pen you choose, but other than that, everything is set to go. 

The Negatives of Using Watercolor Brush Pens

There are many things to enjoy when using the watercolor brush pens over some of the traditional brushes out there. However, a few drawbacks have prevented everyone from jumping on board. A few of these negatives include:

Less Control Over the Color

One issue that shows up when using these watercolor brush pens is that the pen will not allow you to mix your own paints and ink. This is sometimes seen as a benefit because it creates less of a mess. However, you will find that it is easier to control the application and consistency of your pigment with a brush. 

If you have a specific pigment in mind for your painting, it may be better to work with the brushes. This allows you to create exactly what you want instead of being stuck with the colors that the pen provides. 

The lack of color control is one of the biggest drawbacks. While a watercolor brush allows you to mix and match countless varieties of blues, you may be stuck with just one or two shades when you use the pen, for example. As a beginner, this may not be a big deal, and you can still get a lot done on the picture with that. But as you progress, this can turn into a big issue. 

Hard to Get the Hang Of

Some new artists find that using these pens is sometimes difficult. Getting the right amount of water inside, picking the right colors or changing them out well, and learning the right amount of pressure to use on them can be hard. 

You may want to practice with these a few times before you jump right in. There is a lot to love with them, but they are not as easy to use as the watercolor brushes in most cases. You can choose to grab a few different colors and practice the pressure points, how to fill them up, and other processes to help you get set up. 

They Require Some Extra Care

If you don’t properly take care of these pens, you may run into some trouble. The cleanup is often easier than traditional watercolor brushes because you don’t need to clean up much water and paint. However, if you don’t keep the lids tightly shut on the brush, you will dry them out and not use them again. 

The Cost

Depending on how often you use these pens, the cost may be slightly higher than you are used to. You need to purchase the pens and the different colors you need for your painting. The more colors you want in the painting, the more it will cost. 

Since it is harder to control how much ink and water are used than the brushes, you may run through ink pretty quickly and need to purchase more, which can add to the costs. If you don’t store the pens properly or forget to put the cap on, this can also add to the problems. 

The Verdict on Using Them

Overall, these watercolor brush pens are a good option to use. They are simple and can make life easier when you want to grab a piece of paper and create something new when inspiration strikes. You won’t have to take the time to get the paints ready and set everything up because the pen is easy to grab and use. Cleanup is straightforward as you need to add the cap on top, and you are ready. 

These pens allow you to work with different styles as well. While traditional brushes will limit you, or you will need to purchase many different brushes to do different styles, the watercolor brush pen will do several styles all in one. From deep shades to lighter watercolors and even lettering and calligraphy, this pen has it all. 

While there are many great benefits to using these pens, you may find that there are a few drawbacks. They take a bit of time to adjust too, you need to learn how to add enough water inside each one, and the colors you can use are limited based on the brand you use. Even with these negatives, pens are often the best option to make things fast and easy. 

VIDEO – If you are still unsure on how you feel about watercolor brush pens, it is alright! It depends on what you want to achieve, and in some cases one will be preferable than the other. WATCH – What Is The Difference Between a Regular Brush & a Water Brush

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The Best Watercolor Brush Pens to Consider

If you decide that the watercolor brush pens will make your life easier and the best choice for some of your artwork, it is important to pick out the right kind. There are many types and brands on the market, and it is hard to know which ones are best. Some of the best watercolor brush pens to consider include:

Pentel Arts Pocket Brush PenOpens in a new tab.

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Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen, Includes 2 Black Ink Refills (GFKP3BPA)
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4,169 Reviews
Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen, Includes 2 Black Ink Refills (GFKP3BPA) Opens in a new tab.
  • Portable, neat and easy-to-use versus traditional paint and brushes: Ideal for painting on Location
  • Permanent pigment ink is both fade- and water-resistant
  • Durable, Premium bristles help create fine to broad lines in a single Brush stroke

Last update on 2022-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This brush pen will make you wonder why you ever considered using a traditional brush again. It is neat and portable, and it is treated to work anywhere you would like to paint. This brush pen will work with either permanent or pigment ink and is water and fade-resistant. 

This is a strong and durable pen to work with, and in just one stroke of the brush, you will create the perfect board lines that you need. There is also a refill cartridge that you can replace without the hassle of ink being everywhere. This makes it easy for you to paint and draw with the same pen. This particular option comes in black, but many choices are available depending on what colors your masterpiece needs. 

Yasumtomo Niji WaterbrushOpens in a new tab.

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Yasutomo Niji Waterbrush Small 3/32' x 3/8'
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105 Reviews
Yasutomo Niji Waterbrush Small 3/32" x 3/8"
  • This 9 millimeter water brush is portable, easy-to-use, and convenient
  • Can be use anywhere, anytime, by anyone
  • Usage instructions are printed on back of package

Last update on 2022-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is a good option to use because of its the high-quality and durability. It is originally made in Japan, but you can find them worldwide, and sometimes in different parts of the world. They have a sharp point, which some artists prefer because it provides them with more control over the watercolors they want to use. 

Another big feature you will notice with these pens is they come with a small filter cap over the water reservoir. This is important because it adds more control to how the water will go out of the brush tip. However, it is a pain when it’s time to fill up because the small tip doesn’t work well with water out of the faucet.

Colorit Refillable Watercolor Brush PensOpens in a new tab.

ColorIt Refillable Watercolor Brush Pens Set - 24 Colors with Flexible Real Brush Tips and Bonus Travel Case - Artist Quality Paint Markers for Adult Coloring Books, Painting, Calligraphy
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699 Reviews
ColorIt Refillable Watercolor Brush Pens Set - 24 Colors with Flexible Real Brush Tips and Bonus Travel Case - Artist Quality Paint Markers for Adult Coloring Books, Painting, Calligraphy Opens in a new tab.
  • Flexible Real Brush Tips - Each pen comes with a flexible real brush tip that allows for both thin...
  • Refillable - ColorIt’s Watercolor Brush Pens are refillable for non-stop coloring fun! Refills can...
  • Safe & Non-Toxic - Non-toxic and odorless, ColorIt’s Watercolor Brush Pens include water-based dye...

Last update on 2022-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you want to get a lot of color out of the watercolor brush pen instead of being stuck with black, this is a good option. The brush tips are flexible so that you can get bold or thin lines depending on your picture. The pen is refillable with many colors to choose from and add to your collection. And all the colors are non-toxic and odorless to give you the best of both worlds. 

The colors you can get out of these pens are amazing, and you are sure to fall in love with them. Add in that more colors are being added all the time, that the pens are designed to work in calligraphy, painting, drawing, coloring, and the bonus travel case, which is one of the best watercolor brush pens you can choose. 

Tombow Pen Dual Brush MarkersOpens in a new tab.

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Tombow 56185 Dual Brush Pen Art Markers, Bright, 10-Pack. Blendable, Brush and Fine Tip Markers
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9,648 Reviews
Tombow 56185 Dual Brush Pen Art Markers, Bright, 10-Pack. Blendable, Brush and Fine Tip Markers Opens in a new tab.
  • Ideal for fine art, brush lettering, faux calligraphy, illustrations, water color illustrations,...
  • Set of 9 colors and 1 blender pen, with flexible brush tip and fine tip in one marker
  • BRUSH TIP: Durable and flexible nylon fiber brush tip, creates medium or bold strokes by changing...

Last update on 2022-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another great option to use for watercolor brush pens is this option from Tombow. It is ideal for illustrations, watercolor, and fine art with 9 colors and one blender pen. In addition, the brush tip is flexible, so you can create anything that you would like, changing from bold to medium strokes based on pressure. This pen comes with a fine tip to exchange out when necessary to provide those consistent lines. 

If this wasn’t enough to add some variety to any watercolor painting you do, Tombow also provides a colorless blender pen meant to soften and blend colors to give even more of the watercolor effect that you want. 

Spectrum Noir Aqua Artist’s Water Based Coloring Pen

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Spectrum Noir Aqua Artist's Water Based Dual Nib Marker Coloring Pens, Primary, Pack of 12, None
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122 Reviews
Spectrum Noir Aqua Artist's Water Based Dual Nib Marker Coloring Pens, Primary, Pack of 12, None
  • Water-Soluble Aqua Markers: Easily create a whole range of stunning watercolor effects
  • Dual-Tipped: Flexible brush for broad coverage and an ultra-fine tip for outlining and detailing
  • Quality Water-Based Dyes: Smooth bright colors can be easily diluted and blended with water

Last update on 2022-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Spectrum is a great pen to choose from if you want high-quality and professionalism. This is considered an artist’s market, based on water to provide the neat effects that only watercolors can provide. Each marker is also dual-tipped to allow you a chance to design the exact lines and shapes you want. 

When you add water into these pens, it can help diffuse and blend all the colors exactly you want. Add in that these are acid-free and odor fees, and you have the exact watercolor brush pen you are looking for. 

Arteza Brush PensOpens in a new tab.

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Arteza Real Brush Pens, 48 Colors, Watercolor Markers with Flexible Nylon Brush Tips, 0.5-mm Line Size, Art Supplies for Creating Illustrations, Calligraphy, and Watercolor Effects
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Arteza Real Brush Pens, 48 Colors, Watercolor Markers with Flexible Nylon Brush Tips, 0.5-mm Line Size, Art Supplies for Creating Illustrations, Calligraphy, and Watercolor Effects Opens in a new tab.
  • Self-Moistening, Self-Cleaning Durable Nylon Bristles: You don’t have to moisten or clean the...
  • Highly Pigmented Water-Based Color That Won’t Bleed: Our water brush pen ink dries permanently, so...
  • Completely Nontoxic, Easy-to-Use, and Mess-Free Watercolors: We designed our markers for artists to...

Last update on 2022-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you are worried about being limited in how many colors you can use, then these watercolor brush pens from Arteza are the perfect ones to choose from. While they may cost a bit more than some others on our list, you can choose between 48 different colors to help you make something amazing. 

In addition to all the great colors for your painting, the nylon hairs on the pen are nice and flexible, making it easier to get the effect of paint on the page while still enjoying all the precision you want. The water-based ink is also blendable and non-toxic, making it the perfect addition to have in your arsenal. You can choose to keep the tip dry to get a vibrant color wash or work with a bit of water on the tip to get a watercolor effect. 

Final Words

Watercolor brush pens are a great addition to your collection when you want to work with a variety of media in art and have some fun with different techniques and colors at the same time. There are some negatives, but for most artists, working with these pens will make life easier and will help you create something amazing in no time. 

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Ines

Ines is a self-taught artist based in the UK. Originally from Caracas, she has dabbled in the world of arts and crafts in a diversity of ways participating in city intervention projects, sustainable practices’ open exhibitions, and her illustrations being featured in anniversary editions of literary magazines.

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