When I’m not writing about notebooks I spend my time working as a graphic designer. Over the last few years, I have specialised a little more and now most of the work I do is lettering and calligraphy. These are two skills that take a lot of practice, one of the ways I practice is by decorating my bullet journal with small pieces of lettering. Incidentally, if you want to see more of my lettering work you can head over to my design Instagram.
Choosing the right pen for brush lettering is a personal thing. It depends on the type of lettering you do. A pen like the Tombow Dual Brush Marker with the large brush nib will give your lettering a vastly different look compared to the smaller Fudenosuke brushes. So in this post, I’ve tried to highlight a range of pens so you can see what each pen looks like and choose one which will work best for your preferred style of lettering.
My Favourite Brush Pens For Bullet Journaling
Before I start getting into my favourite pens for bullet journaling, I do need to make the usual note about paper. I’ve tried these pens on the notebooks I own. However, that doesn’t mean the pens will react the same way in the notebooks you’re using. You might have different notebooks and even if you use the same notebooks as I do paper quality can change between the same notebook.
If you want to use these brush pens for bullet journaling I would highly recommend doing some test swatches in your bullet journal somewhere before using the pen. You don’t want to ruin a piece of lettering because it turns out the ink bleeds.
Tombow Dual Brush Marker
The Tombow Dual Brush Marker is probably one of the most popular types of brush pens for bullet journaling. I’ve been using the Tombow brush markers for years are really like them. These brush markers do have a very thick nib which makes brush lettering slightly harder, especially if you’re a beginner.
One of the big things I would note about the Tombow Dual Brush makers is that they are water-soluble. The ink will start to run if it gets even the tiniest bit wet. This is an issue I’ve come across a few times. There isn’t a huge amount you can do about this problem apart from being careful to not get your lettering wet. But accidents can happen and it could ruin your lettering.
For a single pen the Tombow Dual Brush marker costs around £2, which is on the cheaper side compared to some of the pens on this list. You can buy the markers in sets, but if you are able, I would recommend buying individual pens based on your needs. Probably one of the only downsides to the Tombow brush makers is that they have a fibre brush nib, which means it will wear away over time as you use it. This can become an issue because your lettering won’t come out as sharp. I have a full review of the Tombow Dual Brush Markers where I explain this more and have a few examples of worn-out brush nibs.
The Tombow Fudenosuke pen is probably one of my most used pens. As you may be able to tell from the name, this is made by the same company which makes the Dual Brush Pens. The Fudenosuke pens have a much smaller nib compared to the dual brush pens. This is a special type of brush pen made for Eastern style calligraphy. But they work very well for brush lettering too.
In the past, I have used these pens in my bullet journal and would even occasionally use them when taking lecture notes. I used to highlight important quotes by writing them using brush lettering. Though I don’t use the Fudenosuke brush pens as much now, I will occasionally use them for headings in my bullet journal.
These are a great pen for doing small amounts of lettering in your bullet journal, if you want something to do headings or to make your daily logs a little special the Fudenosuke pens work great. Especially now as Tombow recently released coloured versions of these pens. Originally you could only get them in black and grey. The ink works well on notebook paper and comes out quite juicy. I’ve also not experienced as many problems with the brush nib wearing away compared to the Tombow Dual Brush markers.
The Kuretake brush pens are one of the first I ever bought and I think they might be one of the best. Kuretake is a Japanese company and they make a range of brush pens. It’s hard to say what the whole range of pens feature because like I said, this is a Japanese company and I’m buying on Amazon. Currently, the pens I own are the no7 and no8.
The no7 brush pen is probably one of my all-time favourite pens. This is the pen with the green body and is a fudenosuke pen, like the Tombow version. This has a very small brush nib which feels slightly firmer than the Tombow version. I like doing lettering with this pen, it feels nice to write with. One of the only issues I’ve had is finding this pen, it’s extremely difficult to find online. I’ve had my current no7 pen for over 4 years now. It still works just as well as it did when I bought it, the ink hasn’t dried out and the brush hasn’t frayed at all.
Kuretake makes far more brush pens than what I’ve mentioned in this post. These specific pens use SUMI ink which is a very dark “juicy” ink. They also sell replacement ink cartridges, so are slightly more sustainable than the Tombow pens. It also means you can try different inks by refilling the cartridges. This isn’t something I’ve personally tried but I know it’s possible.
Ecoline Brush Pens
The Ecoline brush pens are another one which I know are very popular for bullet journaling. I really like these pens, the ink is a liquid watercolour which means you can blend colours together very easily. They have quite a broad brush nib, just smaller than the Tombow marker. If you like using bright colours in your lettering I would highly recommend the Ecoline pens over the Tombow markers.
I also really like that Ecoline sells jars of ink in the same colours. This means you can dip the pens into the ink and create a gradient with your lettering. I don’t think there is a way to refill the brush pens, but if you’re into pointed pen calligraphy I would highly recommend the Ecoline ink.
One thing you probably want to be careful with when using the Ecoline pens is how the ink reacts with the paper. I know I’ve already talked about different types of paper. But I think with the Ecoline pens you really want to be careful. I’ve never had problems before using the Ecoline pens but when doing tests for this post I did notice that the ink would bleed a little on the Leuchtturm paper.
And there we go, 4 of my favourite brush pens for bullet journaling. I know brush lettering can be such a personal thing. The types of brush pens you like you use will affect the type of lettering you do. I’ve tried to share some brush pens which have a range of sizes and thicknesses. If you asked me which was my favourite out of this list I would say it was the green Kuretake pen. But that is based on how I like to use lettering. I know the Tombow pens are extremely popular and they are a great pen, just not my favourite.
Do you have a favourite pen for brush lettering? Let me know in the comments.