Tombow Brush Pen Review/ Tropical Bird

I got these Tombow Dual Brush Pens (Primary Palette) from my brother as an early birthday gift.


I had never heard of them before, but they seem to me like double-ended markers, only cooler. They come with a blender and boast these attributes (from the back of the package):

  • Two tips—a high quality, flexible, nylon fiber brush and a fine bullet tip
  • Resilient nylon brush retains its point, stroke after stroke
  • Water-based ink blends colors easily
  • Acid-free, non-toxic, odorless
  • Tips self-clean after blending

Sounds pretty good, right? I started out by just messing around on a blank sheet of printer paper, to see how the pens would behave. They do feel like markers to use, but with a flexible tip on one end, and they lay color down very smoothly.

I wanted to draw something that would use a lot of bright primary colors so I decided on a tropical bird. I don’t know anything about it, it was just a stock photo. As always, I started out with a basic pencil sketch.


I immediately liked how bright and smooth the colors were.


Here’s a little close-up of where I tried blending on the wings using the clear blender pen. It says it is self-cleaning but I still wiped it on my printer paper every so often, just in case, so I wouldn’t end up with a surprise color smudge.


I added more color, and by this stage, I was quite pleased with the results and the ease of use of the pens. My only complaint so far is that when blending I did get some pilling on the page, which could potentially be blamed on the type of paper (90lb Mixed Media). I blame myself for the muddiness that occurred during some of the blending.

I tried to use relatively loose strokes most of the time, with the brush-shaped end of the pen. For smaller details/ thin lines I used the fine tip.


One distinct problem with these pens as a medium is that you automatically get a very saturated color, even when pressing lightly. I cheated a little by layering some white colored pencil to lighten up areas that were unnecessarily dark. I wasn’t too pleased by this stage, as I felt that perhaps I had overworked the drawing, using too many strokes and over-blending. I wished that I had used a lighter touch, layering colors in with each other instead of covering a broader surface area with saturated color, which increased the marker-like effect.


Finally, I was able to get a bit more detail and texture into the drawing with both ends of the brush pen and the trusty white colored pencil. The only thing that really came out poorly is the branch, which was a very light brown that I just couldn’t imitate.

IMG_3733Tropical Bird, brush pen on Mixed Media paper, 2018 (9×12)


One limiting factor for this drawing was my selection of only 9 colors, but according to the packaging there are a total of 96 colors available! I can definitely see myself acquiring more of these and playing around with them as I did with colored pencil. It is a slightly different learning experience, somewhere between drawing and painting.

Overall, the brush pens were fun, relatively easy to use, and fast! I think that with more practice I could get really nice effects with these.



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