Brush Pens Face-Off: Pentel vs Tombow

Brush pens are great. Seriously, if you don’t have at least one brush pen in your pencil case, you really should.

Today I’m going to compare two very popular brush pens: the Tombow Dual Brush Pen and the Pentel Pocket.


Tombow: acid free, water based ink. Pros: great if you like shading, or if you want to use it alongside your watercolors. Comes in a variety of colors. Cons: you need to be very careful because it smudges very easily! You need to wait a little bit longer for it to dry completely if you want to use it just for line art or inking.

Pentel: waterproof ink, refillable cartridges. Pros: dries quickly and it’s permanent, but you can still dilute it with a water brush when it’s still wet. Cons: Only comes in black.

Brush tip

Tombow: has two tips, a nylon fiber brush and a bullet tip. Pros: Having 2 type of tips in one. Cons: the brush tip is quite stiff and doesn’t allow very dynamic line weights. The tip wears down easily.

Pentel: soft synthetic brush. Pros: the ink flow is very smooth, and the soft brush is perfect to produce a variety of line weights and strokes. Very durable tip. Cons: doesn’t perform too well on textured paper.

price & extras

Tombow: USD $2.50, £2.75, €4. The pen body is quite longer than regular pens so it isn’t quite as portable; it is disposable.

Pentel: (comes with 2 cartridges) USD $13.50, £11, €13. You need to store it horizontally otherwise you could experience too heavy or too dry ink flow; it is refillable.


It’s quite hard to pick one over the other because although they fall into the same category, you can tell they’re very different pens. In my case, my favorite is the Pentel one, and shock horror, I don’t even get all the hype about the Tombow ones.

All things considered, my verdict is: if you can, buy them both and use one or the other depending on what are your needs in that moment, despite their flaws, they’re both very good pens. If you want to commit to only one of these, instead, I’d say go for the Tombow if you’re more of a casual user (it is definitely more budget friendly), and maybe if you’re starting to get an interest in lettering; go for the Pentel if need more control over your line work, and if you plan to use it extensively and for a variety of applications.

And you, do you have a fave brush pen you'd like to recommend? ☺

ƒ. xx