Thank you, Jetpens, for the opportunity to try these pens out and share the results with my readers.
Specs Fine/MediumShipping Weight: 0.84 oz/0.85 oz
Body Color: Black
Body Material: Plastic
Diameter - Grip: 12.5 mm
Diameter - Max: 13 mm
Length - Capped: 18.4 cm
Length - Posted: 20.5 cm
Length - Uncapped: 17.2 cm
Tip Length: 8 mm/9mm
Tip Material: Synthetic Hair
Tip Replaceable: No
Cartridge Replaceable: Yes
Look & FeelThe Pilot New Brush pen has a long body. I have small hands and worried that it might be too long, and thought I'd have to use it uncapped. To my surprise, it's so light that the length wasn't an issue. I've been dealing with a sore wrist, but found this pen caused little strain. That doesn't mean it is easy to use--brush pens aren't unless you are used to brushes. But I'll discuss that later.
The pen also has a soft body. As in squeezable. I doubt it will be easy to break, but I'd carry it in a bag or wrapped in paper towels in case something heavy was set on it so that ink spurted.
All the writing on the package is in Japanese, so it took me a few minutes to realize it, but you need to remove the white ring on the pen to engage the ink cartridge. Then you squeeze the body to start the ink flow. Fortunately, there is an 'F' in the identification number for the fine point pen and an 'M' for the medium point. Eventually, I got where I remembered that the green labeled pen was fine and the orange was medium.
The brush tip is white to begin with, and you squeeze until it is black. For the most part, the ink will continue to flow as you write or draw, but if your strokes are too fast, you may need to squeeze lightly to get more ink. You can use this to advantage if you want a broken look or dry brush feel to your lines.
There isn't too much difference between the fine and medium points. I did find it easier to write with the fine, and I had to be more careful with the medium if I wanted fine lines. Having both sizes extends the variety of line so that's nice. If you can only afford to buy one, consider whether you prefer a bolder line or finer line and choose accordingly.
I mentioned above that this brush pen wasn't easy to use. Please don't let that scare you. In western culture, we're used to writing with pens, and brushes require a slightly different skill set. If you've painted or done calligraphy, a brush pen will be easier for you to use.
It isn't a difficult skill, just one that takes a little practice. You have to learn how to get the line width you want consistently--what pressure to use and at what angle to hold the pen. For the purposes of this review, I held the pen as though it were a ballpoint, but you have more options with a brush pen, and can get even more effects by holding it like a paint brush.
The good news is that it's fun. I spend an hour or so, just making marks, doodling strange little animals, pushing and plopping and flipping the pen around. I enjoy marveling at the flow and what different effects I can get from these pens versus the normal pen.
So how does this pen hold up to other brush pens I've used? I'm going to make my comparison between this pen and other 'synthetic' brush pens. Natural hair brush pens are a whole different animal, in my experience.
The New Brush didn't stand out as the best, but it was comparable to other good brush pens I've had. The hardest thing for me with a brush pen is avoiding the spiky lines you get from the very tip. I found it easier to control but that may be partially that I've had more practice now.
One of the claims of the pen is that the synthetic hairs will hold up longer. I can't tell that for sure in the time I've had the pens. But in past brush pens, the hairs started to spread and the spiky lines became more prevalent. I'm hoping the fact that I have less spikiness now is a good sign.
The ink in the pen is not water-proof, but the lines tend to blur slightly rather than smear when they get wet. Don't get me wrong--they will smear if you use enough water. But you can spread the ink quite a bit without losing your lines.
Writing is more difficult for me than drawing, and always has been. It is no different with the New Brush pen.
It didn't take me long before I could write legibly, but it would be a while before I could get the beautiful flowing lines that I know are possible. I know others would find the exact opposite.
My first full drawing was done in a dot-grid journal, so I could concentrate on how I was drawing my lines versus keeping them straight. This was a smooth, fountain-pen friendly paper, and perfect for the pen.
Drying time was a little slower with this paper, but I could still run my finger across a line without smearing it within a 30-40 seconds.
For this piece, I worried more about control than variety. I attempted to get the lines I wanted consistently.
I wanted to see how the ink would do on a slicker paper so I chose a piece of scrapbook paper with a light, neutral colored stripe design. The ink did well, with only a slight lag in the drying time.
For this drawing, I loosened up, playing more with variety rather than control. At least I tried to--it's hard to let go!
I decided to up the ante a bit. I had painted an acrylic background in one of my art journals. Acrylic dries to a slick surface, but some of the paint was metallic, and very slick. I half expected the ink to bead up and refuse to soak in.
It did soak in, but the drying time was extended considerably. As in days. The ink actually dried to a tacky consistency within a minute or so. You could touch it lightly without disturbing it, but if you rested your hand on it, you'd get ink on your hand. It didn't smear easily, but it would smear. At this point, two days later, if I rub hard, I can still get a very faint residue. I don't know if it will ever cure beyond this.
It's harder to clog a brush pen, so this might be an option for drawing on surfaces that are otherwise difficult to draw on. However, you wouldn't want to handle the finished piece often. It would probably be best to use some kind of fixative, or to put it behind glass or plastic
Note, that on parts of this painting, I added a thin layer of paint over the ink. You can see where the lines seem faded and gray. I then added areas of more paint or ink, getting a very 3D look. I also got a holographic effect in one area, where the dots seem to move when you move the page in the light.
As I said earlier, the ink is not water-proof. That can be used to advantage for shading or coloring.
The ink moves well without becoming drippy, but you can't lift it away very well. This limits your effects, but makes it nice for quick sketches.
OverallThe Pilot New Brush pen would be a nice choice for sketching while you travel. It's light, gives you a variety of line widths, and allows you to shade if you have a waterbrush as well. It's a solid entry into the world of brush pens. I wouldn't rush to replace a brush pen you already like, but if you need something new or are just starting with them, this is a good value for the price.
Disclaimer: I received these two brush pens from Jetpens.com for the purpose of reviewing them, but have received no other compensation. All opinions are my own.