Ink: Dye based, Odorless, water-based solvent
Nib: Flexible Nylon
Packaging: Reusable plastic case with front clasp
Available in 48 colors + colorless blender
Colors in 12-Color set: red, pink, pale orange, orange, yellow, yellow green, green, blue, sky blue, purple, brown and black colors (there are 36 other colors available, including a clear blender)
Look and Feel
The 12-Color Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set comes in re-usable packaging, with a flap that lets you reseal the package. They are watercolor brush pens, meant to be used like a marker while giving watercolor effects.
The colors are bright, and move well in water. In fact, out of all the watercolor-type brush pens I've used, I think these move the easiest and blend the best. That said, you do still get a hard line between the pure color and the water-blended color. That's par for course with a water-soluble pen of this type, in my experience.
To get the chart below, I used the waterbrush from a Koi watercolor pan set. I laid down a stroke of pure color from the pen, and then ran the waterbrush about halfway down for a second stroke. With the exception of the Pale Orange they all moved into the wash of water creating a nice paler shade of the color. The Pale Orange was very light to begin with so that may be why it didn't move as well. It's a great shade for painting skin!
The pens aren't the shortest I've ever seen but they are shorter than many. They may be a little uncomfortable for those with large hands. Capping the pen helps, but only so much.
The tip is a long flexible nylon that gives a brush-like feel, but won't splay like bristles might. My experience with similar tips tells me that the tip may lose its point after heavy use. If you use the technique of touching the tips of two different colors to get a third, then the tip might become contaminated. I didn't want to try it.
This kind of tip is very good for getting into those small tight areas. You can dab lightly, and still get fresh, bright color.
On the Sakura of America website, they recommend: "For best results, use on a heavy weight, plate-finish paper (smooth but not coated)". That means this pen would be great for most quality coloring books, and many marker/pen papers, but will be damaged if you use it on watercolor paper, or other paper that has a rough surface.
This warning didn't surprise me. I had many nylon tipped pens fray after I've used them on rough paper -- even like that of a Zentangle tile. It's just part of the nylon-tip experience. And even though I only suspect that the ink might dry out if I leave the pens uncapped for long -- I'll be keeping them capped as much as possible. It's only logical.
I wanted to try these pens on watercolor paper, but was afraid I might damage them, so I did something I shouldn't have done.
There is another technique where you touch a wet brush to the tip of a watercolor pen, to pick up the color, and then paint without ever touching the pen itself to paper. That's what I did on this 4" x 4" painting. As you can see, the color is bright, and moved well in the water. I was impressed.
But there was a reason I shouldn't have used this technique, at least not with a waterbrush where you squeeze it to get water out. While I was taking some of the color from the Pale Orange, I squeezed a bit too much, soaking the pen tip. I have not been able to get any color out of the pen since.
As I said before, the Pale Orange is a light color, and I probably got water into the ink, diluting it so it is colorless. This has happened to me before with other brands of similar tipped pens, so it's a problem inherent with a nylon tipped pen and that particular technique.
So while the results can be wonderful, use that technique at your own risk!
For my second example, I used a page from a 12" by 12" coloring book that I reviewed last year. No problems here. I was able to negotiate even the tiny detail areas, get a wide range of values and it was easy to control the flow of color, so that I wasn't slopping over the lines.
Next I decided to use the pens on a smooth Fountain-Pen-Friendly paper. The color didn't move as well, which didn't surprise me. You don't want fountain pen ink to bleed all over while you are writing, so the paper is formulated to control that. That's the reason I like to try at least three different ways of using a product. How your product reacts over a range really helps you learn about it.
There was good coverage, and I was able to get some light color. The colors were almost brilliant on this surface.
About the Tangle Pattern: As I was drawing this pattern, it made me think of a row of teeth, lol, and I remembered what the old wire braces were like when I wore them. I'm sure someone else has come up with a pattern similar, though I'm not aware of one, so I'll call it a tangleation.
This set of flexible nylon tipped pens are the best watercolor pens that I've encountered in my experience, with the best flow of color, staying intense even after water is added.
They are susceptible to the problems you would encounter with any flexible nylon tipped pens - fraying if used on rough paper, picking up stains from other colors (I didn't have a problem with this, but will be taking care anyway) and losing color if tip gets soaked in water.
I've sounded a bit dire, I think. These nylon tipped pens are wonderful to work with. Easy to use, with bright color capable of producing a wide range of values from a light tint to brilliant pure color.
Disclaimer: I received this 12-Color Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set as part of a thank you for artwork that Sakura of America shared. I was not asked to do this review, and received no other compensation. All opinions are my own.