Monday, July 12, 2010

Reviewing the Pentel Large Color Brush Pen

Today I’m going to be reviewing the Color Brush pen from Pentel. This is just one in a long line of quality products from Pentel of America. For more on Pentel products you can visit their web site at: These pens come in a variety of colors, all of which can be viewed here. I have been using this pen almost exclusively for a recent series of canine ink brush paintings, and I am really enjoying it. For this review I will be breaking down my critique into four parts: Ergonomics, tip and ink flow, quality of line, and durability. First let’s talk about the comfort of the pen.

Ergonomics. It feels pretty hefty in your hand (which I like), the barrel is round in circumference with ridges running it's length for a good grip. The manufacturers have also placed ridges running around the pen head itself, which also allows for a good grip closer to the tip. The pen mechanism breaks down into three parts: the barrel, which holds the ink, and is the part that you throw away and replace (a recycling system would be nice - more on this later) - the pen brush head, which screws into the pen cartridges, and the cap. The cap does not fit as securely onto the end of the barrel as I would like, but this could easily be rectified with a simple snap ridge to allow for it to pop on and off. Replacement of cartridges is simple and straightforward, with the instructions printed right on the side of the pen brush head. Simply remove the old/empty ink cartridge by turning clockwise, and then screw the new one on counter-clockwise (a little odd, but you get used to it). With the cover slipped onto the back of the pen, the balance is even and the weight is distributed evenly across the pen’s length. As I said before, I like a little "heft" in the pens I use. I tend to work heavy, so I like a drawing instrument that is also heavy. The pen is about 7" long, and the brush head is equivalent to a medium to large size Sumi brush.

Tip and Ink Flow. The brush tip is made up of a synthetic material, and produces a medium to heavy line weight. I find the line to be fluid and smooth, without any clumping or "dotting." A gentle squeeze fills the reservoir with ink, and then a continuous, flowing line ensues, depending on pressure. The ink leaves the brush tip tip in a graceful and even manner with no bleed or messy overflow. Another interesting way to vary the line is to let the reservoir run dry, and then you can create more of a dry brush technique. The brush also seems to hold up really well over time. Being synthetic instead of natural hair you don't get as much "splaying" of the fibers as you would with a natural brush. This is a HUGE selling point for me, as I always seem to be going through brushes with my heavy hand.

Quality of Line. As I said before, the line is consistent and even, yet you can still vary the line weight from light to medium to heavy by how much pressure you exert on the brush. You can also obtain a dry brush feel by allowing the tip to go a little dry. As soon as ink is squeezed back into it, you can get a very tight line again. I like that versatility. I'll include a detail of one of my dog drawings, so that you can see the quality of line in a finished piece of art.

Longevity and Durability. This pen is built pretty sturdily. The plastic barrel is hefty and the cap clicks securely onto the tip end, although not on the back end. The tip can take a pretty good beating too, working from the side of the brush and back to a point, and still come up with a thin crisp line. The high quality Pentel ink also gives a really solid, dark black. A good crisp black is always a plus in ink brush paintings.

Overall I would give the Pentel Color Brush Pen a score of 9.5 out of 10. Other than a few tweaks to the cap, and a barrel recycling program, I wouldn't change a thing.

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