Brustro Metallic Brush Pen Set – Test

We test out the Brustro Metallic Brush Pen set of 10 colors to see how they hold up for extensive use. Brush pens are a tricky thing to get right, as are any markers. Add metallic ink to that mix and you have perfect storm. With adult coloring books becoming a common thing and modern calligraphy lettering being more popular than ever, coloring markers are more used than ever. Are felt-tip metallic markers a good medium to do entire illustrations and lettering pieces with, or are they better used as an embellishment tool in journaling, scrapbooks and crafts? Watch the video to see and hear what we found.

Reviewing the Brustro Metallic Brush Pen Set

Vishal: This is the one that was such an anomaly!

Samir: Could you even get that working?

Vishal: Oh it’s working. I realized that it’s working. You know how I realized it was working? Because I realized a day later when I saw it from the side!

Samir: Exactly!

Vishal: Hello and welcome to Stationery Test Drive where every week we take the pens you use every day and some of the things that you do not and we do fun things with them. I’m Vishal.

Samir: I’m Samir.

Minjal: This is Minjal and today we’re looking at the Brustro Metallic Brush Pens. It’s a set of 10 metallic brush pens.

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Vishal: They have Japanese nibs, they’re opaque, water-based, odorless, xylene – free, indelible ink. And we have a bunch of them here in shades of everything including white. Now brush pens are in some ways like a sports car, where you think you want it, they’re beautiful, they look great, you think “Yeah! I’m going to get a brush pen and I’m going to turn into a painter but with none of that messy stuff.” And then you use them and you find out that they’re not actually that easy to use.

These are no exception, in the way they’re used. They have these brush tips which you can use even on their sides. Now if you are paying attention to the video you will realize that we have come across our first problem with the Brustros, in that this is supposed to be gold. And I know you should always believe in your soul but that does not quite look like gold to me. Does it look like gold to any of you?

Samir: It does not on that paper and I think the thing that I discovered as I started playing around with it is that these pens change drastically based on what you’re using them on.

Vishal: Well it looks more green than the gold does but the gold also kind of looks green. Now this is the one that was such an anomaly!

Samir: Did you even get that working?

Vishal: Oh it’s working. I realized that it’s working. You know how I realized it was working? Because I realized a day later when I saw it from the side!

Samir: Exactly! That’s what I came across too. I drew this on the cover of a book and I thought this pen isn’t working. A day later it was white!

Vishal: And, look there it is! It’s a magic trick. Maybe they should call this the Magic Metallic Brush Pen because unfortunately, as artists we kind of want to know what we’re putting down, when we’re putting it down. I’m sure there are ceramicists and other people who are scoffing at us right now saying, “you know you only know until after it’s out of the kiln, on somebody’s shelf!”

Samir: I don’t know if you guys tried this out but I think the thing I have realized is that while they say that it can be used on a variety of surfaces I think that it reaches its sort of, its glitter and shines only on particular surfaces.

Vishal: This is a smooth art paper I’m using it on and again yes it’s getting gray after a while so I’m guessing the xylene – free pigment, the solvent that they’re using is something quite wet and strange that takes a while to dry.

Samir: Yeah and that’s the thing that I found because this is water-based maybe that’s the reason the water kind of really gets absorbed into paper very quickly and what I found is that if I’m using it on any paper that’s fairly absorbent and both these are, in spite of this one being smooth, it is a fairly absorbent paper, it just never reaches that shine level on an absorbent piece of paper, which is why I tried it on the cover of a sketchbook, which is kind of a coated, plastic coated kind of thing, and there it shines perfectly. So this pen is very dependent on the surface that you’re using it on.

Vishal: It’s like those pens that you see celebrities using to do their autographs, where it’s just like it’s on a glossy eight by ten and this is like a golden thing. Let’s forget the pigment for a second, what is it like to use these? Because the brush pens I’ve used, honestly the brush pens I’ve used have longer brush tips, especially the Japanese ones.

Samir: These are strange and they’re kind of like a marker tip but then a sort of marker nib, the felt nib but then with a brush tip.

Vishal: So the way I like to use a brush pen and at least test the brush pen is by starting with the smallest line that I can get from the tip and then pushing it down from the top to see what I can get. And this is not a huge range of motion, honestly it reminds me of old graphics tablets on the computer where the pressure curve is not as functional as I would like. So yes it’s not brilliant as a calligraphy tool. So why doesn’t our resident calligrapher, calligraphist, show us what she did!

Brustro Brush Pens for Calligraphy

Minjal: So many names! I actually faced all the problems that you’ll have discussed so far. I used the Clairefontaine black textured paper. The paper really is excellent, it’s 160 gsm, it says 160 this feels like 160. The pen, when I tried on this paper, appears chalky, it’s not metallic and it has a grey tinge to it. I realized all the colors they just leave behind like a grey coat.

Brustro Metallic Markers Calligraphy1

Vishal: I suppose that’s supposed to be the metallic side of it and if maybe it shows up on camera when it where it kind of fluoresces almost, it does not really show that much in person and I think that’s one of the problems. Maybe in person it’s not a great looking thing. But these are your experiments show us your other ones.

Minjal: I tried the same pen, the same quote on white paper just to show the difference. So here you can see the metallic color a little more clearly, a bit clearer.

Brustro Metallic Brush Pen Calligraphy2

Vishal & Samir: A bit clearer but also very uneven. It’s kind of blotchy, you would think that this pen was almost failing in some ways. And I know we’re being kind of negative about this but we have tried other metallic pens. We’ve tried Poscas.

Minjal: I’ve tried the Zig Kuretake Metallic Markers – they’re fantastic.

Vishal: Clearly when you want some kind of effect that’s a metallic pen, you want something that is going to deliver something special, and so far it’s not delivering something special on the textural front or even on the line quality front.

Minjal: As a lettering artist I don’t really use brush pens a lot because you have to have a little flexibility to use pens for lettering. So if you try to do more structured writing and the tip on this particular pen is, they say that it is a combination of hard and soft tip, but this is flexible to the end where you can’t control.

Vishal: It’s not flexible enough. I can see that what they mean by the soft and hard tip. It’s sort of between the Japanese brush pens I’ve used and between also the Fudenosuke pens which we have covered.

Minjal: I really enjoyed using the Tombow also because the tip is not as wide.

Vishal & Samir: Yeah it’s longer, it’s more like a brush.

Vishal: As a calligrapher you had that experience, as an illustrator I used it quite sparingly after a few tests on rough paper and this is what I ended up with.

Brustro Brush Pens for Drawing

vishal brustrometallic IMG 3481

Minjal: It doesn’t look like there are any problems in this!

Samir: That’s because that’s because he’s used it for what I think we are all figuring out it’s best for which is only for embellishments.

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Vishal: For accents and embellishments because the majority of the inks on this are my trusty, by now 10 year old, ratty, very overused Sakura water brush that has been just loaded with Sumi Ink for the better part of 10 years. I’ve not been kind to it or gentle to it but on a decent smooth paper that’s what you get. That’s the Sakura as well in the grays, in washes. The only place where these Brustros came in are in all the colored bits, the gold bits which don’t really look gold to me, the purple and the texture and yes in these belts.

vishal brustrometallic IMG 3485

We have seen the the heights of this, we’ve seen the Poscas, which are acrylic markers and in fact there is a Posca gold metallic one which I use, which we did use and which is much more vibrant, much more gold like. This one, even after a day is just like a dull brown, really, it’s not even a gold. It does not fluoresce at any angle for me. In these larger, bulky areas, which is why I brought up the Posca, the texture of the pen is very apparent.

The texture of the stroke you’re putting down and I tried it thin, I tried it in two passes, two coats, it was still kind of the same. So unlike a Posca which gives you a very clean, flat layer especially after a while. Maybe not when it goes down whereas this one gets even more textured after it dries, which is the opposite and that you may or may not want that. Again, the fine tip is not good enough, maybe this is better when they’re brand new but if they have such a small tolerance for life when the tip is usable.

Minjal: You can’t do any hairline strokes with this pen at all. You can do that with the Tombow, you can get really fine thin lines.

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Vishal: You can see the thinnest line that I could get is here and even that has these kind of these, what some illustrators and digital illustrators call shoelace ends. In that they sort of bulge and then they taper quickly, which is a problem with some digital styluses when they go into a thing. And I never expected that on a physical medium actually. In physical mediums you feel like you have more control, that you have more analog kind of feel. Samir, you also did an illustration this time.

Brustro Brush Pens for Illustration

Samir: Yeah and I came across pretty much the same issues you’ll have been facing. I went even deeper into trying to cover large areas with it and here you can really see what the problem is.

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Vishal: So you’ve used a colored paper and not a black one and not a white one. So we’ve done a nice spread here.

Samir: I tried to go for really large areas and yes I tried to keep the stroke direction even because I started to see that it is forming this texture and I even tried to use the texture.

From what I can figure, there’s the problem of all of these papers being quite absorbent and what that does seemingly is that the base of the nib is giving out the color and the tip of the nib is giving out the shine and that’s the texture that you come across.

So wherever you see the shiny line is the tip of the nib and the part that’s closer to the body of the pen is where the pigment comes in and that’s why you get these streaks. So there’s almost something about the metallic bits and the pigment not not being evenly distributed in the nib.

Vishal: Maybe that’s just something that they need to work on. I think this is the first time we’ve been so down on something since maybe the Carpenter’s Pencils – the infamous 4B – 6B.

Brustro Brush Pens – Pros and Cons

Samir: But honestly I think in this case it’s very much a question of maybe we are just not using it to the best of what it’s made for.

Vishal: I mean we’re Stationery Test Drive not Stationery Comprehensive.

Samir: Exactly. I think the problem with this pen for us and it’s not a problem with the pen is that we tend to look at all stationery as comprehensive as you said. We want to take that one piece of stationery and do the whole piece with it, on everything.

And that’s what I have tried to do, that’s what Minjal has tried to do. In some ways you have solved that by using a Sumi Ink for what that’s best at and then using this purely for embellishment.

Also I think there is just an issue of what kind of pen this is. We have been comparing it to the Poscas and things like that and these are not the same kind of pen at all. The Posca is very much a paint pen, it is an opaque pigmented medium that just gets spread by what looks like a pen.

This on the other hand is a very old-school felt-tip pen, with the pigment, with the dye kind of soaked into the the nib. So it has its limitations compared to something like a Posca or something like a Gelly Roll which sort of just has a medium that sits on top of the paper.

Vishal: Well it does have some things you can lean into texturally and pattern wise that are almost a side effect of that.

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Samir: And as I said more importantly I think we have used it on paper which is maybe not its strength. It could be that it works better on hard surfaces.

Vishal: So what you’re saying is that we need to become celebrities, print up a bunch of glossy eight by tens and exclusively use this to sign our names on it.

Samir: What I would say is that it does have its uses. It is not a set that you should use as your only coloring medium because yes, it’s also about the color selection. All of their colors because they’re going for the more metallic look, have this sort of grey tone to them. None of them are extremely bright.

So if that works for you and it’s what you’re going for it might be a good set. If you’re working on harder surfaces where the the pigment can sit on top, I think it might work for you. The only thing that I can surely say that these pens are not good at is that maybe they do not last a long time. Because the set we have is not brand new, it’s not something that we picked up right now, in fact it was gifted to us.

Minjal: This was gifted by my sister Kashni, so thank you for the gift Kashni. And Brustro as a brand, I really love their watercolor papers, their acrylic papers.

Samir: We all have their sketch books.

Minjal: It’s a great brand but maybe as Samir and Vishal have discussed maybe kids are taking ceramic mugs and painting them with the Brustro Brush Pens, and that is a better use for them.

Samir: Exactly, maybe it works great on those things. But for sure the thing we can say is that these pens are something you should probably buy and use immediately and not hold on to for too long.

Minjal: There’s no way to prime or reprime or make dry pens work again in this case.

Vishal: Unlike the Poscas which have that handy little press down. The Posca is more of a space-age applicator with a pen like you said. I think we’re done with our test drive for this week. It was not the the most enjoyable one for us but we enjoyed the work I think. I liked putting this stuff down and if nothing else it’ll make me want to go and try this kind of thing with other things like the Posca.

Samir: We’ve said this before, sometimes it’s good to struggle with a medium because it pushes you to do things you would not with something you’re familiar with.

Vishal: Well you should get more familiar with us, collectively we are Inky Memo and we have many more stories about stationery and tools and the history of art and the culture that comes from the tools that we make. So follow the links on screen and in the description below.

Sign up for the Inky Memo newsletter, follow us on social media where we put up all of these works as well as the rest of the things we do. And every week on YouTube we will try out more things, successfully unsuccessfully but whatever it is we hope you are there to join us for all of that and more. Until then I’m Vishal.

Samir: I’m Samir.

Minjal: This is Minjal.

Vishal: And, be metal or something! I don’t know. That’s a thing they do!

Get Brustro Metallic Brush Pens & Also check some of our favourite Metallic Brush Pens,

1. BRUSTRO Metallic Brush Pens –

2. Kuretake ZIG FUDEBIYORI Brush Pens Metallic Pens –

3. Zebra Metallic Brush Pens –

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