Are the Koi Coloring Brush Pens by Sakura some of the best art and lettering brush pens out there? We test out a set of 24 colours of the Koi pens and see what they can do with modern lettering, and also as illustration and colouring tools. Brush pens are a tricky tool to master with their flexible brush tip nibs, but do the Kois fix some of the chaos of brush pens and make them a dependable art tool? Watch the video to see what we discovered.
Reviewing Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set
Vishal: Welcome to Stationery Test Drive where our unending quest every few weeks seems to be the quest for a great brush pen and I think maybe this week we have finally found one that’s perfect. I’m Vishal.
Minjal: This is Minjal.
Samir: I’m Samir.
Vishal: And yes the Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pen, water-based ink for students, graphic artists, designers, illustrators, architects and cartoonists, and we have a set here of 24 Koi Coloring Brush Pens. There is quite a range of colors. This is a a fun set of brush pens.
We’ve reviewed a bunch of brush pens and all of them have had some kind of flaw or quirk, but I think we’re getting closer to the perfect one, aren’t we Samir?
Samir: I think we are because we’ve tried the Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen which was just gray, that was our first brush pen.
Vishal: So that’s more of a calligrapher’s pen, this one is more of an artist brush pen.
Samir: And I think we tried out the Brustro?
Vishal: Yeah, the Brustro Metallic Markers, which are not very good at being metallic isn’t that right Minjal?
Minjal: Or being brush pens.
Vishal: And then we tried the Sakura Permapaques, but they were like markers. One of the first issues with the Koi Coloring Brush Pens, I won’t call it a bad thing, but it’s an issue with brush pens in general, is that after certain amount of use, your brush kind of loses its shape, it loses that point.
Samir: But we have to say that this negative point is actually a positive point because this set of pens is over five years old?
Minjal: These were very generously gifted to us by Alethea. And she gave us two sets, so these are 48 pens.
Vishal: Yeah but I think they come in up to up to 24 colors. So we have like a double set.
Vishal: So, let’s just look at one of our test drives. Minjal why don’t you start us off?
Graffiti Lettering with Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set
Minjal: This is the first time I’ve used brush pens for writing of this style. I usually use the broad edge pens and I’ve been very scared to use a flexible tip pen for anything that is to do with lettering or calligraphy.
And unlike the the Brustro that we used earlier, this tip actually holds its shape, so it’s easier to get a little bit of structure in your writing. It’s not all over the place and the colors are just excellent. They’re great for a little bit of shadow technique if you want to use, they also blend pretty much seamlessly.
I read that they can also be blended with the colorless blender pen that is usually a part of the set or you buy it as a stand alone pen. What that lets you do is, it lets you blend the two colors. Koi Sakura only has the colorless blender pen or you can use the Koi Sakura water brush.
Vishal: Which I do have, but I did not end up using them for this because I kind of had a lot of fun just putting the colors down. How did yours go down, Minjal, your particular set?
Minjal: So like you’ll I had a couple of issues. Some of the pens in my set also, the tips had lost shape, but like we said these are almost six to seven years old.
Vishal: And they are second hand. I don’t think that those tips got that way out of just neglect, they got there through use, which is the best.
Samir: And also we have to point out that even the tips that were you know frayed, out of shape, the pens were not dried out, they were still working.
Vishal: Because really they’re great brush pens, they’re among the best we’ve used in terms of control. You’re never going to get the kind of control that you get precisely with like a very stiff acrylic brush or something.
Samir: But any complaints we had about the Permapaques, since that’s a Sakura product as well, as far as the quality of the colors, this very much proves what Sakura is genuinely great at – which is the range of colors that they come up with.
Vishal: Highly saturated, highly vibrant.
Samir: And strangely enough and maybe Minjal’s work is a good example of this. I was most impressed by the colors that were extremely light because all sketch pens and felt tip pens have these sort of dark vibrant colors these days.
We have tested out some very, very inexpensive pens which have great vibrant colors but getting these kind of calm, salmon pinks and those kind of things, that’s not that easy to do in a pen. And the range of those light colors were just excellent as far as I am concerned.
Vishal: I think both Samir and I used the entire range. Usually as people we are told to stick to three or four colors and not really go too crazy.
Samir: And we ignore all of that very good design advice and then we come up with things like this.
Illustration with Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set
Vishal: Wow! See now that is like an album cover with like flames in the logo!
Samir: I don’t know if this is good art but it’s a good test of 24 colors. As I said the thing that genuinely impressed me was the lighter colors in this because it really lets you put down kind of base coats like I have the pink here and the kind of the very light green here, and a pink for the body of this creature as well, and because they are so light you can easily layer darker colors on top of them and they still show through, but they also mix, it’s a great sort of mix of covering something up but also kind of letting it show through and blending, which I found to be great.
The one thing that Minjal mentioned was the blending pen that you get with it. We didn’t have that to try it out with. In some of their marketing they do mention that these are water soluble and so you can kind of move them around with a brush and water as well. I didn’t find that to be completely usable. I tried blending this pink with water. So you can see that it’s a little bit more watery looking than the rest of it. I think the color does move around a little but I wouldn’t buy these for that.
Vishal: I think maybe there is also a matter of priming the paper that is with water before in if you intend to do that. Because these went down on dry sheets they probably just went in like markers and stayed there, they didn’t sit on the surface for too long.
Samir: Because I tried sort of reactivating them immediately after drawing them and I tried it like a day later as well but yeah they did move around a little and they did wash out a little but not to the point where I would use them like watercolors.
Portrait Sketch with Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set
Vishal: Well, I don’t know if I used them like watercolors but I certainly made mine more painterly than I usually do. So this is my test drive which is as usual, it’s a portrait, it is just the thing I default to. I think I used pretty much every color that was in there, all 24.
Like Samir I put down a base coat in various parts of it, I used the yellows, I used the salmon pinks. If there’s one complaint I have about it, it’s that at least right now the way they are the colors are not always what I would describe them and yes you know artistically colors can be whatever, they are quite different depending on how you are looking at them but there are things that I wouldn’t describe as Woody Brown or as Pink or as Blue even but there they are. Also, I noticed that the Koi Brush Pen didn’t come down like a very precise point that you’d get with, what’s our favorite marker? The paint marker?
Minjal: The Uni Poscas.
Pros and Cons of Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set
Vishal: The Poscas, yes. The Poscas go down sort of uniformly, and form a single flat layer, these ones you are always going to get texture and if you are okay with leaning into that texture then you can get quite a bit of range from it. So unlike the Poscas which are very good at that graphic style, these are good for a very impressionist style.
Minjal: The tip of the Koi Sakura Brush Pen has medium flexibility. So it’s not something that will completely give you say a 6 mm line width as soon as you write. You can control it to get some kind of structured strokes. So if you look at these lines in your painting, in your art piece, you can actually retain some amount of control while you’re using it.
Samir: That’s true. I think my overall impression of this is the colors are definitely their strength, the felt tip is one of the best that we have tried as far as the brush pen is concerned. I did not like using it as a coloring pen as such because I think that it’s just a little too uncontrollable at times. So you need to as Vishal said, lean into the fact that it’s slightly chaotic and it creates this texture.
And, the only negative I can tell you about this pen is that as good as Sakura is at giving us colors, the colors of these caps are very bad at indicating what the color of the pen is. Do not go by what this cap looks like, that’s not what it looks like.
Vishal: Make sure you have a test sheet of the same material that you are doing your finished piece on, test it, mix it on there so you know what you’re getting.
Samir: But yes once you figure out what color is what, these are great pens and we highly recommend it.
Vishal: Yeah, totally. We have found if not the best brush pen, but certainly hazarding towards the best brush pen set. So, get the set and please set your bell notifications and alarms and other things to follow us at Inky memo. Go to inkymemo.com, subscribe to our newsletter and check out all the stories there. And until our next test drive I’m Vishal.
Minjal: This is Minjal.
Samir: I’m Samir. And if you like colors like these you really need to check out one of our inexpensive sets of sketch pens that we tried out which was the Dom Sketch Pens. And if you are a fan of Sakura then you have to check out their best selling pen ever which is the Pigma Microns.
Get the Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set
- SAKURA Koi Coloring Brush Pens – Watercolor Brush Pen Set – Assorted Colors – 48 Pack – https://amzn.to/3M12Geq
- DOMS Sketch Max Non-Toxic Water Colour Sketch Pens (12 Assorted Shades x 6 Set) – https://amzn.to/3RWxjWg
- SAKURA Pigma Micron Fineliner Pens – Archival Black Ink Pens – Pens for Writing, Drawing, or Journaling – Assorted Point Sizes – 6 Pack – https://amzn.to/46Rc0tF