Brush Pen vs India Ink

Monday, August 22, 2016

A detailed comparison of brush pens vs bottled india ink, listing the advantages and disadvanges of both
Photo Credit: Gold and Berry
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I recently got my very first brush pen, which I am pretty excited about! I can't wait to use it more and practice my hand lettering (which is definitely one of the more difficult art forms for me personally). I have wanted to try one for a while but finally got one because I started noticing that the india ink I was using had some drawbacks when I was practicing my lettering. So I figured that a pro/con blog post comparing the two would be great to share. 

First of all, the specific products I am using are the *Pentel Arts Duo Point Double-Ended Artist Pen and the *Higgins Waterproof Black India Ink. You might have different results with different brands, so this is just what I have experienced with these two in particular.

Brush Pen - Ideal for Hand Lettering

A detailed comparison of brush pens vs bottled india ink, listing the advantages and disadvanges of both

Pros

  • Blackest ink
This was the main reason for my interest in using a brush pen for hand lettering instead of india ink. Perhaps it is just the brand I'm using, but I noticed that even without diluting the ink at all, it never was a true black (I'd love it if you let me know in a comment below whether you use a different brand of india ink and still find this to be true!). On it's own it looks sort of black, but once you compare it to the brush pen, the difference is striking. You can probably look at my photos in this post and pick out which parts were using the brush pen vs the india ink because of how black they appear.

  • Portablity
Traveling with a bottle of india ink, brushes, and a cup of water is obviously not ideal. With a brush pen you just have one tool, so it's super easy to use on the go. And with the Pentel Duopoint, you already have two tools in one!

  • Convenience
You never have to keep dipping your brush over and over into the ink bottle. I hate when I run out of ink while lettering and having to dip the brush back into the ink. Plus, it ruins the look of continuity! With a brush pen you get a continuous appearance (also because the black ink doesn't change in tone).

  • Variety in lines
The brush tip is just like a paint brush with a fine point, so you can alter your lines and get thin or thick brushstrokes. On the other hand, the bullet tip isn't flexible, so you only have one size. However, this side is good for details and thinner lines. It's pretty similar to my *Sakura Micron Pens actually.

Cons

  • Diluting the ink
Diluting the ink of a brush pen isn't really an option. As a result, there isn't any variety in tones like you can get with bottled ink.

India Ink - Ideal for Painting

A detailed comparison of brush pens vs bottled india ink, listing the advantages and disadvanges of both

Pros

  • Diluting the ink
Unlike brush pens, india ink that comes in a bottle can be diluted. This means that you can get different tones from black (ish) to a variety of greys, depending on how much the ink is diluted with water. This also makes it good for painting, because you can achieve shading. Not to mention the fact that you can create some cool effects with water.  For example, in the photo below I had wet the paper and then used the ink bottle's dropper to drop some ink onto the page. Then I used a variety of techniques to change the look. I let some of the ink dry in drops, blew on other areas to spread the ink, or moved the ink around using a wet brush to create gray areas. I also used a splatter technique by flicking the wet brush towards the page. As you can see, there are a variety of different tones on this painting that were achieved by diluting the ink.

A photo posted by Krista (@theillustrai) on

  • Versatility
Another advantage to bottled ink is that you can use whatever tool you want, such as paintbrushes, waterbrushes, or calligraphy nibs. Therefore, it can be used in so many different projects by simply changing out which tool you use. 

Cons

  • Not Portable
I repeat, nobody wants to travel with a bottle of india ink, brushes, and a cup of water.

  • Messy
Because the ink is in a bottle, there is a very good chance of spilling it. Luckily, this has yet to happen to me (knock on wood!), but I imagine it would REALLY suck. Not only would you waste all of your ink for nothing, but it could also stain and ruin anything that comes in contact with it!

A detailed comparison of brush pens vs bottled india ink, listing the advantages and disadvanges of both

Both of these tools have their advantages and disadvantages, so I still plan on using both! I think it's really about choosing which one would be best based on your project. As I pointed out, I think that I would recommend brush pens for hand lettering and bottled india ink for painting. That's just my personal preference though. What do you think - which do you prefer?

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