In the 3 months that I have been learning modern calligraphy, I have been exposed to many, many, many different brush pens. One day in Michaels I noticed that the Artist’s Loft brush pens were significantly cheaper than the more coveted Tombow Dual Brush Tip Pen. I was just getting into using brush pens so I just got the Artist’s Loft pens. I’d used them a bit but I wasn’t sure I was using them right. Since then, the Tombow primary colour pen set went on sale and I was lucky enough to get them. I’ve finally had some time to be able to play and compare the two and this is what I have found.
Please note I am in no way affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this post. I am just a newbie trying to help other newbies figure it out!
So I am by no means an expert in using these pens. But, as a newbie, I can tell you which pens are more forgiving. Since both sets of pens have water-based ink, you can blend using water. I did a comparison of both pens using watercolour paper and there was definitely a difference. The Tombow pens were a lot more forgiving and controllable than the Artist’s Loft. I found that the Tombows stayed within the parameters of the underlying ink. The blend was also a lot smoother.
The Artist’s Loft brand was unforgiving in how it blended. It’s a lot more noticeable where I added (or rather unintentionally blotched) more water. The blend wasn’t as smooth in that you can still see lines as well as my amateur hour blotching and attempts to “fix” it.
I’ve used blender pens with each brand too and I found the Tombows to blend much better with the blender pen. Tombows come with their own blender pen but you have to purchase a blender pen if you’re using the Artist’s Loft (if you’re working in a medium that doesn’t like water).
In my example though, I actually prefer the image with the Artist’s Loft since it looks more natural and captures the roughness of the word leaf. That’s irony for you I guess!
I believe there are a lot more colour options under the Tombow brand. There are some incredible artists out there using these pens. You can get colour sets that include portrait colours, as well as landscape colours. They are releasing a new colour set with galaxy colours and they look amazing.
I have spent a lot more time researching the Tombows than the Artist’s Loft colours so I’m not sure if Artist’s Loft has as big of a variety as Tombow.
As mentioned above, the Artist’s Loft brand pens are significantly cheaper than the Tombows but the Tombows do go on sale (both at Michaels and on Amazon).
Overall, I prefer the user-friendly Tombows. I love the colour saturation and the seamless blending. I also love the variety of colours that are available. I’d like to spend more time playing with each brand and I’ll be posting on Instagram as I do. There are many, many artists out there that can work magic with any medium they use. I, on the other hand, will have to spend A LOT more time working on my watercolour skills. This weekend was pretty disastrous with a ton of smudges as I tried to push my boundaries.
I will have to admit though that regardless of which pen you use, it’s all about the paper you’re using it on. I used watercolour paper in my examples. Mixed media paper will give you a different outcome. Rhodia paper holds up pretty well to blending. Unfortunately, the paper used in my Leuchtturm bullet journal does not do these pens any favours. As such, I’ll be moving into a different brand called Scribbles That Matter for my December/2018 journal. I will let you know how well that holds up.
Let me know if you have any tips and tricks to share when using these pens. I am also open to high-quality journal and notebook suggestions.
For fun ways to use your pens, check out this Ribbon calligraphy tutorial.
Thank you for your time today!