Sharing a head-to-head comparison of the Tombow VS. Karin Brush pens. Trying something new today, doing a head-to-head comparison of 2 similar products. I am kicking this series off with a review of an oldie, and a goodie, Tombow Dual Tip Brush Markers, and the Karin Brushmarker Pro pens. This review is from a bullet journaling perspective so I will be looking at their performance as a creative bullet journaling pen. I’ve also shared a video on YouTube if you would like to follow along there.
This post is not sponsored and purchased with my own money.
The Versus “Rules”
This versus review will be based on a number of factors and a point will be awarded to the marker that’s best in that category. Again, these categories are from a bullet journaling perspective, and obviously, this is my opinion.
These are the categories we will be scoring on:
- Color Intensity
- Color variety
- Accessibility – how easy they are to find and buy
- 3 ways – tip to tip, pick up method, waterbrush pen
- Bleed through
- 160GSM vs 100GSM
- Coated vs non-coated
- Bonus round: nice touches
Tombow VS. Karin Brush Pens – RevieW
1. Color Intensity – Winner: Karin
I find the Karin markers to be a lot brighter and more intense than the Tombow markers. This is a double-edged sword which you will see shortly.
2. Color Variety – Winner: Tombow
Tombow has 108 colours to Karin’s 72. Tombow had come out with new colors in the past so we’ll see if they release any new colors.
3. Cost – Winner: Tombow
There are actually many variables that went into this. I thought it would be easy and straight forward but it actually wasn’t. So, Karin markers are $27.99 USD for a 12 pack and Tombows are $29.99 for a 10 pack. BUT! Tombows do go on sale a lot, especially in craft stores like Michaels, and the Tombow website has deals too.
Then, if you were to buy the pens as singles, Tombow wins again since a single Tombow pen is $3.45 (on their Website but prices may differ in stores). The only places I can find individual Karin pens from are from specialty art stores and a single pen can retail for anywhere between $5 – $8 USD.
4. Accessibility – Winner: Tombow
Tombows are a lot easier to find on a variety of websites and stores. My local craft and stationery stores are all carrying them now, as well as Amazon. As mentioned above, their website also has decent shipping rates and times (I’m in Canada).
5. Blendability – Winner: Karin
Karin blending was so smooth and the gradient was really great – regardless of whether we blended with another pen or a water brush pen.
6. Bleed Through – Winner: Tombow
Karin held up better on coated paper but still has some bleed through. But had the most bleed though on 100GSM and Tombow had the most ghosting. On 160GSM paper, Karin only bled through on blending, but held up quite well, but Tombow did the best.
7. Bonus Round: Nice Touches
- Labeling: Karin – they have the color names on the lid, where as Tombow only have the number.
- Easy to identify: Karin – the lids and the body of the pen show the color vs Tombow has an all black body with a tiny strip of color.
- Fine tip: Tombow – as the name states, Tombow has a second, fine liner tip which makes the pen more versatile for bullet journaling.
Review Wrap – Up
So, while Tombow is the clear winner here, and I use them a lot too, it’s not to say Karin markers aren’t great too. I love them so much and they’re fun to use. I would consider Karin Brushmarker Pros my favourites over Tombow – it’s the color intensity for me. But from a bullet journaling perspective, the bleed through really doesn’t work for me.
There are workarounds for the bleed though, namely gluing pages together, which I have done in the past, but with a thinner journal than 16GSM. And you lose over half the notebook. But that’s a post for a different day.
I hope you found this fun and helpful. Let me know which pen comparison you want to see next. I have a lot comparing Tombows since they are so well known and an easier reference point. But if you want more specific comparisons, let me know.