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How to Use Watercolor Brush Pens:

Comprehensive Tutorial for Learners

If you have mastered almost all the art materials commonly used by artists like colored pencils, crayons, and other similar tools, you probably want to try something new in your drawings. If so, then watercolor brush pens are your next level. If you have worked with traditional watercolors, you know already that it is not the easiest set-up.

Numerous tubes with paint, various brushes, and water all over your working place turn the coloring process into a quite messy activity, especially if you are working outside. Brush pens are the right solution which help to reach the quality of drawings made by watercolors with the help of a neat brush pen. This brief tutorial on how to use watercolor brush pens will help you to get maximum results in your first steps.

Using Watercolor Brush Pens

Watercolor brush pens provide a unique opportunity to attain the magnificent coloring effects produced by watercolors but all packed in one portable body. Actually, it is a child of a paintbrush and a pen. This tool looks like a pen, but has bristles on the tip and contains liquid in the barrel.All brands look almost the same and may have slight differences in the size of the bristles and in the shape of the water reservoir. The brush fibers are nylon and easy to clean. Moreover, these pens don’t leave much of a mess afterwards.

There are two main types of brush pens which may contain either water or ink in the reservoir. Such tools allow you to perform dreamy blending, soft ombres, and other fantastic color gradients. They are versatile and are used in techniques which can be never reached with typical markers or pencils. These instruments create unique writing styles, for example, hand lettering, which is commonly used in invitations and cards.

Before you start practicing with such a pen, it may take several minutes to get used to it. First, you need to acquaint yourself with these tools. Hold it closer to the tip and not on the barrel because you may squeeze it accidentally and add more liquid to your artwork. For such cases, have paper towels at hand. Test the brush pen on thick paper or watercolor paper. A bit of practice will help you to control it.

With Water Reservoir

With this type of brush pens, the handle contains water. The tool looks like a small container which consists of two bits that screw together. It has a clip-on limit, which doesn’t allow water to drip out when the brush is not in use. When we use this pen, water seeps gradually down from the reservoir and makes the bristles wet. This means that the brush bristles always remain moist.

The tool is very comfortable to work with watercolors and eliminates the necessity of bringing a separate glass of water. Touch a paint pan with the wet tip of the brush, and it will activate a dry paint. The brush bristles are made of synthetic fibers, which don’t hold a lot of paint. Thus, you will have to dip the pen into the paint more frequently.

The color shade depends on how much water you drop into the paint pan. The more water you press from the brush pen, the more paint is dissolved into the water.

In this case, you will get darker tones. On the contrary, for lighter tones, don’t drop much water into the chosen color.If you need to add more water to the bristles, just squeeze the barrel. It depends on the brand how much water gets on the bristles at each squeeze. To get more liquid out of a brush pen, just proceed with pressing the pen handle.During the working process, too much water may drip on the paper.

To prevent puddles of water on your painting, move the brush pen when you squeeze the handle. If you happened to incorporate too much water on your drawing, use a clean cloth, paper towels, or a dry brush to soak up excess water. With several repetitions, you can figure out how much liquid you need and when to press the water reservoir.

With Ink Reservoir

Another type of watercolor brush pens contains ink in the handle instead of water. To dilute the ink, you will need a glass of water. Dip the brush bristles in water to start drawing. The longer you hold it in the water, the lighter colors you will get. Do a bit of practice to get used to this technique.

When you are finished with one color, don’t forget to put the cap back on the pen to avoid the color drying out. If you do forget, it is not a big problem, because the color can be reactivated. Dip the brush bristles into the water and give a barrel a good shake. Make a couple of strokes on paper. Your ink should become active again. Wash your brush every time after using it, otherwise, it can dry and damage the bristles. You can also purchase refillable brush pens. They are very convenient and are great for saving money.

Tips for Watercolor Brush Pens

These drawing instruments are easy to use, but there are a few tips which can make the coloring process more comfortable. It will take you a couple of minutes to organize your workspace and enjoy your drawing.

Water Is Essential

The essential guideline is to have a separate glass with water on the desk, as you need to moisten the bristles. Make sure that there is enough water inside the barrel. To add more liquid into the reservoir, unscrew the barrel at the upper part of the pen and hold it under a running faucet. You may also submerge the pen in a container with water.
When you work outside, use any bottle with water to fill your brush pen, because splashing it somewhere is not a big problem.

Choose Right Paper

The use of watercolor brush pens implies that a special kind of paper must be employed. Ink may leak through on the other page of ordinary printer paper. To achieve the best results from coloring, use smooth and thick paper designated for working with watercolors. I highly recommend Canson XL Watercolor Paper, which can be viewed at Water doesn’t make this paper crispy or wavy. Canson XL ensures no leakage and minimal ghosting. It is a good candidate to use with brush pens.

Blend Your Colors

Before work, check out your palette, because brush pens are ideal instruments for mixing various colors. They are good at blending, so you can lay one tone over another. You can easily work with both dark and light shades. Combine different shades to create unforgettable color transitions. Play with the whole spectrum to understand which colors work better together.

To create unique ombre effects, just rub or touch two brush tips together to create that marvelous gradient look. Choose shades of the same color family for best results. Select a darker and a lighter tone and just touch the tip of the brush with a darker color to the tip of the brush with a lighter one. Wait a second until the bristles of one pen absorb some darker color pigments. Apply the color to the paper and enjoy the dark-to-light gradation of shades.

Watercolor brush pens don’t require special storage rules or particular treatment. The only important thing is to clean their tips after blending. Dip them in water and make some strokes on clean paper until they get back to their original colors. Some types of such brush pens are self-cleaning. In fact, these tools are low-maintenance. Press them gently during work, so that the bristles keep a straight and nice shape. Keep the pens with an ink filling tightly shut, otherwise they may dry out.

Make Different Strokes

After you have tried and had a bit of practice, you may notice that a brush tip is very versatile. It is elastic and flexible enough to perform various types of strokes which depend on the amount of pressure applied during work. If you apply minimal pressure, you will get fine and thin lines, which are ideal for drawing details. If you apply more pressure, you can make thicker strokes, which can cover larger areas. Try to hold your brush pen at an angle of 30 degrees. Improve your drawing techniques by making thin strokes upwards on the paper and thick ones downwards. This style is widely practiced in calligraphy and hand lettering.Add paragraph text here.


Add paragraph textWatercolor brush pens are considered one of the best art supplies. They may seem a bit tricky at first, but with more practice, you will understand that they are the coolest things in the world. Have a try and share the story of your own coloring journey. I hope that this guide has been informative and inspired you to test a new drawing tool. Have fun with your brush pen! here.

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