I do almost all my painting with a waterbrush. The vast majority of my work is outside on location, and waterbrushes are perfectly suited for that kind of habit. Thinking about finding a nicer waterbrush led me into the world of brush pens, and just for grins I bought a Pentel Color Brush with black pigment ink, to try out the concept.
Results? I’m in LOVE.
Ink is starting to captivate me anyway, and now here is ink in great big dense swatches if I like it, and the finest little hairlines if I don’t. All those years working with the Koi waterbrushes must have soaked in, because it’s been a very smooth transition from drawing with a pen. (I still carry & use two fountain pens – Platinum EF with Carbon ink and a $1.50 Daiso wonder-pen loaded with the same.) This particular brush was pretty dry to start, and still has a kind of rough line quality at times that reminds me of crayons, or perhaps charcoal but on a smaller scale. It’s wetter now and easier to get solid blacks, but still goes to drybrush very easily if I want textural effects. The one downside is that the pigment ink gets sticky if it’s in use for a long time, but it did go back to normal just by closing it up overnight.
The pigment ink is waterproof and dries fairly fast. I’ve seen a little bit of wash effect from splashing water on it too quickly, but never enough to ruin a sketch. It won’t do for styles that rely on washable ink, but that’s just fine for me. I carry a well of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna premixed if I need to wash in shades of gray.
I’ve been using this more and more, and the funny thing is people are starting to notice and comment a lot more on my work. (So far, positively – that’s always nice!) Must be the contrast boost gained by placing solid black in the shadows. I’ve always believed that the thing separating great watercolor from not-so-great, is contrast and deep darks. Now I’ve got punchy blacks everywhere with very little effort. A big change from my watercolor-purist approach, but I’m definitely starting to like it.