Letters by Lydia: Karin Brushmarker Pro

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today we’re taking a look at what are probably my favorite pens of all time: the Karin Brushmarker Pro.

These are notorious in the handlettering community for being some of the best brush pens out there.  Unfortunately, they have the price to match, but we’ll get into that later.

Karin is a Polish company that, as far as I know, literally only makes brushpens.  They have three different types, the decobrush, decobrush metallic, and the brushmarker pro.  The two types of decobrush are opaque and good for dark surfaces, and the brushmarker pro is their version of your standard brush pen, which what I have.  They’re super juicy, pigmented, and high quality.  The tips are made of nylon instead of felt or bristles, which makes them extra bouncy and durable.  They can fray a bit, but it takes them a lot longer than felt tip pens.  For example, when you look below at the swatches I included, you can see that some of the pens can get a finer upstroke than others.

They make 72 colors total, but I only have the small set, which comes with 26 colors (swatches above) and a blender pen.  If you don’t know, a blender pen is a colorless pen that is supposed to be used, as you might’ve guessed, for blending different colors together.  However, I don’t love the blender pen with this set, because Karin markers are already super juicy and actually blend really well together using water and a paintbrush, no blender pen needed.  In my opinion, it also just doesn’t work super well.

The only other major con of this pen set is the price, like I mentioned before.  This set of 27 pens is $60, and the set of all 72 colors runs for $153.  In my opinion, the quality is well worth it, but that doesn’t change the fact that buying a set of these is a pretty big purchase.

Overall, this is more of a fangirl post as opposed to a legitimate recommendation, because I know most college students aren’t gonna be able to shell out $60 for a few pens (I got these for Christmas a few years ago).  But if you ever do get the chance to use them, enjoy!

Letters by Lydia: A Good Place to Start

Hi everyone!  I hope you’re all having a lovely week 🙂

For this week, we’re gonna look at a good set of markers to start with if you’re new to lettering, and talk about some lettering basics at the same time.

This week’s star: Mondo Llama Classic Washable Markers

As you can probably tell, these are technically supposed to be for children. But who cares? If you’re new to art/lettering or on a budget, kids art supplies is the best place to start.  The quality is usually pretty high for what you’re paying, you pretty much always get a solid set of rainbow colors, and there’s no reason to feel guilty for overusing them or not taking care of them.

When talking about kids markers, Crayola is obviously the most popular, and for good reason.  I plan to do a separate review on Crayola Supertips, because they’re too beloved in the handlettering community to only get a brief mention (so if you don’t know what that means, just stay tuned!).  However, this Mondo Llama set does the trick just fine for your basic, broadtip marker.  In this specific set, you get 10 colors (swatches below!), and I believe I paid about $2.50 for them, which is ridiculously cheap compared to higher end brands.  I actually bought this set at the Target on State Street, too, so it’s super accessible if you’re on campus here.

Getting into the nitty gritty of it, let’s talk about what you can actually do with these.  Broadtip markers have a large, conical tip that differs from a brush pen in that the entire tip is firm as opposed to being bendy and flexible.  These really in only exist in kids markers, as far as I’m aware, because they’re great for coloring in big spaces.  However, you can also use them as a sort of beginner brush pen!  A broad tip is firm, but it’s still flexible enough that you can get quite a bit of line variation. You can also tilt the marker so you’re writing with the side of it, which gives you the thickest line.  This allows you to do tons of different kinds of handlettering with them, which I showed a bit in the picture above.  I know we haven’t talked about lettering styles yet, so that’s more just so show you how versatile these are.  Below is a little doodle I did with these markers, just to show you can make some pretty neat stuff with them!

As you can see, they hold up really well in comparison to more expensive art supplies!  That said, they are cheap and for children, so they aren’t perfect.  I highlighted a few examples of that below.  You can see that it’s really difficult to get precise, clean lines with these.  They also don’t layer very well, so if coloring in a large space, it might look patchy and have some sections end up lighter than others.  These are also water based and pretty juicy, so sometimes they bleed on the page or when interacting with each other as well.

Overall, though, these are a great set of markers that are absolutely worth the small price tag!  I hope you enjoyed reading, and see you next week!


Letters by Lydia: LePen Flex

Welcome back to Letters by Lydia!  After last week’s introductions, we’re finally getting into our first pen review!

This week’s target: Marvy Uchida LePen Flex.

The set I have has 10 pens, each in a bright pastel shade, although you can get other sets with different colors and amounts.  These pens are great for a lot of reasons, but one thing that makes them unique is the convenient little case they come in.  If I’m packing pens in my bag, I often find myself reaching for this set because they’re great pens and they don’t take up a lot of space.

Marvy Uchida has a lot of products out there, but these have got to be my favorites from them.  You may have heard of the original series, just called LePen, which looks the same as these, except they’re fineliners instead of brush pens.

You can see the difference between the two in the photos here (LePen Flex on the left, LePen on the right), but if you need an explanation, a brush pen is exactly what it sounds like (almost).  There are a lot of different types, but the tip is usually shaped like a brush, and they can bend and move in a way that allows you to get a lot of line variation, meaning thin and thick strokes.

Size-wise, these are pretty small nibs (tips).  For my fellow pen lovers out there, I would say they’re comparable to the iconic Pentel Fude Touch.  In terms of the nib itself, I love these. They’re a great size for doing small lettering, but the pens are juicy enough that using them as markers to color in larger areas works too.  Note, though, that they can dry out a little quickly if you use them a lot, so make sure to store them horizontally. The tips are flexible, but also incredibly easy to control, which earns them major points.  As for durability, these are pretty decent.  If you aren’t using paper specifically for handlettering, the tips will fray faster, but that’s true of most pens.  As for the colors, they’re beautiful–very pigmented and rich.  They offer a wide range of colors between all the sets, which you can see even just in the ones I have; there’s the super light pastels all the way to the deep, rich hues.  That said, I wish they offered a higher quantity of different colors.  For example, they have tons of different blue/green shades, but only one red between all of the sets.  The price depends a lot on where you get them and what colors/size you choose, but a set of 6 is about $10-12 and a set of 10 is about $15-20.

I think that about sums up my thoughts on these pens, but I would be more than happy to answer any questions about these! If you’ve tried these, what are your thoughts? Also, let me know if you have any requests for pen reviews or anything else, and thanks for reading!