Letters by Lydia: Tombow Dual Brush Pens

Happy Wednesday everyone!  We’re bringing back the pen reviews this week with what are probably the most famous brush pens of all time: Tombow Dual Brush Pens.

The swatches of the colors I have are pictured here, but my collection pales in comparison to the huge color selection these pens come in.  As you can see from my swatches, each color is given its own number, and the ones I have go into the 900s.  I’m not sure what the exact number of colors Tombow has released with this pen, but it’s clearly at least 1000, which is probably one of the biggest selections ever.

These pens are highly beloved in the lettering community, but to be honest, I’m not their #1 fan.  Yes, they do have their fair share of good qualities: of course, there’s the virtually limitless color selection, but the pens also have good quality ink that’s vibrant and smooth.The ink is water-based, which means you can blend it using water, either before or after putting it on the page, to create a really nice watercolor effect.

The pens also have two ends (hence the “dual brush pen” title), a brush tip and a bullet tip.  This is nice for getting the most out of your marker, because you can achieve totally different effects with each tip, and a lot of other pens do this as well.  Finally, because of their popularity, these pens are in pretty much every art store, so they’re super accessible in terms of being able to get your hands on them (plus you can test them out individually at Michael’s!).

However, there are a lot of things I don’t love about these pens.  First off, they’re pretty expensive.  Most high quality brush pens are, but in my opinion, these could be better for the price.  Sometimes the price drops on Amazon, but for the most part a set of 10 goes for $26.99.  Price aside, the pens themselves aren’t my absolute favorite.  The pen body is really long and top heavy, which can make them a bit awkward to write with, and also makes it so they don’t fit in most regular pencil cases.  My biggest issue with these, however, is how easily they fray.  Most brush pens fray eventually, especially felt ones like these, but these fray faster than any pen I’ve used, especially for that high of a price.  If you want them to stay sharp past a few uses, you have to get special paper that’s extra smooth, which is totally doable, it’s just an extra hassle.

All in all, the color range is my favorite thing about these.  The pens are nice, but I would still say they’re pretty overrated.  You could get a lot of other pens that are much nicer for a cheaper price point.


Lydia (she/her) is a sophomore at umich studying English. Her favorite things are usually creative, emotional, colorful, and adorable. She's currently working on her pen addiction, but has a growing fear (hope?) that this blog series will be the start of a relapse. You can see more of her handlettering work on Instagram (@letters_by_lydia). Thanks for stopping by!!

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