Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens Review & Demo


Hi guys and welcome to another review video! This week I’ll be having a close look at the
Sakura Koi Coloring Brush pens, by popular demand on my haul video where you guys got
a quick look at them. As per usual, I’ll be a taking a very thorough
look at these pens and time stamps to key sections of the video will be down below in
the video description. To start with I’ll be taking a look at the
packaging and pens themselves, next I’ll be swatching them to understand their application
and characteristics, and finally I’ll be showing you a timelapse completed using the pens-
showing you what techniques can be achieved as well as some added background and my own
personal opinions of the product. I’m not sponsored by Sakura or anybody mentioned
in the video, so I can promise you that my thoughts are my own- I just like making these
videos and sharing information with you! So to start off with, let’s take a look at
the packaging- Right off the bat these pens are very conveniently
packaged in a rigid plastic pouch. This is a great material I think, it’s lightweight
but keeps the pens together and protected. I’ve got the 12 set here as I just wanted
a small set of colours to play with, but these sets also come in 24 and 48 sets of colours,
and there are also 6 sets available in bright colours, greys, pastels and skin tones. Pens are available open stock, and they also
offer colourless blending pens designed for this set separately. So the space on the packaging is pretty limited
although they’ve certainly made use of the available space. Branding information is clearly visible on
the front- that these are made by the company Sakura and the product line is Koi- and that
these are the flexible brush markers. You might be able that the packaging is not
in pristine condition anymore- I’ve been using these and carrying them around with me. And I’ve also been using the surface of the
casing as a make-shift palette for mixing colours on the go as well, when using this
product together with a waterbrush. At the bottom here it says Blendable, Odourless,
Transparent Colour and Waterbased Ink- and the other side says “Thin and Bold Lines
with one flexible brush tip”. We’ll see how true these statements are later
on in the video, but I’m impressed with just how many descriptors they’ve crammed onto
the front here- and managed to do it in three languages too. Turning over to the back- even more information! There’s a little colour chart here at the
side which is a nice touch- as although the packaging is translucent and you can see the
colour of the caps through the packaging, you otherwise wouldn’t be able to know the
names of the colours included in this set. At the top it has the blurb in English, which
I’ll read through quickly and refer back to later in the video :
Achieve, Fine, Medium or Bold brush strokes by changing the pressure to the nib. The durable tip quickly springs back to the
original shape, stroke after stroke. The dye-based inks blend easily to create
a multitude of color hues. Compact pen length (140mm) is convenient for
on-the-go artists. The special “blender” pen creates seamless
washes and color gradations. This product is made in Japan by Sakura, and
as such I’ve heard that these are a good price in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, compared
to similar professional grade brush pens that are manufactured in Europe or the US. Ok, so now looking at an individual pen. These pens are indeed compact compared to
most markers- they’re the same size as the Pitt pens and the Sakura Pigma Liner pens-
perhaps a touch thinner. They’re shorter than the Sakura Gelly Roll
and Caran d’Ache Fibralo. They are a great size and comfortable to hold,
and even though I have relatively large hands I don’t find them too small or clumsy to
use. Each pen has a black body with a coloured
lid and end, with white print on the barrel, showing manufcturer name, brand name et cetera. Also included is showing that they are up
to ASTM D standards which is always to be expected with a good quality art supply. And it also says that these are waterbased,
dyestuff inks. Also printed is who the pens are marketed
for- and it says “Students, Graphic Artists, Designers, Illustrators, Architects and Cartoonists”. And in tiny print- somewhat hidden next to
the barcode- the colour name and number. I think it would have been nice to have the
colour name a little clearer and have some of the unnecessary information removed. The print on the pens seems to be pretty resilient,
as although I’ve used them a bit nothing has worn away or chipped off. Looking at the build quality of the pen, they’re
made out of tough plastic. The moulding on the lid could be slightly
better, but the sprue and mould lines weren’t particularly noticable until I put them under
my close scrutiny here. What I did notice straight away though was
how these lids don’t click into place and need to be quite firmly slid on to ensure
proper closure. This is more apparent when you put them in
the packaging as the top of the plastic wallet won’t close if the pen lids poke out further
than they’re meant to. And if it wasn’t for this fact I wouldn’t
have noticed that I wasn’t closing the pens properly, but I’m not sure if this has any
implications for the pens- if this would make them dry out or not. Moreover, the packet only fits all 12 pens
if the clips are facing the front, but you can prevent the pens from spinning in the
pack by putting the clip over the front edge of the packaging like so, and the package
still closes perfectly. Taking a close look at the brush nibs- they
are very broad at the base and taper to a fine point. The nibs are made out of nylon- a very resilient
material- which is also spongy and flexible. The tips of my pens are frayed very slightly
from use- so I imagine over time and usage they wouldn’t hold as crisp and fine point
as they do at the start of their life. This is also worth mentioning in regards to
refilling these pens- they aren’t technically refillable so no refill inks or spare nibs
are sold for these pens, but you probably could refill them with a watercolour ink-
such as the P.H. Martins inks. However, I imagine that the nib would’ve deteriorated
by the time the ink has run out in the pens. Speaking of refilling though, I tried pulling
on the end of the nib to see if I could get it out without more drastic action, and it
didn’t seem to budge- so if you were to refill these you’d have to apply it dropwise onto
the nib to refill the reservoir inside. And in slightly related news, I tried the
same with the Caran d’Ache Fibralo pens, and the nibs can be pulled out fairly easily. So now onto the swatching! As always I can’t promise if the colours you
see on screen will be truly representative of the ink colour, but I’ll also include a
high resolution scan of the swatch sheet in the description- which should be a little
more accurate in terms of colour. I’ll swatch these pens to see what they look
like unadultered straight from the pen. I’ve got a dark line drawn down here in waterproof
ink as well so you can judge the transparency of these pens too. I’ll allow these swatches to fully dry and
then layer the same colour of the top to see how saturated you can get these pens. I’ll also fill in a little square in the next
column over which I’ll be using to see how well the pens activate once dried. I’m just using some cheap watercolour paper
for this test- as I usually do. I’d get better results on a higher quality
paper, but I’m sure you can’t blame me for wanting to keep my expensive paper for artwork
rather than tests and scribbles. These pens are beautifully bright and saturated. The colour range of this 12 set seems to be
pretty good- I like how they included a pale skin-like colour. They didn’t include a grey though, but I find
this to be a reasonable choice given that the black produces a brilliant range when
activated with water. Perhaps an improvement would be if the red
was brighter, and if the purple and dark blue blue were a little more different in value. Like most products, the colour of the pen
cap doesn’t match the ink colour and should only be used as a rough guide. So as always, I recommend making and keeping
a swatch chart handy. Next I’ll fill in the last column and activate
the colours straight away with a water brush to see how readily the pigments dissolve. They do so excellently, and can create some
beautiful inky textures too. Back onto the first column to add the second
layer now, as the first one has had long enough to sufficiently dry. It doesn’t take too long it seems, but it
will depend on the absorbancy of your paper your using. The layering is quite difficult to see with
the yellow, but it seems to work very well with the rest of the colours. Now onto the middle column again, where I
use a damp brush to apply water to the paper and gently pull pigments from the coloured
square. This works pretty well, and some colours seem
to activate a little more readily than others, but overall they all did a great job. I managed to get some splotchy textures in
there by accident when I added a touch more water than necessary. Being patient and knowing when to stop is
important if you want smooth and seamless transitions! Back onto the first column again for more
layering. I did this another two times leaving sufficient
time in between to allow for drying. For most of the colours I managed to get 4
different shades just by layering, and I imagine for some a fifth layer would also be visibly
different in saturation- but I ran out of space and the paper was beginning to deteriorate. So I’m sure with better paper you could really
push these colours! Now for a closer look at the qualities and
characteristics of these pens First off I wanted to see how these pens blended
into each other without the aid of water. I used the yellow red and blue pen for this,
and with a flicking motion of the pen I was able to get a surprisingly good blend. It isn’t seamless but the pens are able to
blend together very nicely- they’re very juicy so you’re able to push the ink around a little
on the paper surface. I was careful to clean the nib of the pens-
the yellow in particular- between strokes to avoid contamination. Next was to see how these blended with water,
so I applied the same pen colours again to the paper, without any overlap and used my
waterbrush to pull and mix pigments together. This also worked really well and by being
careful I was able to get a relatively smooth gradient. The colours are still more saturated where
the pens were applied to paper though. Next up I drew some purple squares for a later
test, and then tried out to see how much line variation I could get with this pen. I found it a little difficult to get consistently
thin lines owing to the flexibility of the tip, but the variation is great and you can
use either pressure or angle to change lineweight. As such, I imagine these would be great for
brush pen calligraphy. And I can agree with what was said on the
packaging about the nib sprining back to its original form and creating a multitude of
lines. At the bottom I set up some more squares for
testing- I wanted to see how well the dyes lifted off the paper. First off I tried lifting as soon as the ink
was applied using a wet brush and some tissue paper to remove the pigments- and this worked
very well with the paper almost returning to white. Back on up to the purple squares- I wanted
to see how readily these pigments dissolved once dry- I did this already in the chart
of course, but I wanted a more controlled test. The first square was activated by one single
stroke of the brush, and the second one I “scrubbed” at the pigment and used a brush
to pull the pigments across the paper. The pigments do make a light wash with just
a light touch of the brush, but still a strong boundary remains wherer the ink was deposited
from the pen onto the paper. On the other hand the boundary seemed to completely
disappear with the second block. So back to the final green block which is
thoroughly dried now, for the lifting test. So I used a similar amount of pressure and
water as the first one and was able to lighten up the colour quite considerably, although
it does now appear that the paper to is stained green. I feel like I’ve tested enough, so now onto
the speedpaint! So here I’ve sketched out 3 Gouldian Finches-
beautifully rainbow coloured birds which are a perfect fit for the colour palette I have
available. Like usual, I try and pick subject matter
that suits the range of the set I’m reviewing. Links to the references I used are in the
description. So instead of cheap watercolour paper, I’m
using Canson Moulin du Roy 300gsm (or 140lb) hot pressed watercolour paper- the same paper
I’ve used in my other brush pen reviews. I really recommend something that’s very smooth
for brush pens- it results in less abrasion on the nibs, and the paper seems to stay smoother
and pill less too. Watercolour paper – or at the very least
mixed media paper- is also a must if you plan on activating the pens with water. I sketched the birds out using a purple prismacolor
col-erase pencil, but made sure to keep my lines light to avoid indenting the paper and
so that they wouldn’t be visible when I add the pens on top. Starting out, I mainly blend the colours together
just using the pens themselves- by blocking out an area and then adding spots of the nuanced
colour on top. And then using the base colour again to blend
out. I found that the pale orange colour was great
for blending out because it is the least saturated out of all colours. I can certainly attest to the packaging that
they are blendable, odourless and transparent. Similarly, the packaging also said that the
dye-based inks blend easily to create lots of hues, and I can agree as well- I found
even this small 12 set I had enough to create this drawing- I didn’t feel like I was missing
anything that I couldn’t create by blending pens together or diluting with water. I can’t make any comment about the blending
pens that Sakura sell to accompany the sets, but I think the waterbrush did a good job. However, as mentioned, these pens are dye-based
as opposed to pigment-based, so therefore are not Lightfast. This also explains why the packaging and pens
themselves seem to market them as a professional design tool rather than a professional art
material. Although the difference in the wording is
subtle, it’s implied that professional art supplies should be reasonably lightfast whereas
design tools are not held up to the same lightfast standard. Design tools are perfectly suited for fast
laydown of vibrant colour- so alcohol based markers such as Copics or ProMarkers are other
examples of design tools- and they aren’t lightfast either. Pieces created with such supplies are best
suited to being scanned and made prints of rather than hung and displayed where they’re
likely to fade. Online it says that these pens can be used
for a variety of drawing applications such as: journaling, illustration, manga and comic
art, sketching and architectural drawings, but the one that surprised me the most was
that these pens can be used for rubber stamping too. I’m surprised they didn’t include fashion
design and calligraphy as I’m sure they’re very well suited for those too. These pens worked beautifully on this paper-
much better than the cheap watercolour paper that I used in the swatch test. I felt that the inks could be blended and
moved on the paper a little easier and that they didn’t soak into the paper as fast. The paper seemed to make the colours brighter
too, and holds up very well to the abrasion from the nibs of the pens. I checked out Sakura’s website after completing
the piece and it turns out the paper I used is the perfect match for these pens being
“heavy weight, plate finish paper (smooth but not coated)”. And I’ll leave a link to that page in the
description. Like in the swatch tests, I used a Caran d’Ache
water brush to dissolve the pens. I really enjoy using waterbrushes for waterbased
pens as I find that it offers great control of how much water is applied to the page,
and the brush remains consistently damp. A waterbrush and a sketchbook that handles
wet media are perfect to accompany this set- I can particularly recommend the Canson Mix
Media artbook or Moleskine’s watercolour journal— for art when out-and-about or for
quick studies. These pens are well definitely suited for
speedy colour application- this piece took me an hour to colour, or an hour and a quarter
including sketching time. Although it is possible to get a variety of
lineweights with the pen nibs, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to get fine enough lines
for the finest details, so I used some fineliners for this painting too. I think the crispness of the lines pairs well
with the texture from the Koi pens and reminds me very much of pen and wash illustrations. I bought these pens from Jackson’s Art Supplies
for £15 – that’s excluding the discount I got on them though -but they’re also available
on the UK amazon for £15 at the time of the video, or $14 on the US amazon site. It looks to be that when purchasing these
pens in sets, they’re just over one pound or one dollar per pen. Given their quality- especially their vibrancy
and ability to blend, I think that’s a very good price for them. So I can’t really find anything serious
to fault these pens on as far as my experiences with them. Perhaps a couple of the colour choices in
the 12 set could be slightly different to optimise variety and mixing as I mentioned
earlier, but that really is down to personal preference. And perhaps the colour name could be slightly
clearer on the pen body, but once again that is a minor complaint too! Overall I’m really pleased with the outcome
of this drawing- I love the balance between realism and illustration. I do plan on doing some more in-depth tutorials
about waterbased marker techniques and blending in the future, so let me know if you’d be
interested in something like that! So here’s the finished piece! I hope you found this video interesting and
helpful- please leave it a like if you did! I’d love to know what you think I should review
next- and of course, if you have any questions leave those in the comment section too and
I’ll respond to you as fast as I can! Don’t forget to subcribe if you want to stay
up to date with my latest art videos: more reviews, tutorials, advice and challenges. Thank you very much for watching, I hope that
you all have a lovely week and I’ll see you in the next video!

55 comments

  • Artist - Hyperrealistic Art

    that's so good! beautiful coloring and awesome 😎👍

    Reply
  • Christina Pedersen

    Lovely birds and great, thorough review!
    I'd definitely be interested in the video on using brush pens!

    Reply
  • Malamik Art

    Well done video and beautiful work on your painting. 🙂 Looking forward to more water-based marker tutorials!

    Reply
  • Gina ́sArtCorner

    Wonderful video! Very good review and such cute birds from the demonstration!

    Reply
  • Dexter Goffney

    Your a damn good artists!"🖒

    Reply
  • Vanessa Marella

    Vera pretty!!!!!

    Reply
  • Ramona D

    Lovely painting ! I'd love to see more such tutorials. Which do you prefer – Pitt brush pens or these ? They are available at similar prices here.

    Reply
  • Parasol Mushroom Art

    Birdies!!! :DDDDDD
    I love the textures in this! Making watercolor look watercolory is hard for me because I always go for detailed rather than simple and soft. You got the perfect balance of detailed but simplified. I love it! 😀

    Reply
  • Claudia Hemmings

    Another excellent review! It's obvious that you spend time preparing your videos and it really does pay off – you include so much more information than other reviewers, and you stay fully focused on the product. Really helpful – thanks.

    Reply
  • Marion Wigzell

    Lovely review of these pens Claudia. I love their vibrancy and watercolour effects. In Australia, I paid $60 for the 24 set and they retail for $2.40 each. The great thing about them too is that they are available as open stock. Have you tried Bristol board for any of the brush pens? Wishing you and your family a great Christmas. Thanks Marion

    Reply
  • Jane Metcalfe

    Great review! I found that the nibs degraded very quickly but I did buy them on Ebay. I sent a couple of them to Royal Talens to test. In the meantime they are sending me a free pack of 12. That's wonderful customer service!

    Reply
  • Judith Morgan

    Brilliant tips and insights. Hadn't made the distinction between fine art design vs professional tools, most clear description, thanks. i originally learned about these from lettering/calligraphy professionals rather than artists per se. as a beginning lettering devotee, it's wonderful seeing so many applications of tools on hand. Great job.

    Reply
  • Sister Hipster Art, Vlogs, & Pop Culture

    It's so cute! That would look great on a card. I totally forgot about these pens. I got some to practice light to dark and after some practice, I really love them.

    Reply
  • Lutsurugi

    i really liked the drawing at the end, amazing!

    Reply
  • |Yuro|

    I bought these markers about 2 weeks ago when I saw them say 'super blendable' and I was very confused as to why my markers would'nt blend properly! Then I watched this and saw that you actually had to use water.. oops

    Reply
  • Ashleii_

    Spectacular job! I always see these brush pens in my local art store, never was to sure to buy them. Thanks for reviewing, I might have to consider purchasing them. The ink looks amazing and the flexibility on brush tips is my obsession with brush pens! Thank you once again!

    Reply
  • Cherz E

    I love your video and you accent.

    Reply
  • Barbara Williams

    Excellent thorough review. A similar one on Derwent Inktense would be great.

    Reply
  • maxine van de Laar

    Do you reccomend using these pens for your bullet journal? Or would they ghost top much?

    Reply
  • Shree J

    Hi, nice to see this video, as I have this color pens like now about 2 months and I was wondering how will i get that transparency. which i understood now. Can you please let me know the difference between this water paper to be used and normal artist water color paper? and mostly i found paper for this kinda pens (copic markers too) is not easily available, I keep serching and looking for it. Is the sketch pad for ink okay for this colours?

    Reply
  • Marjolein Gysels

    Hi Claudia, do you know if there is any alternative for the broad brush pens now that the coloured ones are no longer available from faber castell? Thank you

    Reply
  • Jamie Sweet

    that was such a detailed review

    Reply
  • Crystall P

    Oh my!! I have a complete set in a drawer gathering dust! I am definitely going to try these with hot pressed watercolor paper! Thank you so much!!

    Reply
  • yarrayora

    this is a really nice reference on what i can do w my brush pens

    Reply
  • Ruth H.

    Just bought these brush pens. Your video will be very helpful. TFS.

    Reply
  • Kayla Pendleton

    Omg soooooo goooood!!!!!!

    Reply
  • alpacina78

    Great video !

    Reply
  • samoafex

    Claudia, what an excellent review! It was like attending class – a damn good one. Thank you, your video was really helpful.

    Reply
  • Ely 12146

    This video was awesome!

    Reply
  • Bubz of Steel

    Great review technique, will check your other videos

    Reply
  • Soneliane Shu

    Thank you so much for detailled review it’s very helpful. It great to know these brush pen seems blend so much without water cause I look for pen/marker with a good blend easy.

    Reply
  • Gei Diwanay Linggon

    Ok i just bought some, and wound up here so i can actually learn. And thank god too cuz i didn't think that you can use water. Im happy

    Reply
  • • spici pancake •

    Sakura is definitely my favorite art brand. I have Gelly Rolls, Microns, Koi watercolors and I'm planning on saving up for the brush markers to replace Copics. They are fairly priced with most of their products, too! I was at my local art store earlier today, and I tested some of these on paper. Work just like Copics in that experience for me! Thank you for the review!

    Reply
  • GamerDad

    I have just purchased my first set of brush pens and this was fantastic for me to see 🙂

    Reply
  • aleksandra kawa

    Great rev!

    Reply
  • Israfel Empyreal

    Very good review! I bought these and I was wondering how did they paint the carp, and your video made it clear that they need to be activated with water heh heh I like the colors a lot 🙂

    Reply
  • aaliya farooq

    Can they be used for calligraphy?

    Reply
  • czinczok

    can they be recharged or not?

    Reply
  • Rhod Dustine

    How much are those?thanks

    Reply
  • Bethzabé Castro S

    I love your art!!!!

    Reply
  • Frosine Bäggins

    Thank you so much for making this video, I learned so much about my new pens!

    Reply
  • Team RH

    the tip is a real brush ??

    Reply
  • Lee-Lee does Arts

    I saw does Markers In The Mall which is 450₱ and i was shock. But.
    These markers can be a good Experience for Bigginers thats all!

    Reply
  • Waͣtͭeͤrͬ sᴘʟᴀsʜ

    No.Thank YOU for this video! I was searching for a video like this but when i clicked on this one i actually loved how you make this video very detailed for the reviews! I got these pens yesterday because my friend also have these but since i don't want to waste her pens by borrowing it 24/7 so i brought four of these in set myself i really love these pens because it's rare to find one where i lived so yeah!
    #YouveEarnedAsub

    Reply
  • Vee Ruan

    Can i write calli with this Koi? And what papers can i use for this kind of brush?

    Reply
  • Sena Cresena

    Wow, I think this is the most detailed review.

    Reply
  • Megan Majendie

    I more than 20 of them and didn't know what to do with them so thank you this helped a lot!!

    Reply
  • moxie

    Mine break all types of my papers

    Reply
  • Princess Hadiqah

    I love these finches you drew I have a Zebra Finch I hope u can draw her one day

    Reply
  • Julia Cyganik

    what were the numbers of your markers??

    Reply
  • Undertale_artist girl

    Amazing! Can't wait to use these beautiful pens! Thanks for teaching this magnificent work!

    Reply
  • khizar hayat

    do these markers work just as good on regular paper ?? or no water colour is a must ???

    Reply
  • Harman Singh Soni

    Amazing artwork!

    Reply
  • Sanna Bergmark

    Please make another demo!

    Reply
  • J-Kabara's Jungle

    What is the name of the pen filled with water?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *