Everything You Need to Know About Dual Brush Pens!

April 12, 2021

Review by  Ali LePere

Tombow Dual Brush Pens! They are my favorite! I believe that artists, no matter their skill level, will flourish if they have products that give them possibilities. I know that has been my experience with these markers. The Dual Brush Pens are extremely versatile. In addition to talking about how I use Dual Brush Pens in my lettering, I’m also going to tell you how to use them in a variety of ways! Without further delay, let me tell you all about Dual Brush Pens!



Product Details

Dual Brush Pen Specifics

Here are some quick facts about these markers:

They have a flexible brush tip and fine tip in one marker.

They are odorless and water-based.

The tips of these markers self-clean (more on this later).

There are 107 colors and a Colorless Blender Pen available.

They are available for purchase in a variety of color palettes, as an entire set in a marker case or individually.


Brush Calligraphy & Hand Lettering 

There is a reason that everyone in the hand lettering and calligraphy community knows about the Dual Brush Pens. They are iconic. The nylon brush is flexible and the slim barrel is comfortable. This allows great control for upward and downward strokes. The bullet tip allows for adding in fine details and filling in small spaces.




I was definitely what you would call a beginner when I first started using the Dual Brush Pens. They really helped me grow as a calligrapher! If you’re interested in learning brush calligraphy with Dual Brush Pens, I do recommend using smooth marker paper or mixed media paper for the best results! Some paper is better designed for markers. Using smooth marker or mixed media paper will help keep your markers in great shape. (See products listed at the end of the article).

If you would like to learn more about making your own modern calligraphy with Dual Brush Pens, check out this post: Lettering Week: Applying Pressure in Brush Calligraphy with Sharisse!


Blending With Dual Brush Pens

The first time I saw someone make seamless gradients using the Dual Brush Pen, I thought it had to be fake. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Could markers really blend like that? I didn’t see artists getting the same results with other marker brands, so I figured there must be something special about the Dual Brush Pens.

When I first got my hands on some of these markers, I was almost afraid to use them. Have you ever accidentally touched a yellow marker on black ink? I’ve had my fair share of ruined markers! So, how could I blend with these things if all the markers I had ever used were ruined once they touched darker ink?

Well, do you remember how I mentioned earlier that these markers self-clean? This means you can lay down black ink with one marker, go directly over it with your lightest color marker and your light marker won’t be ruined. All you have to do is take a piece of scratch paper and give the light-colored marker a few good downstrokes. The dark ink that the light-colored marker picked up will come out with use, leaving it as good as new again!


Different Blending Techniques

Once you realize that these markers are special and really can do magic blending, there are several ways to blend them! You can use the Blending Palette to get different gradients and effects by using different colors. It’s also possible to blend from marker to marker, especially with colors that are similar (warm colors or cool colors together). Of course, you can use the Colorless Blender Pen! With the Colorless Blender, I blend colors together or make a color blend out clear. Below you can see examples of these different uses!


A while ago, I made an Animal Print and Blending Tutorial. It outlines how I blend using the Colorless Blender Pen. Mandy Faucher also made a tutorial post about blending. It’s called Blending and Shadowing Techniques for Hand Lettering. I recommend checking that one out too!




Making Illustrations

I’ve always been afraid to color in my drawings. I think there have been too many occasions where I’ve gone to color a drawing and it just didn’t look right. However, I’ve gotten a lot braver with my own illustrations when using the Dual Brush Pens. Having a ton of colors certainly helps, however I only started off with two palettes worth of markers.


The pre-made palettes that are available are great for those who are never sure which colors to choose from and those who want to grow their collection of Dual Brush Pens in increments. They’re also great for stretching you creatively. Above you can see a little fish buddy I made using the Tropical Dual Brush Pen Palette. I might never have picked these colors by myself, but I love the result!

Also, having the Colorless Blender Pen helps tremendously. You’re able to create tons of colors by blending out your markers using the blender. Above you can see my attempt to draw a castle using just the Landscape Palette. I was able to make different grays and greens and even utilize the purple color with the help of the Colorless Blender Pen.


Coloring With Dual Brush Pens

You probably know that coloring books have become very popular in the last couple years. In addition to coloring your own illustrations, Dual Brush Pens are particularly great if you love all the super detailed coloring books that are on the market today. First of all, the flexibility of the brush side allows for coloring in large and small spaces. Second, the bullet tip side is wonderful for detail work. Third, the array of colors available will help you make your coloring page exactly the way you want it! Above, you can see I decided to start a page in my Van Gogh coloring book. It didn’t take many colors to add depth to the coloring page, making the irises really pop!

To help you decide which Dual Brush Pen colors to choose from for your coloring projects, head over to Smitha Katti’s post:
How to Choose Colorful Combinations with Your Tombows.


Dual Brush Pens and Watercolor Art

Since the Dual Brush Pens have water-based ink, they are fantastic for making watercolor art! The results look beautiful and the techniques are super simple to implement. Below you can see that I was able to make some pastel bubbles using a handful of Dual Brush Pens and the Tombow Water Brushes. To the right you can see two columns of pastel colors. I made the one on the left by using the brush end of each of my colors and simply swatching them down the paper. I did the same thing in the column to the right. However, I used a Water Brush to wet the ink once all of the colors were down. All I had to do was brush my way from the top of the column to the bottom. Voila, seamless and easy watercolor blends!



Not only are the Dual Brush Pens a good option for blended watercolor backgrounds and coloring, but you can also use them for lettering! If you look below, you can see an example of watercolor calligraphy.


Watercolor Lettering with Dual Brush Pens

It’s very simple to make beautiful and unique watercolor effects in your hand lettering and calligraphy using Dual Brush Pens. Above you can see how I created watercolor calligraphy right on the paper. Using the small-sized Water Brush and Blending Palette, I made an interesting effect by using only two colors. 

Here you can see how I used a pink Dual Brush Pen to letter the quote first. I then made some darker blue and purple marks on top of the pink base. To create the galaxy-esque effect, I simply brushed over the already inked letters. Wetting the ink with the Water Brush caused a nice blended effect!

Tip: As water will seep through marker paper easily, it’s important to use thick paper! I recommend using watercolor paper or something with similar sturdiness when using the Dual Brush Pens with the Water Brush. Also, I recommend using the Blending Palette for watercolor techniques if you’re planning on doing a lot of calligraphy with your markers. The tips of your markers will last much longer if they’re not being using on highly textured paper.


Also, both Mixing Dual Brush Pens for Watercolor Illustration and How to Paint like Bob Ross Using Dual Brush Pens are excellent posts by Katie Smith. See her explain how she uses Dual Brush Pens in her watercolor artwork if you want to learn more!


Practical Uses

While these are definitely professional level markers, they have plenty of practical uses for the person who wants to add a little color to their lives! For instance, I’ve used the bullet tip end for taking notes and the brush end as a highlighter. I’ve also used them in my planner for years! Whether it’s making to-do lists, color-coding or adding some doodles to notes, the Dual Brush Pens are a great option!




Bullet Journal Layout with New Dual Brush Pens by Adrienne Castleton and 1950s Inspired Bullet Journal Headers by Grace Myhre are both wonderful posts for any planners out there interested in using some bullet journaling techniques with Dual Brush Pens!


In Conclusion

As I previously said, I believe artists will flourish if they have products that inspire them to explore possibilities. Hopefully, you can see  that I’ve found a lot of exploration, inspiration and utility from using the Dual Brush Pens. I would recommend these markers to everyone. No matter the skill level or area of expertise, I think anyone could grow by using them. That has most definitely been my experience!


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