Tombow ABT brush pen

I’ve already written a few times about the Tombow ABT and how you can use it for brush lettering. It’s one of the bigger brush pens out there with a big, firm tip. You can apply a lot of control while writing, and it won’t give you too many surprises, so it’s a great tool for beginners who like to write big letters. The pens come with two tips, the big one for expressive lettering work, and one smaller monoline tip for touching up details or writing smaller letters.

I’ve used the opportunity and used the Tombow brush pen for a few lettering pieces I did recently, so far I’ve enjoyed it most an smooth paper writing in a very informal style without a lot of thicks and thins. But you can definitely add those as well.

Overall, the Tombow ABT gives a very controlled stroke without many surprises. It comes in a lot of colors (primary, pastels) and according to Tombow you can even blend several pens like watercolors. I haven’t experimented with that, because I usually take one color and work with the letters themselves, but I imagine it works best on marker paper that doesn’t dry the line immediately.

The pens last for a good while, and if you don’t want to throw them away and the tip still looks fine, you can also refill them with ink with this method: open the pen with small pliers or any other tool than can get the smaller pen tip off the shaft. Then shake out the ink reservoir and drop ink into it from both sides, until it’s replenished. Close the pen and continue writing.

If you’re interested in the Tombow ABT, feel free to try it out with the alphabet worksheet I created for big brush pens.

Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen hard and soft

Tombow also offers a smaller brush pen: the Fudenosuke. It’s described as a calligraphy pen, and it comes in two variants: hard and soft. Both have a fine tip and you can do very precise writing and achieve good thin-thick-contrasts with them. I found you have to write a lot slower and more deliberate with these pens than with the big ABT, they feel slightly more „dry“ to write with. With this you can achieve very beautiful, spontaneous effects too, and I recently used the pens for smaller text written in cursive.

I found that the hard nib was easier to control, but a bit too dry for the way I write (you have to press down a good amount to get a decent stroke), so I ended up using the soft nib more often, as it gives me a nicer line.

You can also refill these pens by carefully lifting the cap on the end with pliers (this is of course not endorsed by Tombow in any way).

Monograph pencils and technicals pencils

What I didn’t know was that Tombow also has a line of pencils, and I was pleasantly surprised when I tried those out. Their Monograph pencils come in the usual grades with a range of B’s (soft) and H’s (hard), with the less common F grade in the middle. The pencils are very smooth and great to scribble and write with, and I actually ended up using them for lettering on a rough paper that gave a nice chalky look when scanned.

I’ve never been very picky with the kind of pencils I buy – after all it’s all just graphite, but after trying out the Tombow pencils I might pay more attention to this in the future, as they’re a real pleasure to draw and write with. Two thumbs up for these pencils.

Tombow’s technical pencil is well-made and lies nicely in the hand, I also like that it has a lead lock function you can use to prevent your lead from sliding back into the mine shaft.


As always, when you have a new tool it takes a while before you can play its strengths, so all in all, I’ve enjoyed working with the different pens and pencils over the last few weeks. I found myself using the big ABT brush pen most when I wanted a rather clean, flowing look for my lettering, for more textured letters I like to use different brushes. Clean lines is something the ABT does really well. Keep in mind you need more space to write letters with bigger tools, though.

The smaller brush pens are great if you like to write smaller letters (you can actually use them with my free calligraphy worksheets or with the workbooks), and I found the soft Fudenosuke is a great companion and very versatile. If you like harder tips, you’re better off with the hard version – it’s a good thing there are two variants to choose from.

Have you tried out brush pens in different sizes or with different tips? Which ones did you like best and what have you found? Join the conversation and leave a comment below.

(Transparency disclaimer: The art supplies in this review have been given to me by Tombow. Thank you kindly for the cooperation!)



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