How to use watercolor brush pens

Watercolor brush pens are intuitive and easy to use. With just a little practice, you’ll get the hang of them in no time! Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Swatch And Experiment

What’s more exciting than buying new brush pens? Swatching them! This lets you see the actual colors and how they perform on different textures and weights of paper. Take it to the next level by dipping the brushes in water — this will dilute the ink and give you even more shades to play with.

How to use watercolor brush pens

Don’t Forget The Water Brush

Water brushes work just like a traditional brush, except they have a reservoir inside that you can fill with water. You can use them to blend colors that you’ve already applied or mix two different colors on a palette. Moving onto a different shade? Blot the water brush onto a scrap piece of paper to make sure that it’s clean and free of color.

How to use watercolor brush pens

Use Heavyweight Paper

Using office paper may seem like a good idea, but only if you’re sketching or testing colors out. For watercolor brush pens (and watercolor painting in general), you want to use thick paper that won’t buckle or warp. For beginners, 300 gsm is ideal — but if you do plenty of layers and washes, you’ll want to go with something heavier.

How to use watercolor brush pens

Mix And Blend Colors

There are many ways to blend colors with watercolor brush pens. You can (1) paint directly on the paper and blend with a water brush; (2) rub paint onto a palette and mix with a clean brush, or (3) touch the tips of two markers together for a gradient effect. Each method has its pros, so try them all out to find what works best for your project!

How to use watercolor brush pens

Use The Right Amount Of Pressure

Watercolor markers can be used in many different ways to achieve specific effects. Use a light hand to create thin, dainty lines or add more pressure for a thicker stroke. You can also hold the brush at a near-horizontal angle. This lets you paint a bigger area at once, perfect for filling in large shapes or creating backgrounds.

How to use watercolor brush pens

If you’re a cat lover like we are at Chalkola, you probably have countless photos and videos of your cat or other cats saved on your phone to cheer you up on a bad day. So we thought we’d have a little fun and take our cat fandom to the next level. Today, we’re going to show you how to paint a cat using watercolor brush pens. These brush pens are the purr-fect choice for this art activity because you can easily achieve the beautiful effects of watercolor in a convenient pen form. Aside from the 28 brilliant colors included in Chalkola’s watercolor brush pens set, it also comes with two blending brushes and a premium watercolor pad, so you have all the materials you need to paint your masterpiece whenever creativity strikes!

National Pet Day is coming up soon on the 11th of April, so this is another great reason to celebrate our little fur friends as you practice your painting skills at the same time. To get started, you just need the following materials listed below:

  • Chalkola Watercolor Brush Pens (already comes with a watercolor pad)
  • Pencil
  • Little bowl of water

Ready to create this cat artwork with us? Then let’s get this paw-ty started!


  • Prepare your materials. On your watercolor pad sheet, draw an outline of your cat. It doesn’t have to look hyper realistic if that’s not your style. You just have to capture the unique features, mannerisms, or expressions of your cat on paper. How you know your cat will translate in your illustration no matter your technique or style.
  • Once your outline is done, start filling it with colors using your watercolor brush pens.
    Tip: A simple hack is to trace your outline with your color of choice, and then start painting the inner parts. This gives you a clearer definition of your outline and helps you paint within the lines, seamlessly blending the outline and the shading. When you’re painting, it’s always best to start light so you can easily adjust and blend the colors as you paint. If your cat is multi-colored, you can start with semi-transparent colors and then gradually darken the shades as you go along. Use your blending brush with a little bit of water to smoothly distribute the paint pigment.
  • Done painting your cat? Time to add those cute little features, like their adorable Puss in Boots eyes, tiny mouth, and fine whiskers. You can still go back and add more details to their fur like stripes or patches if you want, as watercolor is a flexible and blendable paint that you can keep adjusting and adding layers to.

Now that you have a painting of your cat, you can choose to frame it or stick it on your fridge to put a smile on your face each time you see it. We’re sure it will make any space you display it in even purr-tier! If you enjoyed painting your feline baby so much, let’s do a bigger cat next time with this wild art activity on How to Draw a Tiger Using Chalk Markers . Happy creating and see you next week for another fun art tutorial!

An Easy Guide to Painting Beautiful Flowers using Watercolor Brush Pens

Posted by Profound Color on Sep 01, 2021

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|Sponsored| At Artists Network, we love trying new products. However in the rush to use the latest tool, it’s often too easy to miss out on exploring all its capabilities. That’s what got us excited about Arteza Real Brush Pens (RBP). From the start, we loved how they felt like a pen and worked like a paintbrush. But, then we started experimenting! At first we tried them using typical painting methods, but only after playing with new approaches did we uncover their hidden potential to create something fresh and exciting.

In this sponsored post we share some ways to use Arteza’s brush pens and hope you discover, as we did, how multifaceted they are. You can also check out this blog on how to use RBPs. Once you start experimenting we know you’ll fall in love with them, too!

Directly on Paper


There is a substantial difference when you use RBPs straight from the pack onto a dry surface than on a wet one. When using them on dry surfaces, you get bright, saturated hues and uniform color. Use this technique when adding details to a painting you have allowed to dry first.


When you draw on pre-moistened paper, the effect is softer and more subtle. You can get so many stunning effects when applying them directly to pre-moistened paper. Try this when you want the illusion of color without any hard edges.

Color Mixing

On Paper

Due to their fluidity, RBPs can be mixed right on your surface as you are working. This causes various hues to appear and can make for some interesting effects and “happy accidents.”

On a Palette

When you want to achieve softer color transitions, get new hues, or control a color’s saturation, try using a palette for color mixing. Dab the colors on your palette and mix them together or add a little water to expand the amount of paint you have to work with.


With One Pen

Since these pens are highly saturated, you can get some great color gradients with just one pen. By dabbing the tip in water for just a second, you can achieve numerous shades and a range of values.

With Two Pens

Since this is, in effect, watercolor paint inside the body of a pen, it makes perfect sense that the pens would mix well together. Using two pens, you can create a new shade by smoothly blending their edges. First add one color then overlap that with another color in the opposite direction. To get a smoother gradient, go on top of the intersection with the water brush.

Dots and Lines

On Dry Paper

These brush pens are ideal for creating dots or lines, and emphasizing or adding particulars and accents. By controlling the pen’s pressure, you can get dozens of beautiful and diverse lines!

On Wet Paper

You can do the same as you did on dry paper only this time use moist paper to get soft or blurred spots and lines. This method is excellent for creating inconspicuous objects, such as faraway trees in the background.

Water Brush


The water brush allows you to use the pens the way you would a traditional watercolor set. Because the water brush’s barrel can be filled with water, just apply a little or a lot to moisten your surface before painting to blur what you have already painted. Or, use it like a paintbrush and dip it into the ink on your palette and paint right on a dry surface.

Creating Halftones

A water brush also comes in handy when you want to create halftones. Try this by brushing paint onto your palette, then picking up some paint with a water brush before placing it on your paper.

Rough Effects


Sometimes you want a paper’s texture to show through for a rougher result. By painting with the pen’s tip flatwise, it gradually reveals the paper’s texture or creates a scratchy, almost dry-brush effect. This technique is great for making accents and giving diversity to your piece.


You can also use RBPs when working on drawings in your sketchbook. Try more expressive effects by layering sharp strokes over random shapes and play around with the dynamics of patterns.


On Watercolor Paintings

We are always searching for ways to add interest to our watercolors. RBPs are an excellent way to do this especially for complementing large solid areas with specifics or for putting in patterns and textures.


One of the best things about RBPs is how great they are for glazing. Since they use water-soluble pigments, you can thin them with water and add multiple layers of color, to get the same hue for a darker shade or a different color for transparency that allows you to see the first color under the second.


The brush pen tip is especially well-suited for hand lettering. The tip can be manipulated to create wide, medium, or very fine lines. You can draw the letters in one hue and then layer other colors on top to give the letters more dimension. Because RPBs have a barrel that’s like a pen, they give you the control you need for lettering.

Now that we have shared some techniques, I hope you are inspired to give Arteza Real Brush Pens a go! You can purchase them in sets or try out the Ultimate Creator Bundle. Go to where you’ll find them in assorted sets and bundles. Plus, you always get free shipping!

Discover all the ways you can explore your artistic passions when you check out the free art resources from Artists Network!

This has been a summer of exploration for me in terms of creativity, and my latest adventure has taken me into the beautiful world of watercolour and hand lettering.

How did this happen? Well, it all started with my friend and Canadian Scrapbooker magazine team mate Kerry Engel…along with the enabling shopping friends Connie Nichol, Kim Gowdy and Michelle Marks. Kerry told Connie about how awesome the Tombow Dual Brush Pens are. Kerry creates so many fabulous artistic projects, so eventually I came aboard and bought the full set of pens. Gulp.

How to use watercolor brush pens

Did I use them right away? Nope. They sat for at least a few months. Then last month on Instagram, I saw Tombow post a 10 second video of lettering “Hello” with a purple Dual Brush Pen. I was mesmerized. ha ha

I pulled out my set of Tombow markers and the rest is history. I started practicing lettering and watercolours for a few minutes every day.

The weird part is I don’t know how to paint or draw or sketch or anything, including flowers. I’ve never used watercolor paints either. I haven’t taken a class or watched youtube videos and online tutorials.

Basically, I do a rough, loose sketch of the flower with the Tombow Dual Brush pens, add water, and the magic happens. Honestly, I probably cannot replicate most of these flowers. Ha ha! Maybe with more practice though.

As for the lettering, I started to find some fantastic hand lettering artists (is that what they’re called?) and followed them. Then I came across a challenge on Instagram by Sharisse @piecescalligraphy and her friend Nina @anintran called #HandletteredABCs.

How to use watercolor brush pens

I was just visiting my friend Michelle in Newfoundland and this is her daughter’s kitten Minerva (Minnie) who would NOT leave me alone while I was practicing my lettering. I am VERY allergic to cats. LOL

I decided to join in because I fell in love with lettering and thought I would practice both my watercolours and handlettering at the same time. I don’t know calligraphy, so I’m definitely not as skilled as most out there, but I’m trying. Using the Tombow pens is called “Brush Lettering.” and I LOVE it.

Sharisse’s blog is filled with tons of fabulous lettering and tutorials and information. Click HERE to visit her blog.

The watercolours come easily to me, and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces. HA HA All I know for sure is, this makes me happy 🙂

The lettering takes a LOT of time and practice but I can take it anywhere and pull it out wherever I am (with some strange looks sometimes).

I’ve just decided to enjoy the process and the journey …. and see where it goes. No expectations or commitments. I usually overthink things. Everything. So I’m desperately trying not to do that this time.

So for those of you who have been asking me about “how do you do this?” …. here is a very short video that shows you my watercolour waterlily. I still love to teach, so maybe some day I will be teaching these techniques!

I hope this post encourages you to experiment, go out on a limb, leave your comfort zone and try something different to expand your creative and artistic soul.

I love drawing my illustrations with pen and watercoloring them. I also love watercoloring my florals and then giving them a pen outline. While using Watercolor and pen together there a few key points you need to follow and I’ll explain them below!

How to use watercolor brush pens

Affiliate links have been used at no extra cost to the reader. You can read my full disclosure here. I am a part of the Tombow USA design team, and receive products from them.

What pens to use with watercolor?

Black pens come in two kinds- one with an oil based ink and an other water based ink. Some pens might have a hybrid ink that has some water properties- but we will treat them as a water based ink itself here.

Oil based pens will not bleed at all with watercolors. Water based pens will bleed and spread just like a watercolor.

Do you ink before or after watercolor?

This is a personal preference. You can ink before or after watercoloring. There are pens that will allow you to do both.

Personally, I try to ink before watercoloring. The main reason for this is time.

If you watercolor first, you need to wait till the watercolor dries on the paper completely before coming back and outlining with ink. Whereas, if I outline first, I can paint over it almost immediately as the pen dries on the paper super quick compared to watercolor.

What do you use to outline a watercolor?

For Pen first, Watercolor second: Use an oil based pen like this MONO Twin Permanent Marker

For Watercolor first, Pen second: Use any black pen. I like using fine tipped MONO Drawing Pens or the MONO Twin Permanent Marker too. Make sure your paper is completely dry to the touch before outlining!

Can you erase pencil under watercolor?

Sometimes, yes. I find that I can often erase pencil lines from under my watercoloring. But not all the time. This mainly depends on the pigmentation of your watercolors and the paper quality of your sketchbook.

If you can, you should make it a practice to erase all of your pencil lines after inking and before watercoloring.

How to use watercolor brush pens

Can you use watercolor over pen?

Yes. You can watercolor over pen as long as you are using an oil based black pen. My most used oil based black pen is this MONO Twin Permanent marker.

Watch my start to finish YouTube video:

Click the video box below or here Tombow Brush Pen art. Here I use an oil based pen, draw my illustrations, erase the pencil marks and then watercolor over them using brush pens.

How to use watercolor brush pens

SUPPLIES | Bee Paper Super Deluxe Sketch Pad​ | Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers, Bright​ | Mono Twin Tip Permanent Marker, Black

More Watercolor and pen examples:

How to use watercolor brush pens

Hi I’m Smitha! I live in Minnesota with my husband and two daughters. You’ll always find me painting florals in my sketchbook. And I love the sheer joy of making something with just my hands! But my bigger love is capturing it all on camera Read more.

Thanks for stopping by today! If you learnt something from this tutorial, do share this post with a friend or on social media! Tag me @smithakatti #smithakatti I’d love to see what you create!

How to use watercolor brush pens

As an artist, I love using my Tombow Dual brush pens because they are so versatile. I can use them for brush calligraphy and at the same time, I can use them for watercoloring. I use different papers for both of these and I will address them separately below.

I’ve linked each sketchbook individually so that you can easily grab them on! But I would also suggest that you stop by Blicks website as they often have great sales for sketchbooks and you can grab a few of them at once.

HOW THE PENS WORK: Tombow dual brush pens have pigment that is water-based and you can easily create a watercolor effect by scribbling marker color onto the paper and then painting over it with water.

WHY PAPER IS IMPORTANT: For this technique to work, we want the pen/marker pigment to be able to sit on the paper for a few seconds and the paper needs to have a slight thickness to it. If the paper is too thin, it will absorb all the pen/marker pigment immediately and the color with not spread when you paint with water.


Best paper for Tombow brush pens while watercoloring are listed below

1. XL Mix Media Pad, 7″X10″ Side Wire I love this sketchbook!! The paper is perfect for watercoloring, the sketchbook is compact and has a nice spiral binding. This sketchbook is very economical and I have bought these in multiple sizes now!

How to use watercolor brush pens

2. Canson XL Series Watercolor Paper 140 Pound, 9 x 12 Inch I love the paper thickness in this watercolor pad. The paper is thicker than the above-mixed media paper. This paper is 140lb weight and the mixed media is just 98lb. This paper definitely can hold more water but the sketchbook is a bit more expensive too. But my biggest pet peeve with this is the glue binding. The pages keep falling out of the sketchbook and personally, that annoys me a lot.

How to use watercolor brush pens

Other papers and cards that I have used and would recommend using with the Tombow Dual brush pens:

  • Strathmore Watercolor Cards
  • Field Artist 4 in. x 4 in. Square Watercolor Journal
  • Canson Montval Watercolor Pad

HOW THE PENS WORK: Tombow dual brush pens have a brush tip which you can think of like a paintbrush attached to a marker. The point of the brush pen is sharp when new but upon repeated usage on rough paper, it can fray.

WHY PAPER IS IMPORTANT: To create beautiful dramatic brush calligraphy you need a sharp brush tip to be able to draw thin thin lines. And to maintain that sharp tip the paper you use needs to be super smooth to avoid any kind of fraying. Think tracing paper, wax paper, or smooth vellum. The paper needs to feel smooth to your touch when running your hands over it.


Best paper for Tombow brush pens for Brush Lettering listed below.

1. Rhodia Classic Orange Notepad

2. Rhodia Black Dot Pad These were not the first paper pads I used when learning to brush letter. But boy did I fall in love with them instantly! The pads come in various different sizes but all of them have a very nice foldable staple binding. The Tombow pens literally glide over the paper and bring a new joy to your lettering.

For beginners, I would recommend the black dot grid pad. Easier to practice your drills and space your letters evenly.

For lettering quotes etc, the Orange notepad is my number one recommendation.

How to use watercolor brush pens

3. XL Mix Media Pad, 7″X10″ Side Wire Yes! It’s the same paper I use for watercoloring. This paper works great for markers as well (as the sketchbook description says) and the paper is not too rough at all. There is some grain or tooth to the paper but it is very fine.

How to use watercolor brush pens

4. Strathmore Mixed Media Pad This sketchbook is great for brush lettering as there is a smooth vellum surface finish to the paper. The sketchbook is larger in size and great for quotes.

How to use watercolor brush pens

5. HP Printer Paper, Premium LaserJet Copy Paper, 32lb This is loose paper, not a sketchbook. I print all of my printables and worksheets on this paper as it has a nice smooth finish. This is also a great beginner budget-friendly paper as you can practice a ton with the sheets in one ream.

How to use watercolor brush pens

Other Best paper for Tombow brush pens that I have used and would recommend using with the Tombow Dual brush pens for lettering:

  • Bee Paper Super Deluxe Sketch Pad, 9-Inch by 9-Inch
  • Canson XL Series Marker Paper Pad
  • Strathmore Tracing Pad


So there you have it friends, the best paper for Tombow Brush Pens that I’ve used and highly recommend. Let me know in the comments if you would like me to review any other sketchbooks for you!

I’ll be printing my mini cards on watercolor paper, but white card stock also works well. Trim the paper to 8.5 x 11 inches to fit in your printer. To print the Free mini cards (click here).

Tip #1 You can use the coloring brush pens as you would a regular marker. The flexible tip allows you to make fine or bold brush strokes. I’m starting by tracing these letters, using very light pressure to create a thin outline.

Tip #2 You can also use these pens to produce a watercolor effect. Outline the center of an image. Messy lines look better when blended than straight ones. Use the coloring brush blender to distribute the color within the shape. Color with a small circular motion.

Tip #3 When you’re ready to blend a new color, be sure to wipe the nib of the blender pen on a piece of scrap paper, or it may deposit unwanted color.

Tip #4 You can also use the blender pen to “borrow” color from another area. I’m coloring the camera lens black, then using the blender pen to pick up some of the pigment. I’m using this new, light gray ink to fill in other areas of the camera.

Tip #5 I want these cards to look like they were hand painted with watercolors, so I’m leaving a few white gaps here and there to reinforce that look.

Tip #6 You can add shading and dimension by depositing more colored ink over an area you’ve already blended.

Tip #7 Use the broad side of the brush pen to draw a border or fill in large areas. Then I’m going over it with the colorless blender to soften the strokes and mimic watercolor paint.

Tip #8 Another technique you can try is layering different colors. This adds depth to the image. Choose two shades in the same color family and overlap them. Use the blender brush to create a seamless gradient.

Tip #9 I want the sky on this card to have a pale wash, so I’m scribbling on scrap paper with a blue brush pen. Use the blender brush as a paintbrush, to pick up the color and deposit it on the card.

Tip #10 If you have a large area to fill, you can use a water brush to pick up and deposit color. Fill the tube with water, then squeeze gently to release a drop. Pick up the color with the brush and blend it on the background.

When you’re finished coloring, cut out the mini cards on the black lines. Fold in half on the light gray dotted line. These are the perfect size to tape to a cupcake box, or to hang on a gift bag!

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