Royal Talens Ecoline Brush Pens ($3.40 each or sets available at various price points) feature a large, soft, flexible fiber tip and each of the 30 available colors features Ecoline’s liquid watercolor ink inside.
The tip is firm enough to allow both thick and thin lines. The colors in each pen can be blended or faded by adding water like pan watercolors. How successful blending is will depend largely on what kind of paper you are using. Watercolor paper, which is designed to be used with a lot of water will be more successful in more painterly experiments. Multimedia paper (Strathmore, Bienfang and Canson all offer versions of this type of paper) is the next best. Col-o-ring Paper is similar to multimedia paper in a lot of way but may curl or “taco” more easily when wet than watercolor or multimedia paper.
I got individual pens so I could choose colors I thought I would use more than the sets. I did want to have a full range of colors. I missed a purple though.
The physical pens are wide, like most brush pens, but lightweight and easy to hold. The colors range from bright and vivid to light and subtle. If you are considering purchasing these pens, consider what you might want to draw, paint or color and choose your colors accordingly. I like to do florals and silly doodles so I focused on colors I thought might be good in these uses.
I compared the Ecoline Brush Pens to what I consider to be the “Cadillac of Watercolor Brush Pens” — The Winsor & Newton Water Colour Brush Pens. I had similar colors in both brands — not exact matches but close.
While this is probably not a fair comparison, I think both pens are competing for the same type of user. Originally, I thought the W&N brush pens were very expensive but after some investigation, the prices for the W&N Water Color Brush Pens compared to the Ecoline, are pretty similar. Considering that the W&N have dual tips (the brush tip on one end and the fine tip on the other) the extra 20¢ per pen seems reasonable.
But the biggest advantage is that, when wet, the W&N pens blend much more easily and the amount of pigment in each color is much more intense and saturated. If you prefer to layer colors when color is dry, this may not be a deciding factor. W&N colors also show more granulation like traditional watercolors.
When blending, the Ecoline colors did not lift as easily with water or rewet as smoothly. Some “staining colors” from W&N also had some issues blending smoothly but both of my sample blends were not done on pre-wet paper so your results may vary with different techniques.
While both pens, the Ecoline and W&N do similar things and work pretty consistently but I’m inclined to recommend the W&N over the Ecoline because of the dual tip and I have more history with the brand in general. That said, the Ecoline is a solid option.
- Paper: Bee Paper Super Deluxe Aqua Bee 6×9 sketch pad ($21) and Col-o-ring Folio (coming soon!)
- Pens: Royal Talens Ecoline Watercolor Brush Pen ($3.40 each) Winsor & Newton Water Colour Brush Pens ($84 for set of 12) or ($3.69 each from Blick – much better deal and now sold under the name Winsor & Newton Pro Marker Watercolor Marker)
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