Pen Review: Sai Watercolor Brush Pens (Set of 30)

For years, one of my favorite brush pens have been the Sai Watercolor Brush Pens. I originally purchased the 20-color set ($34.50). In the time since I acquired them, I have used some up, given some away or lost a few. In the end, I had about 6 or 8 of the original 20-color set. I also discovered that I have never written a review about these brush pens so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to invest in the 30-color set ($51.50).

Tip up or tip down, this plastic storage box is sturdy and well-made.

I don’t normally keep marker or brush pens in the packaging but with a large set like this 30-color set, the sturdy, translucent plastic box is easy to use, easy to see the pens and easy to store so the pens might live in this box for the time being. I do store the box with the tips down or horizontal so that the tips don’t dry out. The 20-color set came in a long flat plastic sleeve that is lovely for presentation but too big to be usable for me so I took the pens out of the case immediately, which may explain why I managed to lose some of the pens.

What I like most about the Sai Watercolor Brush Pens is the unusual color range. Unlike many pen sets that offer the standard ROYGBIV spectrum in smaller sets, the Sai sets all have a more sophisticated, complex color range.

The pens feature clear caps with a clip to keep the pens from rolling away. I did discover that the caps need to be pushed firmly to close the pens completely.

The package included an instruction and color chart sheet — all in Japanese. There are diagrams showing methods for blending colors by touching the pen tips together to transfer some of the ink from one pen to the other in order to create gradients while drawing.
The package included an instruction and color chart sheet — all in Japanese but interesting to look at the range of drawing and sketching examples.

With the 30-color set, I do feel like there are more common colors then in the 20-color set but overall, I think the set offers a great range of colors.

Sai brush pens come with a very fine point
Cat hair plus flexible nylon bristles of the Sai brush pen

Of all the brush pens on the market, the individual nylon bristle tips on the Sai brush pens are some of the sturdiest while also being the most like a real brush. Other brands feature the soft, flexible “felt tip” style tips which can often dull or the tips can get worn out but the Sai bristles have survived a wide array of paper surfaces and abuse and kept the tips sharp and usable. I didn’t go out of my way to try to damage or abuse them so I’m sure they can be damaged, but in regular use, I’ve found the Sai brush pens to be the most durable while also being the most brusk-like.

Using a standard Tomoe River A5 notebook, I tested the full range of colors in the 30-color set. My favorite colors are the dusty blue in the center of the second row and pretty much all the greens.  I think for nature sketchers, this set has a good variety. Lettering artists will like the spring brush tips and unique color range especially.

The red-orange color always reminds me of ripe, heirloom tomatoes. All things considered, its probably my favorite in the set. It is also in the 20-color set and I used it all the time.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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