How to Use a Waterbrush Pen for Calligraphy

One of my favorite tools for brush calligraphy is the waterbrush pen. If you want to learn how to achieve an ombre look or watercolor on the go, read on my friend.

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What is is

It’s a pen that breaks into two parts. One end is an empty chamber you can fill with water or ink. The other end has the brush tip that is typically available in three different sizes – small, medium and large.

I use the Pentel Aquash, Kuretake  and the Sakura Koi Water Brushes. They’re all pretty similar in design and available brush sizes.

Ways to use

Water brush pens are super versatile and can be used multiple ways! Depending on what you’re creating and the look you’re going for, you can use it to achieve different styles and sizes of calligraphy or create an ombre look with watercolors or colored ink. They’re also a great tool for watercoloring on the go.

The most common way I use a waterbrush is by filling the chamber with ink instead of water. Because the pens aren’t super pricy and you can sometimes purchase in sets, dedicate one of your brushes to ink. I never rinse this out and just keep refilling with black ink as need.

Tip: for all those who have beginning calligraphy kits but no longer use the Higgins Eternal that typically comes in kits – Fill your waterbrush and start writing. Great way to use an ink that’s not ideal for pointed pen.

Need a break from black ink? Use your waterbrush to dip into fun colored ink or watercolor. Fill your chamber with a bit of water, dip the brush tip and go.

Using the same method as above, add some variation or fancy up that lettering piece by using different colored ink.

You can achieve this look by either filling the chamber with one ink color then dipping into a second color or by leaving water in the chamber, dipping into one color then another when you want to transition.

Urban sketching and watercoloring are two things I want to experiment more with this year. It’s so easy to grab your sketchbook, your waterbrushes and a travel watercolor kit and go. Make sure they’re filled with water and you’re set for a day of creative fun.


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