Kuretake Zig Cocoiro

Experimenting with Brush Lettering

All the brush pens

All the brush pens

This year one of my stationery resolutions was to learn brush lettering. I really like the style of brush lettered pages, journals and greetings cards and decided I would try and emulate this myself.

To get started I bought a few different brush pens online. I went for brands I knew but didn’t really consider everything aspect in depth. I kind of just bought on a whim which meant I made some errors.

Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush pen

Despite the (lengthy) name of this pen I didn’t realise that this pen would have a real brush tip. I know ridiculous as it says it right there in the name and on the pen. Anyway after giving the pen a try I was put me off. Before venturing into brush pens I had attempted to brush letter using a paintbrush and found it really hard to control the brush. This pen just reminded me of that, which could be a good thing, but for a beginner with my preferences it put me off.

Zig Clean Color Brush tip

Zig Clean Color Brush tip

The Zig Clean Color holds a water based ink. This was another research error on my part as it meant that it wouldn’t be suitable to letter envelopes if I wanted to post to actually arrive at its destination. Ideally I would have liked a waterproof ink so that I could use this for any purpose. Being water based this slightly limits to way I can use this pen.

There are a couple of small downsides with the actual pen itself. I would like the ink to be a darker black. The ink isn’t a pure deep black and thats a bit of a shame for me. As this is a real brush tip I have to be careful with the pressure I apply when writing with it. My heavy hand could really damage the brush tip and ruin the pen completely.

Despite these few initial set backs, most of which are all completely down to my lack of research, it turns out I am enjoying this brush pen. After trying out a few different pens it has the one I have reached for the most because of the great brush tip it has. I just needed to practice with this pen a little to get used to it.

Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pen

The second pen I chose was from Sakura. Again this is a water based ink, another error. The tip on this pen is what I had been expecting from a brush pen. It’s a bit firmer than an actual paint brush and means that I am able to apply a little more pressure with use.

Sakura Koi Brush pen tip

Sakura Koi Brush pen tip

The black colour ink in this pen is really nice, its quite dark and looks really nice on crisp white paper. So far I have found it hard to get good line variation with this pen, but that is probably down to a lack of practice on my part. I am sure with time I should be able to improve my brush lettering skills using this pen.

Bimoji brush pen and packaging 

Bimoji brush pen and packaging 

Bimoji Brush Pen

This may not be the official name of this pen but it’s the only one I can make out from the packaging. I found this brush pen on a recent visit to JP Books. This was a second phase brush lettering purchase after my initial haul. I really liked the traditional style of this pen, it just screams Japanese culture to me.

The pen comes with a moulded grip section adding comfort when you use this pen. I really like this feature. It suggests that lettering should be a task you take time over, not rush. It’s looking to provide you with comfort when using it.

Moulded grip section and clear cap

Moulded grip section and clear cap

There is a small loop on the end of the pen which I can only presume is to secure the pen to something when not in use.

Fab Japanese branding and loop

Fab Japanese branding and loop

The clear cap makes it easy to make sure you’re capping and uncapping the pen without damaging the brush tip, very useful!

Zig Cocoiro Brush Pen

I have had this pen for quite some time and had cast it aside feeling that it wasn’t really a true brush pen. The tip is really quite fine and you have to work hard at getting line width variation. I think it could be useful if I need to do smaller, more detailed lettering.

The Zig Cocoiro is the only coloured ink I have gone for when testing out brush pens. It’s not a firm favourite of mine, but I could see this being more useful the more I experiment with brush lettering, so I am not writing it off just yet.

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen in B

Ok so I bought the wrong pen. Somehow when they turned up this wasn’t the brush tip I was expecting, but rather the Pitt Artist pen’s bold. The one happy accident of this purchase is this pen is waterproof.

Faber-Castell B pen. The tip is quite brush like

Faber-Castell B pen. The tip is quite brush like

Despite buying the wrong tip I still played around a little with it and because of the tip you can get some line width variation when writing. It’s not a real brush pen, but you can get it to mimic brush lettering with some effort. I have actually been using this more in my sketchbook to date the pages and add a header in here and there. I actually really like the Pitt Artist pens so at some point I will rectify my mistake and buy the brush tip I was actually looking for.

Writing samples from each of then pens 

Writing samples from each of then pens 

Initial thoughts on my brush pens

My brush pen resolution is just getting started. So far I am only playing around with these pens and trying to get used to holding them the right way and playing with the line variation when writing. Normally I have such a heavy hand when writing so using these brush pens is taking some time to adjust.

With InCoWriMo coming up I am planning on lettering envelopes and trying to be a bit more creative with what I send out to people. I am also using the brush pens in my personal journal and in my Hobonichi Techo to letter certain events. I am pleased with how I have started with this resolution and hopefully as the year goes on my brush lettering technique will improve and my knowledge on these pens will grow.

Kuretake Zig Cocoiro Rollerball Pen Review

The Kuretake Zig Cocoiro Rollerball Pen first caught my eye when I was watching a YouTube video. I was intrigued by the unusual barrel design and decided I need to try one out for myself.

Pick the right style for you

The Kuretake Zig Cocoiro pen is a pen with options, you get to choose from several pretty, colourful barrels and then pick your refill. I bought two of the barrels, one seashell pink and one duck egg blue. I then picked up a 0.3mm black rollerball refill and a letter pen refill in mint green. I haven’t really used the letter pen refill yet, but I have been using the rollerball on a daily basis therefore this review will focus on the rollerball only.

Unique barrel design

As I said the initial attraction for me was the unusual shape of the pen barrel and the gorgeous colours. When using it, it fits really nicely in your hand with the subtle curves of barrel making it very comfortable to hold. It can also be used comfortably posted and unposted without any issues.

I was surprised by the light weight of the pen. This is a plastic pen therefore I wouldn’t really expect too much weight, but for extended periods of time writing the Zig Cocoiro is really very comfortable to use.

The refill

The black refill of the rollerball refill gives you a very dark, solid black line. It reminds me in some ways of my Uni-ball Eye Needlepoint pen. With rollerball pens generally I have found you get a smooth writing experience and I have never had any issues with skipping. The Kuretake Zig Cocoiro is no different.

Due to the properties of rollerball ink you can use this pen with almost any paper stock. It works well with my Field Notes memo books although with the standard 50lb or 60lb paper stock you do get a bit of ghosting. This doesn’t bother me too much but it is worth bearing in mind.

Overall thoughts

Overall I really like the Kuretake Zig Cocoiro Rollerball pen. It reminds me of the Uni-ball rollerball pens such as the Eye and Vision Elite. As a go to pen and for using on the go I think this is a solid choice.

The winning points with the Cocoiro are the fun colour barrel options, the fact that it is comfortable to hold and light to carry. I also like the fact I can easily replace the refills once they are used out rather thank buying a whole new pen each time. The only small downside I can think of is that it appears to be difficult to get different rollerball refill colours here in the UK, but that is me being extremely fussy.