Today I am doing a Karin Brushmarker Pro Review. I bought my set off of Amazon but they are available off of the Karin website as well. They come in a variety of set options and the prices vary based on the set size. As always, I took a look to see how they blend and also did some swatching in my 160 GSM Archer & Olive notebook. You can find the review video here, and the comparison chart down below. So let’s take a closer look!
Karin Brushmarker Pro Review
These are brush pens that can be used for lettering and watercolour painting. They only have the one, thick brush tip. The tip size is comparable to a Tombow Dual Brush Pen. The ink is water-based and says they are easy to blend, and even comes with a little instruction booklet on how to achieve different blends. The lid is the colour of the ink and has the colour name on it which is great. And the lid has a super tight fit onto the pen. These pens are non-refillable and you can’t replace the tips.
These markers come in a variety of sizes and options. The listed prices are USD based off of the Karin website:
- Mega Box Plus 72 + 3 Blender pens: $140.56
- Mega Box 60 + 3 Blender Pens: $118.07
- Mini Box 26 + 1 Blender Pen: $50.67
- Box Basics (variety of colour groups): $26.32
Karin Brushmarker Pro Review Chart
I only used 160GSM paper for this pen test and the ink ghosted and, sometimes even ghosted! As a result, I didn’t test the only page varieties as it will bleed through anything thinner too. I will say that these pens will be a dream to blend on coated paper (which the Archer & Olive paper isn’t).
While I really love these pens, there are some cons to them as well.
- They aren’t as easily available as other brush pens. While they are on Amazon, there is definitely a mark up (which may just account for taxes/duties/shipping – this is particularly relating to Amazon Canda)
- They are on the pricier end of the brush pen spectrum (but! See the pros)
- These pens are super juicy meaning that they can bleed through 160GSM
- Because of how the lid is designed, I am afraid I am going to damage the brush tip when placing the cap back on. You need to push hard to get the cap to click and I’m afraid that pressure damages the tip
- These pens will smudge like the dickens on coated paper! It was really frustrating when I was trying to create with them
- They are super juicy meaning they are SO fun to blend
- The pen ink is very high quality and the barrel design is very comfortable so, in my mind, I can justify the price
- There are SO many colours and they are so vibrant too
- This ties in to the above two points but the gradients that the colours create when blended are so beautiful
Honestly, you can blend these pens any way you want! The instructions they provide are easy to follow with great results. I found the best way to blend (on both the 160GSM paper and the bristol board I used), was to blend the darker colour into the lighter colour before the ink dried. (The ink drying was more an issue on the 160GSM paper).
The ink does go down on the page in a watercolour way where you get rough edges and ink pooling a little but I think it adds to the fun of the pen. Maybe when I scrap together a few extra minutes, I will try watercolouring with them (these reviews are strictly from a lettering/journaling perspective).
My Overall Impression
As I mentioned in my pros list, I do really love this pens. They may be better for more advanced users given the price and the intricacies of the ink. But they are so fun to play with and experiment with. I waited 2 years to buy these pens and I am not disappointed at all. The vibrancy and brush is definitely comparable to the Tombows, but the Karin’s definitely make the Tombow colours seem a bit watered down. I also love that there is a bit of unpredictability in the ink, very much like the Distress Inks. To be clear, the ink doesn’t splotch outside of your line, but rather creates that watercolour variation within that line.
As a bullet journaler, I was disappointed that there was ghosting and bleed through even in the 160 GSM notebook. But there are workarounds for that, including working outside the journal and gluing it in, or gluing pages together. I used a Bristol Board with a vellum surface and had no issues with ghosting and bleeding (just smudging, lol)!
Let me know if you would be willing to try these or if you have them. I would love to see if you have used them for watercolour painting and how it went!
Also, let me know if you have any questions or comments! I have amassed quite the pile of stuff for testing (including the Karin pigment pens…), so hoping to do a review once a month. With that said, let me know if there is anything you would like to see or recommend I check out.