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TOMBOW vs. Sakura KOI: Which brush pens are better?

Updated: Dec 6, 2018

You stand in the shop in front of the shelf with the Brush Pens or other pens and you can not decide which you should take. The cheaper, or rather the expensive? Is the price worth it, do the pens keep what they promise? Which is good for handlettering, which one for illustration? Which pen brand has the more beautiful colors, the better looks ... oh and so on.

I know this only too well. And against all the questions only one thing helps: try it yourself!

I have done that and share, so that in the future the decision easier, my impressions with you.

In this test: The TOMBOW Dual Brush Pen vs. The Sakura KOI Brush Pen.

TOMBOW Dual Brush Pens vs. Sakura KOI Brush Pens


  • Water-based odorless

  • Beautiful standard colors, mixable with each other

  • 48 + Blender, both rich colors and pastel shades

  • 6 shades of gray.


  • Water-based odorless large number of shades

  • Beautiful nuances, great colors, miscible with each other

  • 95 + Blender, both rich colors and pastel shades

  • 10 shades of gray.

It is best that you try out the colors yourself and create your own color chart. Because neither the cap of the pins nor the color chart of the manufacturer make the right color tone optimally. The caps and the template of the Tombow fits quite well. But Sakura KOIs are sometimes quite wrong, which can lead to a wrong choice when choosing the right pen.

A color chart with names and numbers to print and fill out yourself can be found at both providers: here and here


Both pens have flexible brush tips made of nylon fibers, with TOMBOW being longer and therefore more flexible.

KOI: The line width is approx. 1 mm - 6 mm.

TOMBOW: Double-sided. The fine tip has a line width of 0.8 mm, the line width of the brush tip is according to the manufacturer 0.8 mm - 3.3 mm. But that is understated. You can even paint lines up to a width of about 6 mm.

Tip: If you want to write or draw with the pens, then you prefer to use smooth (also: coated / satin) paper. The pen tips will thank you for not freaking out so quickly. In addition, the lines become much clearer if the paper has no structure.

  • Water Resistance:

Both pens are watercolourable and not waterproof. Gradients are possible on both mixed media paper and watercolor paper. However, once they have dried, it is impossible to completely dissolve them. Then only shades succeed.

The most beautiful color gradients and effects as with water colors are obtained on watercolor paper:

  • Light Fastness:

Both brush pens are not lightfast. That is, they lose their color when exposed to sunlight. But this is really only noticeable if you let your picture hang permanently in the sunlight.

I just tested the lightfastness of the Sakura KOI markers (since I have not had the Tombows for long). For this I painted in two colors samples on a normal printer paper, half covered and a few weeks at the window.

The result you can see here:

It's clear: the colors do not like direct sunlight !


Since both pens are quite similar, you can also use them for the same projects. Especially since handlettering is a trend, these markers are enjoying growing popularity. But also for illustrations, journaling, urban sketching and the drawing of manga or comics, they are perfect.


I enjoy painting and writing with both pencils. However, the TOMBOWS are a nose ahead, because I am thrilled by the wide range of colors. Also, the fact that these pins have both a brush tip and a fineliners, I think great. So you can draw details and repair small unfortunate places. But the price - legitimately - a little higher. What is especially noticeable when you want to get a whole set of brush pens.

So I can recommend you both the TOMBOWS and the Sakura KOIs with a clear conscience. There is no good or bad. You need to know what's important to you: one tip or two? Cheap or a little more expensive? Then you will definitely be satisfied with your choice.


To shop for brush pens visit Artzo India or click on the link below to shop online:


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