Kuretake no.13 VS Pentel pocket brush

So JetPens has graciously sent me one of these beauties to review, as if I needed another reason to adore them.  The Kuretake #13 had actually been on my to-get list  for a while because I wanted to compare it with my trusty Pentel pocket brush, the only other synthetic hair brush pen I own (all the others are felt tips).

Kuretake #13 Fountain Brush Pen

The Pentel is an amazing pen and I love it, but it’s best suited for bolder, looser brush work. It’s hard to use it for precision work, so I was hoping the Kuretake would make up that difference.

The pen comes with in a nice box with three refill cartridges.

The Kuretake #13 comes in a nice box, but it isn’t meant to be kept since you should never store your pen with the cap off after you insert that first ink cartridge. Still, the packaging is the first indication of the $20 price difference between the Kuretake and the Pentel. The second is the material of the pen — a cold metal with a nice weight, not plastic; but obviously, it’s performance that matters the most:

Initial test for Kuretake #13 with Copic markers and watercolor.

In most instances, I can’t tell it apart from the Pentel — it’s responsive, slick, flexible, and adapts quickly to changes in pressure. It’s a very great pen to be sure, but I’m not really feeling that $20 price difference.

Plus, the Kuretake has a huge downside — the default ink isn’t waterproof. It holds up very well under Copic markers (so, alcohol-proof), but one drop of water had the ink smearing all over the place. The Kuretake is compatible with the Platinum converter, which you can fill with any ink you want, but I don’t have one (yet), and obviously, it’d be best if the ink it comes with were waterproof.

Pentel VS Kuretake comparison test.

And the Pentel pocket brush is waterproof, so what is that extra $20 paying for, Kuretake? It comes with more standard refills and the refill packs are cheaper, but that’s probably because the ink isn’t waterproof! I’m okay with paying 59 cents more per refill for waterproof ink.

Price Body Brush Waterproof Alcohol-proof Comes with Price per refill Converter?
Kuretake #13 $33.00 Metal Nylon No Yes 3 refills $0.66 Yes
Pentel pocket $13.50 Plastic Nylon Yes Yes 2 refills $1.25 No

I was pretty determined to find some kind of performance difference between the two pens though. With the converter, the Kuretake could have waterproof ink if I really wanted, but I felt that there had to be some other justification for the price jump. So I drew some more:

Cats are Kuretake; Dogs are Pentel.

Can you tell the difference, really?

I did find dry brushing with the Kuretake a little more difficult — the ink is wetter than with the Pentel, but it’s a newer ink cartridge, and I didn’t want to be too rough with a brand new pen, either. The Kuretake’s ink does dry a smidgen darker than the Pentel, but the difference is negligible if you’re working in black and white.

Only the two tiger busts in the upper left are Kuretake; the rest are Pentel.

Another difference between the two pens that may be an advantage for some and a disadvantage for others: the Kuretake’s pen cap fits much more snugly over the brush. For me, this makes me extra paranoid that the brush tip getting pulled in the wrong direction as I’m capping it and that I’ll permanently ruin the tip. It also means the pen is harder to uncap with one hand. I’m sure some people like the extra security though.

Left: Kuretake; Right: Pentel.

Eventually, I notice the “big” difference between the two pens. The Kuretake’s brush is about a millimeter shorter than the Pentel’s. Yup.

Left: Kuretake; Right: Pentel

It does make a difference though. The slightly shorter brush is slightly less flexible, and so it is slightly easier to control, especially for the finer, lighter strokes. The facial details on the barn owl above would have been noticeably larger and rougher if I had inked it with the Pentel. So the Kuretake does handle precision work better, but not quite as better as I’d like.

So, the difference probably isn’t worth the extra $20, but there it is.

Maybe eventually, this Kuretake #13 will outlive my Pentel pocket brush, what with its fancier body and ability to use different inks, but my Pentel is already three years old, has burned through 20-30 ink cartridges, and still works like a charm, so I think it’s got a lot of drawing left in it yet.

Can you tell which pen I used for which page?


The Kuretake #13 is a great brush, but so is the Pentel pocket brush, so if you’re on a budget and need waterproof ink, then I think the winner is clear!


  1. Great review/comparison, Kiri! Very helpful. I’m tempted by the Kuretake, mainly because it can use the Platinum cartridge and I could then try Platinum Carbon Black ink in it, which is said to be completely waterproof when dry. Good point about the Kuretake brush pen’s cap fitting perhaps too snugly over the brush; I even get paranoid about the Pentel cap harming the brush! Your brush pen drawings are quite beautiful!

  2. Hello Kiri,
    fine review – and very fine drawings.
    Thanks a lot.

  3. Thanks, this is a very thorough review! I have both, but my Kuretake seems to need a kickstart…

  4. I am Japanese and I can advise you that you can use Kuretake brush pen No.22 or Bimoji Fudepen.
    I love Bimoji Fudepen it is not refillable though… :)

  5. Hi, I just order the Kuretake brush pen (Red Barrel)

    I didn’t order the converter for it though. I think the converter tank is a bit small. I ordered the syringe instead and I want to refill it with Noodler’s black waterproof ink in its original ink cartridge. I think you can refill your Pentel with syringe as well.

    I like your drawings :-)

  6. Hi, I just discovered that the little steel ball inside a kuretake cartridge (or in a platinum carbon desk pen cartridge) can be removed and pressed into the Pentel Pocket brush cartridge, giving you the ability to keep the ink stirred up with a light shake of the pen – just like the Kuretakes!
    I thought you might want to know. And thanks for the really helpful reviews!


    • That’s a really great tip! Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad you find the reviews helpful!

      • You’re welcome. Incidentally, I found it necessary to push the ball into the cartridge using the end of a small nail. It was easier than trying to use the pen top.

  7. Hello. Great review.
    I’ve been only using the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and recently heard of the Kuretake No 13 Brush Pen. I was wondering if you could help me with a dilemma I have. I need to find a brush pen (disposable or refillable) that has waterproof brown ink. I want to use it for the underpainting (drawing) for my acrylic work on gesso board or paper. I’ve been using those cheap Faber Castell felt tip disposable “brush” pens and they have such a terrible tip I hate using it, but they are waterproof. I think I’ve always used the Sakura brush pens and I don’t like them either. Any suggestions? I heard you could change the ink on Kuretake, but not sure what kind to use.
    Any help would be appreciated.

    • As far as I know, there aren’t cartridge refills with brown ink for either pen.

      You can syringe-fill either the Pentel or the Kuretake with your ink of choice. In my experience, most India inks, which are waterproof, work well. I’ve personally refilled my Pentel with P.H. Martin Bombay India ink to good effect. Because the bristles are synthetic, they’re less likely to clog if the ink dries out, but it’s important to keep in mind that the ink will dry out, so keep the pen in regular use when filled with India ink. I’d also do a few test strokes on a separate sheet of paper when using the pen for the first time in a day, as the ink may be extra thick at first.

      For non-waterproof options, most fountain pen inks are great to refill brush pens with as they’re thinner and flow a little better. I’m fond of J. Herbin’s inks and think they make for nice variations in ink saturation when used in a brush pen.

      Hope that helps!

      • Thank for getting back to me. Sorry for my delayed response. (I was in a middle of a long distance move so I’m settled now.) I haven’t tried it yet, but there seems to be a waterproof ink option that is also archival. Someone told me about it, but I forgot and then found it in Jetpens.com The company is Noodler’s ink. It’s meant for fountain pens, but it may work for what I’m trying to do.

  8. Jutta-Eveliina

    August 2, 2016 at 6:46 am

    Which one of these magnificent pens would you recommend? I have my birthbay coming soon and i would love to have the Kuretake pen or the Pentel pen for my birthday present:) i just can’t deside…
    Thank you!

    • Jutta-Eveliina

      August 2, 2016 at 6:49 am

      And also, great review and you are a great artist!;)

    • I prefer the Pentel! And thank you. :)

      • Jutta-Eveliina

        August 3, 2016 at 3:59 am

        Thank you very very much!

        • Jutta-Eveliina

          August 3, 2016 at 4:33 am

          Oh and Kiri, sorry to bother you again but i have one question. .. I often see pictures where people are comparing pentel pocket brush pen to other ink pens, but in some of them the Pentel one looks so dry! I would want a wet or a medium pen but my question is: Does Pentel have different wetness in their pens too or is it just always dry or do people use them wrong so that they become really dry?
          Thank you again:D

          • Aaaa, sorry I didn’t see this comment earlier! You replied to your own comment instead of mine so I didn’t get a notification! D:

            I’ve found the Pentel pens to have pretty consistent wetness from their standard cartridges. Of course, wetness will vary with how quickly you’re making your strokes, so faster strokes may lead to a more drybrush effect. The pen will also lend itself to more drybrushing as the cartridge runs out of ink, but luckily I’ve found that to only really happen right before the ink runs out, rather than it being a long, gradual process.

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