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!

About the author

Kiri is a Seattle-based artist, writer, and (brush) pen enthusiast with over 12 years of convention vending experience and a lot of opinions.