Zebra disposable brush pens

I don’t go to Daiso very often because every time I do, I walk out with a dozen office supplies I don’t immediately need. But apparently, they no longer carry most of the mysterious brush pens I encountered last year. Or at least, their downtown Seattle location doesn’t.

They did, however, have some other brush pens for sale when I went in late December:

Zebra disposable brush pens.
Zebra disposable brush pens.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but these are the same Zebra disposable brush pens that are available on Jetpens for $2.50 each, so with Daiso’s $1.50 everything, I got them at a nice discount. Scooore.

The brush pens are pretty similar to other disposable brush pens, including the Kuretake fudes, and my still-favourite inking pen, the Tombow Fudenosuke. They’re felt-tipped and Zebras come in three sizes: super fine (極細), fine (細字), and medium (中字). I did the following test sheet before I translated the names and before I found them on Jetpens though, so I went with small, medium, and large, ha.

Blue is watercolor; prawn is Copic.
Blue is watercolor; prawn is Copic. Drawn on bristol.

All three pens had a bit of trouble getting started with ink flow, and even after a few lines of writing, long strokes almost always had streaks in them and broke up at the end. If you write quickly, things get even streakier. The pens have decent line variation, but it’s hard changing things up dramatically mid-stroke without getting a blip in the ink flow. Still, streakiness in drawing is probably way less of an issue than in writing. If I’m using these pens to sketch, then I’m not really worried as worried about line quality anyway, and if I’m using them for final linework, I’m working slowly enough that the lines don’t skip.

Being both waterproof and Copic-proof is always a significant plus, since it means I can use the pens for final linework in a fully traditional piece. I was especially impressed with how well it held up against watercolor. There are a few smudged spots here and there, but they’re from me not letting the ink fully dry for the most part.

Zebra brush pens and watercolor.
Zebra brush pens and watercolor, on bristol. Sizes go clockwise from upper left: medium, fine, super fine.

The two larger sizes are thicker than I normally want my lines to be, but the smallest size, the super fine, felt pretty similar to my beloved Tombow fude. The ink in both the Zebra and the Tombow is a bit lighter, but they dry quickly, while the Kuretake fudes have very wet, dark ink that I end up smearing a lot. When I first got the Kuretakes, I thought for a moment that maybe they’d replace the Tombow as my favourite disposable brush pen because the finest of the Kuretake fudes is finer than the finer of the two Tombow fudes, and I like fine lines. But the smeary ink didn’t work out for me in the end.

The Zebra being more similar to the Tombow was a surprise. I actually was so excited by this discovery that after playing around with the Zebra super fine for a night, I went back to Daiso the next day and bought a half dozen more of the pen because $1.50 is such a good price! I then used the Zebra pen exclusively while I was at IKKiCON 8, so all the commissions I did at the con were done with the Zebra instead of my usual Tombow. For the most part, I can’t actually tell the difference between them…?? Amazing!

Jetpens has both the Tombow Fudenosuke and the Zebra disposable brush pens at $2.50, so it’s really whatever with which you want to go with there. As my primary inking pen, I’ve filled up my Jetpens cart with a dozen Tombow fudes at once before, and I always use it to tip my order into the free shipping zone. But as long as Daiso carries the Zebra pens, that’s what I’ll be using! In fact, maybe I should go back to Daiso and load up on even more of them while I can? What am I gonna use as filler in my Jetpens orders now??

Some coyotes drawn with the Zebra super fine brush pen.

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.