I often wished that I had a brush pen that could give me the dry brush look 100% of the time, not just when the cartridge was running out of ink. I think I found just such a brush pen accidentally.
I don’t really need much of a reason to pick up a new brush pen, especially a cheap disposable one, so I wasn’t really expecting anything in particular when I grabbed the Akashiya Sai ThinLine. I got it in black so I could compare more easily to my other brush pens, but it comes in four other colors, all natural and muted.
Most synthetic hair brush pens remind me immediately of the Pentel pocket brush and Kuretake #13/40. This pen was no exception, but the ThinLine lives up to its name — it’s much easier to get a thin, fine line with this pen than the others.
The ThinLine’s bristles are shorter than those on both the Pentel and Kuretakes, and there’s also fewer of them, giving much greater control for fine lines. Line weight control is also pretty good, though the length of the bristles makes it harder to snap smoothly back and forth from very thick and very thin lines.
I noticed pretty quickly that long thick lines were pretty much a no go with the ThinLine though.
Even at deliberately slow speeds, thick strokes are a bit patchy. At normal speeds, the ink gets very dry and the patches are more prominent. This frustrated me at first, since both the Pentel pocket brush and the Kuretake #13/#40 just gush ink when their cartridges are full and that’s what I’m used to, but once I realised the ThinLine basically gave me a permanent dry brush effect, my entire perspective changed. o_o
The brush tip of the ThinLine is long and narrow, so ink flow is limited. This is fine for thin/small strokes, since they use up very little ink to begin with, but for medium to thick strokes, you use up the ink faster than it can flow through to the bristles of the brush, and you get a dry brush effect!
The dry brush effect didn’t go away even after several drawings with the pen, so it doesn’t seem to be a slow ink flow start up issue. It can be a bit frustrating if you happen to have a few strokes on a drawing you don’t want to have the dry brush look, but for a pen that can predictably and consistently give me the dry brush effect, I’ll happily swap over to another pen for any “normal” brush strokes I need. I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to fill any large black areas with the ThinLine, haha.
The ThinLine, in addition to having a shorter and thinner brush tip than the Pentel and Kuretake, has a thinner and longer body. The body is lightweight plastic, too, so it’s definitely the lightest of the three pens, despite being an inch longer than both the others. I thought this would make it weird and/or uncomfortable to draw with, but I didn’t really notice it much in practice.
The thin body of the pen meant I was gripping it more delicately than a normal pen, which ultimately helped me better control thin lines. Everything about this pen seems to be made to make thin lines easier to do — I’ve never encountered a more aptly named pen.
The Akashiya Sai ThinLine isn’t refillable, but at $5 a pop — or hell, $14.50 for the set of 5 colors — it’s about the price of two disposable felt tips, and how often do you need to dry brush anyway? It’s fine as a disposable, though I think it’ll be hard for me to tell when it’s about to go dry for real, haha. Will definitely be picking up another when this one’s out though!