Review: Copic Gasenfude brush pen

The Copic Gasenfude is a disposable, nylon bristle tip brush pen, and something I’d been wanting to try out for a while, since Copic’s only other brush pens, from the Multiliner series, are felt tips.

Copic Gasenfude US packaging.

The Gasenfude has been available in Japan a while, but not many reputable online retailers had it available until recently, when a version of it finally released for US markets. I picked one up from the Copic booth at Emerald City Comicon this year.

Basic brush test. Pretty standard for a bristle-tip brush pen.

While felt-tipped brush pens have a single piece of shaped felt making up their brush tips, nylon brush pens have individual bristle, allowing for much greater flexibility, line variation, and the possibility for a dry brush effect. The trade off is that bristle brush pens tend to be harder to control.

There are lot of other nylon brush pens on the market. Most of them are refillable cartridge pens like the Pentel pocket brush or the Kuretake #13, but there are a few disposables too, like the Akashiya Sai ThinLine.

To be honest, the difference between most of these pens is pretty negligible. They perform similarly enough. Most of the pens have a similar weight, width, and length, so they feel about the same in your hand. The biggest differences are in the characteristics of the brush itself, which might vary in length, base width, or number of bristles, and these differences account for variation in ease of achieving certain types of marks and strokes.

Left to right: Copic Gasenfude, Pentel pocket brush, Kuretake #8, Kuretake #13, Kuretake #40, Sailor Profit.

As you can see, all six of these bristle brush pens are pretty similar looking. The three Kuretakes are basically identical, though the #40 is a natural sable-hair brush, rather than nylon. The Sailor Profit has a wider base than the others, and the Pentel pocket brush has a significantly longer tip than the others.

The Copic Gasenfude’s brush tip is about 9mm, which is just a smidgen (maybe 0.5mm) longer than the Kuretakes, but almost 2mm shorter than the Pentel. A shorter brush tip is easier to control because it’s less wild and flexible. The difference between the Copic and the Kuretakes isn’t much, but it’s a lot more noticeable when you compare it to the Pentel, which feels a little more unwieldy after using the shorter brushes for a while.

Performance-wise though, it’s hard to tell the difference because it’s hard to tell “difficulty of control” in a finished product.

The extra control the Copic Gasenfude gives is really nice though, and I think I prefer lighter, plastic body pens to heavier, metal (Kuretake #13) or matte (Kuretake #40) bodies.

It’s a fun pen to do straight ink doodles with, and I liked the pen more the more I used it. The ink is, of course, Copic-proof/alcohol-proof, and reasonably waterproof. The ink doesn’t smear under water, and as long as you aren’t drenching the page, lifting is pretty minimal.

Ink blackness is about the same as the standard Pentel refills, which aren’t as black as I’d like. The Kuretake standard refills are darker. For straight black/white work, it’s fine, but if you’re using marker on top of it, you’ll need to take care to cover all the ink with marker, which will make the ink seem blacker — otherwise, parts that are covered in marker will be noticeably darker than parts that are not covered by marker.

Other than that, I don’t have a lot to say because the Gasenfude is so similar to other bristle brush pens.

A lot of teeth.

It’s a shame this isn’t a cartridge pen though!

$7.50 a pop is hefty for a disposable pen, especially when you consider that the Pentel pocket brush retails around $13.50, but can be found as low as $10-11. The more similar-sized brush tip Kuretake #13 is also around $13-14, while the plastic body Kuretake #8, which has the same brush tip, can be found as low as $7, making the Copic Gasenfude a disposable that’s more expensive than a comparable refillable alternative.

Copic’s a pretty powerful brand in art circles though, and probably much better known among artists than Kuretake, or even Pentel, so I guess that’s where the price comes in? The Copic brand also makes it slightly more accessible in retail art stores — the Gasenfude has shown up at my local Blick, which doesn’t carry any Kuretake brush pens at all.

It’s definitely not a bad option if you’re unsure about bristle brush pens and just want to test something out, but if you want a pen for the long haul, it makes way more sense to invest in something you can refill. Nylon brush tips can last a long time (my original Pentel lasted me over five years before I declared the tip “ruined,” but I still use it for dry brushing), and it’s sort of a shame to toss a perfectly good brush pen once the ink’s gone because you can’t refill it.

All in all, the Copic Gasenfude is a really good pen, but probably not worth its price tag as a disposable.

I’m probably not gonna buy another…but there’s no reason Copic can’t just make a cartridge-fill version! I’d buy that!!

I have too many brush pens though, probably ???