How to Use Real Brush Pens for Watercolor Marker Art

Table of Contents:

Real Brush Pens - What Exactly Are They?

Brush pens are ink-based markers that have bristle tips as opposed to felt, chisel, or sponges. Depending on the surface you use them on, they can behave like a marker or pen, or they can behave like brushes. They contain water-based ink that is released as the tip touches the painting surface, allowing the artist to achieve watercolor effects without the typical setup of watercolor paint tubes, half pans, water cups, etc. Arteza Real Brush pens make sketching on location, as well as at home, convenient, easy, and mess-free.

Arteza Real Brush Pens are dynamic watercolor markers that are versatile and can be used with or without water. They have more bristles than many leading brush pens on the market. The bristles are also longer, durable, and more flexible. This means that whether you’re a painter, sketcher, or crafter, you can use brush pens for painting, drawing, and sketching, as well as lettering and coloring.

So, you’ve been wanting to try Watercolor Real Brush Pens? With a little practice, inspiration, and perseverance, you can master this tool and become a watercolor pro!

It’s true, learning how to use Arteza Real Brush Pens gives you the freedom to create amazing art. You have the best tool to work with, so you’re already off to a great start!

We met with professional artist Celeste Jones to learn and review the do’s and don’ts of how to use brush pens for watercolor techniques that you can practice every day.

Quick Pro Tip: Before you jump in, take some time getting to know how your brush pens react with and without water. You can do this by creating two color charts: one using water to see how they paint when wet, and one without water to see how they paint when used dry. Take each pen and paint a square of color on your watercolor paper. It’s always good to know what you’re working with ahead of time so you can focus on creating!

Using Real Brush Pens with Water


Pick up the first color. Dip the brush halfway into the water, so that the flexible nylon tip is completely submerged (for no longer than one second). The intensity of the color will be determined by the amount of water you use. For a light, delicate transparent effect, leave it in the water longer. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different amounts of water to achieve different outcomes. You’ll love the plethora of shades you can create!


Do not keep the brush pen in water for too long, or the pigment will become too transparent. If you start to notice that the water is getting too much color, it may be overly diluted. It’s better to add more water later with the water brush pen than to lose all your pigment to your dipping cup.

Celeste Recommends
Draw as if slightly "rubbing" the marker into the paper. You will notice that over time the pigment will become more saturated. This trick may be used to achieve a tone transition.

How to Use Water Brush Pens


Option 1. Rub the desired brush pen marker color on the palette and customize the tone using the Water Brush Pen that comes in your set. You can use this water brush for blending and making watercolor effects.

Option 2. You can actually paint using the water brush pen. If you want to mix several colors to create the desired shade, apply them to your palette and mix them in using the water brush. As you can see, the shade comes out much more delicate and light. You can dip your water brush back into the color that you’ve created on the palette as many times as you need and build color from there.

Option 3. Pre-wet the background with your water brush and then paint with a dry Real Brush Pen. Fill the detailed areas of your drawing first with a single color. After you apply one color, you can add other shades - just like you would if you were making a typical watercolor painting. You’ll notice that when the paper is wet, the colors will mix, spread, and flow beautifully.


Don’t press too hard because you could damage the brush tip. You should apply the brush pens with a light hand (this will also give you more control). With the proper care, this tool will last a long time.

Celeste Recommends
Create a transparent glaze over your canvas by spreading a barely noticeable color. Dilute the color on the palette first and then brush it over the entire surface of your paper.

Using Real Brush Pens without Water


Option 1. Draw right on the paper. Practice your grip and getting used to how the bristles work when they are applied directly to the surface. Once you get the hang of it, make different shapes, combine colors, and play with the different kinds of strokes you can achieve. The longer and more flexible the bristles, the more variety you can achieve.

Option 2. Use the tooth of the paper for textured effects. To achieve this, put the brush as tight and flat-lying to the drawing as possible and begin sweeping with it to show the texture of the paper. The grainier the paper, the more pronounced the effect will be. This is a good technique for the background or illustration details.

Option 3. Pre-wet the background and then paint with dry Real Brush Pens. Moisten the desired area with water and start drawing. Fill the detailed areas of your drawing first with a single color. After you apply one color, you can add other shades - just as in watercolor painting. You’ll notice that when the paper is wet, the colors will mix and flow beautifully.


Do not rub the brush pen on the paper too hard. This will help it retain its integrity longer. Treat your brush like you would a regular watercolor paintbrush.

Celeste Recommends
Use the entirety of your Arteza Real Brush Pens to draw details. The flexible brush can make lines that are very thin, and depending on the pressure you apply, you get varying degrees of thickness. You can draw details like eyes, lips or hair (for portraits), animal fur, small elements of a landscape or create details for illustrations. Experiment with all the things you can do with this versatile tool!

Use 2 Real Brush Pens in Combination


Take two contrasting colors, such as yellow and emerald. Run the lighter shade over the brush tip of a darker color. The lighter shade will pick up the ink from the brush of the darker one. Now you’re ready to paint! You will get a gradient effect - first a bit of emerald, which will then gradually turn yellow. Real Brush Pens can be easily mixed on the palette: use a Water Brush Pen or a pen of a different color. Always rinse Real Brush Pens if the brush gets dirty from a different color.


You don’t want to mix complementary tones. Complementary tones are the colors opposite each other on the color wheel, such as red and green. When mixed together complementary colors create a grayscale. For example, if you combine the color red with the color green, you are going to get a hue that is dull and muddy. The same is true if you combine purple with yellow and orange with blue.

Celeste Recommends
Lay down a dark tone on wet paper. While the paper is still wet, wipe the nylon brush over it with a light paint color, and you will see how the dark pigment will begin to “radiate.” Using this technique, you can create textures, patterns, or incident light just like you would with traditional watercolor.

Happy Creating!

As artists, we love playing around with new tools and stepping out of our comfort zones. One day you’re decorating your daily planner, and the next you’re bringing a black and white portrait to life with charcoal. Or maybe you’re painting your favorite anime character with acrylics. We hope these Arteza Real Brush Pens make their way into your artist’s toolbox (especially when you’re looking for watercolor pens for beginners). With the soft tip and high degree of flexibility, using brush pens will make it easy to create a variety of different strokes. Plus, the water-soluble ink is totally washable and the pens come in a huge variety of Arteza watercolors. Now go blend, paint, and create to your heart’s content!


What paper should I use?

We recommend Arteza 9x12" Watercolor Pads. It has a texture that enhances the paint when applied, appearing especially vibrant if you use the Real Brush Pens without water.

What is the best way to draw a background with Real Brush Pens?

The wet-on-wet technique is the best way to draw a background. First, create a border that is about 1-2mm using washi tape or painter’s tape along the edge of your watercolor paper. Wait until the background is dry, and then use your brush pen to add details to your background.

What is the best way to draw details with Real Brush Pens?

You can absolutely use them to draw details; however, if you’re drawing very small details, we recommend that you take the color from Real Brush Pen and apply it to a palette. Then, take a thin brush and draw the details using the color from the palette.

I’m a beginner, what more should I know?

Celeste recommends testing colors on another piece of paper before applying them to your art (make some swatches). We also recommend mixing neutral colors with other neutrals and warm colors with other warm shades. Another option is to mix colors that are close to each other on the color wheel. If you mix two colors that are opposite to each other, they will cancel each other out and create a muddy color. We also recommend that you don’t mix more than 3 colors.


I’m new. I want to know when ordering can I get the bundles packs.

Michael Caffee

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