Tombow Dual Brush Pens vs. Karin Brushmarker Pro

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Curious about how Tombow Dual Brush Pens compare to Karin Brushmarker Pro, and if one is better for beginners and calligraphy over another? Check out this post!

tombow and karin side by side blending comparison

When I first discovered Karin Brushmarker Pro, I was curious how they compared to the Tombow Dual Brush Pens I already knew and loved. However, Karin markers were just coming on the market, especially in the U.S., so it was hard to get my hands on them to test.

Luckily, Sarah put a few in one of the monthly The Inky Box subscriptions so I was able to test them out. It’s been 4 months now since I purchased a full set of 72 colors for myself, so I thought it was time to do a comparison video just in case you were also curious. This post is very wordy, so prepare yourself!

Before we dive into the Tombow vs Karin comparison, make sure you read/watch my reviews on each pen.

If reading isn’t your thing, you can watch my full comparison video over on Youtube, or below. If you want to keep reading, skip down past the video, and let’s get to it!

Watch the full comparison video:

I sent out a survey a few weeks ago to my email subscribers to see specifically what questions they had, and was surprised at the amount of responses! You all are super curious how these pens compare!

Pssst….if you aren’t on my email list, make sure you subscribe below. Not only do you stay on top of what’s coming up, but you also get a TON of freebies, like lettering practice sheets, prints, SVG files, and more!

Tombow Dual Brush Pens vs Karin Brushmarker Pro

Let’s dive right into side by side comparison of Tombow Dual Brush Pens and Karin Brushmarker Pro pens.

How do their tips compare?

Both are on the large end when it comes to brush pens, with the Karin Brushmarker pro being just slightly smaller. The Karin marker tips are a bit more cone-shaped/tapered than Tombow, and in my opinion, this gives them the slightest edge on Tombow for transitions and control. But it’s just a slight edge.

Another difference between the tips is that Tombow dual brush pens have a felt tip, while Karin markers have a nylon tip. Why is this important? See the next subject–durability.

Tombow and karin brush pen tips side by side

How durable are they

Everyone wants to know how does the Karin brushmarker Pro compare to Tombow dual brush pens as far as the tip durability.

It’s not a secret that Tombow dual brush pens are very sensitive. In fact, there are only a few types of paper that you should be using your Tombow brush pens on to make the tips last as long as possible. That is because these tips are felt!

The nylon tip of Karin markers means that it wins in the durability department hands down, no questions asked. Nylon is super durable, and in fact, I use my own Karin markers on watercolor paper 99% of the time! I have not experienced fraying or any undesired wear.

How do their colors compare?

Karin brushmarker Pro come in 60 colors and 12 neons. Their 72 pack is 72 colors PLUS 3 blender brush pens (for a total of 75 pens). Tombow dual brush pens have 107 colors, listed as 108 but the blender pen counts in that total. So just in terms of the amount of colors, Tombow has the edge.

Now, you can create an unlimited number of colors by blending them together. I have a whole post on how to use the Tombow colorless blender markers, and the same techniques would apply to Karin as well!

What about the inks?

Both markers have water based ink, so that means they are ideal for blending with either their blender pens, with a water brush or with a paintbrush and water. The main difference is how the ink is distributed from the pen to the paper.

Tombow dual brush pens have a cartridge inside the pen barrel, just like most markers do. Karin markers, however, use “liquid ink technology” (manufacturer’s words not mine). With their liquid ink, you are getting a more consistent color saturation than you would get with a regular marker.

The downside to this? On various types of paper, the Karin brushmarker ink does take longer to dry. This means smudges happen (for me at least) more frequently when I’m not careful.

Karin and tombow brush calligraphy color names on paper

What about cost and availability?

Tombow pens come in a variety of 10 packs and are available on Amazon, Blick Arts, the Tombow website, as well as in stores like Michael’s. They are frequently on sale, especially on and at Michaels. Regular price the pens run around $3 per pen individually or $2.70 per pen in a pack of 10. They are typically on sale from 30% to 50% off, which is when I would recommend buying.

Karin Brushmarker Pro come in a 12 pack, 26 pack, 60 pack, and 72 pack. They are available (in the US) on Amazon, through Marker Universe and Blick Arts online. I purchased my set from Marker Universe on sale during the holiday sales. Otherwise, they are typically around 2.25- 2.75 per pen. Their availability is getting better in the U.S but currently, they are not sold in stores.

How do they blend?

Another top question I received was asking how Tombow and Karin blend and if their techniques are different. The short answer is they both blend BEAUTIFULLY, and for the most part, the techniques are the same.

Tombow pens blend very well on most papers, even less expensive watercolor paper (but again you shouldn’t use them directly on a rough paper!) Karin markers however do not blend well on less expensive watercolor papers, and the ink itself will feather out at the edges. I use Strathmore 400 series watercolor or Canson XL watercolor paper mostly and the Karin markers blend very well on these papers.

Long story short, I don’t feel that one is more superior to the other as far as the quality of blending. I will do a video on this at a later date!

tombow and karin side by side blending comparisons

Which one is best for calligraphy?

One specific question I got on the reader survey was which marker is best for calligraphy. In my opinion, both are excellent for calligraphy! I’m not saying you need to go out and get both pens right away, but I think you should have one of these in your collection for brush calligraphy and hand lettering.

Which one is best for beginners?

This was another specific question. Is Tombow or Karin better for beginner calligraphy? Again, I think they are both great for beginners! It depends on which one you can find and afford at the time. Tombow is more readily available and will frequently be on sale making the price better than Karin. However, Karin markers are more durable and can withstand a lot of pressure. My opinion would be to just start with one, and learn how to control a large tip brush pen first before jumping in and buying a bunch of pens altogether.

Looking for Supplies?

Check out my Amazon Storefront where I’ve saved all of the products I use in my projects. These are all supplies that I use and would recommend!

Why should I pick one over the other?

So why should you pick one over the other? That one is going to be up to your personal preferences! I tend to reach for my Karin markers more often when I am going to do a blending piece, but I use Tombow just as often for other pieces or in my bullet journal. It will depend on the application you want them for. They each have their pros and cons, making them BOTH great choices for a brush pen.

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