Getting Arty With the Herbin Creapens


One of the new products we got in recently caught my eye and it wasn't something that we'd used much yet. So of course I couldn't resist taking it off the shelf for a quick review. It's an odd item that at first I was a little stumped as to how I would use it, I loved Japanese as a kid and the box displays someone writing characters with the brush. The brush pen is great for that sort of calligraphy, so long as you are decisive with your strokes if you are learning Japanese, Chinese or the likes it is a great way to practice, helping you remember the characters by focusing on every stroke. The marker pen is great for drawing and getting finer detailing out but also works as a calligraphy pen as well.

First off the positives about this refillable brush. They are both very light, which makes them very portable, a good one to take out with you for quick drawings on the go. They come with three black cartridges which are really easy to refill, and they're very well made, with a tight fit and a nice metal ball in them to help the ink flow.The brush and the marker pen both take a little while to get going the very first time but after that it flows very well, sometimes the brush needs to be held a little more vertically to help it out.

The Creapen's are both great tools for drawing, whether you're a professional or an amateur I found them to be really enjoyable to draw with and a great learning tool. The brush forces you to be decisive and the more bold you are the better the results so it really helped with confidence. The bold lines look great but you can also achieve a high level of detail with it as well, however the marker wins out when it comes to detail.

Below are some of the drawings I did with the marker and brush pen, these were mostly copies of other works people had done but it definitely helped get a good feel for how these pens perform. As you can see with the bull drawing getting dramatic and natural lines with the brush can create some cool effects whilst with the bunny on the right (drawn with just the marker and a pencil) you can get very minute details into drawings.


Disney animator Geoff Wheeler talked about using a brush pen in drawing some of the lunchtime drawing classes Disney provides, saying he was 'trying to do everything using a brush pen. I'm finding it really helpful, it's forcing me to think things through more. Ink doesn't let me search for things and it exposes gaps in my knowledge more than chalk or graphite.'

The plus is that it is really quick to use so if you do make a mistake you can just start a new drawing. This might be a good present for any budding animators out there given the above recommendation. It's very affordable, although the downside is that it is made of plastic which although it makes it feel light, it might also feel a bit cheap. This didn't bother me much though, and the only other qualm I had was with the stiffness of opening the pen in the first place, but after it was much easier.

I was curious also about how one might achieve a greater variety of shading with the brush, although I loved the bold simplicity of drawing with just black. The easiest way to get a wider range out of the pen that I found was to simply keep a small dish of water nearby to dip the brush in when you want grey, it's important to test it first to make sure but with this you could have a full range of shades easily.


The paper I used to test the brush and marker was a Rhodia dot pad No. 16 and the ink dried wonderfully fast on it without going through to the pages underneath. With its easily torn out pages it also made a great pad for doing lots of sketches quickly and on the go. These pens also work really well with watercolours if you want to add a bit a colour to your drawings once you are done, the Rhodia paper won't quite work for that though.

Overall I would give these pens an 8/10, it's been great fun to use them and I'm looking forward to taking them out with me if I ever feel a creative urge.

I drew all the above images but used other people's work as a guide.

Click here for the J. Herbin Creapen brush pen.

Click here for the J. Herbin Creapen marker pen. 

Click here for Rhodia No. 16 pad.

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