Looking for things to make you paint in bright, bold color? Kuretake Cambio Tambien brush pens come in two sets of 6 Colors each. They’re great for a range of artistic activity — painting, lettering, art journaling and more.
But What Are They?
These are brush pens — those in-between tools that have bristles like a brush but are filled with ink like a pen. They are filled with a water-based pigment ink, and are AP-Certified, acid free, lightfast, odorless, and Xylene free.
At first glance, you might think they are markers. They most definitely are not. They are meant to be used like paint brushes.
It isn’t necessary to squeeze them, or apply much pressure. While suitable for older children (and every other age on up), bristles might be bent or the barrels broken by young children. And while these brush pens are not messy of themselves, they certainly have the potential to make a mess in the wrong hands.
The bristles are fine, individual polyester strands. They are self-cleaning, so if you use them to blend colors, even lighter over darker, you just need to brush the lighter one on scrap paper for a few seconds to clean it.
Despite my warning above, these tips are sturdy and not easily bent. They keep their point well.
The body of the pens are a sturdy plastic. It has a little flex to it, but not much. The ink flows with gravity so you don’t need to squeeze or shake to make the color flow.
The pens are large, so they hold plenty of paint. I find them a bit large for my small hands, but not terribly so.
The color name is printed on the barrel of the brush.
The color of the barrel is the color of the ink. It isn’t quite accurate but enough so that it is easy to identify which pen is which.
Cambio Tambien Colors
These brushes are filled with a water-based pigment ink that dries to a water-resistant state. Note the word ‘resistant’ not ‘proof’.
Once this ink dries, and it dries pretty quickly, it doesn’t move very much. It isn’t meant to be thinned with water. But you can add water almost immediately, and lighten the color a little. You can also smudge it at this point. The paper matters — the ink, like most inks — performs differently on different papers.
The colors are:
Rose Madder Deep
It is possible to create a wide range of strokes with these brushes as well as covering larger areas of color. I don’t think I would use these pens for more than 11” x 14”, and probably would use them mostly on smaller paintings than that. But, I feel that way about all waterbrushes and brush pens.
The colors don’t flow very much, so you have quite a bit of control. You won’t be able to get juicy, drippy effects easily.
The ink flows smoothly, but when you first start, or if your strokes are made too quickly, you’ll get a dry brush effect — that pebbly look with lots of white showing. It’s a good idea to play around with this — sometimes you want that dry brush look, and sometimes you don’t!
Getting the Pens Ready
The brushes have a ring and cap that must be removed before you can use the brushes. In the photo above, the yellow you see on the bottom brush are the items that must be removed. The upper brush shows what it looks like once they have been.
You unscrew the brush just above the yellow ring. There is a label on brush that shows you where that is, and which direction to unscrew it.
Once you’ve unscrewed the top portion, the yellow ring is very loose and slides off easily. The cap takes a little more work, but not much. I’m going to try and keep the caps (I’ll probably lose them — that is one of my talents), so I can re-cap the pens if I travel with them.
Once you’ve removed the ring and cap, you screw the top back on.
To get the color flowing just start brushing on a piece of scratch paper. Long, slow strokes are best.
Don’t apply pressure!
It isn’t necessary and you might bend the bristles. These are brushes, not markers or pens.
After a few seconds, you’ll see color in the bristles. Keep brushing until the brush tip is fully colored, and you are getting strokes with no white showing through. Once you get the color flowing, it continues to flow easily. If you haven’t used them for a while, you might need to work them on scrap paper to start them up again.
You can also start the flow by shaking the pen, but it takes longer and is harder on the wrist.
Cambio Tambien Performance
The colors in the set give you enough value contrast but not as much chroma contrast. In other words, every color has the same intensity, the same brightness, and that can make a painting look flat.
I decided to thin the color with water in a few places. Since the ink sets so quickly, I had to color a few strokes with the pen, then run over them with a damp brush to thin and spread the color.
I also found that I could smear the color, a tiny bit, if I ran my finger over it immediately after I laid it down. That does mean you can smudge it accidentally, too. Since I’m a lefty, I try to lay my color down on the right side of the paper first. Usually, by the time I’m ready to use another color, the right side has dried enough to resist smudging.
Another way to add contrast to the chroma is leaving lots of white. I find it very hard to leave the white of the paper, lol — it’s one of the things I still struggle with.
But with this painted bunting, I left white highlights in the head, as well as smudging color in the beak and legs. I left the background white, and used darker values in the wood, to let the bird shine.
Kuretake’s Cambio Tambien brush pens are filled with a water-resistant ink. They have large plastic barrels that hold a good amount of ink and have tips of individual polyester strands.
The color is saturated, flows easily and the range of colors is fantastic.
Colors can be lightened by smudging or adding water immediately after the ink is applied to the paper.
A good choice for beginners and advanced artists alike, but probably not suitable for very young children.
Kuretake CAMBIO Tambien Brush Set
Strathmore Ready Cut Watercolor Paper
Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketch Paper
I received 6 sets of both Cambio Tambien sets A & B from Kuretake, to be used as I wished. I wished to do this review, because I thought they would be of interest to others. I received no other considerations, though this post may contain affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
I have the Tombow Dual Brush Pens but they’re a sponge tip, as you know. These look like they would make far more interesting lines and marks since the tips are bristles like a real brush. From the looks of your demos, they seem to be more watercolor than ink, which is great. Thanks for another terrific review, Susan! When I have time, I’ll have to go back to all your reviews that I’ve missed when I’ve been too busy to read Charlie’s blog. 🙂
Thank you, Teresa! These brush pens are filled with ink, but it’s thick enough to give a watercolor/gouache sort of feel.
Nice review, Sandra. Nice, vibrant colors!
Thank you, Mary!