My Favorite Tools: Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens

Hi friends!

I love sharing the tools I use and love. Today I want to tell you why I love using Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens a.k.a. Koi Pens for my drawings!


You might have noticed I use Koi Pens a lot in my drawings. These are just a few examples:

Koi pens & white gellyroll pen
Koi pens & micron pen
Koi pen & micron pen

I started using them after seeing my favorite artist Lisa Congdon use them. Many of her drawings are so colorful and lovely and made me want to try them, too!

Here are 6 reasons why I love drawing with Sakura Koi Brush Pens!

1. Beautiful ColorsΒ 

Koi Pens come in 48 brilliant colors! I first started with their 12 color set and gradually added more colors I wanted to try. My local art stores carry the sets but not individual pens, so I just bought additional individual colors online on Sakura’s website, which was sort of a pain, but not terrible.

And then when Sakura approached me to be their guest Instagrammer last year, they sent me a very nice care package of awesome art supplies, which expanded my collection.

They’ve sent me the 48 color set recently (Merry Christmas to me!!) and I love trying them all.

48 color set comes in a fancy container, too.

When you get their 48 color set, it comes with the card stock insert you can see in the picture above. The back of the insert doubles as a handy color chart!

One morning, I had a lot of fun filling in the chart with all their pretty colors πŸ™‚ You can also create your own color chart pretty easily.


Color chart is nice to have especially when you have so many different colors to play with! Some colors are not exactly the same as the color of the cap, so the color chart can help you see what it actually looks like on paper.

Some of the colors I use A LOT in my drawings are: Light Cool Gray, Ice Green, Peacock Green, Light Sky Blue, Fresh Green, Pale Orange, and Naples Yellow.


These are all pretty subtle colors and I use them often to blend and layer with other colors.

2. They blend and layer nicely.

Speaking of blending and layering, they’re transparent and you can easily create your own colors much like watercolor.

I often layer 2 or 3 colors to create different colors and add depth to my drawings. To do so, I often draw with the lighter colors first and layer darker colors on top. You can see the example from a drawing tutorial I created last year.


I don’t typically do this, but you can also blend the colors together by using watercolor brush and water or their colorless blender pens.

3. They’re odorless.

I didn’t even think about this until I reviewed their product information more in depth to write this post, but Koi Pens are water-based and odorless. Which is a good thing because I’m pretty sensitive to smell and some art supplies with odor give me a headache.

I definitely have a better drawing experience when the materials don’t make me sick! πŸ™‚

4. Flexible tip


Though this is not exactly like using a brush, it does allow some flexibility and you can change the thickness of your brush strokes somewhat by adjusting the pressure you add to the tip.

When you first start using it, it’ll be a little stiffer so it’ll be easier to draw fine lines. As you use it more, you’ll break them in and the tips will be more flexible.

The tips do become a little flared with more use, and making fine details may become difficult. If you want to keep it fine, you might just want to get two of the same color and try to designate one for fine tip and the other for medium/bold.

5. Portable

One of the reasons why I love the Koi Pens so much is because it’s so portable. When you’re drawing with these, there is no need to set up – you just grab what you need and the way we go!

I have a little zip pouch I carry my favorite micron pens and koi pens in when I’m out and about so if I have some extra time, I can draw and sketch anywhere. I’ve never had any issues with leakage either while I’m carrying them around.

6. Β No Clean-UpΒ Necessary

Unlike using paints and brush, there is no need for clean-up afterwards!

As a busy artist, this is a great news. I know often people want to have a consistent art practice but are discouraged by the hassles of set-up and clean-up. With these Koi pens, set-up is as easy as grabbing your pens and there is no mess to clean up afterwards!

Even if you make a mess or get some on your hands, it’s easy to clean up with water/soap because they’re water-based.

I store them in two groups – warm and cool colors.

I didn’t think markers would be my go-to medium before, but these Koi Pens had totally changed my view on markers and broadened my artistic horizon!

If you’re looking for new and fun drawing tools, definitely give them a try!

xo Yuko


4 thoughts on “My Favorite Tools: Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens

  1. Oh how I WISH I could afford those Koi Watercolor pens!! I’d tell EVERYONE about them & how great they work. But alas I’m a starving artist & can’t afford them. 😦

    I love your little sketches using the Koi Pens!

    1. Yea I hear ya! The problem is you can’t just buy one…you want them all! I’m lucky that Sakura sent me a care package… Hope you get to have some soon! Birthday? Early Christmas?? πŸ˜€

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