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How to Use Arteza Real Brush Pens 4 Different Ways

How to Use Arteza Real Brush Pens 4 Different Ways

Table of Contents:

What are Real Brush Pens?

Arteza Real Brush Pens are popular amongst artists of so many different levels. They’re markers filled with a water-based ink and have special nylon brush tips that allow you to draw like you’re painting.

These markers work beautifully on a variety of surfaces and with just a touch of water, you can turn your drawing into a watercolour painting. Many watercolour artists enjoy them because they allow you the freedom to create watercolour effects without the typical setup of water cups, palettes and paints. Arteza brush pens are a great option if you happen to be an artist who enjoys creating on-the-go or in a place where you can’t have a huge setup. 

Brush markers also provide a lot of benefits when they’re used dry. The bristles help you create stylized lines that are very different than the traditional bullet nib or chisel tip. As you adjust the pressure, you can create both wide lines and very thin lines. You can also create beautifully tapered lines that can be helpful depending on the art style you’re going for. This is an especially helpful trait for calligraphers or artists who create hand-lettering. 

If you’ve been wanting to try Watercolour Real Brush Pens, now is as good a time as ever. All you need is a little practice, inspiration and perseverance then you’ll see the incredible results of your creativity.

We met with professional artist, Celeste Jones to learn and review the "do’s and don’ts" of how to use brush pens for watercolour 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 colour 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 colour on your watercolour 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 colour. 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 colour 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 colour, 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 colour 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 watercolour effects.

Option 2. You can actually paint using the water brush pen. If you want to mix several colours 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 colour that you’ve created on the palette as many times as you need and build colour 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 colour. After you apply one colour, you can add other shades - just like you would if you were making a typical watercolour painting. You’ll notice that when the paper is wet, the colours 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 proper care, this tool will last a long time.

Celeste Recommends
Create a transparent glaze over your canvas by spreading a barely noticeable colour. Dilute the colour 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 colours, 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 useful 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 colour. After you apply one colour, you can add other shades - just as in watercolour painting. You’ll notice that when the paper is wet, the colours 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 watercolour paintbrush.

Celeste Recommends
Use the entirety of your Arteza Real Brush Pens to draw details. The flexible brush can make very thin lines, 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 colours, such as yellow and emerald. Run the lighter shade over the brush tip of a darker colour. 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 colour. Always rinse Real Brush Pens if the brush gets dirty from a different colour.


You don’t want to mix complementary tones. Complementary tones are the colours opposite each other on the colour wheel, such as red and green. When mixed together, complementary colours create a grayscale. For example, if you combine the colour red with the colour 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 colour, 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 watercolour.

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 favourite 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 watercolour 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 watercolours. Now go blend, paint, and create to your heart’s content!


What paper should I use?

We recommend Arteza 22.9 x 30.5 cm Watercolour 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 watercolour 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 colour from Real Brush Pen and apply it to a palette. Then, take a thin brush and draw the details using the colour from the palette.

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

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

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Heather Nelson - June 16, 2022

I love the water brushes, but find they are difficult to carry, especially when working outside, please can you provide an easy carry-all. One with separated spaces for each colour, which can be rolled or folded, and put into a bag, rucksack, etc.

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