Brush Markers and How I Use Them

Earlier this morning, a writer friend asked if I could talk about my experience with brush markers. Good thing, because I needed a topic for today’s post. Disclaimer: I still do not technically have a bullet journal, but I have written about what I have as my daily carry, here. I’ve swapped out the handmade journal (I’m keeping it for swatching new pens/inks) for an unlined Moleskine, but otherwise, the system remains the same.  I’m still incredibly new to the world of brush markers, as in it’s only been a week since I ventured into these waters, but I’m already finding them useful.

I’ve been using highlighters in my notebooks for about as long as I’ve been using notebooks, but I don’t always want the traditional highlighter colors. They can be harsh on my eyes, and, sometimes, they don’t fit the mood of the page or notebook I’m using, so I wanted to try an alternative. After a brief spin with colored pencils, I saw many of the contributors to Art Journaling magazine, and figured I’d give them a try.

First up: American Crafts Bible Journaling markers. I am Christian, but I don’t know what Bible Journaling is, besides pretty, from pictures I’ve seen, so can’t speak to that use.  My goal was to find markers I could use to take the place of eye-searing highlighters. Price point was low on these, so good place to stick a toe into the water, right? Well….


Book pictured is a Markings journal, with gridded pages. This is for daily tasks, and I am still figuring out the color coding I want to use. Original coding was:

  • Yellow: Problem Solving, aka anything I needed to get out of the way before I could get down to business, or could affect my ability to write that day.
  • Orange: Essentials, aka, anything with a hard deadline for that day. Blog entries, domestic responsibilities, emails to return, online critique sessions, etc.
  • PinkChasing Prince Charming related tasks; writing/editing, Skype sessions with Melva, anything that gets this book closer to a complete second draft.
  • BlueHer Last First Kiss related tasks: writing, editing, research, again, anything that gets this book closer to a completed second draft.

I waffled off and on with using green for Heroes and Heartbreakers things, and purple for well filling/self care, but they morphed into a more general “notes” section, which I don’t always use, so that may still change. In this iteration, peach is for problem solving, green for essentials, then pink and blue remain the same. These markers are very subtle, and might work better for their original purpose; I haven’t tried them that way. There is also a fine tip on these pens, as well as a brush tip, but I haven’t had use for them.

Tombow Dual Brush Markers were next, bought from open stock at a local art store. These are the ones I have heard recommended the most, and there are a lot of colors, both in open stock and prepackaged. I fell in love with the pink and the blue when I swatched them in my daily carry book, and then grabbed the tan and green to complement those.


The meteor-shaped black blob is a leftover from me re-inking a fountain pen. I think it adds character. These are also double-tipped markers, brush tip on one end, fine tip on the other. I don’t get a lot of use out of the fine tipped end on the lighter colors, but maybe I haven’t found the right use for them yet. Nice to have, anyway. I like the pink and the blue for my daily task book, and the tan is a nice alternative to yellow, though I may want to try a lighter green next time around. Still pretty, and the colors all have similar value, so it feels harmonious, which actually does matter for me. Will definitely try other colors, maybe in a prepackaged assortment next time. These can be a bit pricier, but, I think, worth the investment, and chain craft stores often run coupons that can make for a very nice discount.

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens also have an excellent reputation.  I have one (1) black Pitt pen, for art journaling, after hearing a lot of good things about it (all true) so when I wanted to branch out into brush markers, these were a natural. I might have picked a different assortment than the basics, but the store that had the fifty percent off coupon had only basic and gray packs (I will probably get the gray pack later, because I am me.)

I love the packaging on these, and the feel of the pens in my hand. I can come closer with these to my original color coding system (I love color coding; artist’s kid, so that started at a very early age) but still not sure on the actual colors I want to use for my daily task pages. This may require more research in open stock. I do like that these pens are only brush tip, as I don’t use the fine tip on the other markers, and the wallet they come in makes for a durable carrying case. I have not used them in my task book yet, but took them out for a spin as art markers yesterday, and found them very easy to use.

Biggest difference I have found between using brush markers and highlighters, besides the degree of eye-searingness, is that I need to put down the brush marker color first, and then write on top of it, and that after it dries. That takes about ten to fifteen seconds, which isn’t all that long, so I like to do all the color first, and then list tasks.  The markers also let me doodle borders on the pages, instead of using washi tape. Using tape borders in the same place on succeeding pages means that builds up bulk on those places only, which results in sunken writing surfaces. Sunken writing surfaces are very seldom efficient, so brush markers help keep the page bulk uniform. Plain, undecorated pages make me antsy, but if I can put down even a streak of color, then that anchors my brain.

All swatches above are done on ivory paper, but I can swatch any or all of the markers on white paper, upon request. Again, I am very new to using brush markers, so tips (pun unintended, but it works) from more experienced users are welcome. Those who use brush markers in your planning, what brands/colors do you like?






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