Resources for learning to use a brushpen?


I was missing doing something physical on a sheet of paper, so I thought about learning to write Kanji, but with a brush pen (more artsy and fun!). Does anyone knows any resource to learn the basics, like how to hold the pen, draw simple lines, easier Kanjis?

I found this channel but he doesn’t explain very well the real basics of using such a pen.



Honestly, Takumi’s channel is one of the resources I tend to recommend to people starting out, albeit I usually do it for pen calligraphy, so I’m at a bit of a loss.

Maybe you can try searching something like ‘japanese brush calligraphy basics’ on Google?

Most of the basics for a brush pen should be the same as for a small calligraphy brush, and the technique I use for mine (I still don’t have a lot of control because I haven’t practised much with it yet) is essentially the same as what I learnt for a calligraphy brush.

There’s also this page I know covering the basic strokes for brush calligraphy (which are traditionally considered to be encapsulated in the character 永), but it’s in Japanese:

As far as resources in English are concerned, I’m as clueless as you because I learnt the basics of calligraphy in Chinese quite a long time ago during evening classes I had as a child. What I’d encourage you to do is to try the search terms I suggested above, and to see if Takumi (or other calligraphers) happen to have any other videos that you might find more helpful. I think this is another one from Takumi covering another set of basic strokes/movements:

I’ve also written some stuff about how to write nice kanji before

It’s not brush-pen-specific though – it’s for standard kanji aesthetics in general – so I’m not sure if it interests you, though I think it’ll be helpful later.

If you really can’t find anything online with what I suggested, I could try writing something based on my experience (just for reference, I wrote my profile picture myself), but I’m worried that it won’t be clear enough because I really think a video or set of diagrams would be clearer, and I don’t really have the time (or setup) to make good ones at the moment.

I guess I’ll just give you two very basic ideas to start out with:

  1. In Japanese calligraphy, the standard hold for a brush is the same as for a regular pen (three-finger tripod), with the only difference being that you’re supposed to hold it slightly further up the pen/brush shaft and to try to keep the brush roughly vertical. However, I’ve seen plenty of Japanese Instagram calligraphers with beautiful writing who hold them exactly like pens.
  2. It can help to imagine the tip of your brush pen as a dot with this shape:
    Because that’s roughly the shape you’ll get once you start exerting pressure. You change the size of the dot/thickness of strokes by changing the amount of pressure you’re using (more pressure = thicker strokes), and you get the contours of strokes by exposing parts of the dot when you want to, and sometimes also by flicking the brush appropriately. The motion paths for the basic strokes are like this:


You might notice that you might want to make a few little movements to start and end certain strokes in order to create the right contours. Here’s a version based on the brush tip so you can imagine it moving:

EDIT: Actually, I just remembered a good calligraphy Twitter account:
She offers a lot of tips on how to write Japanese characters, and it’s all in English. I don’t know if she’s ever covered brush pen basics before though.


Wow! This is perfect! Thank you very much for the mini tutorial and those images for the basic stroke paths. I think that this is more than enough to start :grinning:

I’ll even bookmark this answer, thanks again!

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Thanks for this thread! I am also learning to write kanji. I like the YouTube videos from Bunkai Hattori. His YouTube channel has a lot of great basics about tools and how to get started. Also, it’s in Japanese with English subtitles, so it’s good listening practice.

Most of the examples there are brush calligraphy. He also publishes examples of pen calligraphy on his Instagram channel.

Login • Instagram @bunkai_shodo

I also purchased his two workbooks for the Kanji in JLPT N5 and N4. The books have not arrived yet, I can add a review later if anyone is interested!


No problem! I’d encourage you to keep looking at videos on YouTube and possibly even on Instagram to get a better idea of how these things are done, because there’s only so much that can be explained with text. Have fun!

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