The Faber-Castell company was originally established in 1761 by a cabinet maker named Kaspar Faber. While the company produces many different products, their primary focus is on wood-cased pencils, producing over 2,000 million per year. They are the world’s largest pencil manufacturer! The company is still family run by the eighth generation member, Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell, who took over as head of the company in 1978.
Today we’re going to take a look at the Faber-Castell Pitt® Big Brush Pens. I purchased a 48-pen set from Amazon a few years ago. My thinking was that I would use these to “ink” rubber/acrylic stamps. I liked the idea that the ink would be waterproof when it dried, something I was looking for at the time.
One of the things that I love about this company is the thoughtfulness that is put into their professional artists products. My pens arrived in a beautiful case with a magnetic closure.
There are four rows of pens, with 12 in each row.
The interior construction of the box allows for a unique option. When the box is opened, you’ll see a black ribbon at the bottom of the rows of pens.
Pull on the ribbon and the box becomes a staggered rack, allowing for easy access to individual colors.
To close the box, you can either push the rows back in, or stand it up on it’s back and they will slide back into place.
I generally don’t keep the container that pens and markers come packed in. Most of them aren’t practical for storage or every day use. This container is perfect, and I still keep my Big Brush Pens in it.
Each marker is just over 5-1/8″ long, with the cover on, and just under 5″ with the cover off. The cover itself is 1-1/2″ long. The barrel is about 3/4″ in diameter, which makes them a “fat” marker.
The barrel of the pen is colored plastic that is coordinated with the color of the ink in the pen. Information is imprinted on the barrel in white.
In addition to company information, the color name and number is imprinted on the barrel. There appears to be two imprinting designs, as you can above and below. I prefer the one with the large number, but either one contains all the same information.
The cover clicks into place, so you know when it’s all the way on, and you don’t have to worry about the pen drying out. There is also a color-coordinated plastic button on the top of the pen cover.
It has a long plastic “clip” that is similar to those on a common ball-point pen. You can clip it to a pocket or the cover of a sketch book and it keeps the pen from rolling around the work area. When the pen is in use, the cover fits nicely on the bottom.
These pens have a single tip which consists of a very nice brush nib.
All of the Pitt Artist Pens contain a pigmented india ink. The lighter colors are designed to be transparent and can be layered over each other. The darker colors are a bit more opaque with greater coverage. The ink is very fade resistant, acid free, and waterproof when dry. It won’t bleed through paper, which can be a real advantage at times.
The tip is flexible enough that I had a little trouble drawing a very thin line, but you can see that a variety of sizes is possible. You can draw nice, expressive lines for lettering or scroll work.
This ink is quick drying and waterproof, which means it normally does not move when water is applied, even if you do it quickly. If you wait a minute or more, it’s permanent.
You can draw into wet paper, but even then, it doesn’t spread very much. The ink will pick up nicely from a plastic palette, but as soon as you brush it on the paper, it soaks in and the length of time you can play with it is very short.
Note: Substrate used for testing examples is Strathmore Vellum finish Bristol board.
The complete range of Pitt Artist’s pens contains 60 different colors. The pens come in multiple nib sizes including Extra Superfine, Superfine, Fine, Medium, Soft Chisel, Soft Brush, 1.5 Bullet and Brush Nib, in addition to the Big Brush. Not all colors are available in all sizes. You can download a full, official color chart here.
I also have my own color chart of just the colors that came in the 48-pen set. You can download a copy here.
Note: I made the color example(s) by printing the outline on computer cover stock which was then scanned into the computer and processed in Photoshop. Therefore, while all care was taken, the colors are probably not exactly as they would appear in real life.
There is a White Big Brush pen, but for some reason, it doesn’t have a brush nib! It has a 2.5 bullet nib. The ink in it covers fairly well, although not completely on a single pass. I just wish it also had the brush!
Faber-Castell uses the same color-matching system for all of it’s products. This means that when your red Pitt pen runs out of ink, and you purchase a new one, it should match, exactly, to the old ink.
The color-matching system also means that the red Pitt pen will match the red Polychromos pencil, the Albrecht Durer red watercolor pencil, the red Polychromos Pastel Crayon, etc. This is a feature that I really appreciate. I spend much less time looking at various color charts to choose what pen, crayon, or pencil I want because I’ve learned what that “red” looks like!
Here, I’ve chosen Cobalt Green, color number 156. As you can see, the colors are very close, almost perfect, even though they are different mediums.
If you read my review of the Winsor and Newton Watercolor Markers, you know I didn’t like them because the ink didn’t move much when water was added. However, they are not waterproof, meaning the color WILL move some if you accidentally get it wet. You can’t layer them with other water-based media without them interacting.
These pens are very similar… but they are NOT advertised as “watercolors”. And when they dry, they are permanent. I think that’s a key point as to why I like the Pitt pens and not the other. Also, I have had these pens for a couple of years, and none of them have dried out! I don’t use them every day, but I use them at least once a month.
As I mentioned earlier, I purchased these mainly to use for stamping. I needed ink that was permanent and these work very nicely.
I “huffed” on the stamp, scribbled the nib across the rubber to “ink” it, and then “huffed” on it again just before stamping it on the paper.
The ink cleaned off the rubber stamp with water and a bit of dish soap without any problem. For that matter, the ink cleans off my hands very nicely with a bit of soap and water. I really appreciate that!
I also like the engineering of these pens. They are plastic, but nicely made. The colored plastic body insures that I will know what color a particular pen is when I pick it up today or a year from now.
- Faber Castell Pitt Artist Big Brush pens – $3.5 each, the official website store does not list the 48-piece set in the Big Brush size.
- Target – no professional products listed
- Walmart – $7.46-$8.10 each, does not carry the Big Brush set
- Amazon – 48-color set – $88.00
- Dick Blick – $3.79 each, does not carry the Big Brush set
- Jerry’s Artarama – $3.69 each, does not carry the Big Brush set