Tombow Techniques: Using Dual Brush Pens as Watercolors (Basics)

Tombow Dual Brush Pens as Watercolors

Hey y'all! If you've been here for a while, you know Tombow is my absolute favorite brand of lettering tool out there. You may also know that I love using my colorful Dual Brush Pens as watercolors!! 

Recently, I've been getting back into watercolor, and taking it more seriously. I've never been 'naturally gifted' with a brush and paints (of any kind), but that doesn't mean I don't love playing around with them!

In the coming weeks, I'll be showing you tutorials on watercolor lettering. Today, let's get started with the absolute basics of using Dual Brush Pens as watercolors, so you can start playing around with this cool technique! 

Are you ready?!

*I received this package from Tombow, as my monthly Ambassador shipment*

*I received this package from Tombow, as my monthly Ambassador shipment*

Here's what you'll need:

A quick note about brushes: I intended to use these waterbrushes I recently purchased from Hobby Lobby. However, these brushes were absolutely terrible (I linked much better brushes in my list of tools above), so I opted to use this teeny-tiny brush I got in a brand new Winsor-Newton Watercolor set. It's small but mighty!

Pink: 815, Blue: 528, Green: 195, Yellow: 991

Pink: 815, Blue: 528, Green: 195, Yellow: 991

Ok, now that I've got my perfect brush and all supplies ready, let's do this.

To start, you need to scribble down some color onto your blending palette. You can do this in any form or fashion you want, but for now, it's best not to let the colors touch one another.

These colors are all inspired by Pantone's Colors of the Year! Tombow gathered up their closest match to each color, and sent them out to their ambassadors to play around with. I am so excited at the watercolor possibilities with each of these fantastic colors!

Next, drop a little clean water onto each color on the blending palette. I used my (horrible) water brushes, because that's all they're good for (LOL), but you could use a clean paintbrush, dipped in water, and hold it over your palette, a water dropper, or any other method you want!

I started with a little water, because I want my paints to be opaque. The more water you use, the less opaque they will be. Keep that in mind while you're playing around with this technique.

Take your brush and start moving the water around on the palette. The water will activate the ink on the palette, and create watercolor paints! As you can see, I only mixed half the ink with the one large drop of water. This goes back to that opacity thing I mentioned above! I want my paints to be REALLY pigmented, and if they still aren't pigmented enough for my liking, I can add in the extra ink on the palette. However, if the paints are too pigmented, you can add more water to your colorful puddle, until they are the opacity you want them to be.

After you've gotten the perfect opacity of paint mixed up, I like to simply play around and experiment with how the paint moves on the paper. My ultimate intention is not only to paint with these, but to do brush lettering when them. So, I'm doing a few brush lettering exercises to get a feel for how the paintbrush works as a lettering brush!

As you can see, the pink is by far the most pigmented of them all! It is naturally more pigmented than the others, still going strong after several strokes, and the yellow is basically invisible after only a few strokes! This is why the experimentation process is so important. You want to get to know how the colors you've chosen will appear on the paper, and how much of each you'll need to use, etc. 

After you've done a little playing around, let's jump into a fun watercolor technique that is very simple, but makes a huge impact!


I want to make a teal/aquamarine color using my blue and green. Luckily, blending on the palette is SUPER simple! Begin by scribbling down the two colors you want to blend on the palette.

Now, add your clean water droplets. Using your paintbrush, begin mixing the two colors together!

Mix until it's all blended and you have a new color! To experiment with this new color, I began creating a little 'blob.' There was no rhyme or reason in creating the blob, except to see how the color looks on paper, and how it builds. I'm simply moving my paintbrush around and spreading the color in a blob on the paper.

I love the texture I'm creating with this blob experiment. I can see how sheer the color is with a thin layer of paint, and in some areas, you can see how it builds up to be a much more vibrant color.

In the picture below, see the texture it created while drying! So beautiful!

Next, I want to make a coral color with my pink and yellow. Thanks to our experimentation, I know how pigmented the pink is, and how sheer the yellow is. Therefore, I want to use a conservative amount of pink, and significantly more yellow.

Perform the same process as blending the blue and green. Add water, then mix!

Now, begin with your blob!

So, I actually wasn't happy with how pink my blob was so far. To fix that, I simply scribbled some more yellow down on my palette!

I didn't add any water this time, I simply mixed the extra yellow into my already-mixed puddle.

You can see how much more orangey-yellow my paint is now that I've added a little yellow. It's all a balancing act!

The Clean Up!

The best part of using Tombow Dual Brush Pens as watercolor is the clean up. A damp paper towel or cloth will make your blending palette good as new again! And it makes for the most magical looking paper towels ever!

I'll be back next with week the basics of watercolor lettering! I can't wait! Will I see you there?

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