Tombow was founded in Tokyo in 1913, and manufacture a range of products for painting, drawing and writing, amongst other stationery products. Their brush pens are the only water-based markers I've found that can blend so beautifully, and have more abilities than just flat colouring.
Tombow brush pens come in 96 colours and different sets including Primaries, Secondaries, Pastels and more. They are twin-ended, a brush nib at one side and a bullet at the other. They're odourless, acid-free and don't bleed. This, combined with their blending capabilities, make them a great alternative to alcohol markers which won't saturate the paper and ruin any designs on the other side.
They can be used for flat colouring, blending on a palette, touch-tip blending and even applied like watercolour paints. Take a look at my tutorials below for some of the great effects you can achieve with them.
The beautiful colour combined with the long, flexible brush tip applies to paper like a paintbrush. I'm not keen on bullet nibs as I've mentioned before, but I'd buy these for the brush alone as they are just so versatile. The brush is very durable and hasn't yet frayed or become fuzzy which that type of tip is notorious for. If you do work with bullet nibs, know that the ones on these pens are not fineliners and still give a fairly thick mark.
One neat little feature is that the lids will both fix to the opposite end for safekeeping when you're colouring, so no more lost lids or having them roll off the desk!
I love that the blending doesn't affect the lighter pen at all- their self-cleaning tips mean you simply scribble out what's left of the darker colour and the ink will appear as fresh and bright as it was when new. Colours are true to the cap and can be layered for deeper colour with minimal feathering of the paper.
So if you're looking for markers that work a bit like Copics but without the bleed, definitely give Tombows a go. Even though they'll never be as smooth as alcohol pens, they're unlike any water-based pen I've come across. I tested them on normal thin printer paper and even with 6 layers they didn't bleed through to the other side. The Tombow blending kit is available which has a colourless marker and shiny blending palette to work from (although any non-porous surface would do). The possibilities are endless with these pens and I'd love to see your finished artwork on the Facebook page if you already own them!
I was given these pens in exchange for an honest review. You can buy several different sets for great prices over at UK-based Pen emporium, Cult Pens.