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Best Calligraphy Pens 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated December 1, 2018
Best Calligraphy Pens of 2018
So, what exactly would anyone want to know about calligraphy pens? I know most of us don’t really care much about the history and the origin, all we want to know is which of them is the best. Of course, I will spare you the history and go straight on to the best calligraphy pens. There’s a product for every kind of user on the list of affordable options below.
So this is not only going to give you an insight to the best calligraphy pens of the 2018 but also those which are user friendly and easy to work with. Many brands have introduced calligraphy pens on the market. These brands have resulted in a variety for the user. These require that the consumers be well aware of what they are buying so as to make the best choice.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this calligraphy pens win the first place?
I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I also liked the delivery service that was fast and quick to react. It was delivered on the third day. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch!
№2 – Scribe Sword Fountain Pen – Calligraphy Pens For Writing – Luxury Designer Gift Set – Medium Nib – A Business Executive Fountain Pen And Case – Complete With Instructions
Why did this calligraphy pens come in second place?
Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. Seems that the material is good. It has a very beautiful color but I don’t really like the texture. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office.
Why did this calligraphy pens take third place?
It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. A very convenient model. It is affordable and made of high-quality materials.
Calligraphy Pens Buyer’s Guide
Some Basic Definitions
I could write a whole glossary just on the terms and terminology used in the fountain pen world, but that’s not my goal here. My goal is simply to give you the most basic definitions you’ll need to understand the rest of this article. I want to focus on things that someone who doesn’t know much about fountain pens wouldn’t know, while not getting into details that are unnecessary for someone just getting started.
The nib is the part of the pen that touches the paper, and that the ink comes out of. On most pens it will be stainless steel, and on higher end pens it will be gold. By changing a nib, you can completely change the experience of writing with a pen. One of the first decisions you’ll have to make when buying a fountain pen is the size of the nib’s tip.
On most standard fountain pens, nibs can come in various points from extra fine to bold. The tip of the nib will determine just how much ink is released, and the thickness of the lines that you will put down. In addition to extra fine to bold, there are also a variety of other nib types like a cursive italic, or a stub. These special grinds are best suited for specific handwriting styles.
To further complicate matters, nib sizes aren’t standard. A “fine” nib on a Japanese pen, will tend to be finer than a “fine” nib on a German pen.
Certain nibs work better with certain inks, and certain handwriting styles.
Nibs made of softer materials, like gold, will wear in such a way as to adapt to the handwriting of the person using it. As such, if you have a very soft nib on a pen, and you lend it to someone else, the ink flow will seem strange to them, because the pen will have literally adapted itself to you.
A converter changes a cartridge filling system into refillable solution. There are various types of converters and filling systems, but the main purpose remains the same: a refillable reservoir that holds the ink that your pen uses to write. Some pens come with converters, others need to be ordered. For instance, a Pilot Metropolitan comes with both a cartridge and an empty converter, whereas a Lamy Safari comes only with a cartridge. If you want to refill a Safari, you either need to buy more cartridges, or you need to buy a converter plus ink.
Get Used to Writing With It
The day I got my Lamy Safari, I started using it immediately. Admittedly, my first impression was less than stellar. I found the pen scratchy to write with, and found that it was skipping. I began to wonder if I was doing something wrong, and then questioned whether getting a fine nib might have been a mistake.
I stuck to it, and a few hours into taking notes with my pen, somethign magical happened: the ink started to flow better!
This was my first fountain pen lesson. The way a fountain pen works is different from the way a ballpoint or a gel ink pen works. Pen doesn’t just start flowing automatically. The ink needs to work its way through the entire nib. In addition, if ink has been sitting in the pen for a while, it may have dried slightly, which will give you a less smooth writing experience. In general, using it will allow you to get through the drier ink and then it will start to flow.
As I continued to write with my fountain pen, the more I found I liked it.
Try it on Different Papers
As I started using my new pen, I began to notice something that I had never really taken stock of using my old ballpoints or gel pens: paper quality. I soon found that some papers worked great with my pen, while others made it feel scratchy, or caused the ink to bleed.
You can read exhaustive articles on which paper is the best to try with what ink and pen combination. However, my best advice is to try a bunch of different things.
Write on whatever plain pad of paper you have lying around the office. Write on post-it notes. Write in your favourite notebook. Write on scraps of paper.
You’ll soon get a feel for the difference that paper can make.
Brad recently wrote a great piece for Rhodia about how paper is like the tires on a car, and it’s true. You don’t really notice what kind of tires are on your car until you have a high performance car that can take advantage of them. The fountain pen is a little bit like the high performance car.
Returning to my car analogy, it’s kind of like having your every day tires for the commute to work, and saving your performance tires for the track on weekends.
Notice the Colours
One of the great things about fountain pens, and refilling them is the sheer variety of different colours. It’s not unusual for a single ink company to produce a few dozen colours. And before you think that after a few primary colours, all other inks are just variations of the same thing, you are missing a huge part of the ink experience. It is only when I started using fountain pens that I started to truly understand what it meant to appreciate an ink’s texture and depth of colour.
Even the standard blue that came with my Lamy Safari had more variation and depth than any other ink I’d ever written with before.
The moment you start getting excited about watching the ink of your pen dry, that’s when you know you’re hooked. So, at this point, I would suggest that you buy at least one ink refill.
Try Different Inks
Before you spend a fortune on a Nakaya or some other crazy expensive pen, realize just how much fun you can have just by trying different inks.
In my mind, inks are a seriously under-appreciated part of the fountain pen experience. Most articles you will read about fountain pens focus on the pens (with good reason, it is what you’re using to write!). However, changing the ink in your pens is a more affordable way to get a great variety of experiences with your fountain pen.
Think about it. Instead of spending multiple hundreds of dollars on new pens, you can spend a few bucks on a new bottle of ink, ink your favourite pen, and boom, just like that, whole new writing experience!
At this point, you’re probably thinking to yourself, this all seems like a lot just to buy a pen. And you’re right. It is. However, if you just want a pen that you can pull out at any time and it just works, then I’d suggest grabbing a roller ball or a gel pen. There’s a ton of great ones out there, and you can read through Brad’s reviews to find the best of the best. If you’re looking for a utilitarian tool, that’s the way to go.
However, if you’re approaching fountain pens as a piece of art, a hobby, or worse, a potential addiction, I think it’s worth taking the time to understand the basics with a few of the cheaper options before diving head first into the vast selection of premium pens that exist out there.
Speedball Complete Calligraphy Kit
While our two kit recommendations have the best overall combination of tools for the price, you’ll get better tools and materials that may make learning calligraphy easier by putting together your own starter kit. Our individual picks for nibs, holders, inks, paper, and a calligraphy brush pen are also great upgrades to the Speedball kits once you get into the hobby.
If you want a nib that’s slightly easier to use for beginners, we recommend the Tachikawa G. It’s a little more flexible than the nibs in the Speedball kit, which makes it easier to write with. This nib was the favorite of all our testers (beginners and pros), who found that it produced the smoothest flow of ink onto the paper. It fits into most of the holders in the Speedball kit, as well as our upgrade holder.
While we like the india inks that come in the Speedball kit, we think most beginners will prefer the slightly more viscous consistency of a sumi ink. Moon
Palace Sumi Ink was the best one we tried. Our testers found they were able to achieve more consistently smooth lines with this ink, and of the five inks we tested, it dried to the richest black color. The Moon Palace ink also comes highly recommended from our experts.
For practicing even lettering, we recommend the Rhodia dotPad. Among the four papers we tried, its smooth texture was the easiest to write on, even with scratchier nibs. The dot grid is less distracting than the lined grid on other papers, and the perforated pages are easy to rip away as you practice.
What you need to get started with calligraphy
If you simply want to letter holiday envelopes or wedding invitations and aren’t necessarily ready to pick up a dip pen, you may be happier with a brush marker or a cartridge-filled pen. For this guide, we didn’t focus on these options, since most of our experts recommended dip pens. But we do have one recommendation for a good brush pen, and we plan to test more for a future update. These pens would be great ways to practice your beautiful writing before moving on to a pen dipped in ink.
If you’re looking for resources to learn calligraphy, check out the suggestions in our calligraphy resources section.
How we picked and tested
We tested a range of tools and materials with pro Han Cao (center) from the calligraphy house Paperfinger. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
We tested each holder to see how easy it was to grip and to work with, and we tried each nib to see how much ink it allowed to flow onto the paper. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
As a beginner myself, I turned to experts to learn everything there was to know about calligraphy pens and how to assemble a great beginner calligrapher’s kit. While we initially considered testing only nibs and holders, we quickly realized that it wouldn’t be useful to recommend the cake without the icing, so we decided to test papers, inks, and prepackaged kits, as well.
Nibs come in two styles: chiseled (top) and pointed (bottom). Modern calligraphy generally relies on pointed nibs. Photo: Michael Hession
We tested each nib to see the thickest and thinnest possible lines that each could produce. The thin lines show how fine each tip is; differences in width between the thickest and thinnest lines show the flexibility of each nib. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
The most important quality of a great nib is how stiff it is, said Alaïa Giglio, proprietor of Clay & Ink. When you’re writing, applying pressure to the nib starts the ink flow. Pointed nibs have two prongs that taper together to form the point of the pen. When you put only light pressure on the nib, the tines barely spread, producing thin lines; when you apply more pressure, the tines spread, creating thicker, heavier lines. If the nib is too stiff, you can have difficulty pressing down sufficiently to get any ink flow. But the tines of a very flexible nib spread with little pressure, which can prompt ink to flow too quickly and cause ink pooling. That’s why a nib of medium flexibility works better for the novice.
Applying pressure on a straight nib causes the two prongs that form the tip to separate, allowing the nib to draw wider lines. The more flexible the nib, the wider the tines separate. Photo: Michael Hession
A grip or ergonomic shaping in the handle of the holder can make writing easier, and a cap will keep a nib from scratching or smearing ink when you’re not using the pen. We didn’t find many holders that came with grips or caps, but we ended up preferring those that did.
We tried a variety of sumi and india inks. Sumi ink (pictured) tends to have the consistency of heavy cream, while india ink is a bit thinner, although not as thin as some inks. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
While we focused on finding the best pen and nib, we also tested inks and papers. Although the best ink is a matter of personal preference, certain inks will make writing more pleasant for a beginner. Essentially, you want an ink that’s not too watery—which may cause it to run all over cheap practice paper—but not so viscous that you have to water it down. Beginners should start with ink they can use as is, right out of the jar or bottle. The ink should have an even and consistent flow from the nib, and it shouldn’t spread—an effect called feathering—on the paper (although whether it does also depends on the type of paper you’re using). The best inks for beginners dry to a dark, rich color and ideally should be waterproof, or at least not smudge excessively when dampened.
India ink and sumi ink are two of the most popular types among calligraphers, and they’re what we recommend for beginners. Sumi inks have a thicker, satiny texture and dry to a matte finish. They’re also susceptible to smudging, even after they’re dry, should you get water on them. India inks are a bit runnier (but not watery) and dry to a shinier finish. Some (but not all) india inks are waterproof, so they shouldn’t smudge once dried. We still prefer sumi inks overall because of their smooth texture and consistent lettering.
We tested a variety of papers, including those with a grid (pictured) or dots as guides for achieving even lettering. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
The Brause Blue Pumpkin (Brause 361) was our third-favorite nib, as our advanced-beginner testers found it easy to use to make varied lines.
Testers complained that the Brause EF 6was too small to fit into regular-size universal holders (it does fit into our holder pick, though), and it felt as if it could easily break if we pressed too hard.
The Hunt Imperial (Hunt 101) was way too scratchy on all of the papers we tested.
Although we didn’t formally test oblique holders, we did try the Speedball Oblique Pen Nib Holder, which came in our tested kits. This style of holder differs from straight holders in that it places the nib off to the left of the pen shaft and tilts the nib to a 45-degree angle relative to the shaft. The holder looks strange and counterintuitive, but I felt that it helped me slow down my lettering and keep that classic calligraphy slant a bit more consistent. Since the nib was already angled in the holder, I found it easier to write slanted letters, with less arm or paper contortion.
The General Pencil Cork Grip Pen Nib Holder got dirty from ink way too easily.
The Manuscript Glossy was also a good holder, but not better than our main picks.
Speedball Super Black India Ink was the only india ink we tried, and it’s the ink included in our calligraphy-kit pick. In our tests this ink was less fun to write with than our sumi picks, but it was the most colorfast when we applied water to it.
The water-based Higgins Eternal Permanent Black Ink had a thinner consistency than the sumi and india inks we tried, rendering it runny and inconsistent to write with.
The Zig Cartoonist Black Ink we tried bled tremendously and felt poor to write with.
We liked HP Premium Choice Laserjet Paper, a good choice if you want individual sheets. This printer paper is smooth and easy to write on, but it doesn’t offer the added convenience of guidelines or ease of tracing, as our main picks do.
Strathmore 300 Series Drawing Paper isn’t great for calligraphy. All of our testers agreed this paper was far too scratchy.
Although the Faber-Castell Pitt Artists Pen is a nice, easy-to-hold size, our testers felt that the tip was too soft and difficult to write with next to others we tried.
If you want a pair of pens that have finer points with a shorter brush, the Tombow Fudenosuke pen set is excellent for that. One pen has a soft tip and the other has a hard tip. These pens do require you to exert quite a bit of pressure to get good stroke variation, but they produce relatively nice letters overall. We recommend these for a more advanced letterer.
The Tombow Advanced Lettering Set is a good alternative if you want the option of trying out a few different markers, including the Fudenosuke pens (above) and the Tombow Mono Twin marker, in addition to the dual-ends. Our testers, however, didn’t like any of the other markers substantially more than the Tombow dual-ends on their own.
The ink of the Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen bled a lot when we tried it, and our testers found it hard for writing letters. It may be good for more stroke-based writing styles, though, like Chinese, Japanese, or Korean character lettering.
The Sakura Pigma Professional Brush pens, which come in a set of three, have floppy tips that our testers found unintuitive to write with.
We thought the Copic Gasenfude was nice for a pen with a soft tip, and it was good for creating large sweeping letters, but the ink was a bit runny, and it didn’t offer a better writing experience than our main pick.
Alaïa Giglio, owner of Clay and Ink calligraphy studio, interview
Lindsey Bugbee, calligraphy teacher and blogger at The Postman’s Knock, interview
Rodger Mayeda, bespoke pen maker and proprietor of Rodger’s Pen Box, interview
Lindsey Bugbee, The Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy, The Postman’s Knock, October 7, 2016
AS a vague rule of thumb, pens get fatter as they get more expensive – consider the 13mm Parker Premier and the 14mm Laban Mento. The most popular pens measure 9-11mm, whilst the 6mm Ohto Slimline is ideal for tucking inside a journal or bag
Fashion meets function. Consider Parker’s iconic arrow, or the Laban set with Swarovski crystals. Brands such as Otto Hutt use spring-loaded clips which clamp down to prevent the pen getting lost
If your pen’s only to be used for the occasional signature, consider Platinum’s ‘Slip and Seal’ cap which prevents ink drying for up to two years without use.
The tip size of a nib determines how wide a line it will make. They are typically rated from narrowest to widest as extra fine, fine, medium, or broad. Japanese fountain pens typically write about a size finer than an equivalent pen from a non-Japanese brand. For example, a Pilot medium nib will write about the same as a Kaweco fine nib. People with smaller handwriting should choose a fine or extra fine nib, while those with larger handwriting may prefer a medium or broad nib.
Nib tips can be either round or shaped. Most are round, meaning that they create the same line width in any direction—just like a regular ballpoint pen. Shaped nibs will have different line widths depending on the direction of the stroke. The most common type of shaped nib is italic, which makes wide vertical strokes and a thin horizontal strokes. If you are new to fountain pens, we recommend picking a nib with a round tip.
Built-In Filling System
Other fountain pens use built-in filling systems like a piston or vacuum mechanism. These pens can be filled straight from a bottle and typically have a much larger ink capacity than a cartridge or converter. On the other hand, they can’t be used with cartridges, so you’ll need to have an ink bottle on hand when they do run out of ink.
With eyedropper pens, the barrel of the pen itself serves as the ink reservoir. As the name suggests, eyedropper pens are filled using an eyedropper or syringe. They can hold far more ink than any other type of pen. Very few pens are built to be used as eyedroppers, but many cartridge fountain pens can be converted into eyedropper pens by following a few simple steps.
For an in-depth, hands-on look at the different kinds of fountain pen filling systems, check out our video here.
These pens are ideal for anyone who has used fountain pens for a while and is looking for something a little nicer or more interesting. This is the point where fountain pens really start to branch out and take on their own distinctive styles. They can offer better styling, better build quality, and other cool features like a built-in filling system or all-metal construction.
And then there’s using a fountain pen.
Putting aside one’s ballpoint and picking up a fountain pen is akin to making the switch from shaving with a cartridge razor to using a safety or straight razor. The nature of the tool requires more skill and attention on your part, but the experience is richer and the result sharper.
If you’ve always wanted to see what it’s like to literally get the ink flowing, this article offers an accessible primer on the basics you need to know to get started.
A Brief History of Fountain Pens
While the earliest record of a fountain-like pen dates from the 10th century, fountain pens as we know them today didn’t exist until the late 19th century. In 1884, an American named Lewis Waterman patented the first practical model after supposedly having a sales contract ruined by a leaky precursor. Before Waterman’s version, fountain pens were plagued with ink spills and blots, and were unreliable and inconvenient.
Waterman solved this airflow issue by cutting a series of three fissures in the pen’s feed. This created a capillary-esque mechanism that functioned by drawing ink into these small channels at the same time that air came back in over the fissures and entered the reservoir. The modern fountain pen was born.
Though Waterman’s innovation made fountain pens much more effective and convenient to write with, filling the pen remained a messy and tedious affair. You had to unscrew a portion of the barrel and use an eyedropper to fill the reservoir drop by drop. At the turn of the 20th century, companies began introducing self-filling reservoirs that allowed users to put the nib in the inkbottle and fill the reservoir by pulling a lever or twisting the barrel.
Despite the introduction of the ballpoint pen in the early 1900s, fountain pens maintained their dominance as the go-to writing instrument up until the mid-point of the century. It was not until the 1960s, when the ballpoint pen’s reliability increased, and its price decreased, that fountain pen sales began their long and steady decline in the United States. While they’re still widely used by students in private schools in England and the rest of Europe, in America the fountain pen is largely seen as more of a collector’s item, a status symbol, or the focus of a twee hobby. However, thanks to the internet’s ability to connect enthusiasts, the fountain pen has seen something of a resurgence in the U.S. Today you can find countless forums and blogs dedicated to the virtues of this classic writing instrument.
Why Write With a Fountain Pen
Think you might like to branch out from your ballpoint? Here are a few reasons to give fountain pens a try:
It feels better. Because you don’t have to press down as hard to write as you do with a ballpoint pen, writing with the fountain variety is much easier on the hand. It allows for extended periods of writing without fatigue. It’s easier to get in the flow, when using something that truly flows.
It’s better for the environment. With a ballpoint pen, once you use up all the ink, you toss it into the trash. While you can buy disposable fountain pens, most fountain pens aren’t meant to be thrown away. When you run out of ink, just refill the reservoir and you’re back in business.
More economical in the long run. I don’t want to think about the amount of money I’ve thrown away or lost in the form of half-used ballpoint pens. Because of their disposable nature, I’m pretty careless with them. If I lose one, oh well, I can buy a whole new pack of ‘em.
There’s something about a fountain pen that inspires you to take care of it. The hefty price tag of some models certainly has something to do with that. But the fountain pen’s storied tradition provides an aura of timelessness and permanence that encourages the owner to safeguard it; it may even become a family heirloom.
The result is that, besides the initial investment of the pen, the only recurring expense you’ll accrue is just buying more ink every now and then. Consequently, you save money in the long run with a fountain pen compared to a ballpoint.
It makes cursive handwriting look better. Besides reducing fatigue, the light touch and flowing hand movements that are necessitated by a fountain pen make your handwriting look better.
Notice the slit down the middle and the breather hole.
The nib is the metal tip of the fountain pen that touches the paper. Early fountain pen nibs were fashioned from gold due to the element’s flexibility and resistance to corrosion. However, most modern nibs are made with stainless steel or gold alloys because of their strength and durability.
If a nib is made from pure gold, it’s usually tipped with a hard-wearing metal like iridium or some metal from the platinum family. Steel nibs already have a hard tip, so tipping them with another metal isn’t necessary.
Along the center of the nib runs a small slit that helps bring ink down the tip by way of the aforementioned capillary action. You’ll also find a “breather hole” bored into the top of the nib to help bring air back into the reservoir to prevent a vacuum from forming. The breather hole also serves a structural purpose by acting as a stress-relieving point, which helps prevent the nib from cracking with the repeated flexing that occurs during use.
Nibs come in varying tip shapes and grades. The three basic shapes are round, stub, and italic. Round is the most common shape and provides a fairly uniform-looking line on the paper. Stub and italic nibs are typically used in calligraphy.
Nib grades designate the size of the tip. Five basic grades exist: extra fine (XF), fine (F), medium (M), broad (B), and double broad (BB). The most common nib grades are fine and extra fine.
Reservoir or Filling Systems
The reservoir is the cavity inside the fountain pen that holds the ink. This part has seen the most innovations over the course of the pen’s evolution. We could devote an entire article to the various types of reservoirs and filling systems that you can find on antique fountain pens, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll stick to the most common ones you’ll find in modern models:
Cartridge. This is the most common type of reservoir in fountain pens today. A cartridge is a small, sealed disposable plastic tube that holds the fountain pen ink. When a cartridge runs out of ink, you simply remove the old cartridge and put in a new one. The main benefit of cartridge reservoirs is the convenience. The downside is that you often have to rely on the propriety cartridge made for your particular pen. Consequently, your choices of ink will be more limited. Also, there’s the cost factor. While cartridges aren’t too expensive, refilling your pen yourself can save you money in the long run.
Converter. If you don’t like the idea of having to buy new cartridges every time you run out of ink, consider buying a cartridge converter for your fountain pen. A cartridge converter looks pretty much like a cartridge and can fit most cartridge pens, but it has a filling mechanism that allows you to refill it with ink whenever you run out. The upside is that you open yourself up to a variety of inks to use, the downside is convenience; while it’s not hard to fill your cartridge converter, it’s certainly more of a hassle than simply throwing away an old cartridge and installing a new one. Here’s how to fill a cartridge converter.
How to Write With a Fountain Pen
Post your cap (or not). Posting your cap means putting the cap on the end of your pen while you’re writing. The pen usually feels more balanced in the hand when you have it posted. Of course, some folks prefer to write with the cap set aside. Experiment and find what works for you.
Hold it at the correct angle. The pen should make a 40 to 55-degree angle with your writing surface. A fountain pen’s “sweet spot” is usually in this range, as ink flows more easily at these angles. The exception is a pen with a round nib; in this case, you want the nib’s top to point straight up and not be rotated to either side.
Use less pressure. You don’t need to press down to get the ink to flow like you do with a ballpoint pen. In fact, too much pressure can prevent the ink from flowing properly or can damage the nib. Keep your strokes light.
Use your arm. Most people are “finger writers,” meaning that they just move their fingers to write. Finger writing has a tendency to cause you to apply too much pressure to the pen, which rotates it and in turn causes ink flow problems. Instead, focus on using your shoulder and arm more while you’re writing. It will feel weird at first, but this style of writing keeps your nib steady and helps reduce the pressure on it.
How to Take Care of Your Fountain Pen
Don’t let others borrow your pen. As you use your pen, the nib will adapt to your writing style. If you let someone else borrow it for extended periods and apply their own style to it, the nib can get out of whack. If they just need to sign something, let them borrow it; it’s a gentlemanly gesture. If they need to write an essay, lend them a cheap-o ballpoint.
Give your pen a regular flush. It’s recommended that you give your fountain pen a flush once a month. It ensures proper ink flow by removing any build-up in the nib or feed. Here’s how you do it.
In addition to flushing, you might consider soaking your nib in a cup of cool water overnight to remove any stubborn ink build-up.
The Fountain Pen Network.
A forum dedicated to fountain pens. The folks there are super helpful with beginners, so if you have a question, ask. They also have lists of groups, meetings and events dedicated to fountain penning (yeah, I just used fountain pen as a verb), as well as a marketplace where you can buy or trade new fountain pens.
The Sheaffer Calligraphy Maxi Kit has all it needs to learn calligraphy, creatively. For someone who is the beginner, it would be a perfect set of calligraphy items. Even who has learned calligraphy and had a project to do, various required things are already in the collection along with colorful Ink cartridges. You just need to purchase this set, and other than that, you won’t need anything else.
Staedtler Calligraphy Pen Set
Moreover, there is a practice pad in this Staedtler Calligraphy Pen Set on which one can practice different writings. An instruction booklet is also available containing various instructions for writing into calligraphy. Even the booklet describes the use of different items from this set. Beginners who are learning calligraphy would love the entire set as it contains various colored ink cartridges and set of five nibs.
Pilot Parallel Pen 2-Color Calligraphy Pen Set
Pens in this set come with Parallel Plate Nib Technology, with which you can write more precise as well as sharper than any other pen. The pen in this set is refillable so that there is no need to get the new pen, but just refill it, and you’re ready to go. With parallel plates, you will surely get never before experience and will be able to write in entirely different shapes and lines.
Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen Set
The set contains Parallel Pens and four different nibs of various sizes via. 1.mm, 2.mm,.3mm and 6.0 mm. Each of these nibs has different color so that you can easily differentiate the size of the nib. These colors are Red for 1.mm, Orange for 2.mm, Green for.3mm and Blue for 6.0 mm. Other than these pens, there is a Bonus Ink Cartridge included in the set.
GC Quill Calligraphy Pen Set
The GC Quill Calligraphy Pen Set is specially designed and manufactured with the help of most beautiful pen and ink making families from various regions. They have been associated with the art of calligraphy for decades and knows everything about it. Through such state of the art technologies, pens and nibs crafted by them have years of experience in their crafting. These pens, entire set would be perfect for Writers, Students, Teachers, Technical Professionals, Illustrators, etc. For them, they can use it for Drawing, Bible Study, Writing and much more.
GC QUILL Antique Feather Quill Pen Set
The Calligraphy dip pen set comes with the beautifully carved case which you can gift someone or keep with you and will make your set look awesome. By mixing the centuries-old art form along with the latest creative techniques, it will help you achieve exquisite design and writing precision. The ink bottle provided with the set lets you write on all media and also the patterns of the nibs lets you have different shapes of your letterings.
Ana Reinert is The Chair at The Well-Appointed Desk, a blog dedicated to paper, pens, office supplies and a beautiful place to work. To the pay the bills, she works in a beige cubicle at Hallmark Cards designing greeting cards and drawing typefaces and lettering, dreaming of a better workspace
How to choose a calligraphy pen
There are many ways to go about choosing the best calligraphy pen for you. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Think about what is most important for you. Are you looking for an easy pen to start practicing with? Or are you perhaps looking for a calligraphy pen that is easy to travel with?
Eventually, as your skill level improves, you will probably want to try all the types on the market. Testing them all out can be fun.
The sections below are divided into the different kinds of calligraphy pens on the market. Each section describes the pen, the advantages and disadvantages to using each pen, and for what type of user the pen is best suited.
For the condensed version, scroll down to the table where I have summarized the information.
Calligraphy dip pens & quills
If you are a beginner looking to purchase a calligraphy dip pen for the first time, you should always opt for the calligraphy pen set. It will save you both time and money. Look for one that includes a couple of nibs with built in reservoirs, and a nice pen holder. A nice set that is relatively inexpensive is the
Have you ink open and near.
Don’t place or rest your pen on your ink bottle: Someway somehow you’ll end up with ink all over your clothes.
A dip pen or quill is best for calligrapher who have already mastered using a fountain pen and would like more flexibility and challenge.
Using a calligraphy brush
Calligraphy brushes: Calligraphy for the most advanced calligraphers
If you are even thinking about using a calligraphy brush, then you’d better be a pro! This is definitely the most challenging and messiest way to practice calligraphy.
Calligraphy brushes are very very thin brushes which generally measure between and 20 millimeters. The best brushes are made of either sable or nylon and most calligraphers prefer to work with a ‘bright’ (it’s a type of) brush rather than a ‘flat’ one.
Using a brush can be quite a different experience than doing calligraphy with a pen. Brushes run out of ink much more quickly, is softer, and much more flexible. The user should be experienced and needs to have a lot of control. That said, a brush can produce interesting work because the bristles create irregular ‘scratches’ within the letter’s lines.
That’s a lot of pens.
Like many things, there’s no one right pen for all things. You need to use the correct tool for the job, and sometimes it comes down to a matter of personal preference.
I am going to go through the biggest categories of calligraphy pens and talk a little bit about what projects they are great for and what my favorite brands are.
What they are good for
Felt tips are great for beginners who are just starting out. They don’t require any sort of learning curve for care and feeding of the pen, the inkflow, etc., which frees the user up to concentrate on learning pen angles and strokes.
As markers, they require no maintenance beyond remembering to cap them when you’re done. They come in a rainbow of colors and you can buy them in any art store and many office supply stores as well.
They are also nice for casual projects and for taking along when you need to go somewhere, as they are the least likely to leak.
What they’re not good for
Felt tips are not great at creating thin lines. For projects that require hair-thin lines, felt-tips are not your friend. They are also not good at subtle changes in pen angle and pressure. The line quality and ink density are also not great. Work you do with them may be prone to fading.
What they are not good for
These are not pens to buy on a budget. Note my first sentence about “good” pens with “good” ink; that means pricey. Cheap pens and ink may give you okay results, but they may also be made of fail. Buying ink in cartridges is an even more expensive proposition than in bottles, and refillable cartridges are not everyone’s cup of tea, though I rather enjoy the process.
Good fountain pens also need to be bought from a specialty store. You cannot walk into Michaels or your local craft store and buy one. Chances are that you will find Sheaffer’s and Manuscript, and believe me, they are made of DO NOT WANT.
As mentioned above, the roundhand nibs on calligraphy pens with cartridges tend to be pretty rigid. If you like a flexible pen or need to get variations based on pen pressure, this is the wrong tool for the job.
For my money, I hate grinding the nibs on cartridge pens, but your mileage may vary.
I find that the variety of nib widths offered by cartridge pens is much narrower than for dip pen nibs.
If you want to use lots and lots of colors, then you need to have lots and lots of pens, or be prepared to wait a long time between switches as you clean and dry your pen.
A Note on Inks
Ink behaves differently at different temperatures and humidities. It is also a matter of preference. I have a strong liking for Winsor & Newton brand ink, but I know other calligraphers who swear by Higgins, which I cannot abide. You may need to buy a bunch and try them out. And the ink you like best in the summer may not be the one you like in the winter.
A Note on Papers
A lot of your writing experience is determined by the paper on which you are writing. Even a great pen will not make writing on crummy paper much better. If you aren’t having any luck with any pens, it might be time to try a different paper.
When not writing on parchment (real parchment, the kind made from animal skins, not the paper that gets called parchment by art stores), I like writing on Bristol, which is fairly inexpensive and doesn’t bleed much.
Pencils and Pens
The most fundamental hand lettering tool you must have is a pencil. If you’re just starting out, you can use just about any drawing pencil available in your local stationery or art store. When you branch out, study a guide reference for pencils. Lead in pencils can either be soft or hard. Most calligraphers use a lighter pencil at first (these are pencils with harder lead), and then switch to a darker pencil (softer lead) once the design takes shape.
Pens, on the other hand, are available in larger varieties. Some artists prefer using pens with fine point ink while others choose thick brush pens. It’s all about figuring out which pen works for your art. But for starters, you can invest in a good set of fine tip pens. The small tips are perfect for little details, and the compact sizes excellent for filling in letters.
Perhaps the most popular type of pens for hand lettering are brush pens. They’re practically a different category on their own. In many cases, brush pens are the “secret” behind beautiful script. They are an important lettering tool, especially if you want to master writing calligraphy and Japanese characters. Once you find the perfect brush pen for your medium, it can be more than enough supply to help you create outstanding art. And though it takes a fair bit of practice and control to be a brush pen master; you don’t have to be a professional calligrapher to make use of its benefits.
When shopping for pens and pencils for lettering, you have to pay attention to the following:
Faber-Castell Essential PITT Artist Pens
This is a set of multipurpose pens that is ideal for sketching, doodling and lettering. The bendable pen tip flexes and returns to its original form with ease, which makes it suitable for brush lettering. The set can create smooth, thin and thick lines. The pens are also great for inking stamps.
Micron Pen Set
This Micron set is a favorite in the calligraphy world. The pens are perfect for outlining and filling in sketches. The pen tips are firm and are hard to bend. They are made from archival ink making them both water and fade proof. The set comes in a variety of colors and sizes. Micron has some minuscule tips for detailed art, and large ones to fill in more substantial details. The best part about this set is that the pens don’t bleed.
Uni-Ball Signo White Gel Ink Pen
This particular gel pen provides smooth and silky white ink to any project. It adds another dimension of color and detail that can highlight any lettered art. It can also be used on dark papers for bright, stand-out lettering.
Pentel Fude Touch
This is one of the best sellers in hand lettering supplies. The pen is small and effortless to manage. More importantly, it can create beautiful lettering. It comes in various lively colors, so it’s also perfect for coloring and filling in sketches.
Uni Brush Pen Set
This brush pen set is designed for artists on-the-go. The pens are slim, lightweight and easy to carry around. The pens are also perfect for quick sketches and doodles. The felt-tip set offers different effects thanks to its variety of sizes and colors.
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen
No list of hand lettering tools is complete without the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Though produced from synthetic hair, Pentel brush pen copies the feel and the result of a real brush hair superbly. It’s suitable for artists without or with only minimal experience with brush pens. The pen is springy which retains its shape after each stroke. It also has an impressive ink flow and pleasant pigmentation.
Sakura 5002Pigma Professional Brush
For professional level hand lettering, Sakura 5002Pigma Professional Brush is the answer. It manages to give the exact color and result needed for any design. This means even after a while the black remains black. The brush also provides a way to flick the tips onto the paper beautifully. The nibs of the brush are made from top quality materials – a fact often highlighted on numerous product reviews.
Regular Copy Paper
You can always, always find regular copy paper in both amateur and professional workstations. Regular print papers are, indeed, the best paper to use, especially when practicing hand lettering using a pencil. The paper is thick enough to withstand pen strokes and thin enough to see through it well. (A word of caution: If you’re working with a brush pen, avoid using print or copy paper. Though it may feel deceptively smooth to the touch, majority of print papers are not considered as smooth sheets of paper. If you look closely, you’ll see numerous tiny fibers that can do extreme damage to your brush pens.)
Start with a simple warm-up.
Take to 1minutes of your time to warm-up your creative cells and hands. With a ruler, make straight lines on paper. From simple straight lines, create angled ones, then move to more complex shapes and figures. Keep the shapes identical and, if possible, evenly spaced. Lines and shapes are the fundamentals of letters and characters so practicing them over and over again is a good habit. The warm-up will help you master spacing and pen control. Also, this is a sensible way to familiarize yourself with new tools like pens and pencils to see how they feel and work.
Practice all the time.
Choose a word, preferably a short one, and write/draw it in as many ways as you possibly can. Fill an entire piece of paper of your chosen word. The key is for you not to think about it too hard. Don’t mind if what you’ve drawn is unappealing or too simple. The goal of your practice is to come up with something new and see how far you can push your design process. Don’t get frustrated if you think the output is ugly because, most of the time, something will pop out of the “mess” that will help or inspire you to create something beautiful and organic.
Paper matters with brush pen calligraphy
The paper you use actually makes a difference in brush pen calligraphy. It’s not important that you get the most expensive paper possible. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have ever practiced for fear of wasting paper. But it is important that the paper be smooth. This is because most brush pens with a felt tip can fray over time with a textured surface. So using smooth paper prolongs the life of the brush pen. Before I learned this I ruined more brush pens than I’d like to admit.
Smooth paper also helps to make brush calligraphy easier. When the pen doesn’t get “stuck” on the paper, movements are easier. The smooth paper also helps to avoid bleeding, which can make your lettering look rough around the edges even when you write smoothly. There are certain styles of brush calligraphy where this textured look is desired, but that is a more advanced technique.
Having paper with guidelines is good to have in the beginning, because it helps you build muscle memory and keep consistency. But you can also allow yourself to play on unguided paper from the beginning. Working with the guides built the discipline that I needed to get the fundamentals down, while using blank paper let me play around without the worry of staying inside the lines.
So now that you know what to get, have fun shopping for your new toys!
You can always refer to the Resources page, that I’m always updating, to see my brush pen, paper, and other tool recommendations.
Included in the matrix are columns
Click on any of the columns to sort the data to help make your decision easier. So many manufacturers and models exist that there is no way that I could have listed everything. However, many exceptional pens are included at every price range and from a wide variety of quality makers. The best fountain pen is out there.
Why buy a pen, and how to go for the best fountain pen?
Fountain pens are often seen today as luxury items and in some cases as status symbols. These pens may also very well serve as everyday writing instruments, like the regular ball pen. A good quality steel and even gold pens are easily available and can be inexpensive.
In Europe the use of fountain pens is well spread. Students in primary and secondary schools in France and Belgium are still required to write all exams in ink. To avoid mistakes special black and blue ink that can be made invisible by using an ink eraser.
Fountain pens are used for artistic expression. Some famous writers today use fountain pens for a whole manuscript, including Stephen King. Others use them for such as expressive handwriting, pen and ink art and professional design. Fountain pens can even be a unique piece of art. Ornate pens have precious metals and beautiful gems and other mineral stones. Some pens are designed with inlaid lacquer.
A fountain pen can be favored over other writing devices for many different reasons. It can be out of a desire of personalisation like other accessories like watches or handbags, it can be for pure elegance because some of these objects are truly beautiful, or for sentimentality because emotions and feelings will be reflected in your handwriting and computers and ballpoint pens simply can not provide this dimension. Finding your best fountain pen is a unique experience.
Fountain pens are back
How To Find the Best Fountain Pen That Meets Your Needs
Above you will find an interactive comparison chart of a broad selection of fountain pens, some of the best and most are on the market today. Choosing one can be daunting, so do have a look at the different criteria in there. Every person has his own criteria of choosing. Your best fountain pen is a unique choice. The options and criteria will help you make the appropriate buying decision. So, above you will find the Best Fountain Pen Comparison Guide to help you find the perfect pen for you.
I was hesitant in providing my Top because these pens are so different and you are as well. So please see these very simply as only my favorites. Below you will find my top picks for overall best fountain pen along with more a more detailed review of each.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your Calligraphy Pens wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Calligraphy Pens
- №1 — 24 Color Super Markers Watercolor Soft Flexible Brush Tip Pens Set – Fine & Broad Lines
- №2 — Scribe Sword Fountain Pen – Calligraphy Pens For Writing – Luxury Designer Gift Set – Medium Nib – A Business Executive Fountain Pen And Case – Complete With Instructions
- №3 — Speedball Elegant Writer 4 Calligraphy Marker Instructional Set