A good calligraphy pen can give that strong foundation to your calligraphy skills. There are different types of pens, nibs, and inks that can be combined to create the desired scripts. Based on your level of expertise and the type of calligraphy you do, there is a host of pen choices. The good news is that these are all available in a wide range of prices. So, even a beginner with a tight budget would be able to find just what is needed to have an enjoyable calligraphy experience.
Understand the different pen types
1. Dip pens:
As the name indicates, these are the traditional pens where you dip the nib each time to write your letters. The frequency of dipping depends on the size of the reservoir for ink. To understand about dip pens you should know about the dip pen anatomy. There is a nib holder, the actual nib and then the reservoir. Some nibs come with built-in reservoirs and you do not need an additional attachment in this case. In the case of holders, there are straight holders and oblique nib holders. Oblique holders have their nibs positioned at an angle. This makes it easier for beginners to hold the pen at an inclination to create the desired slant of fonts.
Dip pen benefits
· You can easily switch the nibs to try different fonts and effects
· Maintenance is easy as you can conveniently clean the nib and holder after use
· You can use a variety of inks and paints while using dip pens
· The same pen can be used for different colored inks
· You would find many vintage dip pen designs including some fancy quill pens
2. Fountain pens:
Dip pens can be slightly messy when you do not know how to use them. Dipping the nib each time can also get tedious when you have pages of practice sheets. This is where the fountain pens come as more convenient alternatives for calligraphers, beginners in particular.
Fountain pens come with different arrangements to hold a portion of ink so that you can write away without interruptions. The ink storage and filling mechanism vary from one pen to another.
· Fountain pens with cartridges allow replacement of the cartridges. You can find compatible ones from the same brand. You can also choose from a variety of colors.
· Fountain pens with ink reservoirs built-in might carry a suction mechanism that lets you fill ink. You can use most standard fountain pen inks. Using incompatible inks might end up damaging the nib.
· Fountain pens with converter combine the best of both worlds. You can use cartridges or ink reservoirs as you prefer.
Fountain pen benefits
· Saves time involved in dipping nib between every few letters
· Smooth flow of ink lets you perfect your strokes
· There is no mess or possibility of accidental ink spillage as with dip pens
3. Marker pens:
For beginners and for kids keen on learning this art, calligraphy markers are the best choices. These are also very travel-friendly. They are like traditional markers but the tip is slightly broader so that you can obtain variation in the stroke widths. The one main limitation is that most markers are offered as use and throw designs. This might make them expensive options in the long run. However, there are also a few refillable markers. You would have to switch between different markers when you need different colors.
4. Calligraphy brushes:
The oldest and still the most popular option that experienced calligraphers use is the calligraphy brush. These are offered in a variety of bristle thicknesses and materials. Ancient calligraphic techniques like Chinese and Japanese calligraphy still use these brushes. Most of them can be used with paints or Sumi inks. These can be used for writing and Sumi drawing as well. It takes a lot of practice to get good control over the ink or paint flow in order to maintain the right stroke width throughout.
Nib types to know about
Now that you know about the pens here are the nib types you can experiment with in each pen type. Picking the right variation can determine how easy or difficult it gets to practice different scripts.
1. Flex nib:
These are the most versatile kinds of nibs. They come with pointed edges like traditional fountain pen nibs. But the gap between the tines can be altered by altering the pressure exerted. This lets you use them in a similar fashion to using felt tip brush pens. When you need thinner upstrokes, you write gently. When you need thicker downstrokes, you apply maximum pressure. For the crossbars that need to be medium thick, you apply medium pressure. This controls the flow of ink and thus the width of the stroke.
You can find flex nibs of different sizes. This determines the thinnest and the thickest stroke you can attain. The smooth tips of the nibs make sure that the tines separate without damaging the paper.
These are very popular as you can use them for a variety of script styles. You can also continue using them as regular pens by writing without too much pressure.
2. Broad edged nib:
This nib is slightly wider than traditional nibs. With Italic nibs is a slightly angled tip and you find them in different widths. These are used for Italic fonts. There are only three main stroke thicknesses you can attain with these pens. Depending on the angle at which you hold the nib against the paper. Roundhand nibs feature a broad edge which might not be angled.
Choosing a suitable nib becomes easy when you are clear about the script you would be trying. For Copperplate, a flex nib is what you need. You need a broad edge nib to conveniently learn Gothic and Italic scripts. When you choose dip pens, you can easily expand your possibilities. A good holder combined with a set each of flex nibs and broad-edged nibs can complete your calligraphy kit.
Quick tips to compare and pick the right pen
After learning about the different pen and nib types, analyze the following attributes in order to pick the right pen for your work-
· Do not ignore the grip. Metal grip might get cold too soon and slippery if your hands get sweaty. Plastic grip tends to show scratches easily. You need a pen that comes with a comfortable grip so that you can strengthen your hold.
· Consider the thickness of the pen. If it is too broad or too narrow you might end up straining your wrist and fingers after a long practice session.
· Choose the right pen size depending on your palm size. Hold the pen in the writing position. The length of the pen should extend beyond the gap between your index finger and thumb. Anything shorter than this would be flimsy to hold. One that is too long might make maneuvering a bit tricky.
· The weight of the pen is also a feature that you should not ignore. One that is too light might feel difficult to control. Heavy pens are strenuous to hold for a long time. Aluminum and plastic are some of the lightest options you might find in the market. There are some pens designed to balance the weight in such a way that your strokes are stable.
· Consider the ease of maintenance. Even the most expensive nibs and pens wear off too soon when you do not maintain them well. One that comes with detachable parts and corrosion-resistant nibs would be a great choice.
· Use the right ink. Ink viscosity depends on the type of pen you use. Based on the paper and durability you expect, you can choose your ink. Not all inks are waterproof. The drying time also varies from one ink to another. For durability, carbon-based inks are very popular. Dye-based inks provide fluid motion of the nib. This comes handy for beginners. Once you are clear about the different inks and the effects you create, you can create your own. This lets you alter the pigmentation.
· There are pens that let you use artist’s ink, watercolor, gouache, and other pigments. With these, you can blend colors and create whimsical letters. Pick the right kind of paint based on the surface on which you would be writing.
Do not be afraid to expand your canvas. Paper is an apt place to start practicing. You can then expand to writing on wood, metal, and other surfaces. Brushes can be the most convenient choices when you have to work on diverse surfaces. These let you replicate your favorite fonts on fabric, wood, and any other surface of your choice.
If you are a beginner, a good fountain pen set with different nib dimensions would be a great investment. Combine this with the manufacturer recommended ink and practice on a smooth paper. Once you are confident with your font structures, you can easily expand your pen collection. This would also be the time when you start experimenting with different paints and inks. You can also make your own inks and paints. With a good pen and plenty of practice, anyone can master this art form.