I remember when I first started learning calligraphy. I first saw it through Instagram and I always wondered “How is that done?” or “What is that cool pen they used?” It took a while to find out what the heck they were using, and even longer to find out which ones I liked. So I have compiled a list of the tools that you will need to start calligraphy or start a different script. If you would like to know what tools do what kind of calligraphy I have a full post of that here:
A Simple Guide to Calligraphy Tools and Their Respective Calligraphy Scripts
Table of Contents
Just so you know…
The tools I use are most often acquired from Amazon, they have a yearly subscription service that gives you free 2 day shipping. So I thought I would give anyone who doesn’t use Amazon Prime yet a FREE 30 day trial period. If you plan on purchasing any calligraphy items here and don’t have Prime, it is worth saving on shipping. Details in the button below and below that there’s info on how to cancel after you have ordered what you want 🙂
Anywho, ONTO TO THE CALLIGRAPHY TOOLS!
Pointed Pen Calligraphy Tools
Pointed Pen Calligraphy Example:
The pointed pen is a coming back into style in a big way. Modern Calligraphy and Copperplate Calligraphy are the hot scripts to learn with these tools. Below are the tools you will need to get to start diving into either of these scripts.
What You Need For Pointed Pen Calligraphy:
1. Quality Calligraphy Paper
For General Pointed Pen Calligraphy Practice
For pointed pen calligraphy, you need a minimally absorbent paper with no texture on the surface and a minimal paper weight of 100gsm.
My all around recommended paper for pointed pen calligraphy is:
– HP Premium Choice (Density: 32 lbs/120gsm)
For Travel Calligraphy (#Calligrascapes)
For practice on the go, and for making #Calligrascapes, I recommend the Rhodia Dotpad. Similar to the HP Premium, it doesn’t bleed with any ink that I am aware of and is very smooth. It’s called a “dotpad” because it has a very subtle dot pattern that is less intrusive than gridlines.
However, choosing paper for calligraphy projects and practice may not be cut and dry. To make sure your tools match your paper check out my paper comparison post here: The Best Paper for Calligraphy
2. Pointed Pen Calligraphy Practice Sheets
If you’re just getting started or practicing a new type of calligraphy, I highly recommend using calligraphy practice sheets. Practice sheets provide structured practice through example letters as well as guidelines to help you form letters consistently. In my Master Class sheets, they also give additional tips and teachings on letter connections, flourishing, compositions and more. Print these off onto my recommended paper below and you’re good to go!
3. Oblique Holder Set
Oblique pens allows you to have a consistent angle throughout your writing. While you could use a straight pen, personally it helped me a lot when I switched to the oblique. The above link comes with one holder. I much prefer a metal nib holder to ensure there is a snug fit for the nib. If you prefer ordering from Amazon, I started with this Speedball Oblique Pen Set. This kit comes with 6 nibs (which vary from beginner to expert) and an oblique pen holder. The only problem is the holder is plastic which may not fit as well as you would like.
Ink is one of the tools that can be the most unruly. It can be too thin which blobs on your paper, too thick and it won’t come off of your pen at all! Buying a good ink is important for calligraphy pens. If you already have ink, make sure it is the right kind for calligraphy as this could cause problems.
For All Around Practice Ink
For a Splash of Colour
The Windsor and Newton Calligraphy ink set comes with 6 30ml inkpots with different colours (Gold, Dark Blue, Red, Black, Sepia and Green). If you want to keep your practicing fresh with different colours, try this set.
5. Calligraphy Nibs
Best beginner nib. Hands down. No questions. The one I started with was in a pre-made set and was intended for more advanced calligraphers and it was really hard getting used to the pressure. Almost made me give up. Since then, I have gotten the Zebra G and it has allowed me to get much better at letter consistency and I make less mistakes. Full review of the Zebra G here.
- Nikko G Nib – Same flexibility and difficulty just a different brand
- Hunt 101 Nib -Higher flexibility, higher difficulty
Tutorials to Get you Started with Pointed Pen Calligraphy
Now that you have the tools check out some of these video tutorials and blogposts
- Learn Modern Calligraphy
- Learn Spencerian Calligraphy
- Learn Copperplate Calligraphy
- Pointed Pen YouTube Playlist
Brush Calligraphy Tools
Brush Calligraphy Example
Brush calligraphy is a little more versatile as the tool is a flexible marker or paintbrush. Modern Brush Calligraphy and the Casual alphabet among others, are the main kind of calligraphy you can achieve with these tools. Below are the tools that you need to get started learning brush calligraphy.
What You Need for Brush Calligraphy.
1. Brush Calligraphy Practice Sheets
It is important when starting to learn a style of calligraphy to have structured practice times. Practice sheets can fulfill this necessary practice due to the guidelines and example letterforms. My Master Class Practice sheets also offer tips and tutorials on connections, words, flourishing, compositions and more. Print these off on any printer paper you have and you are good to go.
2. Tombow Brush Pen
A type of marker that simulates a paintbrush without paint. The marker lasts pretty long and once you get the hang of it looks really cool. Great for beginners due to its slight flexibility. It makes it easy to learn letter forms and getting used to writing with pressure.
3. Crayola Markers
An alternative to brush pens, Crayola broad edge markers can be used to make brush calligraphy. Full details on how you do this over on it’s own post here: How to do Calligraphy with Crayola Markers
Tutorials to Get you Started with Brush Calligraphy
Now that you have the tools, check out some of these video tutorials and blogposts:
Blackletter Calligraphy Tools
Blackletter Calligraphy Example:
What You Need For Blackletter Calligraphy
1. Quality Calligraphy Paper
For blackletter calligraphy, you need a minimally absorbent paper and a slightly textured surface which can add texture to your letters. Depending on your ink, you will need a minimal paper weight of 90gsm.
My all around recommended paper for blackletter calligraphy is:
– Southworth Business Paper (Density: 32 lbs/120gsm)
If you don’t want textured paper the HP Premium Choice (Density: 32 lbs/120gsm) works very well.
2. Blackletter Practice Sheets
Both the Master Blackletter and Calligraffiti Practice sheets were so much work! They are a detailed practice sheet set with multiple broad edge scripts that teach everything you need to master blackletter calligraphy and calligraffiti. Interested? Check out each the product below:
3. Pilot Parallel
An absolutely fantastic pen that for 10 bucks sounds steep but you will only need to buy another if you are interested in buying another size. (Yeah I bought all 4) In the calligraphy world, this will be your best bang for your buck. Above is a link to all four which could be a great start to your calligraphy pen collection. Comes with two ink cartridges one black and one red. You can see my full review of it here: Best Tool for Blackletter Calligraphy
- 1 6mm Pen: Pilot Parallel 6mm (**Master Blackletter Sheets Designed for this size**)
- 1 3.8mm Pen: Pilot Parallel 3.8mm
- 1 2.4mm Pen: Pilot Parallel 2.4mm
- 1 1.5mm Pen: Pilot Parallel 1.5mm
- Set of 4 (Best Value): Pilot Parallel Pen Set (1.5, 2.4, 3.8 and 6 mm)
4. Ink Refills
Pilot Parallel Cartridges
The Pilot Parallel does have a super convenient ink cartridge system, but it, unfortunately, goes through ink pretty fast, so I would suggest getting at least one pack of extra ink.
Ecoline Watercolour Inks
Of all the inks I have tried this has to be the best ink you can get for blending, mixing and refilling the pilot parallel. However, I should inform you, some people are adamant that this will clog up your fountain pens and potentially your Pilot parallel. I have used it for 6 years and never has it clogged up. You can learn a bit more about the different types of ink on my other page here: Calligraphy Ink Vs Fountain Pen Ink
If you are in it for the long haul, this is the ink you want to buy to give you infinite colors and basically lasts forever. Note: Eyedropper not included and I heavily recommend getting one from the dollar store. It makes it really easy to refill.
Tutorials to Get you Started with Blackletter Calligraphy
Now that you have the tools, check out some of these video tutorials and blogposts:
Ruling Pen Calligraphy Tools
Ruling Pen Calligraphy Example:
Ruling pen calligraphy is completed with a folded piece of metal. It’s a very new calligraphy but looks pretty dang cool if you ask me. It’s raw, and messy brush pen-like flow is an awesome thing to try out.
What You Need for Ruling Pen Calligraphy:
1. Ruling Pen
There are many types of ruling pens and since there is no standardized ruling pen calligraphy alphabet they can all be used. The one I recommend is the simplest, most effective but also most appropriately priced.
- Horizon Folded Pen from PaperInkArts.com (Most economical)
However there are other options but they are usually handmade and the price reflects that:
2. Calligraphy Paper
This style of calligraphy causes a lot of spray and splatter, so you need a good high density paper to absorb it. So this 140lb (that’s paper density) watercolour paper will do really well and add a bit of texture to the calligraphy.
3. Ruling Pen Calligraphy Practice Sheets
This printable PDF is a 42 page practice sheet set that teaches everything you need to master ruling pen calligraphy. Interested? Check out the product below:
There is no single correct ink for ruling pen calligraphy. But I am recommending my all around favourites that can be used for other styles of calligraphy.
Tutorials to Get you Started with Ruling Pen Calligraphy
Now that you have the tools, check out my blogpost:
Lettering and Handwriting Tools
What you Need for Handwriting:
1. Handwriting Practice Sheets
Even your handwriting can use structured practice. Full of tips and tricks to teach you a new style or to improve on your writing.
2. A Pen that Helps Your Handwriting
For normal handwriting, you can use any old pencil or pen. Some tools that you use can affect your writing’s readability, like dull pencils and cheap pens. This pen is very smooth and has a very tiny ball point, allowing even the small printers letter clarity.
For lettering tools it really depends what you are writing on. From chalkboards, to wall murals to paper here are some tools and sheets that aid your calligraphy journey.
What You Need for Lettering:
1. Lettering Practice Sheets
Structured practice helps lettering too! The first set teach monoline calligraphy and serif printing and teach you how to thicken them into faux calligraphy and serif lettering. The second teaches 4 kinds of 3D lettering, from bubble letters to bevel letters. Check ’em out!
Sharpies can be used in handlettering when sketching letterforms.
Check out my Handlettering Youtube Playlist here.
3. Chalk Markers
If you want to write hand lettering or faux calligraphy on windows, metal, blackboards or whiteboards chalk markers are your tool. These chalk markers write smoothly and vibrantly but wipe off with just a wet cloth!
To get 10% off your purchase use the promo code RICHARD10 on their webstore here: Chalkola Store
That is my list so far. I’ll be adding to this as I learn more things about calligraphy. Is there a calligraphy tool that that should make this list? Please let me know in the comments. I am always looking to try new tools and styles, and I am always open to learning new things.
Thanks for reading til the end 🙂