Finding the best calligraphy pens can be a very challenging task and great care should be taken before purchasing just any old kit. I tried to review some of the more affordable sets even though there are more high end products out there for those who know what they are looking for. This review only covers the classic dip style pens.
Here are the products up for review:
Beginners Guide To Calligraphy?
Calligraphy is the art of letter design. Other than staying within general parameters of shape and design there are no boundaries in lettering or styles so long as it is readable. One of the oldest known forms of calligraphy started in ancient Rome which is what the english alphabet is based off of today.
Choosing the best calligraphy Pens
There are some important things to keep in mind when looking for the right pen to purchase.
- Brush Pens – This style of brush has a container that holds the ink and feeds the bristles the ink. Brush pens come in sets of different colors and are shaped like pens. Often having 2 tips, a fine and broad. Works similarly to a brush but considerably cheaper.
- Dip Nib Pens – Most common style of pen among professional calligraphers. This style of nib pen sports a metal tip that is dipped into the ink. Requires a nib holder to use and has a built in reservoir that varies in sizes. Larger reservoirs mean more writing or drawing before having to re dip the nib.
- Fountain Pens – Very similar to the dip pen. The difference being the fountain pen has a cartridge that feeds the ink to the nibs. The fountain pen nib is less flexible than the dip nib.
- Fiber and Felt Tip Pens – Like the fountain pen this pen has the ink in a chamber but has a more flexible tip helping achieve single stroke letters. Comes in many shapes and sizes. From a very fine point to round and thick fibrous tips. Shaped tips allow for various calligraphy styles and strokes.
- Calligraphy Brushes – Like the dip nib this style has to be loaded with ink. Pressure applied while making pen strokes determine thick or thin lines. Can be one of the most difficult tools to master but brings more to the table by steadying the hand using painters brush strokes. Which can be very beneficial to painting also.
Calligraphy lettering styles
When beginning calligraphy you need to have a clear path for a particular style of lettering because of the wide variety of accessories. Different nibs and pens are used in different styles of lettering. So choose the type of nibs for your lettering style. It is easier to learn one style at a time and will also save you some money when first starting out.
When designing letters a pencil is used for guidelines before the ink is applied and then erased after the ink is applied. Each letter is composed of strokes in a specific order and variable pressures giving what seems to be endless variations to each individual style of letter.
This style of lettering is done with a single stroke with no line variations or thickness differences making this type of letter easier for the beginner. This lettering is popular in newspaper headlines and posters. Excellent choice when first starting in letter design.
Being somewhat more complicated and decorative this style is one that is not boring to learn. An upstroke will give you a thinner line and a down stroke gives a thicker line. Adding in the serif (finishing touches) to the tops and bottoms of the letters gives these letters an elegant touch. Most Roman variations use serifs but not all.
When writing, these letters tend to lean a little creating the Italic lettering style. There is not a set rule as to how far the letters slope over. Very similar to the Gothic letter, having a single weighted stroke thus making it a good choice for beginners. Used to give emphasis to words but sparingly due to Italics being difficult for the eye to read comfortably.
Being drawn with more precision and accuracy makes this style more difficult to draw. Slope of the letters are drawn at a consistent angle and flow smoothly from one letter to the next. The thicker lines run gracefully into the thinner lines to form curves.
This type of letter design should be done after learning the previous three styles mentioned above. Only after hours of practice can you start to manipulate each style into your own signature style which is the art of freestyle calligraphy. There are endless possibilities to giving letters a personality of their own. The perfect example of this is the signature. Just like fingerprints a good calligrapher can be known by their own personalized style of writing.
Best Calligraphy Pen Nibs
Broad Nibs – These types of nibs are great for bold and single stroke techniques. There are varying sizes of this broader type of nib helping with broader strokes with smaller letters. Best for the Gothic style of lettering.
Fine Nibs – This style of nib has quite a large amount of various sizes allowing the artist to draw extremely fine lines whether lettering or drawing.
Flexible Nibs – I consider this the specialty nib of choice. This one allows for the most freedom once learned. Best suited for the Roman lettering style. Practice using upstrokes and down strokes while adjusting pen pressure to create thick and thin lines that flow nice and smooth one to the other.
Best Calligraphy Pens Reviewed:
Daveliou Calligraphy Pen Set
This is a 19 piece set and comes with a wood and glass nib holder, 12 nibs and 5 different colored inks. Black, blue, indigo, red and green. Classic dip pens.
- Great Customer Service
- Comfortable to hold
- Nibs are easy to change
- Quality Ink
- Excellent starter set
- Have to re-ink often
- Trouble with nibs staying secure
- Mouth of ink bottles are small
- Ink bottles hard to open
- A little on the expensive side
Overall this seems like a best choice for practicing calligraphy. Care must be taken when removing caps from ink bottles. Had lots of positive reviews and satisfied customers. More research may be needed to make a buying decision. This is a family owned brand and pride is taken in customer care.
Plotube Wooden Pen Calligraphy Set
Nice packaging makes this the best calligraphy pen for gifting. Comes with 1 gold nib and 10 standard nibs. This set also has a golden (not real gold) pen holder.
- Comfortable Rosewood Pen
- Smooth flow onto paper
- Quality black ink
- Affordable price
- Nibs are a little stiff
- Smaller reservoirs on nibs
After much research this pen set ranks pretty high with a fair amount of positive reviews.The golden nib seems to be the better nib to use and it also holds more ink so the user can write longer without dipping in ink.
Lettering Tribe Calligraphy Set
This set comes with everything needed to get started making this the best calligraphy pen for beginners. Sporting 2 Calligraphy pens, 2 inks, 5 different nibs, a tracing pad, guide booklet, a downloadable workbook and a nice magnetic box for storage and display.
- Smooth control of ink flow
- Wide mouths on ink bottles
- Learning tools included
- Downloadable workbook
- Has oblique and standard pen nib holders
- Nibs hold fair amount of ink
- Downloadable ebook link may be broken
- Some nibs seem a bit firm
Even though this set is for those interested in getting started in calligraphy it is still of decent quality. I thought the oblique calligraphy pen was a nice touch.
Crystal Glass Dip Pen
The compact box with elastic bands to hold the parts and accessories make this the best portable calligraphy pen. Displays very nicely when set up on desk. Comes with 1 bottle of non toxic ink, 2 different nibs, spiral glass pen and a brass base that holds the pen and ink.
- Easy to clean
- Also good for drawing
- Stainless steel nibs
- Copper alloy grip
- Smooth comfortable feel
- Only 2 nibs
- Not many reviews
Great for practicing lettering and for drawing with just the 2 nibs provided. Appears to be of higher quality and other larger sets with inks are also available.
Speedball Calligraphy Collector’s Set
This brand is well known among professional artists and has been around for a long time which makes this the best calligraphy pen for artist’s. Contains 4 broad nibs, 4 flexible nibs, a classic pen holder, an oblique pen holder, a crow quill pen holder, 3 inks (black, red and blue), pen cleaner textbook and nice snap closing box for transporting.
- High quality
- Smooth ink flow
- Can practice different styles
- Highly recommended by other artists
- Flexible fine point nibs
- Careful when transporting with inks in box
- Screws on box may be loose
Speedball has been around for a while. I learned some lettering styles when I was in Art school using this brand when I was a kid. Possibly one of the best calligraphy tools out there makes this a sound choice.
I chose all dip nib calligraphy pens to review because this is the best style of pen for classic lettering design. The brush pens can be a very good choice also when learning calligraphy.
Calligraphy brushes seem to be the most expensive and are for the more professional artist. Very hard to find decent feedback on these types of lettering tools.
Experience and knowledge of the Speedball brand makes it my top pick and best all around calligraphy pen for beginners to professionals. Thanks for reading and as always I hope this information has helped to guide you to the calligraphy pen best suited to your specific needs.