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It’s been almost a year since I’ve started practicing Calligraphy. I’ve tried a lot of the beginner recommendations across the internet, and among those these are the tools that helped me the most when I was fresh at the starting line.
I feel that the experience of starting calligraphy is still fresh that I still understand what beginners are actually looking for. While these are my favorite tools, and I hope my recommendations help you with an easier start, I urge you you to experiment and find your own favorites as well along the line.
Truth is, there’s this perception of calligraphy involving fancy and expensive tools. That’s not true. A lot of good items are decently priced and actually last for a good amount of time.
The most you will purchase is ink and paper, even then they are so reasonable priced that you won’t mind the expense.
Pointed Pen Script Nibs
Zebra Comic G Model Chrome Pen Nib, 10 Nibs (1 Pack) (Link to Amazon)
Personally, I started with the Zebra G nibs and this is still my main nib up to now. They’re very easy to use for beginners, and they can take a lot of pressure applied to them. The flex is great and it’s actually more flexible than most nibs you see on other beginner recommendations.
These 10 nibs can last you for long a time, so you don’t need to worry about going without a nib once they get dull.
Broad Edge Script Nibs
PILOT Parallel 4 Nib Calligraphy Pen Set (Link to Amazon)
For Broad Edge Calligraphy, the easiest way to start is to just use a Pilot Parallel.They are very easy to use for beginners, and will let you get the hang of writing broad edge scripts.
The thicker/larger the edge the bigger the writing, so you should take this into account before you order. This particular link will take you to a set already, so you can experiment with different sizes all you want.
DO NOT THROW AWAY THE BLACK SHEET OF PLASTIC. This is used to clean in between the sheet of metal in the nib.
DO NOT THROW AWAY THE INK CARTRIDGE. Yes, you can buy more. However, there are also many ways to refill the cartridge with a syringe that will let you use ink like the ones I recommend for pointed pens.
It will be more efficient, environment friendly, and kinder to your wallet.
Dip Pen Holder
The holder is pretty much the same all around. The feeling changes depending on the size of your hand and the shape of the holder, but when it comes down to it, the differences aren’t that large.
The main concern should be whether you get a straight pen holder or an oblique pen holder.
To decide that, you’ll probably have to decide on what style you want to get started with. For a pointed pen, go ahead with an oblique pen holder. For Broad Edge, go with a straight pen holder. Want to do both? Get the straight one.
Honestly, I prefer the straight pen holder even for pointed pen calligraphy. However, that’s a personal preference, and you should really experience both.
Straight Pen Holder
Tachikawa Comic Pen Nib Holder (Link to Amazon)
Oblique Pen Holder
As of writing, I haven’t yet practiced enough with an oblique pen holder to actually feel comfortable recommending one.
Honestly, I don’t like the feel of oblique pen holder, but maybe it’s an acquired taste. Should you want to try this instead of a straight pen holder, I urge you to go for ones with brass flanges(the angled holder), because they are more comfortable to use and will fit more nibs.
Kaimei Sumi Ink 180 Ml (Link to Amazon)
Sumi Ink is very friendly for beginners. I found it the easiest to clean among all the options, and while you can mix it with water to make the consistency perfect, I just straight up used it. That said, the suggested ratio is 4:1, but personally, I’ve done okay with 1:1 or 2:1.
I went and made sure that the ink I’m recommending does not need to be diluted.
Two bottles of ink should be great if you’re set on doing this for the long term. If not, one bottle should do fine.
I have to admit, I didn’t get this right at first. I learned calligraphy through online means, and while there are very helpful online courses and resources, I went out and bought some fountain pen ink at first, and then walnut ink.
DO NOT START WITH INDIA INK. I tried it once.. I haven’t tried it again. I might again, though.
They can all be used, don’t get me wrong, but I found the best beginner experience is with Sumi ink.
For paper, I suggest using a dotted or grid pad to have guides you can use. You can manually draw the guidelines if you want, but personally the dots were enough for me.
I burned through the first pad very fast. With the practice drills and exercises, and also the imperfect attempts, you’ll go through the first pad very quickly.
The second pad will have you practicing more deliberately. You’ll have a better experience once you reach that pace.
So I suggest going with 2 pads, at least if you’re still trying to feel out if Calligraphy is for you. If you want to immerse yourself in calligraphy, 3 to 5 pads will last you a good amount of time.
If you want to avoid bleeding through the pages, paper with 80 gsm should do just fine. At the least, 70 gsm, but there will be a bit of ghosting.
That said, I suggest these two which will have 80 gsm:
Rhodia Wirebound Notepad, A4, Lined – Black (Link to Amazon)
Rhodia Notepad, No18 A4, Plain (Link to Amazon)
The Rhodia pad paper is one of the most common go to’s of calligraphy enthusiasts. The paper’s texture is just perfect for the nib, and it’s quite inexpensive.
You’ll actually be surprised how quickly you can go through a notebook. With your practice strokes and all the drills you go through to get better, I would suggest at least two notebooks or pads to be safe.
All in all, the items listed are very inexpensive, but highly effective tools for getting better with your calligraphy.