Calligraphy Essentials: What Are Calligraphy Pens Used For?

Title Card For Calligraphy Essentials What Are Calligraphy Pens For

For those starting or those interested in Calligraphy, the internet is a great place to find sources from which to learn. The problem is there might be some difficulty finding a sense of structure. Of course, one of the best starting places are the tools used in the art, specifically the pens and writing implements used.

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What Are Calligraphy Pens Used For?

Calligraphy pens are writing instruments used to create a visual art form called Calligraphy. The term itself can often refer to different kinds of pens used to create calligraphy. Dip pens, markers, and fountain pens are some of the pens the term applies to.

The word calligraphy came from the Greek word “kallos” and “graphein”, which mean “beauty” and “write”, respectively. Of course, this would directly reflect the nature of calligraphy which is beautiful writing.

 
 
 
 
 
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To be able to make these beautiful writings, the right tools are needed, hence the calligraphy pens. While calligraphy pen is mostly used as a blanket term for pens used in calligraphy, the traditional pen is called a dip pen. Even farther back, they used to use quills.

There are various styles of script in Calligraphy. One of these styles is Copperplate, which I wrote an article containing a beginner friendly explanation of its history and definition.

It takes its name from the styles under it being used in the engraving of copper plates back in the 18th century. It’s interesting in this context because the style it was based on was designed around the tools they had available to them.

Now, as technology has improved traditional writing tools, the styles of calligraphy are also evolving with them. If the original styles were based on reeds and quills, more contemporary styles are based on the nibs and pens being used.

I’ll leave an infographic down below that can help you choose the right tools to get started. It will be interactive and you’ll be able to swipe left or right!

What Is A Calligraphy Pen Called?

The traditional calligraphy pen is called a dip pen. Dip pens are often used by professional calligraphers in their works. While there are many variations of the dip pen, other pens can also be used to create various styles of calligraphy, however, most of these are modern versions of calligraphy.

For dip pens, there are two variants: straight dip pens and oblique dip pens. They used nibs that you attach at the end of the pen, and the main difference between them is that the oblique dip pen has a part called the flange that makes the nib offset.

From there there are two types of nibs traditional pens use, pointed and broad/chiseled. Pointed lets you control the amount of pressure you use, letting you control the thickness of the lines, while broad nibs have a set line variation.

There are advantages between the two, and recently I wrote about the advantages of oblique dip pens.

 
 
 
 
 
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What Are The Pens I Can Use For Calligraphy?

Dip pens are often used for traditional calligraphy, and are often the pen of choice for professional calligraphers. Fountain pens, brush markers, felt tip pens, and glass pens, are some alternatives but you can’t get the same pronounced effect of a dip pen.

As mentioned above, traditional dips pens are best for traditional calligraphy. Professionals often use the dips pens for their work, leaning mostly to oblique dip pens.

The nibs of course play an important role which actually carries over to some of the other pens you can use.

Fountain pens also utilize the two types of nibs, but since they are designed to last longer the effect or line variants aren’t as pronounced.

Calligraphy pens, or pens that function much like fountain pens have broad nibs, and like fountain pens they cannot use different nibs than the ones they came with, mostly.

For markers like brush markers, felt tip pens and the like, the different tips define what you can do with them. They are often a cheap alternative but they might limit you to modern calligraphy and faux calligraphy.

I discussed in another article all the pros and cons of each pen, as each will have their own advantages and disadvantages, as well a certain style that they will excel in.

For more types of calligraphy, I wrote an article detailing the main branches of calligraphy that can help you get started with your journey. There even a table of writing instruments that you can use for each type of script. To find it, click here.

Can You Use A Regular Pen For Calligraphy?

You can use regular pens for calligraphy, however, traditional calligraphy will not be ideal. It is still possible but there will be tradeoffs. Regular pens are mostly used for faux calligraphy, a more modern variant of calligraphy.

If you want to use regular pens for calligraphy, it is totally possible… just not ideal.

Regular pens would work best for faux calligraphy, because you won’t have to worry about the line variation it will make.

Alternatively, you can use the for traditional calligraphy, but as mentioned there will be tradeoffs.

For example, gothic script requires a broad nibs to be used for the result to be optimal. Should you use a regular pen, you will have to draw the letter instead, as well as color the lines in.

Considering regular calligraphy takes a while already depending on what you are doing, you are effectively doubling or tripling the time to make it. Also, the solid lines and crisp edges may be affected since you are simply coloring it in.

It’s not impossible in the least to use a regular pen for traditional calligraphy, it does however require a great amount of time, and an even greater amount of skill to properly execute.

Here’s the interactive infographic! Feel free to swipe left or right.

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