The Complete Guide to Finding and Using the Best Calligraphy Pen Sets

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Calligraphy is experiencing a renaissance. This ancient art form is making a comeback thanks to its meditative nature and the satisfaction people get from creating beautiful lettering. If you’re interested in taking up calligraphy yourself, having the right tools is crucial. The most important tool is your calligraphy pen set.

Choosing the best calligraphy pen set for your needs and budget can be tricky for beginners. With so many options out there, how do you know what to look for? This complete guide will walk you through the top 5 recommended calligraphy pen sets on the market right now. We’ll also give you pro tips for choosing your first calligraphy pen and provide answers to frequently asked questions about these tools of the trade.

Whether you’re a complete beginner looking for your first calligraphy pen or wanting to upgrade your tools as you progress, this guide has you covered. Let’s dive in and start creating beautiful lettering!

The Best Calligraphy Pen Sets for Every Level

The calligraphy pen you choose greatly impacts your experience learning and practicing this decorative handwriting art. When selecting your first set, go for one that offers versatility for beginners without breaking the bank. More experienced calligraphers may want to invest in a high-quality set with additional nibs and tools.

Here are the top 5 best calligraphy pen sets recommended for beginners through advanced artists:

1. Pilot Parallel Pen Set

The 4-pen Pilot Parallel Pen Set is a top choice for calligraphy newcomers. This affordable set offers versatile, easy-to-use pens with stainless steel nibs.

  • Retail price range: $10-$15 USD
  • What’s included: Set includes 3.8mm, 2.4mm, 1.5mm, and 1.1mm pens, ink cartridges, and storage case
  • Best for: Beginners learning broad-edge calligraphy styles like Gothic, Italic, and Copperplate
  • Pros: Cost-effective, quality starter set. Pens have consistent ink flow. Fun to experiment with different nib widths.
  • Cons: Nibs are fixed and not interchangeable. You cannot purchase replacement nibs. Ink color selection is limited.

The Parallel Pens live up to their reputation as a great beginner calligraphy pen set for their ease of use, bold ink flow, and affordability. The set makes it easy to add variation in your lettering.

2. Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen Set

For brush lettering and calligraphy, the Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen set is a top pick. The flexible brush nibs create thicker and thinner strokes.

  • Retail price range: $12-$20 USD
  • What’s included: Set includes 3 brush pens (hard, soft, twin tip) plus 2 additional nibs
  • Best for: Brush lettering, modern calligraphy styles, and artistic writing
  • Pros: Versatile brush nibs, portable, affordable introductory set
  • Cons: Nibs wear down over time, frequent dipping required in inkwell

Overall, the Fudenosuke brush pens are ideal for practicing modern calligraphy scripts like bounce lettering and faux calligraphy. The brush tips create gorgeous downstrokes.

3. Manuscript New Classic Calligraphy Marker Set

Manuscript’s New Classic set provides beginners with versatile, easy-to-use calligraphy markers. The markers have italic nibs good for practice and projects.

  • Retail price range: $25-$35 USD
  • What’s included: Set includes 5 markers with italic nibs in assorted sizes (1.5mm, 2.5mm, 3.5mm), connector, converter, and instructions
  • Best for: Beginner and intermediate artists, especially interested in traditional calligraphy
  • Pros: Quality italic nibs, good ink flow, easy to combine nibs for variation
  • Cons: Limited nib options, not as versatile as dip pen sets

Overall, Manuscript’s New Classic marker set is one of the best calligraphy marker sets available for beginners seeking ease of use and versatility. The replaceable nibs are high-quality.

4. Speedball Calligraphy Pen Set

Speedball’s calligraphy pen sets are a longtime favorite of beginners and provide excellent value. The sets include pointed pen nibs and ink ideal for flourishing.

  • Retail price range: $25-$40 USD
  • What’s included: Set contains 3-6 stainless steel pointed nibs, nib holder, india ink, ink well, practice guide
  • Best for: Flourishing styles like Copperplate and Spencerian, traditional calligraphy
  • Pros: Complete starter pointed pen set at affordable pricing, reputable brand
  • Cons: Dip pens have learning curve, tools require more maintenance

Speedball sets are highly rated for their quality pointed pen nibs. With practice, flourishing scripts can be achieved. The only downside is the pens require more maintenance than cartridge pens.

5. Arteza Calligraphy Pens and Inks Set

Arteza’s starter set comes with multiple nib holders, nibs, and ink to begin pointed pen calligraphy. Quality materials provide value.

  • Retail price range: $35-$55 USD
  • What’s included: Set contains 3 pen holders, 12 steel nibs (sizes 00-5), 5 black inks, converter, case
  • Best for: Beginners and up wanting to try traditional dip pen calligraphy
  • Pros: Broad assortment of nibs and ink colors, affordable intro kit
  • Cons: Dip pens have learning curve, smaller nibs challenging for beginners

Arteza’s set allows you to get started in traditional dip pen calligraphy for a reasonable price. With both broad and fine nibs to practice with, this set offers great value.

How to Choose the Right Calligraphy Pen Set

Once you have an idea of recommended pen sets, how do you choose the right set for your needs as a beginner or more advanced calligrapher? Here are key factors to consider when selecting a calligraphy pen set:

Consider Your Skill Level

As a beginner, start with an entry-level pen set designed for new calligraphers. Beginner sets come with the tools needed to get started learning without a huge investment upfront. Look for versatile nibs and easy ink options like cartridges or markers.

For intermediate or advanced calligraphers, invest in a high-quality pen set with additional nibs and sizes to allow you to further develop your skills. Dip pens or brush pens are great for more experienced artists seeking more versatility in their lettering.

Types of Nibs and Holders

Calligraphy pens come in two main types – broad edge and pointed pen. Broad edge pens and markers allow you to create thicker downstrokes and thin hairlines. Pointed pens come in a range of nib widths good for flourishing scripts like Copperplate.

Nib holders for dip pens also come in different sizes. Make sure you choose a nib holder that feels comfortable for your hand size. Some sets now include both broad edge and pointed pen options to allow practicing different styles.

Number of Nibs Included

Look for a pen set that offers multiple nibs in different sizes and flexibilities. Having several nibs to switch between gives you more versatility as you’re learning and lets you create different lettering effects. Extra nibs are worthwhile even if you have to purchase them separately from a basic starter set.

Ink Options

Beginner pen sets typically include cartridge ink for ease of use. Refillable markers or bottled fountain pen ink allow you to choose from a wider variety of ink colors. Bottled India or sumi ink is required for dip pens. Make sure to get the appropriate ink for the type of pen.

Your Budget

When looking for your first calligraphy pen set, set a reasonable budget that fits within your means. Quality starter sets are available between $10-$50 USD. More extensive sets with additional supplies can range up to $150 USD. Luxury fountain pen sets with multiple nib options run $200 and above.

Brand Reputation and Reviews

Stick with established brands like Pilot, Tombow, Speedball, Manuscript, and Arteza for high-quality starter sets. Check reviews from other calligraphers online to learn pros and cons of a pen set before purchasing. Sets with rave reviews offer a safer bet.

Thinking About Your Calligraphy Goals

Consider what calligraphy style you want to learn and your overall goals. Certain pen types work better for different styles. If interested in brush lettering, a brush pen set makes sense. For classic styles like Copperplate, a pointed pen set is recommended to flourish.

Get a Feel for the Pens

If possible, test out different pen sets in person at a specialty art store. This allows you to see how the nibs feel in your hand. However, quality starter sets are available online if needed. Read detailed product reviews to learn about a pen’s comfort and flexibility.

By keeping all these factors and your personal calligraphy preferences in mind, you’ll find a high-quality starter set or upgraded pen set to further your artistic calligraphy skills.

Frequently Asked Questions About Calligraphy Pens

What are the different types of calligraphy pens?

The main types include:

  • Broad edge pens – Flat chiseled nib used for thicker downstrokes and thin cross strokes. Can be marker, fountain pen, or dip pen. Good for gothic, italic, blackletter styles.
  • Pointed pens – Sturdy round nib comes in variety of widths good for flourishing. Requires dipping in ink. Used for Copperplate, Spencerian styles.
  • Brush pens – Flexible brush nib allows thick and thin strokes in one pen. Modern and bounce lettering styles.
  • Fountain pens – Some have flex nibs good for calligraphy, can use cartridge or bottled fountain pen ink. Convenient for on-the-go.
  • Marker pens – Calligraphy markers contain either broad edge flat or brush flexible nibs. Easier than dip pens for beginners.
  • Ballpoint pens -Allow thick and thin strokes but limited compared to other pens. Good for faux calligraphy.

What is the difference between a nib and a pen?

A nib is the pointed metal tip that contacts the paper to discharge ink. Dip pens contain removable steel nibs of different widths that fit into a nib holder. Pens contain inner tubing that brings the ink to the nib. Some pens have permanent integrated nibs, others allow interchangeable nibs.

How do I know what size nib to start with as a beginner?

As a beginner, start with a larger, broader nib before moving to finer pointed nibs. Larger nibs around 2.5mm-5mm are easier to control when learning. Finer nibs under 1mm take more precision. A starter set with nibs of different widths gives you flexibility.

What is a nib holder and why do I need one?

Nib holders are required for dip pens. They grip and secure dip pen nibs, letting you switch between nibs of different widths and flexibilities. Quality nib holders are made of durable wood or plastic with a comfortable shape for your fingers and grip.

What is the proper way to hold a calligraphy pen?

Hold the pen between your thumb and index finger similar to a regular pen. Don’t squeeze too tightly. Keep your grip light. Rest your middle or third finger lower down on the pen for added stability and leverage as you write. Maintain good posture.

How do I clean and care for my calligraphy pens?

  • Cartridge pens: Store horizontally, replace cartridges as needed
  • Fountain pens: Flush with water to clean, don’t let ink dry out
  • Dip pens: Clean nibs after use with water, carefully wipe dry, store in case
  • Brush pens: Clean gently with water and let dry fully before storing

What ink should I use with my calligraphy pens?

  • Cartridge pens: Use manufacturer recommended ink cartridges
  • Fountain pens: Calligraphy fountain pen ink
  • Dip pens: India ink or sumi black ink
  • Brush pens: Specialty brush pen ink formulated for flexibility

Match your ink type to the pen for best performance.

How do I store calligraphy pens and inks?

  • Store pens horizontally in a protective case or pouch.
  • Keep nibs immersed in water if storing dip pens for a long time.
  • Replace caps securely on ink bottles; keep bottles upright to prevent spills.
  • Store ink out of direct sunlight and away from extreme temperatures.
  • Keep pens and inks out of reach of children and pets.

What is a good beginner calligraphy pen set for practice?

Quality beginner sets include the Pilot Parallel Pen set, Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens, Speedball dip pen set, and Manuscript marker set. Look for versatile nibs, comfortable grip, and easy ink delivery system.

Should I buy individual nibs and holders or a full set?

Starter sets provide good value and variety for beginners. They include essential supplies like nibs, holders, ink, and instructions to get going. Further along, you may want to buy specialty nibs to supplement your starter set.

What is the best paper for practicing and doing calligraphy projects?

Use smooth, heavyweight paper at least 80lb – banners, cardstock, mixed media paper, or specialist calligraphy paper. Avoid thin, absorbent paper that will bleed and feather. Bristol paper also works well for calligraphy practice.

How can I improve my calligraphy skills with practice?

  • Practice fundamental strokes and drills to build muscle memory
  • Work on consistent slant, spacing, and letter sizing
  • Focus on tricky letters and connections
  • Practice full alphabets repeatedly to refine technique
  • Use guidelines to keep letters consistent
  • Watch tutorial videos for new tips
  • Study exemplars for spacing and composition

What are common calligraphy techniques I should learn?

Essential skills include:

  • Creating thick downstrokes and thin cross strokes
  • Mastering pen angle, pressure, and flex
  • Developing a consistent slant
  • Connecting letters smoothly
  • Flourishing techniques like loops, swirls, and spirals with pointed pens
  • Loading and handling dip pens
  • Doing brush pen drills for thick and thin strokes

How do left-handed people do calligraphy?

Lefties hold the pen the same way but pull the nib rather than push it across the page. Guide your hand below the line being written rather than above. Use quick drying inks and keep extra blotting paper on hand. Position your paper at an angle and look into specialty left-handed nibs.

Troubleshooting issues like ink blobs, smears, etc.

  • Keep good posture and don’t rotate the paper when writing
  • Blot excess ink on scrap paper before writing
  • Don’t overfill nib reservoirs
  • Write at a slight upward angle
  • Check nib/pen condition and replace if needed
  • Use good quality, heavier paper
  • Allow proper drying time between strokes

By learning basic calligraphy techniques and troubleshooting tips, you can minimize errors and improve your skills with practice over time.

Level Up Your Lettering with a Quality Calligraphy Pen Set!

Adding an artist-grade calligraphy pen set to your creative toolbox allows you to take your hand-lettering to the next level. With the right set, you can progress in building pen control, developing personal style, and mastering different scripts and techniques.

This guide provided an overview of recommended beginner and advanced calligraphy pen sets from leading brands. We also offered helpful guidance on how to select the ideal set based on nib type, writing style, and skill level. With a quality set, good paper, and regular practice of core techniques, a world of creative calligraphy possibilities opens up!

Experiment, be patient with yourself, and above all, have fun as you embark on your calligraphy journey. Artistic lettering provides a wonderful creative outlet. Immerse yourself in the relaxing, meditative practice of calligraphy. Let these classic tools transport you to a place of joy and discovery as you develop your own beautiful lettering style.

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