If you are looking to add a touch of elegance and finesse to your writing, it is a good idea to pick up calligraphy. With a calligraphy pen, you can create beautiful scripts and letterforms that are sure to impress.
In this blog post, we will introduce you to the basics of how to write with a calligraphy pen and help you write with ease. Read on!
Table of Contents
- How to Use Calligraphy Pens
- What Other Skills Do You Need to Write With a Calligraphy Pen?
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Use Calligraphy Pens
Step 1: Choose a calligraphy pen
There are 4 types that you can consider:
- Felt-Tip Pens: These are great for practicing calligraphy for beginners. They are easy to use, with a solid tip for easy writing. On the downside, there are not many line variations to work with.
- Brush Pens: A small-sized brush pen can be a great calligraphy tool for beginners. These pens have brush tips rather than nibs. Thus, they produce versatile strokes, from thin to thick.
- Fountain Pens: You will likely be more comfortable with them once you reach the intermediate and advanced levels. It is particularly ideal for faux calligraphy with constant ink flow with the flat nib. There are many nip sizes to pick from, but you go for one at least 3.8 mm.
- Dip Pens: These pens are fantastic for those who want more flexibility. They often come with a broad edge, thus perfect pens for calligraphy writing at professional levels. We can use these pens to create hairline lines and broad strokes. And there will be a learning curve with these pens.
You can try to hold and write with all the different types to select the best option. It is best to stick with one type of pen. Switching them frequently can hinder your route to mastering calligraphy.
Step 2: Get the proper paper
For writing calligraphy letters, you need thick, high-quality paper. Office paper and ordinary paper that is torn from a school notebook will not work, as the ink will bleed all over and through the paper, creating a mess and ruining your piece.
To make sure the nib of your pen will not get snagged, and thereby, spatter ink, while you are writing, you should avoid rough paper.
Paper with loosely woven fibers should also be avoided since they can cause any ink you put down “spiderweb.”
In addition, it is worth noting that practicing is much easier with lined paper. Paper with margins as well as grids may be easier for first-time calligraphers too.
Step 3: Prepare your workspace and secure your paper
- Workspace: If you are learning to write with a calligraphy dip pen or brush pen, it is better to work on an angled table or easel. But regardless of the slope, your surface must be stable.
- Paper: You will find it hard to produce satisfying calligraphy results with a shifty sheet of paper. So, it is not a bad idea to secure your paper with masking tape or blue tack.
Step 4: Practice making basic strokes
1. Start with a downward line. Your pen should be horizontal to the line furthest up. Meanwhile, the nib should be flat on the paper. Try making both thin and thick strokes.
While practicing, pay attention to how much pressure you are applying. Also, try to keep your arm as steady as possible. Your hand should not rest on your paper, too.
Hint: The more pressure you apply, the thicker the strokes will be. If there is too much pressure, though, the nib can be damaged.
2. After the downward line, try the opposite: the upward line. Your pen should now be at a 45-degree angle. Again, practice making both thin and thick strokes.
Ensure the nib of your pen does not turn as you lay down the lines. This will help you ‘standardize’ your script.
3. Finally, practice making diagonal lines.
It is tempting to start writing letters, words, and sentences right away. But it is essential to nail the basics first. Do not skip this step, as you will waste time and effort in perfecting your abilities.
Step 5: Practice writing calligraphy letters
Move on to writing the calligraphy alphabet once you are comfortable with the basic strokes. There are several different styles that you can consider. Choose one and search for a reference, if needed, to practice. Remember to give both uppercase and lowercase letters a try.
Tip: Practice with one style first. Once you have gotten one down, you can try practicing more styles.
Step 6: Practice writing words and phrases
Now is the time to take it up a notch!
Write the letters you have been practicing in the previous step and link them to create words, as well as phrases. Try different words and phrases to practice all the letters in the alphabet. Practice consistently with short words and phrases first, then gradually move to longer ones.
When you are totally comfortable, a letter written in calligraphy is no longer just a wish.
Step 7: Try creating different effects
You can leave different impressions with your calligraphy depending on the effects that you employ.
Changing the spacing between letters and increasing or decreasing the letters’ heights can create unique effects. You can also add curves or slants.
Some effects to try are:
- Water Effect: Switch the highlights and shadows to create letters that look like water.
- Bubble Effect: Use a white pen and a few colored ones on black paper for letters that resemble bubbles.
- Ribbon Effect: Connect the letters and some curves to each so your scripts mimic a ribbon.
What Other Skills Do You Need to Write With a Calligraphy Pen?
How to hold a calligraphy pen
The three main pointers to keep in mind are:
- Do NOT hold the pen too far up. You will not have as much control, particularly over your pressure on the nib. As a result, your strokes can appear shaky or broken. Keep your pen at the same angle (the nib should be about 40–50 degrees to your left), and try not to grip it too firmly.
- While you write, gently and firmly lead the pen backward, sideways, or across the paper. Do not stray from the line and break a continuing stroke. Do NOT move the fingers. Instead of moving the fingers like using a normal pen, you should use your forearm and arm. Keep your finger movements as minimal as possible.
- To create neat calligraphy, always draw horizontal lines parallel to each other, the same with vertical or diagonal lines.
Read more: A detailed guide on holding a calligraphy pen properly here!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you write normally with a calligraphy pen?
Certainly! Writing normally is rather common with felt-tip pens and fountain pens. In Vietnam, public school students actually learn to write using fountain pens as part of their curriculum!
Just remember that it will not work very well with thin or thermal paper, as its ink will without a doubt bleed through. In addition, a calligraphy pen’s ink will take more time to dry. Keep in this mind to avoid accidentally smudging or smearing your writing.
Plus, storage is more demanding with a calligraphy pen. You will have to worry about additional tools for filling ink and replacing nibs too.
How to write calligraphy with a normal pen?
You can write faux calligraphy with normal pens, like monoline pens and embossing pens. Take a look at this short calligraphy letters step-by-step Youtube tutorial, which uses well-known tools like Micron.
If you are a beginner, it helps to look for reference pictures online for practice.
How to load a calligraphy pen
Loading a Fountain Pen
To write calligraphy with a fountain pen, you must first fill it with ink. Here is how:
1. See if your pen has a disposable ink cartridge or an ink converter.
2. If you have the former:
- Remove the barrel from the pen.
- Put a new cartridge into the grip section. You should hear a click.
- Reassemble the barrel.
3. If you have the latter:
- Remove the barrel from the pen.
- Replace the cartridge with the converter.
- Dip the nib into ink and draw it in.
- Reassemble the barrel.
Loading a Dip Pen or Brush Pen
- Remove the barrel.
- Fill an eyedropper or syringe with ink, then release the ink into the barrel.
- Hold the barrel horizontally and insert it halfway into the grip section.
- Quickly turn the pen nib down and insert it in all the way.
Calligraphy is not something you can master overnight. However, this guide on how to write a calligraphy pen can help you get a proper start. You now know the essentials, such as holding and loading a calligraphy pen. To become comfortable with calligraphy, make sure you keep the tips we have mentioned in mind and spare time each day to practice.
On a different note, you are welcome to share your progress with us in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!