Everything You Need To Get Started in Caligraphy

Calligraphy is the art of beautiful handwriting and its importance spans across cultures. As one of the first forms of writing, calligraphy has a wonderfully rich history and popularity that is thriving in today’s increasingly visual society. Calligraphy is technically considered a craft, but the skills required to demonstrate writing proficiency lend an air of artistic sophistication.

This ancient art is centered around letterforms and symbols, celebrating the written word in many different ways. From how the individual letters are arranged to the rhythm and flow between them, hence showing integrity, harmony, some sort of ancestry, rhythm, and creative fire.

Though calligraphy appears somehow complicated, you can start creating your own beautiful letters by learning the basic techniques. Learning faux calligraphy is a good starting point. Faux calligraphy uses simple fine-liners to imitate the effect of calligraphy and gives you the basics of learning the letterforms and get comfortable with the thin and thick downstrokes.

What are the materials used in calligraphy? Whether calligraphy is a hobby you are passionate about or a career you want to pursue, you will need several tools and materials to visually express the meaning found within the text. To create good calligraphy letterforms, you will need a nib, a straight pen, ink, and paper along with other helpful calligraphy supplies.

Recommended Supplies

To get started with modern calligraphy and hand lettering, your calligraphy starter kit could include the following recommended items:

Calligraphy Pens

Calligraphy Pen

A calligraphy pen is one of the first calligraphy materials you should consider including in your calligraphy kit. When purchasing calligraphy pens, you will notice a variety of pen shapes and sizes. A calligraphy pen typically consists of a holder and nib, the tip of the pen, depending on the type of pen you get. The long part of the pen is called the pen holder and comes in different shapes, including the basic flat pen, an hourglass shape, and several others. The nib is the pointed metal part that is detached from the calligraphy pen and inserted into the holder. There is an endless supply of calligraphy nibs out there. You can try a bunch of different nibs when you start learning calligraphy.

Keep in mind that some pens like the fountain (or cartridge) pens and dip pens use nibs while felt tip calligraphy markers do not. Fountain and dip pens are available in sets that include a variety of nib sizes. Fountain pens allow you to switch out the ink and change colours whenever you want. Dip pens are without an ink cartridge, and as their name suggests, are dipped into an inkwell periodically in order to continue writing. Also, felt tip calligraphy markers are an option. These don’t require separate nibs or ink cartridges, which makes them more convenient. There are even calligraphy markers with two different tips, one on each end, which may be beneficial, especially for beginners.


Ink in Calligraphy

When you start learning calligraphy, you will also have to purchase ink bottles, especially if you are going to use dip pens. There are so many different kinds of ink available and numerous colours to choose from. Using the right ink for calligraphy is absolutely essential. For starters, plain black ink with a nice fluidity that’s not too thick nor too watery is the best choice. It flows smoothly, has a beautiful, glossy finish, and amazing consistency. Coloured or white inks are often more difficult to work with. But if you like the colour and are satisfied with its performance, go ahead and use it.


practicing calligraphy on paper

A good paper is a must-have item, even if you are just practicing calligraphy. Your choice of paper not only has a big impact on the results of your calligraphy work but also helps the longevity of your brush pen and nibs. For example, it will be difficult for you to properly render characters with too slippery paper. Whereas if the paper is too rough, the nib will scratch and catch, which can potentially dull or even break the nib.

When purchasing calligraphy paper, you will find a lot of white, very smooth uncoated paper available in different sizes and weights, depending on the type of artwork. For successful calligraphy, the choice of paper should match the ink. The paper needs to keep the ink from bleeding and ruining your work. Some of them pair beautifully and complement each other well. Others can tolerate each other, but you wouldn’t consider them a perfect match. And some just don’t mesh at all.

Brush pens, Pencil, Eraser, Ruler

Brush pens are great for learning a new, modern way of hand lettering and hence master the art of pen pressure exertion. They are fun to work with, quite easy to control, and very beginner-friendly. There are an endless amount of brush pens coming in various colours which will last a really long time and as long as they are used on the right paper.

In addition, you may need some guidelines when working on your lettering. So it would be nice to have helpful supplies like a pencil, eraser, and ruler available for creating these guidelines. A basic mechanical pencil will help you to layout a rough sketch first, refine the sketch later in pencil again, and then trace with ink. If a sketch isn’t right the first time, you can erase and edit as you go.

Sketch Pad

Sketch Pad

A sketch pad is one of the essential calligraphy supplies that any hand lettering artist and calligrapher should consider including in their calligraphy kit. You never know when inspiration may strike, so it would be nice to carry it with you at all times. A nice and smooth sketch pad can help you get started with calligraphy. Each page is blank and hence ideal for writing, drawing and sketching freely.

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