Calligraphic Tool Adventures


Is your handwriting terrible? It doesn’t matter. You aren’t artistic? It doesn’t matter. You can still get amazing results. The fun thing about modern calligraphy is that it doesn’t need to be perfect; it’s the imperfections that make it so human, and that’s the appeal.

Using a Nib

The key to modern calligraphy is that it’s written with a pointed nib, rather than a broad edge nib. This means that the nib comes to a sharp point and you make thick and thin lines by pressing harder and softer as you go up and down. It is also called a ‘dip pen’, as you dip your pointed pen into ink. As the nib has a point, it can be used by anyone, right-handed or left-handed and because it’s easy to use, it is great for kids too.

There are many different pointed nibs available. In my experience, most beginners are worried to push down on their nib.



Our Choice of Nibs

We teach lots of workshops and have tested different nibs with our students.

Leonardt 30 – the most popular by far in workshops. It flows nicely and is flexible enough to get the thick and thin lines that make calligraphy look so beautiful.

Leonardt 256 – a firmer nib, for those who use more pressure when they write.

For when you feel more confident:

Leonardt 700 – great for smaller calligra­phy,

it’s a tiny nib, so gives beautiful fine lines.

Brause EF (stands for Extra Fine) – also creates stunning small calligraphy.

There are many more to try, this list is by no means the only pointed nibs to give great results.


Using Brush Pens

Brush pens give greater line variations (thick and thins) and allow you to create larger lettering than you can with a calligraphy nib. One of the best things about brush pens is that you can take them anywhere and there’s no ink or mess!


The difference between brush pens and felt tip marker pens is that brush pens have a brush like, flexible tip that behaves in a similar way to a paint brush. When you apply pressure to the paper with a brush pen, you can either get a thick or thin line. This is the difference between calligraphy and handwriting.



There are two main types to choose from - felt tip brush pens or fibre tip (or sometimes called bristle tip) brush pens. Brush lettering involves the pressure and release of the brush so that you get thick and thin lines; think of it more as drawing than handwriting. You can lift your brush or brush pen off the page whenever you feel you need to and assess what you are doing, consider the shape of the letter form and ponder what to do next.

In this picture there is a selection of brush pens, each pen's name is written above, using that pen. The pens to the left are felt brush pens, the pens to the right and fibre. You can see the different results, and that with the fibre pens you get a rougher finish. Paint brushes and water brushes fall into the fibre camp.



If you would like to see all of this in action, watch our video tutorials. Once you are hooked on hand lettering, there are so many tools you can experiment with. A ruling pen, automatic pen or make your own cola pen using the metal from a can!


All our books are available on Amazon for more info and inspiration in modern calligraphy.

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The Old Poorhouse, Alandale Rd, Birdham, PO20 7QN, United Kingdom

 020 8691 6100/ 01243 512845   info@kirstenburke.co.uk

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