Are you interested in diving into the world of brush calligraphy, but a little lost on where to begin? Or perhaps you’ve started to learn some of the basics, but you’re looking for direction regarding which pens to buy (there are so many options!) Well, you’re not alone.
When I started this journey almost a year ago, I left my first workshop with one pen, and knowledge of nothing else in the supply category. Though I loved that one pen (and bought it in as many colors as I could find!), I wanted more. I wanted to learn different styles and techniques, but I found myself lost in a sea of online information. After following every great calligraphy artist I could find on Instagram, I just started buying all the pens I saw them using. But I had no idea which were best for my beginner-self! While I discovered some true gems in the process, there were quite a few duds, and many that were a little advanced for me at the time. So, to spare you the trouble, I’m sharing with you three of my absolute favorites. The best part is, these three pens are not only great for beginners, but are still some of my “go-to” pens for daily work. Let’s get to it!
Favorite Large Brush Pen
Because of the firmness in the tip of the brush, it is the easiest to control – which is great when you are first learning brush lettering. One thing to keep in mind with this pen is that you will need to write much larger than normal to achieve the best outcome. If you feel like your words look squished, or like your down-strokes are too thick in proportion to your up-strokes, you are most likely not writing large enough. The great thing about these pens is they come in a wide variety of colors, (96, to be exact) and they are perfect for creating final works of art for you or your friends. When working with these pens, (or any pen, for that matter) be wary of frayed tips. As a lefty, this is something you simply cannot get around because of the pushing effect that occurs when writing from the left side. But with extra care and caution, you can preserve the life of your pens! Be sure to take your time, write slow, don’t use more pressure than you need, and write with the side of your brush tip, to avoid pressing straight down on the tip.
After practicing your brush lettering skills with the Tombow Dual Brush pen for a little while, you will most likely grow tired of writing such large words, and you’ll be ready for smaller, more delicate writing. This is where the smaller brush pens come into the conversation! Tombow offers a great option in the Fudenosuke Brush Pen, which comes in both a firm and soft nib. These are a favorite to many, including myself… but my absolute favorite pen in this category is the Pentel Sign Brush Pen.
Favorite Small Brush Pen
This pen writes like butter, and adds such elegance to your words. They come in a variety of colors – so I would recommend buying all of them just in case ;). This pen is great for projects that call for smaller writing, such as addressing envelopes. I have found that the tip of this pen tends to hold up longer than the Tombow Fudenosuke, however, many prefer that the Fudenosuke comes with the option of a firm or soft nib. I recommend trying all of them to see what works best for you, as each person uses different amounts of pressure, which will influence your preference. Again, just like with the Dual Brush Pen, try to watch your speed and pressure to avoid fraying/distorting the tip of this pen quickly. Regardless of your brand of choice, you want a pen like this in your arsenal!
Favorite Water Brush Pen
There are a few different water brush options on the market, but for me, the Pentel Aquash is the way to go. Watercolor lettering is growing in popularity, and is especially beautiful for the spring. A water brush is incredibly versatile, as it can be filled with your choice of ink color or water, to be dipped in your watercolor of choice. It can also be used like a paintbrush to add floral embellishments to your art. The bristles have just the right amount of firmness to allow for dramatic up-strokes and down-strokes, and it is very easy to control. It comes in a few different sizes, so choose based on the size of letters you would like to achieve (the one pictured is medium.) I like to keep two of these on hand at all times – one filled with black ink, and the other with water. If you are new to using a bristle tip like this (much like an actual paintbrush), there will be a little bit of a learning curve. But don’t give up if it doesn’t turn out how you expect the first time (in fact, I can almost guarantee that it won’t!) I have found that I write very different with a water brush, as opposed to a regular brush pen. This is completely normal, and worth the effort for such a beautiful outcome.
So there you have it – three of my favorite pens for brush calligraphy! I’d love to hear feedback regarding your success with these pens, and any other favorites you have to share!