Perfect Your Masterstroke With The Best Calligraphy Pens For Newbies & Experts

High angle view of Woman hands writing Oh words on white paper

Whether you’re a newbie to lettering or a more experienced calligrapher, the right pens make all the difference. The best calligraphy pens will be ones that suit your specific skill level and task, whether it's a brush pen for signs or a dip pen for detailed work.

To help you navigate pen terminology, consider the following:

  • Brush pens: These pens are a good first calligraphy pen for beginners since they’re easy to use. Though they come in many color options, they’re generally too big for detailed or fine calligraphy work.
  • Standard pen: A quality regular writing pen like fineliners, gel rollers, and bullet nibs can be used by beginners who want to experiment with so-called faux calligraphy. Keep in mind you’ll be limited in terms of how many lettering styles you can achieve with this type of pen.
  • Straight dip pen: Now let's talk dip pens, which will require accessories like nibs and ink for modern or traditional calligraphy and require more advanced skills. A straight dip pen is where you’d want to begin with dip pens, since they’re affordable, but it will take some practice to learn how to write with the proper pressure with this one. This pen type is best for offhand flourishing and writing that requires very little slant.
  • Cartridge pen: Also known as a fountain pen, cartridge pens are conveniently portable but their nibs are not as interchangeable as straight dip pens. An internal ink reservoir in the pen is convenient for continuous writing and can be refilled, unlike other dip pens that require separate ink. This type of pen is usually a better choice for intermediate and advanced calligraphers.
  • Oblique dip pen: Oblique dip pens avoid smudging entirely by letting you write with your hand out of the way; these pens do have the biggest learning curve of calligraphy pens and are most suitable for right-handed people. They're great for completing projects that require heavily slanted calligraphy like classic Copperplate and Spencerian.

You can practice lettering with any of these pens, but the best calligraphy pen will be the one you're most comfortable holding and enjoy using for writing. Below are calligraphy pens to suit any style, whether you're doodling or addressing wedding invitations, plus ink and paper to get you started.

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.


The Best Brush Pens

With their ease of use and affordable entry point, it's no wonder these are a favorite brush pen for beginners in calligraphy. This set includes a pen with a soft tip and another with a hard tip so you can write with extra fine to medium strokes in letters.

Tombow is a brand name that’s been in the industry since 1913, and these black-ink pens have a 4.5-star rating on Amazon with more than 6,000 reviews. If you prefer colored brush pens, they also come in a 6-pack of neon hues.

A helpful review: “The brush pens are amazing. The soft tip is great for bold captions and the hard tip for finer writing ... You may notice how the upstrokes of the hard tip are much finer. The soft tip requires the application of very little pressure but you'll need a bit of practice with the hard tip. Personally, I love the hard tip because of the finer writing and cleaner curves. I'd recommend this to all the beginners."


The Best Standard Pens For Faux Calligraphy

If you've spent any time on Etsy, then you've seen examples of faux calligraphy, and you can try your hand at it with an everyday pen. This Muji ball point pen works well for experimenting in faux calligraphy since it doesn't smudge and its ink flows smoothly. Plus, it's affordable and can be used as an everyday pen. This pen is highly rated with more than 1,000 reviews, and it's the pen of choice for Ira Glass of This American Life.

A helpful review: “Bought these for my wife who does art and calligraphy, and she absolutely loves them. Some of her favorite pens, hands down.”


The Best Straight Dip Pen For Calligraphy

Calligraphy can be labor-intensive, and the cushioned grip on this wooden holder makes this an outstanding straight dip pen for calligraphy This pen style, which requires that you purchase nib writing tools separately, is also popular for drawing or lettering with fine detail, and this pick from Tachikawa makes it easier to work for longer stretches. Reviewers commented that the protective cap for the pen's nib is especially convenient for portability and protecting the pen. Nikko G nibs are an excellent starter nib for this dip pen (and it also accommodates crow quill nibs for fine details). This straight dip pen also comes in pink.

A helpful review: “I learned calligraphy with a slanted point marker.... and then, got into brush lettering, but there is something far too special about a dip pen. I purchased an oblique holder and after it not working right after a week or so... I purchased this.... It was like magic. I know that folks love their oblique pen holders, but this thing is phenomenal to hold and work with ... I love the way that it has a nib cover so that I can keep a nib in there for me to work with quickly ... If your hand is comfortable, then your work will come out so gorgeous."


The Best Set Of Cartridge Pens

The best set of cartridge pens (aka fountain pens) comes with four nib sizes that have color-coded caps. You can also purchase cartridges with other colors to use.

One reviewer reported these "write like a dream," but some also said these pens are better for more experienced calligraphers and may be too advanced for beginners, which is generally the case with cartridge pens.

A helpful review: “I've been a calligrapher for 25 years and the Pilot Parallel pens are among my favorite. The ink flows very well and doesn't dry up in the nib between uses. I also like how you can use the edge of the nib for fine point lines. The different color caps for different sized nibs is also convenient. If you are a calligrapher, try these pens — you won't be disappointed.”


The Best Oblique Dip Pen Holder

An oblique dip pen probably isn't the first pen you'll try for calligraphy, but this is the one to start with if you're ready to try this unique style. At $5, it's an affordable holder, and several reviewers commented they were glad they chose it as their first oblique dip pen.

Nikko G nibs are a popular starter nib, and reviewers report they fit this pen.

A helpful review: “I am currently teaching myself calligraphy, and many of the bloggers I follow suggest getting an oblique holder for calligraphy nibs. I am SO glad I did! It's made my studies easier and more beautiful, honestly. The angle is perfect for getting that thick-and-thin stroke without having mastered it yet. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to advance their skills, or even just play around!”


Nice To Have: High-Quality Paper To Practice Your Calligraphy On

Practicing calligraphy requires high-quality paper that will stand up to your calligraphy pen without bleeding. This highly rated calligraphy pad has 50 sheets of textured paper so you can turn out smooth lettering. Reviewers say it is highly absorbent and can even handle water colors.

A helpful review: “A lovely finish, just the right weight, a pleasure to use and to give away calligraphy pieces.”


Also Great: A Calligraphy Ink Set For Dip Pens

You'll need ink for straight or oblique dip pens, and this calligraphy ink set comes with 10 colors to get you started. Colors include black, red, blue, and gold, and this set of waterproof, archival-quality inks also comes with a palette for mixing.

A helpful review: "Great color selection of inks that I use for calligraphy. This small container sampling has wide-mouth and flat-bottom containers that are [the] perfect size. You can't tip them over!"