The Best Pens for Calligraphy

Add a personal touch to handwritten cards with these artists' favorites.

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woman writing calligraphy on black envelope
Photo: Sergey Mikheev / Getty Images

Calligraphy is more than creating beautiful letters. You also need the right tools if you want the best results. While you can use ordinary ballpoint pens and pencils to practice the shape and form of your letters, you may want to upgrade your pens and markers once you start a calligraphy project. And a good pen goes a long way in creating smooth, beautiful strokes on paper.

When you are evaluating which pens to use in calligraphy, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. "You want to look for pens that have resilient brush tips," says Brittany Luiz, author of Lettering with Purpose ($21.95, and the marketing manager at Tombow. "Since calligraphy relies on being able to differentiate between thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes, you want a brush tip that is going to bend enough on the downstroke to give you the thickness you need, but also bounce back on your upstroke so you can create your thin lines." She adds: "Another quality you want to look for is optimal ink flow—you don't want the ink to feel dry or scratchy, but you also don't want it to flow too quickly and leave drops of ink on your page. Lefties, in particular, will also want to look for pens that dry quickly so they can avoid smudging."

Trying out different pens can also help you to find the best for you depending on your project goals. Brush pens and dip pens are the two main categories of pens that you will use in calligraphy, but there are different pens for calligraphy techniques that you want to try, so there's really no one-size-fits-all pen.

These are some of the best pens to use in your calligraphy:

tombow fudenosuke brush pen
Courtesy of Tombow USA

For All Skill Levels

It's perfect for calligraphers and lettering artists of all skill levels. "Hands-down, the Fudenosuke Brush Pen is the best pen for a beginner to use for calligraphy and hand lettering. Our fans love using it because of its small, easy-to-hold barrel and flexible but firm brush tip," says Luiz. "This Japanese-designed brush pen was created to help Japanese people to more easily write Kanji, and the name 'Fudenosuke' translates to 'a brush that helps.' We like to say that this pen can make anyone's handwriting look good, but really it's pretty great for calligraphy because you can easily control the brush tip to get the thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes necessary for brush lettering."

Shop Now: Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen, $4.80,

arteza real brush pens
Courtesy of ARTEZA

For Watercolor Effects

The Arteza Real Brush Pens have the highest ratings on Amazon, and this set provides 48 colors for an affordable price. We like them, too, because of their versatility: watercolor effects when dipped in water or dry brush strokes without water.

Shop Now: Arteza Real Brush Pen, $35.99 for 48,

kuretake zig calligraphy pen
Courtesy of Kuretake

For Beginners

These calligraphy pens are great for beginners because you can create beautiful calligraphy without the difficulty or mess of using dip pens. You can mix colors using water. These pens are also good for illustration in addition to calligraphy, so you can really decorate the page.

Shop Now: Kuretake ZIG Calligraphy Pen, $13.99 for 12 colors,

pentel fude touch sign pen
Courtesy of Pentel

For Fine Tip

For precision, opt for this choice. Designed for traditional Chinese calligraphy, this pen features a nylon brush tip to fill with water-based ink, making it ideal for painting and sketching. Its flexible nibs offer varying line widths, while the pen can be refilled with black or gray color cartridges in order to produce detailed, fine lines.

Shop Now: Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen, $3.99,

sakura pigma calligrapher pen
Courtesy of Sakura

For Broad Edge

For bold strokes, opt for this choice. It's an all-in-one durable tool that produces crisp lines and rich color. Unlike most calligraphy markers with tips that wear down with use, this pen has a hard nylon nib that withstands heavy pressure and constant use—in creative projects, journals and daily planners, and handwritten letters—yet still produces a reliable, smooth ink flow from edge to edge.

Shop Now: Sakura Pigma Calligrapher Pen, $10.57 for three,

hethrone wooden dip pen handcrafted calligraphy set with 11 nibs and black ink
Courtesy of Hethrone

For Customization

You can change the nib on the end of this pen for various strokes in your calligraphy. The pen is handcrafted, and the replacement nibs are made from stainless steel. Craft gorgeous Roman or italic letters, or use them for journaling and ink drawings.

Shop Now: Hethrone Wooden Dip Pen Handcrafted Calligraphy Set with 11 Nibs & Black Ink, $15.99,

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