Fountain Pens For Calligraphy – How You Should Use Them

Fountain Pens For Calligraphy – How You Should Use Them

Since calligraphy became a fad, hundreds of calligraphy tools have been released as alternatives to the traditional calligraphy pens. Today, even writing tools that were not originally meant to create calligraphy are being customized to do the work. Take fountain pens, markers, and brushes for examples.

But the right pen is the key to beautiful lettering.

Calligraphy is a beautiful art. It requires very little in the way of tools but it is a must for the tools to be capable of giving amazing and decorative results. Calligraphy is a delicate art which requires patience and precision, and the better the pen — the better the end result will be.

But while calligraphy pens were the only ones that gave this desirable result in the past, other pens like dip pens and fountain pens already proved to do a great job too.

Before we look into how you should use a fountain pen in calligraphy, let’s take a look at calligraphy pens and dip pens.

What are Calligraphy Pens?

Essentially calligraphy pens are like a fountain pen that can either be dipped into a pot of ink or can be used with ink cartridges.

Calligraphy pens have different nibs to create different styles of script. Some pens have one dedicated nib whilst others feature interchangeable nibs.

Recently, a variety of calligraphy markers have also become available, which are cheap and easy to use, and give yet another artistic style.

What are Dip Pens?

Dip pen is a writing tool that consists of two parts: a metal point - “nib”, and a handle that holds the nib. The metal nib was made of copper and bronze, while today it is made of steel. It has a slit that leads the ink from a vent hole to the paper and works by a combination of gravity and capillary action. The handle can be made of plastic, metal, glass and even bone.

Dip pen is used for writing and drawing. It does not have its own reservoir for ink. Dip pen is dipped in an ink bottle or inkwell so it could be used. Some people, on the other hand, fill the dip pen with an eyedropper or a syringe.

For writing calligraphy with dip pens people used various accessories to make their writing more enjoyable. A leather writing-pad is a surface which allows the metal pen to “dive” into paper and “glide” more easily.

A rocker-blotter or blotting-paper dried the ink and prevented it from smearing the paper on which it wrote. Inkwell was a container made of glass, porcelain, silver, brass, or pewter that held ink into which dip pen was dipped. It usually had some lid that prevented spillage and contamination of ink. Inkstands hold two inkwells, a place for spare nibs and stands for pens. Some even had a place for a rocker blotter.

A lot of people are using dip pens to do faux calligraphy. The fact that nibs can be interchanged is one of the strongest advantages of dip pens as you can insert calligraphy nibs – which are broad and great for italic and traditional calligraphy – or fine and medium nibs to create modern calligraphy styles.

What is a Fountain Pen?

You can refer to fountain pens as innovations of dip pens. They come in different nib sizes too but most fountain pens don’t have interchangeable nibs. Meaning, if you want to experience broad writing, you’ll have to buy a fountain pen with broad nib, or if you want to try fine lines, then you’ll have to buy another fountain pen, this time, with a fine nib.

Like a dip pen, a fountain pen is a writing instrument equipped with a metal nib that utilizes a cartridge, converter, or another internal reservoir in order to provide a continuous and refillable ink supply.

Fountain pens were introduced in the late 19th century and largely replaced the earlier dip pen, which had evolved from feather pens and which required dipping in an ink well every few lines in order to maintain an ink supply.

Portability and ease of use led to fountain pens being the most popular writing instrument throughout the first half of the 20th century. Since then, people discovered the versatility of fountain pens which can be used not just in simple writing but also in arts. From everyday writing instruments to one of a kind works of hand-crafted art, fountain pens remain an essential writing tool for many business professionals, calligraphers, artists, and pen enthusiasts, or just anybody who likes to write with a pen on paper.

Fountain Pens in Calligraphy

Fountain pens may not be the best for writing traditional calligraphy but they are great tools for modern and faux calligraphy.

While others have the impression that fountain pens are not the right tools to use in calligraphy, fine nibs like the Dryden Designs modern classic fountain pens are appropriate for faux calligraphy. They even make better fine lines than any other tools like fine point pens or ballpoint pens or brush pens.

How to Use Fountain Pen in Writing Calligraphy


First, pull out a calligraphy-friendly piece of paper. Once you’ve got your piece of paper, use a pencil to draw three pairs of equally-spaced horizontal guidelines and one vertical, centered guideline.

For this next step, remember that you’re creating your own modern calligraphy — there are no rules here! Pull out your pencil, then write on your horizontal guidelines using either a larger version of your own cursive style or you can mimic a different writing style.


If you have never used a fountain pen, know that there’s just a bit of a learning curve. But here’s what to remember in a nutshell:

  • Fill your fountain pen cartridge or converter with the ink color you want to use.
  • Maintain a 45 degree-ish angle between the paper and the pen.
  • Always exert even pressure to both tines of the nib; do not apply more pressure to one side or the other.
  • Once you’re finished, let the calligraphy dry. This should only take 2-5 minutes.


Firmly hold down your calligraphy with one hand while you use gently erase the pencil guidelines on your piece. Be especially careful around the edges of the paper — if you rub too vigorously, the edges have a tendency to crinkle and fold!

Final Tips

Finding the perfect calligraphy pen can be tricky — especially for beginners with so many different kinds of the pen to choose from. So what should you be looking for in a good pen to use in calligraphy?

One of the most important criteria when it comes to choosing the right pen for calligraphy is the comfort. Calligraphers spend many hours practicing and holding their pen, so it’s vital to have a pen with a handle that is comfortable to hold over long periods of time.

Lighter pens are also easier to hold and work with than heavier pens.

Another point to consider is whether to choose a cartridge or dip nib or a converter pen. Each type has its own advantages and drawbacks.

Pens that use cartridges are usually more convenient and less messy to use, and as a result, may be better for beginners.

On the other hand, dip calligraphy pens offer more freedom and versatility when it comes to nib and ink choice. Choosing which type to pursue is really down to personal preference.