Getting Started in Calligraphy – Supplies Needed

By Nicole Tinkham

Calligraphy is a great hobby to take up because it doesn’t require too many supplies and you can usually find an assortment of workshops (everything from beginner to advanced) to help you learn the technique. Joey, one of our art specialists, instructs a calligraphy workshop periodically throughout the year, so keep an eye out on The Artist’s Corner for any of her upcoming classes. Before signing up for any workshops, you will need to gather your supplies. Although you won’t need many supplies, you do have several options when it comes to pens and ink.

Calligraphy Pen

The first supply you should consider is a calligraphy pen- this normally consists of a holder and nib (the tip of the pen) depending on the type of pen you get. Larger nibs will produce wider lines while narrow nibs will give you smaller lines. When purchasing nibs, you will notice a variety of different sizes. Cartridge pens and dip pens use nibs while felt tip calligraphy markers to not. See below for a description of each.

Cartridge Pens

Cartridge pens allow you to switch out the ink and change colors whenever you want. For these, you will need to get ink cartridges that go with the pen as opposed to bottles of ink (which we will talk about later). As you can see, cartridge pens are available in sets which include a variety of nib sizes. This may be ideal for the beginner as you can practice with several different types of nibs.

Dip Pens

Dip pens are simply a holder and nib without an ink cartridge. With these, you’ll need to purchase bottles of ink to dip the point into as you write. Similar to the cartridge pens, they also come in sets with various nib sizes.

Felt Tip

Felt tip calligraphy markers are also an option. They are convenient because they don’t require separate nibs or ink cartridges. Calligraphy markers are much like an ordinary marker in that you can remove the cap and begin writing. There are two different kinds of calligraphy markers shown above, both available in several colors and sizes. As you can see, there are calligraphy markers with two different tips (one on each end) which may be beneficial.



When using a dip pen, you will also have to purchase ink bottles. There are many different kinds of ink available and numerous colors to choose from. Keeton’s options include Daler Rowney acrylic inks, Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India ink, Holbein drawing ink, and Higgins calligraphy ink. The Bombay India ink is also available in sets with smaller bottles in a variety of colors. When starting off, you may want to start with plain black ink as you will probably use it for practice for awhile until you get better.



As a beginner, you may want to use graph paper to practice and get your layout down. Some beginner calligraphy books may even provide lines so you can practice writing in the book. Calligraphy paper is available in pads (as shown above). You’ll notice that some pads are plain white while others are a parchment paper. You can also use a sketchbook to practice and free-style your lettering. Make sure you choose a sketchbook made for pen and ink or else you may have a problem with the ink bleeding through.

Calligraphy books


It’s difficult to learn calligraphy without resources. We recommend trying to take at least one workshop to get the basics down. However, if there are no workshops available at the time, there are always books for beginners. Most books take it one step at a time and are fairly easy to understand.

Pencil, eraser, ruler

When working on your lettering, you may need some guidelines. It’s helpful to have a pencil, eraser, and ruler available for creating these guidelines.

Gathering the supplies is the easy part in starting calligraphy and of course, we are always here to help. The difficult part is actually learning the technique. Try to find a calligraphy workshop and remember to practice, practice, practice. Most importantly, have fun!

Have a helpful calligraphy tip? Please share it in the comment box below.

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