A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO MODERN CALLIGRAPHY+BASIC CALLIGRAPHY SUPPLIES GIVEAWAY

We’re on to our third giveaway of the month and what’s better than getting your hands on some amazing calligraphy supplies! Are you excited?I am! I started learning calligraphy during May last year. Although I’m far from being perfect, I’ve learnt a few things that would be perfect to share here. Read all about it in this calligraphy for beginners post. Enjoy!

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

 

I’ve been meaning to create a “calligraphy for beginners” post for a short while now. Because lettering and calligraphy has made such a huge comeback, you’ll see tons of resources online. But I wanted to share a little of bit of what I’ve learnt in the past few months. It’s amazing how completely different calligraphy is to hand writing. No, you don’t need to have an amazing hand writing to do calligraphy. Calligraphy is an art form and like any other art form, all you need is determination and practice.

The investment you need to make while beginning to learn calligraphy is not a lot. Unless you are a hoarder and love collecting. I’m going to list down what supplies you’ll need and then proceed to explain each of it further.

Love calligraphy and watercolor?Check out faux watercolor calligraphy. You’ll love it!

{This post contains affiliate links. This means that I will earn a small percentage if you decide to buy from one of the links you click below.You will not be charged extra.}

Calligraphy for beginners-basic supplies required :-

  • Straight holder or oblique holder
  • Nibs
  • Calligraphy ink
  • Smooth, bleed proof paper

You can purchase the above supplies at the  Paper and Ink arts website or Amazon.

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio


A.Calligraphy pen holders

Holders pictured below starting from the left

  1. Wooden oblique holder by Rodger Mayeda of Rodger’s Pen Box
  2. e+m Cork-Tipped Penholder
  3. General Pencil Cork Tipped Penholder
  4. Ziller Oblique Holder 66

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Today’s calligraphy for beginners post will not go into a lot of detail.I can write an entire post based on pen holders or nibs alone. There is a lot to talk about and for the purpose of keeping this post short and precise, I’m going to classify into the basic differentiation there is.

1.Straight holder

For the purpose of demonstration I’m using a cork holder by General pencils. Straight holders come with an “insert” either in metal or plastic into which you can insert a nib. Honestly speaking I have never used a speedball holder with a plastic insert. The speedball holder comes at $1.39 whereas a cork holder comes at $5.50 .Experts suggest starting with a straight holder first. I started with an oblique holder fitted with a NikkoG which was generously gifted to me by my lovely friends Rodger and Lindsey.  Plus, straight holders are comparatively cheaper than oblique holders.

With just a few dollars of difference, the cork holder appealed to me better. An ergonomic holder like General’s cork holder reduces the pressure on your fingers when you’re constantly writing for hours.This comes with a “universal insert” which will fit any nib you purchase. (Refer image below)

 

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

How to insert a nib into a holder with “universal insert”

This is actually a very common confusion among beginners. Trust me when I say “been there , done that” .  In the above image, you’ll see four metal bits curving inside. Now at first glance, you’ll think that a nib goes right inside the centre. But that’s actually wrong. The nib is supposed to be inserted in between the body and the metal bit.

Have a look at the image below. Once the nib is inserted, you’ll hardly see a gap between the nib and body. So the curve of the nib should be parallel to the curve of the metal bit. Another thing to keep in mind is how much of the nib should you push inside.

Push the nib until you find that it is secure and doesn’t wobble. If it’s too loose, you risk the possibility of putting unwanted pressure on the nib and eventually breakage. If you push it too far down, there is the possibility of it getting stuck. This will make you exert pressure to remove the nib ultimately tearing out the metal insert.  Don’t worry about getting it perfect the first time around. Trial and error is the key here!

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

2.Oblique holder

I’ll be showing my favorite wooden oblique holder by Rodger of Rodger’s pen box for the demonstration. Oblique holders come with a metal flange into with you insert a nib. Obliques can be plastic or wood but the main flange is mostly metal. Unless you decide to purchase a Speedball oblique which has a plastic flange.

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

The thing about oblique holders is that different flanges fit different nibs. So essentially you’ll need to invest in a number of different obliques. For example, the Nikko G larger compared to Brause EF66.  A solution to this would be to use an adjustable flange. I’ve seen a lot of calligraphers use this but I can’t be certain of how it works because I don’t own one.

An awesome tip(one of the many really) I picked up from Lindsey of TPK is that the centre of the pen and the tip of the nib should form a straight line. That means if you draw a line straight up the centre of the holder, it should meet the end of the nib at top. That’s when you know that your nib is at a proper angle.

Lindsey is my calligraphy guru and you can find chock full of information on Modern Calligraphy over at her blog “The Postman’s Knock“.

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

B.Nibs

There are so many different nibs that it can be overwhelming to choose. It’s not easy but hopefully the information here will help. I’m going to compare the nibs I’ve used(shown in the image below).

  • A popular beginner nib is the “Nikko G“. The nib has a medium flex and can sustain a heavy hand. What that means is it can take a good beating before it fails to work anymore.Start with this one and continue to experiment with others.
  • My favorite is the “Brause EF66“. It’s power packed although it’s tiny. I love how I don’t need to press hard to create pretty downstrokes and it glides effortlessly to create thin upstrokes.
  • The “Brause Rose” is another beautiful nib. It’s extremely flexible and can create broad strokes with very little effort. Although amazing, it can be difficult to get the ink flowing with this nib. I once mentioned this to Rodger and he suggested tipping the nib slightly at an angle to get the nib flowing. And guess what, it works.
  • The “Brause Steno” nib or “Blue pumpkin” holds a lot of ink. And it can work both ways. The good is that you don’t need to keep dipping the nib. The bad is that it can form lumps of ink on paper especially when you try  joining letters.

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Detailed tutorial on nibs to follow soon.

How to store your nibs.

A cotton cloth is your best friend while cleaning nibs. And it’s really important that you keep one at your desk at all times.

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

After cleaning out ink from the nib with clear water and soap occasionally, dry it with a cloth. This will prevent rusting and increase the life of your nib.

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Store your nibs in a small container similar to as shown below. You can use anything from a Hershey’s tin box or buy an Altoids tin from Paper and Ink arts. You’ll notice my blue pumpkin nib has a bit of rust on it. I did not take care of my nibs when I started experimenting with calligraphy. And I learnt the hard way!

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

C.Inks

The Yasutomo Chinese sumi ink is my favorite to get rich blacks. This was recommended by Rodger and it will last you a very long time. The only drawback is that you’ll need to pour them in containers so that you can dip your pen.

Another favorite is the Winsor and Newton calligraphy inks. They come in a variety of colors and the best part is that they are available locally. They are a little runny but this helps the ink flow smooth.The opening of the bottle is a little bit small for oblique holders, so again you’ll need to use another container to use.

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Don’t Nutella minis make the cutest containers? Jam bottles make good containers too.

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

D.Paper

Rhodia has to be the best calligraphy paper for practice. They come in ruled,blank,dot and graph choices. The paper is 80lb but the it is extremely smooth and bleed proof. You get a fairly large amount of paper for just about $9.

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

For finished work, Bristol paper(I love Strathmore) works really well. Watercolor paper and Vellum look lovely when used in a finished product too.

E.ADDITIONAL/OPTIONAL SUPPLIES

These are all additional supplies that you can buy in addition to the basic ones. I’m not to going to delve further because it will be an altogether different post.

Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Gouache paints

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Metallic colors- Finetec pearl colors

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Water based acrylic paints

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio



These are the  basic supplies you need in a nut shell and a few extras if you like to splurge.And that’s it!I hope you enjoyed this calligraphy for beginners, basic supplies part of the post. And more importantly learnt from it. Down below, I’m going to quickly talk about some basic strokes you can practice.

Calligraphy for beginners – Simple exercises

I’m using a Brause EF66 nib for this mini “calligraphy for beginners” tutotorial. Dip your nib approximately till the bend.

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

The mantra is “Thin upstrokes, Thick downstrokes” .

Upstrokes – Light pressure here. Loosen the grip on you pen holder. The key is to not move your fingers as done generally while writing with a regular pen. You would want to move the holder. Imagine holding a paintbrush and creating loose strokes. You’re essentially moving your entire hand to create that stroke. Use the same principle here.

Downstrokes- Refer the image below. See how the tines flex when I apply pressure. This moving of tines allow the ink to flow from the vent to the tip of the nib. 

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Press down to form a thick downstroke.  Practice repeatedly!

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Upstroke and downstroke together- Once you get the hang of both, try doing an exercise as shown below. Start with a little pressure for the upstroke, move down with more pressure to form the downstroke. This is just one of the many exercise you can try.  

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

And  now for the exciting part! Yes, the giveaway!Yippee. This week you’ll be able to win

 

  1. Kaitlin style calligraphy worksheet by TPK
  2. Rhodia pad,Blank -6″x 8.5″
  3. Nikko  G nib
  4. e+m Cork-Tipped Penholder, Mahogany 
  5. Chinese Sumi Ink, UltraBlack

The combined price of which is $23 plus shipping and you have this entire week to enter. Good luck!

Calligraphy for beginners -Basic supplies| Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck StudioHow to enter the giveaway!

Please follow the instructions given in the Rafllecopter widget shown below. The giveaway will end on 9:00 P.M. GMT on 23rd February(Tuesday). The winner will be announced on Facebook, Instagram and the widget below on 24th February(Wednesday).If you don’t win this time, the next post will hold another fabulous giveaway. If you’re viewing this in your e-mail, you’ll probably not see the widget. Please hop over to the post in your browser to access the giveaway.The free entry is the only mandatory option. All other choices are optional and even if you don’t have any of the social media sites you can still enter.This means you don’t need to do every one of the choices listed below .Entering with all the choices will nonetheless improve the chances of winning.Giveaway is open worldwide and I will ship anywhere as long as you have a proper mailing address.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{This giveaway is not sponsored or endorsed by Paper and Ink arts or TPK}

 

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About zakkiya hamza @ inkstruck

Zakkiya is the creative blogger and founder of Inkstruck Studio. She’s a self taught artist who let go of her architecture profession to pursue her passion in art. Zakkiya likes to write detailed tutorials in watercolor, calligraphy, and hand lettering. She also teaches watercolor workshops occasionally in Doha where she’s based currently. Other passions include traveling, photography, and basketball.When she’s not working, you can find her cuddling and running around with her toddler boy.

54 thoughts on “A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO MODERN CALLIGRAPHY+BASIC CALLIGRAPHY SUPPLIES GIVEAWAY

  1. I would like more watercolor techniques and calligraphy lessons as your more special in creating amazing tutorials.Your watercolor lessons are awesome.I am learning calligraphy and i am so much fun practising and being more creative like you.

  2. I love this! I will be referring back to it soon for sure. I would love to see more info on walnut ink and paper! I’m new to all of it, so a tutorial on something like that would be really exciting. (: Thanks for all the wonderful start up info!

  3. Thank you for this awesome post! I’ve been doing calligraphy for a while, and if I win the giveaway, I’m going to give it to my friend who is excited to learn!

  4. It’s insane how you got from 0 to 100% in just almost a year of practicing calligraphy! I’m totally jealous! But also encouraged that I don’t need to take forever to really make improvements in my calligraphy attempt.

    Thank you for your basic tutorial here! “Same old boring strokes” always make for excellent outputs. ❤️

  5. This would’ve been what I would’ve wanted for the future as blog post! I have been struggling with EXACTLY where to start what NIB to by and holder and inks and all the examples and practice sheets! YEEESSSS! Thank you for the information and the giveaway.

  6. I really like your calligraphy tips! It’s something I’ve been working on for a really long time. I’d love to see watercolor tips though. I’m quite bad at using it. XD

  7. First of all, I love this post! You make it look so easy!

    I would love to see more watercolor tutorials. I know you have a bunch but I would love to go deeper 🙂

  8. I like your watercolor and calligraphy lessons! If I could chose more tutorials, I would like to see more video on both of them!

  9. I would love to see or have a lesson on transferring a calligraphy document to be able to print cards. I would like to design & print my own holiday cads next year. I’m okay w creating a design, but what are the steps after that? How do you duplicate the design… Is there a program… Or do you take it to a printer?

  10. Thanks for the calligraphy tips and basics, they always come in handy for me! I’ve been self teaching for about a year now and I love it, though at times it is a test of patience– it’s worth it! I also follow and read Lindsey at TPK, everything she posts is inspiring, and I love getting your blog emails just as much!

    It would be fun to see an art tutorial on working with negative space (ie leaving the white of the paper in a watercolor piece)

    ?

  11. I would love to see a tutorial on layouts and spacing as I struggle with that when I write long quotes and so on. I’m just starting out and I never know how to make it look more cohesive. I know there’s no fixed formula as there are endless possibilities but some tips would be lovely.

  12. Great post! It’s hard to condense all that information into one thoughtful message. I love the Amy style calligraphy by TPK, and would absolutely love to get my hands on the Kaitlin style, too.

  13. Thank you so much for the helpful tips and opportunity for the giveaway!
    Hoping to learn calligraphy soon! I’ve always wanted to learn; since about year 3 and have never known where to begin!

  14. Your blog is always inspiring and it is beginner-friendly! I love the way you convey the tutorials. It is simple and easy understand yet resourceful. I remember when I decided to start my calligraphy journey on September last year and could not find a blog or tutorial that is helpful for me, I get frustrated. The presence of the blog like yours will definitely a good news and great motivation for most of the beginners! *love* *love*

  15. I would love more on brush lettering. I’m just getting started, and have yet to explore your site. It looks fantastic! Thank you <3

  16. All this while I have been trying my hands on brush lettering and faux calligraphy. Just ordered my first nikko G nib, ink and General cork holder as referred in your blog.. Totally looking forward to use them as soon as they arrive. Thanks for this inspiring article

  17. I agree with everything you have to say, except for the Blue Pumpkin. I have never been able to love that nib, though it is such a well recommended one! The ef66 is my favourite too.Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

  18. This is my first visit to your website, but I’ve been following on Instagram for a while. I love modern calligraphy and brush script, and anything watercolor. I’ll be back to visit often!

  19. Beginner tutorials like this one would be great; I used to do calligraphy years ago but never learned “formally” – just by trial and error and I have so much to learn.

  20. I like your instructions and photos of all of the instructions you provide.
    More watercolour techniques would be good. Need to practice more of everything

    Thanks

  21. I’m really interested in mail art. I love what she does on The Postman’s Knock, but it looks really complicated. Maybe some simple envelope art/addressing ideas?

  22. I would love to see more watercolor arts then the written words are in calligraphy. I’ve always wanted to incorporate the two. The final results are just so nice! 🙂

  23. I always thought it was a bad thing that my mother made me write down what I did wrong like 500 times…
    But I try to see it as handwriting practice and I often get compliments on my handwriting. I still really love to write and I’d like to look more into calligraphy so I hope to find more tutorials in the future.

    🙂

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