The Ultimate List of Supplies
For Modern Brush Calligraphy & Lettering
This is the ultimate list for creatives like you to find all the supplies you need for brush calligraphy and lettering.
There is such a massive choice available lately and it can be a littel overwhelming so I want to go through each option thorougly so that you canmake the right decisions and not waist your money.
Please note – This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, but please know that I do not link to anything that I don’t personally recommend. If you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a cent more!
Differences Brush Calligraphy & Lettering
First I want to quickly mention the difference between brush calligraphy & lettering, because different pens work better with the different styles. Once you know what styles you want to try out, then you will know what pens suit your needs better.
“Calligraphy” is the art of writing beautiful letters. “Lettering” is the art of drawing, sketching & creating beautiful letters. I see these terms interchanged a lot but they mean totally different things.
Traditionally, calligraphy was created with dip pens and ink. Lately it has morphed into a modern approach which uses brush pens to create the same effect that dip pens create.
The style of writing in calligraphy has changed as well. Modern brush calligraphers often use brush pens while they create their own style of writing, instead of sticking to the structured style of copperplate or spencerian calligraphy.
Often, people who start with calligraphy end up enjoying lettering, and the terms become interchanged and swapped around.
Lettering art can often start with writing the word as in brush calligraphy, but then embellishments and effects such as decorations and shadows are added after the word is written, which leans into lettering.
What To Look For In A Brush Pen
There are so many brush pens on the markets and they are all so different. They all have a somewhat flexible nib (which is why they are brush pens) but they also differ in so many ways. When looking for a new brush pen there are a few characteristics that you may need to consider. These are:
1 – Size Of The Nib
If you are looking at creating big and bold brush calligraphy art or lettering then you might need to look at the larger brush pens.
If you want to create small and delicate calligraphy that looks elegant and traditional (as though it’s done with a dip pen and ink) then there are also pens that are perfect for you, with fine, dainty and firm nibs.
You can get brush pens from extra fine nibs, right up to extra large. It all depends on your style.
2 – Firmness of the Nib (elasticity)
I hear a lot of people say that a firm nib is great for beginners in brush calligraphy because it’s easier to control. I totally agree with this except there are ones I have come across that might be a little too firm, where muscle is needed to create thicker lines.
There are also really elastic, soft nibs which can be difficult to use for beginners but are great for certain styles of calligraphy and lettering.
3 – How Juicy The Pen Is (ink flow)
I love seeing ink flow out of pens and I also love it when I find a juicy pen. I love when pens have a heavy flowing ink and it glistens in the light.
There are also some fantastic pens that have minimal flow, which is also great because it means it dries quick and reduces the risk of smudges. These pens are often favoured by lefties and beginners.
4 – Colour choices
Do you prefer modern brush calligraphy that’s mostly in black? Bright bold lettering that’s colourful? Soft pastel creations or bold saturated vibrant art? Every brand has different colour options and it will depend on your style with what you decide to go with.
Tombow Dual Brush Pen (ABT)
Nib Size: They have a large nib, which is great for medium to large brush calligraphy and lettering pieces. Even better news, they are DUAL tipped so on the other end you get a small firm bullet nib so that you can add the embellishments and details with the same colour.
Nib Firmness: The nib isn’t too firm, it is about a medium. They are great for beginners but you will definitely need to learn how to take care of them first because they fray really easily.
Nib Juiciness: The ink flows relatively well, but not too “smudge quick” juicy which is another reason why it’s a favourite. The ink is waterbased and there’s enough juice to make it really easy to blend with other waterbased markers.
Colours: Tombow has delivered: there’s a whopping 108 colours (last time I checked, but I woudn’t be surprised if there’s more now, they seem to pump them out!) so there’s something for everyone. You can buy them individually or in coloured packs which is great as a present idea for a fellow letterer.
Ecoline Brush Pen
Again, this is a really popular pen for large scale lettering and brush calligraphy. It’s GORGEOUS.
Nib Size: They have a relatively large nib, which is great for medium to large brush calligraphy and lettering pieces. This is similar in comparison to the Tombow Dual Brush Pen, but it differs in it’s firmness.
Nib Firmness: The Ecoline brush pen has a relatively soft nib, which isn’t the best for beginners because it makes it harder to get consistent medium sized strokes.
Nib Juiciness: This is a very juicy pen – a cool ombre look is created with the juiciness which is beautiful.
Colours: Not as many as the Dual Brush Pens, but they still have a massive 60 colours to choose from.
Karin Brush Markers
These seem to be a favourite amongst many. They are wonderful to use and really great when it comes to blending, but they are a little on the expensive side. Worthy investment if you are going down the watercolour/lettering look though.
Nib Size: These pens have a large nib, similar to the Tombow Dual Brush Pens as well as the Ecoline pens.
Nib Firmness: The nibs are medium to soft. An absolute beginner looking to do brush calligraphy would have a learning curve to tackle with these pens and make smooth transitions between strokes. Don’t let that put you off though, because you can get used to it very quickly and learn to create some beautiful, bold and vibrant strokes.
Nib Juiciness: This is another very juicy pen. It is great for blending colours with other Karin Brush Markers using a water brush. Technically, they call it “liquid ink” technology, advertising it as paint that keeps its juiciness and saturation until the last drop, which is fantastic.
You just may need a thicker paper if you’re wanting to add layers of colours and blending, because of how juicy this pen is. Opt for a soft (hot pressed) watercolour paper (see below for some recommendations).
Colours: 60 beautiful colours to choose from.
Sakura Gelly Roll
If you’re looking for gel pens that really show up on darker colours, you can’t go past these pens. They are very popular in adding highlights and embellishments to hand lettering and they would be a valued addition to your collection. I recommend getting a couple of whites in different tip sizes if you want to experiment in bubble lettering, shadows and highlights, etc.
Sakura Pigma Micron
Sakura also seem to be the winners in black fineliners. These Micron pens don’t seem to bleed through (even through thin bible pages) and give a beautiful sharp line. They come in many different thicknesses and are popular amongst graphic designers, letterers and artists.
In regards to saving money, I definitely recommend getting a pack online instead of buying them individually.
Full Pack (includes assorted thicknesses, 1x white gelly roll, graphic marker and a brush pen) – great for those starting out and want to build their collection
Pental Aquash Water Brush
This is a must have to go with the bigger brush pens if you are looking to blend colours together. You can either buy a blender marker which is clear, or you can use these water brushes, both blend the ink in a different way.
The water based ink in all of these pens act like watercolour pants so you can blend them beautifully using a waterbrush.
Pentel have these brushes which I have used regularly. They are really easy to use and come in different tip sizes which suits just about every size of lettering.
Marvy Uchida LePen Flex
This isn’t as well known as some of the other pens listed, but it’s one of my favourite when it comes to small and dainty brush calligraphy.
Nib Size: These are really small nibs, perfect for the more precise calligraphy work.
Nib Firmness: The nibs are around medium to soft, yet it doesn’t take too long to get used to them, so they are still great for beginners.
Nib Juiciness: They have a medium ink flow – not enough to smudge, and they are quick drying.
Colours: The colours are vivid and saturated, and they come in 18 different beautiful colours.
(Hard, Soft & Colours)
Nib Size: The hard, soft and coloured pens of the tombow fudenosuke range all have small nibs.
Nib Firmness: Here’s the best part: You get a choice. The hard nib in black has a firmer nib which beginners love, and the colours from this range also all come in the hard nib. These have the navy blue body.
There’s also one that’s called the “soft” nib (in the black bodied pen) but it’s not as soft as a lot of the other brush pens on this list. It’s still a great pen for beginner lettering and brush calligraphy.
Nib Juiciness: These pens aren’t super juicy. They don’t smudge and they dry quick.
Colours: They come in black for the soft tip as well as black in the hard nib. There are standard 9 colours which aren’t really vivid or saturated. However they have also come out with some neon colours which is exciting.
Hard nibs for the black and colours, and a soft nib is available for the black also. They all have a small nib, aren’t super juicy, and have basic colours and neon colours available.
(Exta Fine & Fine Nib)
This pen makes me really happy. It was a relatively recent discovery and since I love dainty little calligraphy lines I adore this one, especially the extra fine nib.
Nib Size: These pens have an extra small nib, but they come in “Fine” and “Extra Fine”. They are a little smaller than the Marvy Uchida (or perhaps a little smalelr) but since there’s a difference in firmness, there’s a difference in stroke size.
Nib Firmness: The “Extra Fine” nib (with the white body) is quite firm and I find it easier to use than the “Fine” nib (which has the black lid).
The “Fine” nib is softer and creates bigger strokes.
Nib Juiciness: These pens are juicy and glisten in the sun until they dry, which takes a little longer than some of the other brush markers on this list. So they may need a smudge warning, and extra time to dry.
Colours: So far I have found they only come in black.
Pentel Brush Sign Pens
These pens are fantastic for beginners, they are small but easy to use and come in some beautiful, vibrant colours.
Nib Size: Small nibs, similar to the Tombow Fudenosuke.
Nib Firmness: These small nibs are relatively soft but because they are so small, they are also very easy to control so still great for those just starting out.
Nib Juiciness: These pens have good ink flow but they are also very fast drying.
Colours: 24 Colours available. They are saturated (more so than the Tombow Fudenosuke pens) and vibrant colours.
Pilot Fude Makase Brush Pen
These pens are great to use for the extra delicate work.
Nib Size: These are very small nibs.
Nib Firmness: These small nibs are around the medium range, which makes them lovely to use. They are a great beginner brush pen for those who want the dainty look.
Nib Juiciness: They do seem juicy but you may only need a smudge warning when using them on non-absorbent paper.
Colours: They come in 7 different colours & black.
Paper and Other Tools for Brush Calligraphy & Lettering
Time to get into the other important things that would be a great addition to your brush calligraphy and lettering supplies: paper, pencils, & rulers.
Sketching lettering is really important because it stops you from jumping in too early with ink and regretting the choices you make. I definitely recommend a 2H pencil to start with, I have always found that they erase fairly easily without showing smudge marks. These are great for planning your hand lettering but also for sketching out brush calligraphy and flourishes as well.
Having a full set of pencils with different darknesses like these ones from Kasimir will definitely help with lettering, shadows, sketching and more.
If you are going to spend time creating guidelines to practice on, it helps to have a rolling ruler. It glides around the pages and helps making guidelines juuust that much easier.
If you would like to have a ready-made baseline on all of your work without sketching it up each time, a laser level will be perfect for you. Great for addressing envelopes, large scale lettering and more.
If you are going to be creating lettering by blending some of the larger, juicy pens together (like the Karin Brush Markers, or the Ecoline Brush Pens) then I recommend getting watercolour paper that can handle the weight of the layered inks. You definitely also want to make sure it’s smooth (hot pressed) paper to extend the time before your brush pens begin to fray. Arches hot pressed watercolour is great for this.
If you are focused on brush calligraphy, or you are wanting to letter smoothly without your pens fraying, then definitely grab some marker paper. It’s harder to blend with this paper but it’s super silky and smooth, and your pens will glide over the paper with ease. Great for brush calligraphers.
To get the most out of online resources and pdf worksheets then you will need good quality printer paper that’s smooth enough to handle brush pens. If you use regular cheap printer paper then you should expect bleeding from the pen as well as fraying.
Worksheets & PDF’s
So I can’t go past this “supplies list” without telling you to get your hands on some downloadable worksheets to trace, especially if you are just starting out.
If you don’t already know, there’s a resource library attached to the website here and you can sign up to get access to the password and all of the downloadable calligraphy worksheets for free.
If you are already part of the family you can head to the resource library here and enter in the password from your emails.
Otherwise, sign up here:
Sign Up For The Resources
And that’s it guys! I hope this list helps you, if you have any ideas you think would be a great addition to this list make sure you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, keep creating!
Ecoline Brush Pens
Pilot Fude Makase
Pentel Sign Brush Pens
6 Pack, Pastel Colours
Sakura Gelly Roll
Pentel Aquash Water Brush
Linux Rolling Ruler
Arches hot pressed watercolour
Canson Marker Paper
HP 32lb Laserjet Printer Paper (USA)