Who doesn’t like shiny things? I know I do. Shiny, bright, affordable…calligraphy tools are all that and more! If you’re looking to begin learning pointed pen calligraphy, it can be totally overwhelming to know what to get before you start. What do you really need?  What are the essentials? What’s a “nice-to-have”? What tools will save you time, making their financial investment 200% worth it?

I’ve put together a basic list of what I recommend as essentials to beginners – and some special things that will make you smile whenever you pull out your practice pad. I’ve provided Amazon links, but you can also find these items at Paper Ink Arts or John Neal Books, two of my favorite lettering stores. Also, if you want to pair these essentials up with an in-person class, most of these items are included as part of my Beginner Calligraphy Workshop!

Your Beginner Calligraphy Shopping List

Speedball Oblique Pen

There’s really no need to reinvent the wheel if we don’t have to, right? This basic plastic pen will be perfect for your lettering start.

speedball calligraphy pen

Speedball Oblique Pen Holder

Zebra G Nib or Nikko G Nib

My main nib. The Zebra G and I are besties from way back. I’ve switched to Nikko G recently (because of availability) and love them too! I tend to apply a lot of pressure, especially when I get tired, and this nib has held up great to my constant abuse. And, you can get them in packs of 10 really affordably! I usually change nibs a few times during a big envelope order, and I hand them out like crazy during calligraphy class, so there are a lot of 10-packs floating around my house. They’re an essential!

zebra g nib

Zebra G Nib, 10 Nibs (1 Pack)

Sumi Ink

This black ink is really great for beginners. I prefer a thicker ink flow when I’m practicing – and I’m not really sure why. It took me a bit to get used to the sumi ink brand that a lot of my peers use. I love both, but I’m going to share this one here because it’s my go-to.

sumi ink

Zig Cartoonist Highly Opaque Pen Ink, Sumi

Tracing Paper

This is the type of paper I practice on. Tracing paper has a great smoothness that will help the ink flow. It also helps you get a good sense of how much pressure will produce a good flow – and how much will result in ink globs. (If you have a Hobby Lobby near you – their Master’s Touch paper is amazing!)

tracing paper

Strathmore 11×14 Tracing Pad

Giant Post-It Notes

One key thing to know when you begin your pointed pen calligraphy career: ink lives forever. On whatever it lands on. Especially if it lands on your shirt, your carpet, or your darling wooden coffee table. I use these giant Post-It notes to both protect my work surface and to provide a spot to get excess ink off my nib before I go to write. This means I usually use more than 1. Please know that this is not a fool-proof ink protection plan! Be very, very careful as you practice if you like the color your furniture is already.

Post-it Big Pad, 11 in x 11 in

Metallic Ink

Want something special? Get yourself some gold ink as a reward for continuous calligraphy practice! I wouldn’t recommend starting with this ink, as it’s pretty thick. But if you’ve been learning for a while and need to shake up your game, I highly recommend Dr. Ph Martin’s Copperplate Gold. It’s got a lovely shine. Remember to shake it thoroughly!

Dr. Ph. Martin’s Iridescent Calligraphy Color, Copperplate Gold

Did you find this list of calligraphy essentials helpful? Let me know if you think I missed anything!

All photos by JH Photography.

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