The Best Ballpoint Pens for Calligraphy and Illustration

To enable your best calligraphy or illustration work, you will need a set of reliable pens. Fountain pens, which draw up ink when dipped in an inkwell and deposit pigment as you write, are a fantastic alternative or complement to fountain pens and brushes. With a large selection of nibs, dip pens offer a great level of flexibility and therefore more control over your final designs or decorative writing. Depending on their size, shape and degree of stiffness, nibs can be used to combine thick and thin up and down strokes, while fountain pens maintain a constant line width with each stroke . Breathe a little more life into your pen work with our recommendations below.

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1. Brause Writing Set

The answers to all your elegant writing needs can be found in the German-made Brause Calligraphy Kit. It comes with flexible and almost rigid writing nibs as well as a natural wood nib holder so you can create six different pens for a wide variety of strokes. Crafted from cold-rolled steel, the nibs are durable to tolerate long-term use, and each is pressed to form a precise point for smooth, satisfying writing. They also respond beautifully to pressure and hold an impressive amount of ink so you can spend less time dipping and more time drawing.

Buy: Brause writing set

2. Manuscript Pen Leonardt Copperplate and Shadow Set

If you want to practice copperplate writing – the sophisticated, centuries-old style of calligraphy originally produced by master engravers – consider this nib set from Leonardt, who have been making ballpoint pens since the 19th century. Five broad nibs are included to encourage you to get creative, from the flat Crown nib to the large rounded Steno nib that can create a range of strokes and weights. Each has a pleasing amount of flexibility to accommodate dramatic, flowing flourishes; you also get a smooth, tapered dark wood stand.

Buy: Manuscript Pen Leonardt Copperplate and Shadow Set

3. Mont Martre Calligraphy Set

This set comes with everything you need to produce a variety of lettering styles. Along with 20 ink cartridges in seven colors, you get four pens and five nibs designed for styles ranging from Roman Round Hand to Gothic. All-inclusive kits can be hit or miss, but the pens in this one are beautiful, the tips durable, and the ink vibrant and quick-drying. The pigment flows smoothly and the tips do not scratch the paper. If you are coming to calligraphy for the first time, the kit also includes an introductory book to the art form and a book with exercises for beginners.

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Buy: Mont Martre Calligraphy Set

4. Speedball Artists Pen Set

Are you more drawn to drawing? Opt for the Speedball set, which comes with nine nibs (B-style, C-style, and pen nibs) for a variety of illustration and drawing styles. All are flexible for maximum control. Also included are two plastic penholders, but easy to assemble and maintain.

Buy: Speedball Artists Pen Set

5. Handwritten Pen Modern Calligraphy Set

When practicing calligraphy, it can be difficult to keep your nib at the right angle to achieve beautiful, slanted writing. An oblique pen can help you point to the right. These pens feature a nib attachment that secures it to the pen holder so that the nib tilts a certain way when you write from a more natural position. This kit comes with the stand plus three Leonardt nibs and a bottle of black ink. The nibs are flexible, pick up a good amount of ink, and write cleanly without smudging the paper. Although the stand is made of plastic, it is sturdy and the attachment is made of metal to last.

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Buy: Modern calligraphy set with handwritten pen

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