Calligraphy encompasses numerous styles of writing and calligraphers use a bunch of specialized tools and pens to craft the beautiful artistic scripts they are known for. If you are just getting started in the calligraphy world, then finding the right set of pens, ink, and other tools can be hard. First of all, calligraphy is not as popular as some other forms of recreation so info may be harder to find. Second, “calligraphy” is a broad term that encompasses many different styles of writing, and the calligraphy tools you want depends on the kind of script you want to write.
Read on to figure out our picks for the 7 best calligraphy sets for beginners. Their sets have everything you need to get started as a new calligraphist, including pens, ink, and tips.
Quick Overview: Top 7 Best Calligraphy Sets for Beginners
|ASXMA New Model Wooden Calligraphy Pen Set|
|Daveliou 17-Piece Calligraphy Pen Set|
|AIVN 17-piece Calligraphy Set|
|The Lettering Tribe Calligraphy Set|
|GC Quil MU-02 Calligraphy Pen Set|
|Pablo Calligraphy Pen Set|
|Mont Marte Calligraphy Set|
7 Best Calligraphy Sets for Beginners – Review
1. ASXMA New Model Wooden Calligraphy Pen Set – Best Value Calligraphy Set
Let’s start this list with a solid entry. The ASXMA calligraphy pen set comes with everything a handwriting aficionado needs to get started, including a solid wood calligraphy pen, 11 different pen nibs for different sized lettering, a vintage pen holder, and 4 vials of blue, green, black, and purple ink. Each pen tip is made from treated stainless steel which will not rust or corrode and the pen itself is made from a single solid block of wood so it is sturdy and light at the same time.
So starting with the obvious, the ASXMA is extremely affordable and has a great price to quality ratio. The ASMXA makes a great gift for anyone interested in calligraphy, whether they are a beginner or seasoned expert. The pen construction is very solid and the pen tips combined with the ink give you an effortless stroke that glides across the page easily. The different colored inks are non-toxic, long-lasting, and fade resistant and the tips can easily be switched out by simply pulling them off and snapping another one on. Best of all, this kit comes with a 100% money-back guarantee. If you have any problems at all or are just not satisfied, you can call the manufacturers and they will offer a full refund or replacement, your choice.
2. Daveliou 17-Piece Calligraphy Pen Set – Best Overall Calligraphy Kit
Let’s talk about options! The Daveliou comes with 17 different pieces including 2 pens, 4 inks (black, purple, green, and silver) and 12 different pen nibs for different fonts and handwriting styles. Each nib is balanced to allow the pen to glide across the page and the 12 different attachments give you a wide range of possible writing styles. One of the pens is made out of a single solid piece of wood while the other is made out of straight cast glass. The Davelious is a great calligraphy gift set for beginners and experts alike and is perfect for invitations, cards, letters, and more.
The Daveliou 17-piece set is a great beginner set because it comes with 12 different nib attachments and a handy pamphlet calligraphy guide so you can get started. Each ink is non-toxic, long-lasting, and will not fade and it even comes with a nifty pen holder that keeps the tip elevated when not in use so the ink does not get over your work station. Even better, the manufacturer offers a 1-year money-back guarantee. You can send the set back if you have any problems or are just not impressed.
3. AIVN 17-piece Calligraphy Set – Best Calligraphy Set For Gifting
First things first, the AIVN 17-piece Calligraphy set comes in a fancy felt-lined box that makes it a perfect gift plus carrying case. With a solid wooden pen 12 different pen nibs, 2 different bottled inks and a beginner instruction set make this one a perfect gift for beginner calligraphists.
Design and Materials
The AIVN features a solid wooden pen hand-carved out of a supple rosewood and each pen nib is made from corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Each nib fastens to the pen via a pewter fastening rig that offers extra stability and smooth pen strokes. The elegant black gift box is a nice touch and doubles as a display and carrying case. So not only does the AIVN work well, but it also looks great displayed on your desk in your study. Each nib holds a sizable amount of ink and the nib attachment is standard so you can use attachments from other calligraphy sets. Even better, the AIVN is extremely affordable at just under $23.
The sole downside to this one is the ink selection. Unfortunately, the AIVN only comes with two different shades of black ink instead of multiple colors. While this is not a huge deal if you are more interested in classic calligraphy, the lack of colors may be a deal-breaker for those who want to try more experimental calligraphy styles.
4. The Lettering Tribe Calligraphy Set – Best Calligraphy Set for Letters
Let’s start with the basics. The Lettering Tribe comes with 2 calligraphy pens, 2 bottles of ink, 5 extra nib attachments, an instruction booklet, and a magnetic gift box. The set also comes with a tracing pad for learning new techniques and letterings and an online calligraphy box you can access using the QR code included with the gift set.
Each nib is built so you can control the ink flow by tilting the pen. If you need a thicker line, hold the pen more vertical and if you need a finer line hold it more to the horizontal. Applying the right amount of ink is a tricky thing for beginners to learn so these nibs really help on that front. One of the calligraphy pens is made from a hand-carved rosewood while the other is made from a light composite material. The unique feature of this set is that it comes with a tracing pad that helps beginners learn the different strokes and techniques for lettering. The physical and online booklets give you access to hundreds of exercises covering upper/lowercase letters and project ideas.
Unfortunately, the Lettering Tribe calligraphy set only comes with 2 vials of black ink so it’s a bit limited on color selection. This set also only comes with 5 attachment nibs, which is relatively few for a starter calligraphy set. However, the extra instructional materials make up for this lack of selection.
5. GC Quil MU-02 Calligraphy Pen Set – Best Color Selection
The thing that sets the GC Quill apart from its competitors is the large ink color selection. This calligraphy set comes with 5 different colored inks including red, yellow, black, purple, and green, so you can do both classic black and white calligraphy or more experimental colored designs. The set also comes with 1 glass pen, 1 hand-crafted rosewood pen, and 6 extra attachment nibs for drawing lines of different thickness. Each nib offers a very smooth drawing experience which makes the GC Quoll a great set for beginners to learn the ins and outs of calligraphy.
The GC Quill also comes in a stylish antique-inspired carrying case/display box featuring an old French world map that looks equally well on your desk or bookshelf. It is a perfect gift for any friends who like to collect vintage trinkets. And of course, the GC Quill comes with a 100% money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free and get your money back if you are not completely satisfied.
The only potential drawback with this option is the relatively limited nib selection. The GC Quill comes with more ink color selections that a lot of other kits, though some of the color quality is lacking, particularly in the yellow and green inks. However, the bottom line is that this is a great calligraphy set for beginners.
6. Pablo Calligraphy Pen Set – Best Budget Calligraphy Set
If you need a good set of calligraphy tools but don’t want to spend a lot of money on a fancy kit, then you might be interested in the Pablo calligraphy set. At only $20, the Pablo manages to be both extremely affordable and a good mid-quality set of calligraphy tools.
The Pablo comes with 3 different calligraphy pens, each made from a durable composite material. Unlike other sets, the Pablo does not come with separate ink wells that you dip the pen in. Instead, it comes with preloaded ink cartridges you insert into the top of the pen so you don’t have to worry about slopping ink all over the place or excessive blotting. The set comes with 12-water based ink cartridges in black, blue, red and green. It also comes with a refillable ink converter so you can use your own ink. Included with your purchase is a beginner’s guide to calligraphy that has exercises and project ideas.
As it is so affordable, the materials are not the greatest quality. The pens are made out of a slightly tacky-feeling plastic and it only has 3 different size nibs that you cannot detach from the pens. However, this drawback is compensated for by how easy it is to use the Pablo calligraphy pens. So while the materials are not top-quality, it is very easy to use and make a great entry-level set for the calligraphist on a budget.
7. Mont Marte Calligraphy Set – Most Versatile Calligraphy Set
The main draw of the Mont Marte calligraphy set is how versatile it is. The Mont Marte comes with 33 different attachments (you read you read that correctly), 4 calligraphy pens, 20 ink cartridges in 7 different colors (green, brown, pink, orange, yellow, black, and blue), an instruction booklet with letter-by-letter instructions, and a workbook full of calligraphy exercises.
Like the Pablo, the Mont Marte calligraphy set does not come with separate ink wells but preloaded cartridges you insert directly into the pen. While this is a good mechanism for beginners learning how to write, more experienced calligraphists may find this a turn off. The 7 different colors offer a lot of flexibility in style and with over 33 nib attachments you can always find the line thickness you need. It also comes in a sturdy metal carrying box
The only drawback to the Monte Marte is the preloaded ink cartridges. While they are super useful for beginners, they tend to dry and clog if not cleaned regularly. Some users report that the nibs are a bit inflexible as well.
Buyer’s Guide & FAQ
Parts of a Calligraphy Pen
Calligraphy pens have three main parts; the pen itself, the nib, and inkwells. The pen is the main body that you hold to which you attach the nibs. Most higher-quality calligraphy pens are made of glass or wood, like rosewood or mahogany.
The nib is the small metal attachment on the end of the pen. The nib is what determines the shape and slant of the lines you draw. Most calligraphy pens have detachable nibs so you can change the angle and size of the lines you draw.
Lastly, is the ink. Calligraphy ink is usually either water-based or acrylic-based. Water-based inks are easy to apply but tend to bleed. Acrylic inks are more expensive and make better-defined lines, but it is harder to work with and can be overapplied very easily.
With classic style calligraphy pens, you dip the nib into the ink and then start writing. This method means you have to periodically reapply ink to the nib. Some newer calligraphy pens come with preloaded ink cartridges like a common pen so you don’t have to reapply ink between stokes. While these kinds of preloaded pens are easier to use, they lack the elegant quality hand-dipped pens have.
How Do Calligraphy Pens Work?
Calligraphy pens work using a simple pressure mechanism. When you apply pressure to the end of the nib, separating the tines on the end. This separation allows the ink to flow down the nib creating even ink strokes. The harder you push, the more ink is deposited so the thicker the lines. So proper calligraphy involves changing pen pressure through the strokes to have dynamic lettering that changes thickness.
What to Look for When Buying a Calligraphy Pen Set
Before buying, make sure you consider the following features of calligraphy pen sets.
As we said earlier, calligraphy pens come in two main styles: dip pens and cartridge filled pens. Dip pens are the “classic” option while cartridge pens are a newer invention. The benefit of dip pens is that you can use any kind of ink and don’t have to worry about leaky cartridges while storing your pen. Dip pens can be much messier to use and can blot if you are not careful.
Cartridge filled pens, on the other hand, are easy to use and let you control the amount of ink. The downside is that you cannot use any kind of ink you want and some pens will only take specific cartridges.
If you have never done calligraphy before, you might want to start with a cartridge pen set simply because that is easier to use. As you get more experienced, consider transitioning to a dip pen set.
Calligraphy nibs come in two main types: italic and flex nibs. Flex nibs are the traditional nib and are separated into two leaves called tines. Applying pressure opens up the tines which deposit an amount of ink proportional to the pressure. Italic nibs are more rigid and don’t have tines. These nibs apply ink via the side which makes them good for angular fonts like italics and Gothic styles. Italic nibs are also pressure-sensitive, but not to the same degree as flex nibs.
The kind of nib you choose depends on the style of lettering you want. If you want more dynamic flowing lettering, consider a flex nib. If you want to do more modest and angular fonts, try an italic nib.
Many calligraphy pen guides overlook the importance of the grip. Calligraphy is a detailed and intensive process that requires long hours of working, so a bad grip can leave your hands feeling tired. A good grip is ergonomic and also makes your writing more precise. The right grip depends on the size of your hands so there is no hard-and-fast rule for choosing a grip.
Depending on the kind of calligraphy you want to do, you may want to consider getting a brush pen. Brush pens are basically a calligraphy pen with a flexible marker end that applies ink in response to pressure. Brush pens are good for getting elegant strokes that may be hard to mimic with a rigid tip. For example, Chinese calligraphy is often performed with brush pens to capture the elegant strokes of Chinese characters.
Should I get a dip pen or cartridge pen?
- It depends on how experienced you are with calligraphy. If you are just getting started, consider trying a cartridge pen as those are easier to get started on. When you get more experience transition to a dip pen.
How many extra nibs should I get?
- Again, the amount of nibs depends on your experience. If you are just starting out, you should not need more than 5 extra nib attachments, although there is nothing wrong with getting more.
How can I practice calligraphy?
- There is no better practice than actually doing! In addition to regular practice, many calligraphy pen sets come with instruction manuals and practice workbooks so you can hone your skills. There are also plenty of internet resources you can use to learn.
Calligraphy is a wonderful way for a person to combine their passions for art and writing and calligraphy sets make a great gift for the creative minded, young and old. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced calligrapher, this list of best calligraphy sets for beginners makes a nice jumping-off point for getting into the world of beautiful penmanship.