Best Calligraphy Pens, Brushes, Supplies in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Jan 17, 2022 

In this article, I will talk a little about calligraphy and then describe the different tools calligraphers use, and then offer a list of the best products you can get – not just calligraphy pens and brushes, but some of the finest inks and papers as well.

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If you want to cut right to the chase, here is a list of my top recommendations for the best calligraphy pens and brushes on the market today:

My Picks for Calligraphy Pens (Premium, Budget, Dip Pens) in 2022

  1. Kuretake Writing Box Set
  2. Kuretake Writing Box Set

    My Favorite Calligraphy Pen / Best Calligraphy Pen Gift

    Southern Sky (different motifs available)


    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Real Marker Pen 48 Color Set
  4. Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Real Marker Pen 48 Color Set

    Best Premium Calligraphy Pen Sets

    Real Brush Marker, Flexible Brush Tips, Watercolor Pens for Painting, Drawing, Calligraphy and Brush Lettering for Artists and Beginner Painters


    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. Sakura Pigma Micron Pigment Liners Pen Set (Black Ink)
  6. Sakura Pigma Micron Pigment Liners Pen Set (Black Ink)

    Best Budget Calligraphy Pen Sets

    Micron Blister Card Ink Pen Set, Black, Set of 8


    Buy Now on Amazon
  7. Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Real Brush Marker 24 Color Set
  8. Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Real Brush Marker 24 Color Set

    Best Budget Calligraphy Pen Sets

    24 Colors with Flexible Brush Tips, Watercolor Pens for Painting, Drawing, Calligraphy and Brush Lettering for Artists and Beginner Painters


    Buy Now on Amazon
  9. UBEART Glass Dip Pen Set
  10. UBEART Glass Dip Pen Set

    Best Dip Pens for Calligraphy

    28 Pieces Calligraphy Set Includes 24 Color Inks; Cleaning Cup; Pen Holder; 2 Crystal Glass Pens


    Buy Now on Amazon
  11. Daveliou Complete 20 Piece Calligraphy Set
  12. Daveliou Complete 20 Piece Calligraphy Set

    Best Dip Pens for Calligraphy

    Includes Pens, Inks, Nibs, & Case


    Buy Now on Amazon

My Picks for Calligraphy Brushes

  1. Artecho Chinese Calligraphy Brushes
  2. Artecho Chinese Calligraphy Brushes

    Best Calligraphy Brushes

    Calligraphy Sumi Brush, Chinese Brushes Set 10 Pcs for Beginners


    Buy Now on Amazon

My Picks for Calligraphy Paper

  1. Borden & Riley #234 Paris Paper for Pens 108 lb 40 White Sheets
  2. Borden & Riley #234 Paris Paper for Pens 108 lb 40 White Sheets

    Best Paper for Calligraphy

    Pad, 19" x 24", 108 lb, 40 White Sheets


    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. Easyou Meiyutang Traditional Handmade Lianshi Bamboo Xuan Paper
  4. Easyou Meiyutang Traditional Handmade Lianshi Bamboo Xuan Paper

    Best Calligraphy Paper

    Xuan(Shuan/Rice) Paper for Book Print; Calligraphy; Painting; Natural Half Ripe 100Sheets/Pack


    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. Strathmore STR- 50 Sheet Calligraphy Pad
  6. Strathmore STR- 50 Sheet Calligraphy Pad

    Best Paper for Calligraphy

    8.5 by 11", Tape Bound

    Buy Now on Amazon

My Picks for Calligraphy Inks

  1. Kuretake SAIBOKU SHIMBI
  2. Kuretake SAIBOKU SHIMBI

    Best Calligraphy Inks

    12 Colors and 2 Black Sumi Ink Stick Set, Japanese Traditional Calligraphy and Painting, Professional Quality, for Lettering, Drawing, Signature


    Buy Now on Amazon

Table of Contents

It might be said that calligraphy as an art form is almost as old as writing itself. As long as people have been putting their thoughts down on paper, they have tried to make both the words, and the letters used to write out those words, more beautiful. And so calligraphy has been a part of every ancient culture, from Asia to Europe to the New World, and it continues to be a lovely living tradition to this day.

In fact, calligraphy has become quite popular of late, and so I thought it would be a great idea to write an article about this fun and rewarding art form, in the form of a buyer’s guide to the best calligraphy pens, brushes and supplies you can get.

I will try to answer the following questions:

What is Calligraphy?

Calligraphy is the art of making lettering beautiful. 

The calligrapher will use tools, such as a pen or brush, ink and paper, to form attractive letters and arrange them on a page in an aesthetically pleasing way. While a similar effect can be achieved on a computer, calligraphy is really the process of doing this by hand.

Calligraphy may involve certain accepted character sets (we might today say “fonts”), which have already been drawn out and defined, and often used basically unchanged for hundreds of years, and it may also reflect certain other cultural and even spiritual traditions and practices involving, among other things, the alignment and spacing of the characters, the spacing of lines, the distribution on a page, positive and negative space, inclusion of other graphic elements and a lot more.

In many ways tradition meets innovation in calligraphy.

For example, the standard, time honored characters in classic calligraphy often work beautifully with modern designs and layouts. And while calligraphy is often considered as a purely black-ink kind of affair, there is no reason why we can’t add a splash of color!

But mostly calligraphy is, again, writing in the most beautiful, flowing and graceful script – whether it be simple or complex, gothic or modern, Asian, Western or New Normal Cosmopolitan.

What Do You Need for Calligraphy?

Calligraphy needs very little to happen. The basic list is:

Really that’s it. We will talk about some great paper and inks when they come up in the calligraphy buyer’s guide below, but for now let’s talk briefly about the different kinds of writing instruments you can use for calligraphy.

Basically there are three different kinds of tools associated with the art of calligraphy:

Modern Calligraphy Pens (Brush Pens)

Calligraphy has traditionally been practiced using a set of dip pens with a wide variety of nibs for different weights and thicknesses of lines, or with an ink brush.

These days, though, it is far more common – and far easier – to get a set of multiliner type pens – that is, markers with tips ranging from very, very small to, well, still pretty small, but wide enough for more bold calligraphy strokes. The best multiliners will also include at least one brush pen for thicker lines and added expressivity.

And for color calligraphy and brush lettering, the best choice these days (or really for quite some time) is a good set of brush pens – also sometimes called Fude brush pens (Fude is the brush traditionally used in Japanese calligraphy)  – which allow for a complete range of width, weight and expressivity and can make both Eastern and Western calligraphy techniques surprisingly easy.

Dip Pens

Though often similar in appearance, the dip pens are a bit different than normal fountain pens in a couple of regards. This is more what we think of when we see Shakespeare or Dickens scratching out drafts, or even Beethoven dropping ink dots onto score paper, repeatedly dipping their quill into the leaded glass ink reservoir and squinting by candlelight.

The dip pen does not have built-in ink cartridges or ink reservoir, so you need a bottle of ink to feed the nib, and have to dip regularly. Most calligraphy sets have a variety of nib sizes, and types of nib holder, but there are also glass pens, which allow for an amazingly wide range of techniques with a single hard glass ink tip. 

Calligraphers use the dip pens in two calligraphy styles: a straight style and and oblique style, for which you need an oblique calligraphy pen. The oblique calligraphy pen allows you to use even pressure on both sides of the nib.

Calligraphy Brushes

If multiliners are new school and the dip pen is old school, the calligraphy brush was old school way back when the dip pen was the latest and greatest.

Normally associated with Asian lettering arts, the calligraphy brush is a specially designed (and often quite special) brush for ink which allows the calligrapher to achieve any type, weight, thickness, texture or shape of line, and make any writing character – from the most disarmingly simple to the most extraordinarily complex – with ease, spontaneity and flow, and a beauty which must be seen to be really understood.

So, if you have one or more of these basic pens or brushes, or sets of them, and you have good ink and good paper, you are on your way to becoming a great calligraphy master. When you have arrived, you can send me a gorgeous handwritten letter telling me all about the journey!

What About the Best Fountain Pens for Calligraphy?

  1. Mont Blanc Black Resin Fountain Pen by Marc Newson
  2. Mont Blanc Black Resin Fountain Pen by Marc Newson

    A simple but stunningly beautiful masterpiece from the best pen maker in the world, and (maybe) less expensive than you might think.


    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. Faber-Castell E-motion EF Fountain Pen - Pure Silver
  4. Faber-Castell E-motion EF Fountain Pen - Pure Silver

    A truly premium and compelling pen that is luxurious and perfectly finished and feels just amazing in your hand. My favorite fountain pen!

    High-quality stainless steel nib in width M (medium)

    Equipped with a cartridge/converter system


    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. Kaweco Al Sport Raw M Fountain Pen
  6. Kaweco Al Sport Raw M Fountain Pen

    Medium Nib Fountain Pen

    Pleasant, soft feeling. A really special fountain pen, with an amazing look and a perfect design for writing and drawing. Not expensive, but just lovely in every way.


    Buy Now on Amazon
  7. rOtring Fountain Pen for Calligraphy
  8. rOtring Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

    With a wider 1.1mm tip and great expressive flow, this is an incredible pen for drawing and lettering, and is quite affordable - especially considering its quality and versatility.


    Buy Now on Amazon

There is a strong conception that fountain pens are really the best tools for calligraphy, and some of the questions asked and heard most often are:

In fact, I probably hear “what is the best fountain for calligraphy” more often than the more simple question “what is the best pen for calligraphy”. 

The thing is, despite this popular association of fountain pens and calligraphy, they really aren’t ideal for the art. Don’t get me wrong – I love fountain pens, I have several of them and use them a lot – they’re just not the best choice for traditional calligraphy.

See, the normal fountain pen usually comes with a single nib, or tip, where calligraphy sets – either dip pens or multiliners – have a wide variety of tips, allowing you to make the various weights and lines of fine calligraphy characters quite easily.

And while fude pens or ink brushes let you easily go from thin to thick with a single stroke, and you can even do this with a wide nib on a dip pen (with a little practice), this is difficult, or not even possible, with the typically thin and hard nib that come with most fountain pens.

Fountain pens are, though, just fantastic for fancy, deluxe lettering and beautiful flowing script, I know, this may sound like calligraphy, and in fact by my first definition – “Calligraphy is the art of making lettering beautiful” – it is.

But what most people consider “proper” or traditional calligraphy involves established and time-honored (almost sacred) characters, or letters, with different weights and thicknesses of lines, or lines that change thickness, and the other pens I’ve listed just above are the right tools for this.

So, to be more precise, we should say that fountain pens are a great tool for “modern” or “faux” calligraphy, and they really are wonderful for delicate, beautiful handwriting.

So I would love to recommend a few of my favorites here – the best fountain pen really does have such a beautiful flow of ink, and a control and precision, that ballpoint, gel pen and rollerball types just can’t match, and I (and a lot of other people) love using them for lettering, drawing and so much more.

So, instead of

The Best Fountain Pen for Calligraphy (proper old school calligraphy, that is)

let’s say:

The Best Fountain Pens for Faux Calligraphy, Beautiful Writing and Drawing

Ok, Great, So How Can You Decide Which to Use?

So let’s set aside the fountain pen question and get back to the best tools for traditional calligraphy, and try to answer the burning question: how can you choose which calligraphy pen is best for you?

The calligraphy artists I know often have a range of tools – a set of beloved brushes, a set of basic multiliner and brush pens, and one or a few dip pens. Of course that’s not always true – some of the greatest of them have a single ancient brush or dip pen and a crusty old bottle of ink, and get pretty nervous if you even glance at either of them…

But yeah, lots of calligraphers like to have a wide range of tools on hand (I know I do!), and use different pens, brushes, paper or ink depending on the calligraphy project or inspiration. Of course we can’t all afford to have a full set of everything, in calligraphy or any other art form, so we might want to narrow it down a bit.

I tend to think that the best overall choice – for beginners and for more advanced calligraphy – is a multiliner set for black ink and a brush pen set for colored inks. I know, they aren’t as romantic or traditional as dip pens or ink brushes, but they are so versatile, and make learning and doing calligraphy much easier. And if you get the best calligraphy pen sets, they are good enough to handle even the most advanced, ornate and professional lettering.

If you are a full beginner, I recommend you get a nice set of pens (or two, if you want to practice both black ink and colored ink calligraphy) and a nice pad of paper, and that you also consider getting a good book for learning and to provide visual examples of various standard sets of beautiful letters and techniques (see my Bonus section below).

If you already have some skills and technique – at least artistically, if not at all with calligraphy – you still might want to consider learning calligraphy with some ultra-versatile multiliners. You may, though, find it a really fun and fascinating challenge to learn with a nice dip pen instead, or a really fine calligraphy brush, along with some better ink and paper.

And of course if you are an old hand at calligraphy you know all of this already, and you are probably looking to upgrade your brush or brush set, find a really special dip pen or even switch from one to the other, and want the best available, or at least the best you can possibly afford. Or you’re a stubborn old codger who learned hand lettering in some remote monastery in the Alps, and you’ve finally decided to try the best multiliners and let your freak flag fly!

Whatever the case, we’ve got you covered, and you can find the best calligraphy supplies right here.

How Can You Find the Best Calligraphy Pens, Brushes and Supplies?

I’ve put this article together to be a fairly comprehensive buyer’s guide to the best calligraphy pen sets, best dip pens, best calligraphy brushes and the best paper and ink for calligraphy.

I may not be a master calligrapher – in fact I know people who have practiced calligraphy for decades and still don’t consider themselves masters of the art – but I have tried lots and lots of calligraphy pens and brushes. I have, in fact, not only used them for calligraphy, but for drawing as well – the expressiveness of the brush tips or nibs lends itself very well to really expressive sketching, drawing and rendering.

But besides my experience, I have also called upon my friends who have invested even more time with calligraphy and the best calligraphy tools, as well as other commercial artists and lots of my colleagues, my students and my friends. I will also very selectively use Amazon reviews from verified customers in helping compile a list of the best tools and supplies for calligraphy.

And I will really narrow it down for you, offering a best choice for each of the following categories:

At the end of the article, in the Bonus section, I will mention some really great books for learning calligraphy – there is something very direct and effective about seeing calligraphy characters, and the techniques for making them, on paper as opposed to on a screen, and these are highly recommended books for learning and mastering the art.

But for now let’s get right into the 2021 buyer’s guide for the best calligraphy pens, brushes and supplies!

Best Calligraphy Pens

My Pick
Kuretake Writing Box Set

My Favorite Calligraphy Pen / Best Calligraphy Pen Gift

Southern Sky (different motifs available)


A truly traditional writing set, and one of the most touching and impressive gifts I can ever imagine giving or getting. Includes a single writing brush, a block of ink, an ink stone and an ink tray, all in a stunning presentation box. Handmade in Japan, this is as special as it gets, and everything you need to practice the ancient art of shodō (書道).

Best Pen Sets for Calligraphy

Best Premium Calligraphy Pen Sets

Black Ink

Premium
Copic Markers MLSP10A SP Multiliner Set

Best Premium Calligraphy Pen Set A



The finest multiliners on the market today, and the standard choice of top professionals all around the world, Copic multiliners have beautiful and durable tips (ranging from .03 to .7 mm, and one brush pen) and premium (refillable) ink, as well as the best, and best feeling, aluminum pen bodies. The best black ink calligraphy pen set available, and a superb art tool.

Colored Ink

Premium
Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Real Marker Pen 48 Color Set

Best Premium Calligraphy Pen Sets

Real Brush Marker, Flexible Brush Tips, Watercolor Pens for Painting, Drawing, Calligraphy and Brush Lettering for Artists and Beginner Painters


Although the Kuretake calligraphy set is actually a more sensible suggestion, I think the ZIG markers work just as well, and are available in a wider range of colors – and truly beautiful colors at that. Professional quality and superior in every way, these are the best choice on the market today for colored ink calligraphy.

Best Budget Calligraphy Pen Sets

Black Ink

Affordable
Sakura Pigma Micron Pigment Liners Pen Set (Black Ink)

Best Budget Calligraphy Pen Sets

Micron Blister Card Ink Pen Set, Black, Set of 8


While the Copic multiliners are truly better in every way, the Sakura Pigma set is the closest competitor I know, and for a tiny fraction of the money. An enormously popular set of pens for cartoon and manga artists, animators and illustrators, these are professional quality pens at a very low price, and a perfect black ink set for calligraphy.

Colored Ink

Affordable
Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Real Brush Marker 24 Color Set

Best Budget Calligraphy Pen Sets

24 Colors with Flexible Brush Tips, Watercolor Pens for Painting, Drawing, Calligraphy and Brush Lettering for Artists and Beginner Painters


I’m totally cheating here! I have found no colored pens that I think work better for calligraphy, or are nicer to use, than the Kuretake ZIG brush pens, and so they are both my premium and budget choice – only for the budget recommendation I will turn to the smaller 24 color set. No, I’m not being lazy – they’re really that good, and in my mind far superior to so many bargain sets you can find.

Best Dip Pens for Calligraphy

Best Glass Dip Pen

My Pick
UBEART Glass Dip Pen Set

Best Dip Pens for Calligraphy

28 Pieces Calligraphy Set Includes 24 Color Inks; Cleaning Cup; Pen Holder; 2 Crystal Glass Pens


Using a traditional dip pen is certainly a different kind of experience, but once you have the hang of it they can offer such amazing expressivity and flow, making both the most delicate and the most dramatic and grand gestures come alive. The UBEART set has ideally shaped tips, beautiful pen holders and a great ink selection of very high quality and vibrant inks, and is an equally perfect choice for the beginner or advanced calligrapher.

Best Nib Dip Pen

Dip Pens
Daveliou Complete 20 Piece Calligraphy Set

Best Dip Pens for Calligraphy

Includes Pens, Inks, Nibs, & Case


It should be said that there are a lot of really cheap dip pen calligraphy sets out there, and too many of them are cheap in every sense of the word. What should be a fun, refined and elevated experience quickly degrades into a frustrating and pointless practice. But for a few dollars more you can get a still ultra-affordable set of really nice dip pens, with 12 popular nibs, 2 beautiful nib holders, and 5 colors of premium ink, in the Daveliou dip pen set. A great quality product, offering incredible precision and control and, at the same time, remarkable flow and spontaneity, this set is suitable for beginners or advanced calligraphy artists, and a great value!

Best Brushes for Calligraphy

Best Premium Calligraphy Brushes

My Pick
Hmayart Classic 8 Brush Pen Set for Sumi-e Painting

Best Calligraphy Brushes

8 Brushes + 1 Bamboo Wrap


Just like with dip pens, Amazon and other sites are littered with pretty awful quality ink brushes and ink brush sets – and sometimes they are absurdly expensive!  That’s why I was so excited to find the Hmayart classic set, with 8 premium natural fiber brushes designed for Japanese Sumi-e (ink wash painting) and shodō (calligraphy). Beautiful handmade brushes that work great, and at a reasonable price.

Best Budget Calligraphy Brushes

For Beginners
Artecho Chinese Calligraphy Brushes

Best Calligraphy Brushes

Calligraphy Sumi Brush, Chinese Brushes Set 10 Pcs for Beginners


Not just a great set of ink brushes, but a complete starter set for learning and practicing calligraphy in essentially the same way it’s been done in Asia for over two thousand years. A beautiful and very useful set, and surprisingly good quality for the price.

Best Paper for Calligraphy

Best Premium Paper for Calligraphy

My Pick
Borden & Riley #234 Paris Paper for Pens 108 lb 40 White Sheets

Best Paper for Calligraphy

Pad, 19" x 24", 108 lb, 40 White Sheets


Heavy, hard and smooth, this archival paper is quite probably the best available for calligraphy, and a real favorite for professional and serious amateur pen and ink artists of all types. A bit expensive, but well worth the money, and a joy to use!

Premium
Easyou Meiyutang Traditional Handmade Lianshi Bamboo Xuan Paper

Best Calligraphy Paper

Xuan(Shuan/Rice) Paper for Book Print; Calligraphy; Painting; Natural Half Ripe 100Sheets/Pack


A superb Chinese paper for ink arts and calligraphy, the Meiyutang Lianshi paper has an ideal surface for ink and ink brushes and is soft and flexible but very strong. Made from the excellent 2008/2009 harvest of young bamboo, this is expensive paper, but the best we can get – well, actually there are finer papers, and they can cost many times more (believe it or not!), and for a 100 sheet pack of such outstanding paper this would be considered quite a value.

Best Budget Paper for Calligraphy

Strathmore STR- 50 Sheet Calligraphy Pad

Best Paper for Calligraphy

8.5 by 11", Tape Bound

A great inexpensive pad of high quality paper, great for calligraphy pens and brushes, with a smooth surface optimized for flow as well as control and precision in laying ink down. Cheap enough that you can practice and play as much as you want, but good enough that everything you write will look great.

Made in Japan, this super-affordable paper is designed for calligraphy practice, and is suitable for both ink pens and brushes. Wonderful quality in a big cheap package!

Best Ink for Calligraphy

A classic black ink for artists and calligraphers, Winsor and Newton calligraphy ink is wonderful, with a deep, vivid black finish and fantastic permanence. Usable with brushes, dip pens and fountain pens, this affordable ink is easily superior to many inks that are far more expensive.

Premium
Kuretake SAIBOKU SHIMBI

Best Calligraphy Inks

12 Colors and 2 Black Sumi Ink Stick Set, Japanese Traditional Calligraphy and Painting, Professional Quality, for Lettering, Drawing, Signature


An incredibly beautiful and compelling set of traditional Japanese ink sticks in 12 colors and two blacks, this premium high pigment ink is as good as it gets, with deep, rich colors and amazing consistency. Suitable for dip pens and brushes, and an equally beautiful and splendid choice for Western or Eastern calligraphy or ink arts, this ink set would also make a powerful and extremely thoughtful gift.

Dr. Ph. Martin inks have long been a favorite of all kinds of ink artists on all levels, and are truly great inks that are fun and rewarding to use. Their calligraphy inks are equally popular among both advanced calligraphy artists and students, and are the best full color set available for the money, with rich permanent colors and a wonderful consistency and flow.

Bonus: Best Books to Learn Calligraphy

I am a big fan of just jumping right in – getting our feet wet (or our brushes or ink nibs), experimenting, playing and having fun. I love doing this, and having my students do this, with all kinds of art and all different calligraphy styles, materials and techniques.

That said, I am also a strong advocate of learning something the correct way, and with calligraphy this is kind of important. It’s great to get some pens or brushes, some ink and nice paper, and just go for it. But at the same time, learning the correct way to use the pens, ink and paper, to form letters, to attain the correct weight, proportions, balance of positive and negative space, to understand the emotional and even symbolic values of different character sets, this all can elevate your skill and your calligraphy to a much, much higher level.

And, to me at least, the whole subject is absolutely fascinating and fun to learn!

It seems to me that there is something particularly effective, and just right, about learning calligraphy from a book – seeing the characters and the steps on paper and then replicating them on paper. Yeah, there are tons of videos and online courses, but I think having at least one excellent physical book on learning and mastering calligraphy is pretty essential.

So to close I am going to list some of my favorite books on learning the art of calligraphy – a couple of excellent and highly regarded complete primers on modern western calligraphy, and a classic text on the ancient art of Japanese Zen calligraphy.

Thanks so much for reading my latest article – Calligraphy Supplies Buyer’s Guide 2021: The Best Calligraphy Pens, Brushes and More! – and please check out my website – Art Side of Life – for more buyer’s guides, articles, tutorials, artist interviews and tons of other resources for commercial artists, fine artists, art students and beginners, crafters and anybody else exploring their own creative side.

Other articles in the arts and hobbies series:

Iva Mikles
Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, teacher, and the founder of Art Side of Life™️. I've worked as a commercial artist since 2009. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways so I’ve made it my mission to teach you everything I know, to contribute to waking up your creative genius.

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