Beginner Essentials

The items below are really all you need when it comes to getting started with calligraphy! I've listed my recommendations for newbies, with links to buy them on Amazon, John Neal Booksellers and Paper & Ink Arts. These are the best options and won't break the bank but are of a really good standard. You'll probably already have a ruler at home and some paper to play around with, but if you're serious about practicing or getting better than just “decent” results, I highly recommend at least getting some basic paper that works well with ink. Nibs are listed in a separate section below.


Reliable ol' Higgins ETernal Ink

Higgins Eternal Ink
Reliable, easy to use, great for beginners and for practice
Amazon | John Neal | Paper Ink Arts


Basic Oblique Penholder

Speedball Oblique Penholder
Perfect for beginners as it's cheap and does it's job. Doesn't work with all nibs.
Amazon | John Neal | Paper Ink Arts


Straight holder

Speedball Straight Penholder
Again, perfect for beginners but does not work with all nibs. Made of plastic.
Amazon | John Neal | Paper Ink Arts


Artists Tape (shown in Yellow)

Artists' Tape
I love bright colors like this yellow, but I've linked to standard white ones

Amazon | John Neal Paper Ink Arts


Rolling Parallel Ruler

Gliding Ruler
Perfect for measuring line height when drawing guidelines



Plastic T-square Ruler
This makes drawing guidelines so much easier! A cheap clear one is all you need.
Amazon | John Neal | Paper Ink Arts



Practice Paper
I personally like HP Bright White Inkjet for every day practice.





These are my recommended nibs for those just starting out. There's a whole world out there and other people will have other suggestions, but between these choices I think you'll be able to find something that works for you!


Brause Calligraphy Nibs

Brause Calligraphy Nibs
I personally tend to use Mitchell nibs for broad pen work but they can be too flexible for beginners. The Brause ones are a good option, as are the Speedballs of course!
John Neal | Paper & Ink Arts

Leonardt Principal Extra Fine

Leonardt Principal EF
A very popular nib, the EF might not be for absolute beginners but it writes beautifully and produces delightfully thin hairlines!
John NealPaper & Ink Arts

Hunt 56 pointed nib

Hunt 56
I like these nibs for starting out with Copperplate and pointed pen. They're not perfect (they scratch a bit!), but I find it helps me maintain proper form when practicing
John Neal | Paper & Ink Arts

Zebra G

Zebra G
The G nibs are super popular for pointed pen, and my favorite of the bunch is the Zebra G. Smooth, with fine hairlines and not as stiff as the Nikko G
John Neal | Paper & Ink Arts