I have written a general overview of brush pens before, but today I want to talk about using brush pens for calligraphy in particular. Flexible tips, quick-drying ink, and familiarity (since you’ve probably worked with markers before) make brush pens a wonderful candidate for not only creating modern calligraphy — but also for learning how to create modern calligraphy!
Brush pens are, essentially, markers with a tapered, super-flexible tip. This tip is responsive to pressure, which results in thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes. (For an explanation of upstrokes and downstrokes, please take a look at the cheating calligraphy tutorial.)
To make an upstroke, you won’t put much pressure on the pen, and the tip will look like this against the paper:
To make a downstroke, you’ll exert pressure on the pen such that more of the nib is touching the paper. That will look like this:
Photos are great, but sometimes it’s more helpful to be able to watch a video to grasp a concept. The following video provides a clearer explanation of how to exert pressure on the tip of a brush pen to create stroke variation. You’ll notice that the focus of the video is on the pen’s tip rather than the word I am writing; that’s because I want you to see how the tip reacts as I vary the pressure on it.
One neat thing about brush pens is you can really vary your stroke widths! This effect isn’t easily achieved with regular dip pens, and that’s something that sets brush pens apart from dip pens.
The contrast in strokes makes for eye-catching pieces that also have a bit of a casual feel to them because of the marker aspect. The mail art pictured below, for example, utilizes Kaitlin Style calligraphy and lines to render an envelope that really stands out. This envelope only took about two minutes to make (not an exaggeration); brush pens are very no-fuss, so you don’t have to wait for ink to dry, dip your nib in ink, clean the nib off, etc. like you have to do with a dip pen.
I find writing with brush pens to be a natural, frustration-free process once you figure out how to exert pressure on the tip. To show how simple writing with brush pens can be, I created a video from above showing my hand writing. As you watch it, you can take note of hand position and pressure exertion; those are two things to pay attention to when you decide to give using brush pens for calligraphy a try!
To clarify what I say in the video about brush pens being great for lefties: I know that some lefties have a tendency to touch their hand to the paper as they write, which smears ink. However, brush pen ink doesn’t smear, so it can prove a valuable learning tool in mastering pressure and letterforms without having to focus on ink getting all over the place. As far as all calligraphy learners are concerned, brush pens are an excellent way to master the art of using light pressure for upstrokes and harder pressure for downstrokes. Brush pens are not a learning necessity, but can certainly prove helpful!
On that note, I have received a few emails from learners asking if a person could feasibly use brush pens to work through any of the Learn Calligraphy for a Latté worksheets. The answer is yes! You can see in the photo below that brush pens work great on the newly-released Amy Style worksheet. They will work just as effectively on the other worksheet sets; of course, your downstrokes and upstrokes will both be a bit thicker than if you were using a dip pen, but that’s no biggie.
Now, back in April, I teamed up with Brittany at Tombow to offer a brush pen giveaway. The giveaway was so popular that we decided to do it again! July’s giveaway includes a little more than April’s did: you’ll get your choice of two sets of dual-point brush pen markers (you can browse all the sets by clicking here), which is over a $50.00 value. In addition to that, Brittany will be sending you a blending kit (so you can create art with the brush pen markers) as well as a sand eraser, which you may have seen in the 6 Ways to Correct Art & Calligraphy Errors post.
The giveaway ends at midnight on Friday, July 31st; the winner will be contacted via email and announced on the TPK Facebook on Saturday, August 1st. You may enter to win below:
As with all TPK giveaways, you are eligible to win regardless of where you live; we’ll gladly ship internationally! If you have any questions or input about writing calligraphy with brush pens, please don’t hesitate to comment. I hope you found this post helpful, and that you do give brush pen calligraphy a try sometime! Even if you’re familiar with how to work with a dip pen, brush pens provide a nice change of pace and always render visually compelling results.
Enjoy the rest of your week, and thank you very much for reading!