I have several blog posts on the TPK website that teach you how to write calligraphy with a dip pen. Today, though, I want to give the spotlight to a different tool — the brush pen! I have written a general overview of brush pens before, but today I want to focus on 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 dip pen calligraphy!
What are Brush Pens?
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. I particularly love Tombow markers, and I used them for all the examples in this post. However, any marker with a flexible tip will work — I have even used a $1 package of broad tipped markers to make “Crayola” calligraphy!
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 touches the paper. With that increase of pressure, the tip should bend a bit! That will look like this:
Photos are great, but sometimes it’s helpful to watch a video in order 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. I want you to notice how the tip of the pen reacts as I vary the pressure on it!
Getting Creative with a Brush Pen
One neat thing about brush pens is you can dramatically vary your stroke widths! This effect isn’t easily achieved with most dip pen nibs, 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 casual feel to them because of the marker aspect. The package pictured below, for example, utilizes Janet Style Calligraphy to create an envelope that really stands out. This envelope only took about two minutes to make (not an exaggeration). Brush pens are low-fuss and simple to use once you get the hang of them!
Writing with brush pens is 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 pen pressure exertion. Brush pens are not a prerequisite for learning dip pen calligraphy, but they can certainly prove helpful!
Using Brush Pens on Calligraphy Worksheets
I have received a few emails from calligraphy learners asking if a person could feasibly use brush pens to work through any of the TPK Calligraphy Worksheets, which were developed for dip pens. You can, but I would use a Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen, which has a smaller tip than most brush pens! You can see in the photo below that these brush pens work great on the Janet Style worksheet, for example.
Brush Pen Calligraphy Resources
I eventually plan to have brush pen versions of all of the dip pen Learn Calligraphy worksheets available. At this point in time, I just have one brush pen worksheet, and that’s the Kaitlin Style. The main difference between the Kaitlin Style dip pen worksheet and the Kaitlin Style brush pen worksheet is the size and technique difference. Letters in the brush pen worksheet are larger to accommodate a brush pen, and the instructions and letter formation arrows were designed for a brush pen.
I also have several free resources that you can use to practice your brush pen calligraphy. These include:
- Free Basic Brush Pen Calligraphy Worksheet
- Free Brush Pen Calligraphy Worksheet: Neat Slant Edition
- Not Your Average Brush Pen Drills Sheet
If you have any questions or input about writing calligraphy with brush pens, please don’t hesitate to comment. I hope that you found this post helpful, and that you give brush pen calligraphy a try sometime! Even if you’re familiar with dip pen calligraphy, brush pens provide a nice change of pace and can render visually compelling results.
Enjoy your weekend, and thank you very much for reading!