Today I want to share 6 of my favourite, and go-to tools that I use on a regular basis for my lettering. None of the links below are affiliate, nor have I been sponsored by any of these companies or for any of these products. I just truly LOVE them, and therefore am sharing and recommending them to you today!
First up is my favourite black ink for lettering. It's smooth and glossy, and works super well with my nibs. Although it's not waterproof, it's really good for any stand alone pieces, or for preparing lettering for digitization. I keep mine in a smaller dinky dip container, because I don't want to leave a whole bottle of the ink open to the air while I'm working. Not that it gets any skin on the top of it or anything, but it does dry pretty quickly. I love using this ink for lettering on Stonehenge paper, or smooth marker paper, but mostly, on Layout Bond paper. The nibs and this ink just glide across the bond paper like ice skates on smooth fresh ice. It's wonderful.
Next up is this amazing white ink. It's so opaque, and can by watered down to work nicely with a pen or small brush, or used as is (slightly thick) for super rich white opaque applications. I used this for a whole bunch of signage at a dear friend's wedding this past fall (more on that wedding to come!). I used black foam core bristol boards, and painted on the lettering with this ink. I think it turned out great. All the lettering was super clean, didn't run, and wasn't see through at all! I will often use this ink like White Out, if necessary, to make little touch ups as needed on other pieces of work. It's also great for making highlights on watercolour paintings.
Coloured Acrylic Inks
When I need some colour in my lettering, and I want it to be nice and opaque, I go to these FW Acrylic inks. They are also my favourite paints to fingerpaint with. Yep, you read that right, fingerpaint! I love using the droppers of these inks, with nice jewelled tones and white especially, and fingerpaint backgrounds in my art journal, or on the cover of journals, or for greeting cards! The colours mix together so nicely, and also work pretty well with a nib pen! For specialized custom colours, I will turn from these, and mix up gouache to colour match instead.
When I'm mixing lettering and watercolour paint for a piece, I'll usually use this Waterproof India Ink for the lettering. When I do custom pieces, I always do the lettering before I start any painting. I don't want to have spent lots of time painting, only to mess it all up and make a spelling mistake in my lettering! So, since the lettering comes first, I always want to ensure that it's going to be waterproof, so that I don't smudge any of the words when I start to paint! The only con I have for this ink (and all waterproof inks, including the acrylics above) is that I have to be very diligent about rinsing and washing out my nib every so often. The inks will start drying onto the nib, and caking, making the nibs not work the way they are supposed to, and therefore messing up the lettering. Keep that in mind when using this, and any other waterproof inks, if you want to keep your nibs in good working order. Also, this ink is nice because it comes in two formulas. There's the Matte finish, as well as a shiny Hi-Carb formula. I tend to use the matte more, because the Hi-Carb is really shiny, and can be distracting against my watercolours.
If you've written a lot for any length of time, you'll understand about hand cramps. Now, amp that, and think about your hand cramping ten times sooner than normal. Welcome to the hand of a calligrapher. Due to the slow factor of the actual writing, plus (at least in my case) holding my pen very firm, I find that the more cushion I can find in a pen holder, the better. Before finding Paper Ink Arts, I used a Koh-I-Noor cork and wood holder that I picked up at Curry's. I love shopping local, however, for calligraphy supplies, Curry's falls short. When I picked up this Tachikawa holder from Paper Ink Arts, and felt the cushion it has, it quickly rose to the top of the list for my favourite holders. Now, I'm not saying it's memory foam cushion or something (that would be amazing!) but it's the best I've found so far! Plus, it has a nib holder for regular sized nibs, and the teeny ones, which often don't fit in the generic holders.
I have a pretty decent collection of nibs, but the one I come back to time and time again is the Zebra G. It doesn't catch as often on the upstrokes of my letters, which is a life saver, plus it creates decently wide downstrokes. It's relatively firm, which makes it pretty easy for learning on too. I started calligraphy on a Nikko G nib, as everyone recommends, but when I graduated to this nib, I wondered why anyone would use the Nikko G. I was smitten with the Zebra G. Side note: nibs have funny names. I wish there was a picture of a zebra on this nib. It would be so cute.
If you are thinking about jumping into calligraphy, I hope that the notes I've written on my favourite everyday tools is helpful for you! I would definitely recommend taking an in person class if you can find one, or signing up for Molly Jacques Skillshare class, and learning at your own pace online. She teaches the basics is a great way, and you will learn a lot.
If you have already been in the calligraphy/lettering world for a while, share you favourite supplies and tools in the comments below! I'd love to hear what you've been using!