calligraphy nib review

Brause 361


The Brause 361 nib (aka "the blue pumpkin") is a medium type of nib -- some flex but not a lot and can be used with a lot of pressure to get dynamic contrast or used with a lighter hand and obtain less contrast and fine hairlines.

I think this nib is cool looking and I love the blue color. This nib uses the standard Speedball B holder.

I use this nib when a project calls for larger size lettering as this nib can maintain the integrity of the letters.

I like using this nib for envelopes when I am using a lettering style that calls for large lettering. This nib can hold a lot of ink before it needs to be reloaded. Be sure to take off any excess ink when reloading because you will get pooling of ink (which of course I was not able to replicate when I tried

I also like using this nib for print-style lettering -- I think the thick & thins look nice.

Have fun experimenting with this nib!

Tachikawa G Nib


The Tachikawa G nib is a another nib from Japan that is similar to the Nikko G & the Zebra G nib.

The Tachikawa has a similar feel to both the Nikko G & Zebra G nibs, and you can vary the amount of pressure and still make beautiful marks. The nib has bit more flex in it which allows me to write with little pressure to get finer lines without a lot of contrast (see the word "peace" that I've created above, that was done with little pressure applied).

These nibs are sold in packs of 3 at Jet Pens for $4.00. I am using the Tachikawa wooden holder (which can also be purchased at Jet Pens in other fun colors); these nibs can also fit on the Speedball B holder (the black plastic standard holder).  John Neal, Bookseller also sells them for $1.80 per nib; Paper & Ink Arts for $1.20 per nib. Paper & Ink Arts also offers a discount if purchased in bulk.

Like all the Japanese nibs I have reviewed (Zebra, Nikko, & Tachikawa), these nibs are very durable and will last a long time. You will know when it is time to change the nib when you find that you cannot create fine hairlines -- the calligraphy tip is getting dull and will not produce fine hairlines. Unlike other nibs that I throw away in the garbage when they get old because they simply do not work or break, I don't always throw away these nibs because you can still use them on lettering styles that do not require fine hairlines or to use for practice.

After doing this review and writing with this nib, I realized how much I like writing with this nib. I will now add this to my rotation of nibs that I use.

Zebra G


This is one my favorite nibs. It's stiff but not too stiff and has a little flex to it (not as much as the Tachikawa G which will be reviewed in my next post).

You can still make beautiful marks with little pressure but also with more pressure, get more exaggerated thick & thin lines. I find that the hairlnes I make with this nib are finer than with the Nikko G and the downstrokes are not as thick as those made with the Nikko G. But the differences between the two nibs are very slight and could just be in my mind.

I am using a pronged style of nib holder with this nib but the Zebra G can also fit on the Speedball B holder (standard black plastic holder).

Since I have a bunch of calligraphy nibs on different holders, the way I can tell if the nib is a Zebra G from a Nikko G (without having to pull it off), is in the tines area (that is the area above the point/tip of the nib), the Nikko G has a pattern on that area, very thin horizontal lines, when you scratch your fingernail over that area, you can feel it. The Zebra G is smooth in that area.

I haven't found a store in Portland, Oregon that carries this nib, but they can be found at Jet Pens for a pack of 10 for $13.50; at Paper & Ink Arts for $1.95 each (pack of 10 is $18.50); or Amazon for $9.99 for a pack of 10.

Nikko G


This is nib is favored by many modern calligraphers and is a good for beginners when starting on this journey of modern calligraphy.

This nib allows for beautiful thick & thin strokes with a heavy hand (i.e. a lot of pressure). When I was starting out, I did not know how to control the amount of pressure I was applying when practicing my lettering, there was so much to remember (when to apply pressure, make sure I'm not smudging my letters, when to load my nib with more ink, what angle to keep my nib at, etc.). But with time, your muscles learn how to apply pressure at different points while you are creating a letter.

I think my lettering has a more "gothic" feel to it when I use this nib. Excuse my spelling errors below, it's hard to concentrate on creating letters and spelling at the same time!

Here in Portland (Oregon), I have not been able to find a store that sells the Nikko G nib. I purchase my nibs from John Neal, Bookseller, Paper & Ink Arts, Jet Pens or Amazon.

Although I like this nib, this isn't my favorite nib at the moment to use, I prefer the Zebra G which I will be reviewing in my next post.

Hunt 56 | School

I love this nib! It is stiff but not too stiff (not as flexible as the Hunt 99, but not stiff like the Hunt 107). This is the nib that would please Goldilocks.

This nib can fit the B Speedball holder but I'm using the Brause wooden holder in these pictures.  There is a good contrast between thick and thin lines. No snagging and easy to use.

I highly recommend this nib.

Hunt 101 | Imperial

This nib is a tricky one.

Sometimes I am able to use it without a problem and sometimes I can't seem to get the correct amount of pressure needed to use this nib. 

I was having trouble with the upstrokes and not applying enough pressure which caused the pen nib to skip. But when I applied too much pressure on the downstroke, the nib would splatter.

I may need more practice with this nib but for now, it would not be my nib of choice.

Hunt 107 Hawk Quill

I don't particular like this pen nib. It is very stiff and you need a lot of pressure in order to get thin hairlines and thick downward strokes.

I think this would be good for individuals that want to use more pressure when writing and have a heavier hand when doing calligraphy.

This nib takes a special holder by Speedball and uses the "A" holder which is thinner than most pen holders so it feels different in  your hand.

Hunt 99

This nib is very flexible, bouncy, springy.

Very light pressure is needed. This would be good for papers that snag easily as not much pressure is needed to make a mark.

I used the Bruase Wooden Holder even though Speedball recommends the B holder. Nice hairlines, but not as fine as the Hunt 56, maybe I was pressing too hard when I was practicing with this nib.

I like this nib for those days when a light touch is needed. Probably not one of my favorite nibs of the Hunt series.

I prefer the Hunt 56 for now.

Hunt 22B

Hunt 22B extra fine. This nib is on the stiff side (but not too stiff) and is similar to the Hunt 56 in feel (I'll be reviewing this nib in an upcoming post).

The Hunt 22B makes nice hairlines and thick strokes and it's not too difficult to write with.

I like it.

Speedball recommends the B style of holder but I used the Brause wooden holder. With the B style Speedball holder, the nib comes too far up the holder and it is hard to get ink in the vent area without getting the bottom of your pen holder dirty with ink (which can led to ink on fingers, smudges on paper, ink marks on your face, oh the tragedy....) so I prefer to use the Brause holder with this nib.

Calligraphy Nibs

Starting a calligraphy practice can be an overwhelming adventure at first, learning about supplies, inks, nibs, holders, & paper. I like to experiment and try different supplies so I'll share with you my different experiences.

Let's start with calligraphy nibs.

The thing about nibs, it's sort of like Cinderella and the the glass slipper, nibs are such a personal fit.

Some things to consider is the amount of pressure you exert when using a calligraphy pen i.e. how hard do you press down when you are writing. With practice, you can start to control the amount of pressure you use when you write and you learn to adjust the amount of pressure depending on the nib you are using. I promise it gets better with practice. There are some nibs that I simply cannot use and have not learned to master (hello Gillot nibs?). Some nibs need no pressure at all, especially on the thin upstroke, the nib tip is just touching the paper. Other nibs, you need to press down pretty hard to make a mark (both on the upstroke and downstroke) and you will hear more of that scratchy noise when writing. When the nibs tends to be more flexible, less pressure is needed. When the nib is firm or stiff, more pressure can be used to create those thin upstroke hairlines and thick downstroke marks. However, the pressure you use can also cause your nib to snag the paper so you cannot use too much pressure -- or you'll get splatter marks (which I will show you on some of my demos).

Nibs are fairly inexpensive so it doesn't cost a lot to experiment and explore different nibs. Paper Ink Arts has this sampler kit of coperplate calligraphy nibs.

I'll start off my review with Speedball Nibs (this brand of nib is fairly easy to find), specifically, the Hunt brand nibs made by Speedball which are perfect for pointed pen, modern-style calligraphy.

Feel free to share with me your experiences with various nibs and your successes and challenges, I'd love to hear from you what works for you.

Happy writing!