I have practiced calligraphy since I was a little girl. My first strokes were created using a calligraphy marker. A marker is an excellent tool to ease into the hobby, but true to my character, I was eager to ditch the marker and go straight to using a fancy dip pen. Admittedly, I am terribly impatient with almost everything, but perhaps due to my love of paper and art, I have been resolute in my desire to be a great calligrapher. Calligraphy is a practice that takes years to perfect, but armed with persistence and a killer pen + ink set, greatness can happen.
I am a follower of the inspiration-based blog Besotted. I recently stumbled upon an old[e] post written about the authors favorite nibs. I decided to test some of the nibs listed, specifically, the nibs that calligraphers I admire, use most often. Here is my assessment, from nibs with the thickest downstroke to those with the thinest:
The Brause Steno, known affectionately as "Blue Pumpkin", is an attractive nib. It is a deep blue color, with wide, rounded shoulders and a narrow tip. The reservoir can hold a considerable amount of ink, allowing the calligrapher to write continuously without "dipping" often. The tines are flexible, allowing ink to flow freely without applying much pressure. The results are thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes, a favorite look among modern calligraphers. The Blue Pumpkin is not an ideal nib for the calligraphy novice; controlling handwriting pressure requires a lot of self-awareness and practice.
Arguably the most popular nib among modern calligraphers is the Brause Rose. The nib is easily identifyable by the embossed rose design on the body. Similar to the Blue Pumpkin, the tines are very flexible, creating thick downstrokes. The tip is also narrow, allowing for hairline upstrokes. I find this nib difficult to use not only because of the flexibility of the tines, but also because I have to dip the pen in ink and water continuously. (Tip: Subtly dipping the nib tip in water will help the flow of ink.) Due to these obstacles, and ensuring no railroad tracks are created, my writing speed slows significantly when using this nib. The Rose is not among my favorites, but I do enjoy using it when writing in loopy script. I would not recommend this nib for beginners.
A seemingly favorite nib among artists/calligraphers Stephanie Fishwick and Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls is the Nikko G nib. The Nikko G is sharp, both figuratively and literally. The slender chrome body, shoulders, and tip make for a sleek design. The tines are strong and require a bit of pressure to produce medium-width downstrokes. The tip is very sharp, creating both thick upstrokes and several paper snags. The reservoir is not deep, though I do not find myself needing to reapply ink often. Personally, this is one of my favorite nibs for writing and drawing. The Nikko G is a great nib for beginners.
A terrific nib for creating hairline upstrokes and very thin downstrokes is the Gillott 1068A . The nib produces lines similar to the Nikko G. In comparison, the body of the GLT is more slender and the overall size of the nib is smaller. The tines are very strong, making this nib an excellent first choice for calligrapher beginners or pen+ink artists.
Not listed on the Besotted blog, but worth mentioning the Speedball Hunt 22B nib. I have used this nib for years; it is consistent. The nib produces predicable results in terms of stroke thickness and ink reloading. The 22-B snags paper occasionally, but it's not nearly as sensitive as the Nikko G or GLT 1068A. The medium-strength tines make writing for the intermediate or advanced calligrapher easier, and more enjoyable.
Different strokes for different folk ... Write on!