When doing calligraphy left-handed, you’ll need equipment suited particularly for that purpose. This isn’t just true for the experienced, but even if you’re a beginner and are expecting great results without using the right pens, then you will be disappointed and your growth as a calligrapher will be hampered.
In this round-up article, you will get to know which are the best calligraphy pens for left handers and why exactly you should be using them. We will also suggest some good inks and dip pen holders that left-handers will like.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Should a Beginner in Calligraphy Buy?
- 2 Left Handed Calligraphy Nibs
- 3 Left Handed Calligraphy Pen Set
- 4 Straight Pen Nib Holder
- 5 Left Handed Brush Lettering Pen
- 6 Quick Drying Ink for Left Handed Calligraphers
What Should a Beginner in Calligraphy Buy?
If you are about to start off your calligraphy journey, then it’s important to know what to look for when shopping for pens and other calligraphy tools. It’s not enough just to see “Calligraphy Pens” or “Calligraphy Pen Set” written on the packaging. You should always ask yourself one major question before buying any type of pen, “What am I going to use this for?”
If you’re a beginner and left-handed, then you should definitely follow these points when looking for a calligraphy pen:
- Pen holder: When using any pen, you’ll need one that you can use for long periods of time, and a comfortable pen holder which suits your grip.
- Quick drying ink: Beginners usually go for lefty-friendly fountain pens because they are not complicated by different nibs, and usually have quicker drying ink than dip pens, which is better for lefties since their direction of writing often leads to smudging.
- Firm nib tips for brush pens: Lefties tend to apply more pressure when writing than right-handers do, and so it’s important to make sure that your brush pen tips have firmer bristles that don’t splay and get damaged quickly when pushing the nib across the paper.
- Left oblique pen or straight pen holder: Some lefties use a left-handed oblique pen when writing as they get a better angle and slant in their chosen style and consider it easier, whereas others prefer using straight pens. This would also depend on your natural writing and pen holding positions.
Before we get into the many calligraphy pens suitable for left-handers, if you’re still wondering how to do left-handed calligraphy, then you should check out our article on how to learn calligraphy for left-handers to discover lots of tips and tricks.
For the best tools based on a left-handed calligrapher’s requirements, here are our picks of calligraphy pens and accessories available to purchase. These would make great gifts for a left-hander too.
Left Handed Calligraphy Nibs
Speedball Left-Handed Lettering Nibs, LC1/LC2
These Speedball dip pen nibs are designed especially for lefties, with a broad edge and suitable angle. They can be used with pigment ink or other water-based inks for a variety of lettering styles.
The nibs’ reservoirs can hold a lot of ink without dripping and are quite affordable, given their long-lasting durability. You’ll get a smooth and wide stroke without skipping, however, for some styles of calligraphy, lefties may require smaller nibs for thinner, more delicate work, which this pack doesn’t come with. The nibs are also difficult to clean after using, especially when writing with India ink.
Nikko G Nibs
This Nikko G pointed dip pen nib was initially intended for Japanese Manga illustrations, but is also widely used in doing calligraphy by all levels of calligraphers and can be used for a large variety of styles, old and new. This is an ideal nib for beginners and especially lefties.
The nib is firmer than others, with tines that can withstand a beginner or left-hander’s extra pressure exerted when writing. Due to its hardy, chrome-finished build, it can last you much longer than other nibs if you take care of them well. Its flexible nib also allows for accurate thin upstrokes and smooth, thick downstrokes. However, if you don’t use the right paper, it could poke a hole straight through it as you write, given its firm tip.
Zebra Comic G Model Chrome Pen Nib
The Zebra Comic G Model Chrome Pen Nib is a chrome-plated, long-lasting dip pen nib with a build similar to the Niko G nib, but is more flexible. This nib may not be very accessible to beginner lefties due to its less firm tines but are great for those with more experience and pressure control.
Its pointed tip is ideal for copperplate calligraphy, and it does not pick up fibers from the paper like some others do, as it is a defined — not sharp — point. The nib does not pick up much ink when dipped, which will force you to dip more times than others, and if the right consistent pressure isn’t exerted, the ink will be spread very inconsistently across a single stroke.
Speedball Hunt Globe 513 EF Pen Nibs
The Speedball Hunt Globe 513 EF is a uniform globe-pointed nib, with a stiff tip and long lasting value. Due to its large size, it holds much more ink than other nibs.
However, because of its large size and its main use for industrial arts, it may be less compatible with standard calligraphy pen holders and requires a particular Speedball holder, which we’ll tell you about further down, offered in straight and oblique forms. The nib also offers less line variation, therefore, making it suitable for modern styles over Copperplate and Spencerian.
Speedball Hunt 512 Extra-Fine Nib
The Speedball Hunt 512 is a bowl-pointed pen nib with a stiff tip and moderate flexibility, perfect for a beginner or lefty due to its firmer tip. It can produce decent hairlines but does not provide much line variation. It can hold more ink per dip than most other dip pen nibs.
However, when using dark-colored ink, its plating tends to discolor quickly, but its performance is unaffected. The nib may not be compatible with most straight pen holders. There may also be difficulty in finding a suitable holder for lefties.
Left Handed Calligraphy Pen Set
Speedball C-Series Left-Handed Lettering Pen Set
Specific left-handed calligraphy pens are rare but the Speedball C-Series Left-Handed Lettering Pen Set is specifically designed for a left-hander. Included in the pack are 5 left-handed LC nibs and a 513EF nib for extra fine lines. It also comes with a left-handed straight pen holder and an instructional sheet meant for beginners. The durability of the nibs makes them long-lasting and they hold much more ink per dip than standard nibs. This is the best beginner dip pen set available, but can also be used by advanced calligraphers for writing in several styles.
Manuscript 3 Nib Left Handed Beginners Calligraphy Set
The Manuscript 3 Nib Left Handed Beginners Calligraphy Set comes with a holder, pen cap, 3 nibs, and 1 black ink cartridge, and is the best cartridge pen set for beginners at a very affordable price. The nibs are hardy and cut like dip nibs for more precise thin and thick strokes.
However, most manuscript pen sets do not by default come with left-handed cut nibs, but instead with right-handed ones. The pen barrel is made suitable for left-handed nibs, but your choice of nib needs to be specified and clarified with the buyer before purchase.
Manuscript Left Handed Nib Scribe Calligraphy Pen and Nib Set
The Manuscript Nib Scribe Set is a left-handed cartridge calligraphy pen set containing 3 nibs, 2 ink cartridges, 1 traditional fountain pen holder and storage tin. This is a fine set for beginner and practiced calligraphers. The nibs are best for broader, wider lines, and some may require more nibs for finer lines which aren’t included in this set.
Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen Set, 1.5 mm, 2.4 mm, 3.8 mm and 6 mm
The PILOT Parallel Calligraphy Pen Set is a unique one because of its parallel plate structure and mixable colors using 2 Pilot parallel pens at a time. Each pen has a different color and nib size, ranging from thin stroked nibs to nibs for very thick strokes.
The nibs are not specifically designed for left-handed calligraphy but are straight nibs. They also tend to bleed onto the paper if too much pressure is applied or if it stays too long on the paper, even calligraphy-specific paper, which lefties may find inconvenient.
Straight Pen Nib Holder
Tachikawa Comic Pen Nib Holder, Model 40 (T-40)
The Tachikawa Comic Pen is a wooden pen holder with a rubber grip, perfect for all calligraphers, right-handed and left. Some may have an issue when dipping for ink if the bottle is almost empty, as this nib holder has a wide head.
Speedball Standard Pen Holder
The Speedball Standard Pen plastic holder fits all standard nib sizes and is very ergonomic in design, as it is a replica of old classic wooden pen holders but lighter.
Left Handed Brush Lettering Pen
Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens
The Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens comes in an assortment of pack sets like this 3-pack of soft, hard, and twin tip black brush pens, and this hard tip brush pen pack of assorted colors.
These are great calligraphy sets for left handers with some lettering experience, as they require proper regulation of brush pressure exerted on the paper for a varied thickness of lines. They will give you extra-fine, fine, and medium strokes. The water-based odorless ink dries much quicker on paper than other pens, which is very beneficial and convenient for lefties to avoid smudging when doing left-handed brush lettering. The holders, made from recycled plastic, are suitable for right and left-handers.
Tombow Dual Brush Pen, Blendable, Brush and Fine Tip Marker
The Tombow Dual Brush Pen, Blendable, Brush and Fine Tip Marker has 2 tips – 1 flexible brush pen tip, and 1 hard, fine-pointed tip, with both tips fed from the same ink reservoir, ensuring both ink colors match to avoid confusion. This pen also comes in assorted color sets. The water-based inks can be blended with the brush tip and are very often used when lettering for cards. If you’re not already a slightly experienced calligrapher, excess pressure applied could give excess ink on the paper and smudge, especially when using the brush pen tip.
Zig Memory System Calligraphy Marker Pure Black
The Zig Memory System Calligraphy Dual Tip Marker is a double-ended chisel-tip calligraphy marker, with a 5mm tip for broad strokes and a 2mm tip for thin strokes. The Zig marker is ideal for large lettering on cards, and can also be used for a few calligraphy styles. It is of archival quality and is waterproof, lightfast, and acid-free.
The tips are quite stiff with very little flex, so beginners may find it easier to use when just practicing letter formation with broad edge nibs. A left-hander’s natural pressure on the tip won’t be too much of a problem because the tip will hold up well with repeated use.
Quick Drying Ink for Left Handed Calligraphers
Left handed calligraphers who don’t use the underwriter position will need to use a fast drying dip pen ink to prevent smudging. However, it may be a good idea to learn to write under the line to avoid this problem. Our tips on learning how to write with a fountain pen for left-handers may be useful.
Dye-based inks are completely water-soluble and hence can be used in all fountain pens because the nib won’t get clogged. They come in a large variety of colors and are good for layering and shading work. However, they don’t offer permanence and will fade with exposure to sunlight and smudge when they come in contact with water. This makes them less suited to calligraphy meant for permanent artwork or lettering.
Pigment inks, on the other hand, consist of fine solid particles that are suspended in water and don’t dissolve. This makes them clog a fountain pen easily but are better suited to dip pens as long as you clean the nib after you’ve finished using it. They don’t fade or smudge in water, which is why professional calligraphers use them quite a lot.
An important thing to remember is that dip pen ink should never be used for fountain pens, as its contents aren’t solely water-based and will clog and cause damage to a fountain pen’s nib and cause internal corrosion. Only use fountain pen ink in fountain pens.
Kiwa-Guro Super Black Sailor Refill Cartridges and Bottled Ink
The Sailor Kiwa-Guro ink cartridge and bottled pigmented ink are perfect for everyone, but especially for left-handed calligraphers, as this ink dries almost instantly after touching paper, avoiding any potential smudging by your hand. These inks are designed only for Sailor pens and could cause major problems if forced into non-Sailor fountain pens. Although this ink is meant to be used in Sailor fountain pens, it can also be used with dip pens.
Sailor’s pigment inks, also known as Nano inks, are fast-drying and a good choice for lefties. Though meant to be waterproof, smearing could occur if water soaks into the paper before drying for a few hours.
Sailor Shikiori Bottled Inks and Markers
Sailor Shikiori bottled ink is another quick-drying ink made primarily for Sailor fountain pens. This ink comes in a variety of colors, particularly in the “Japanese Four Seasons” range of colors. This is also a very suitable and convenient ink for left-handed calligraphers.
The variety of colors that Sailor offers in ink form, is also reproduced in the form of 20 Sailor Shikiori markers. These markers are double-ended, coming with one broad tip and one fine tip. They are flexible but firm enough for lefties and beginners. Some may find the thinner tip to be too fine and produce near-faded lines for a few lighter colors, which has to be adjusted by the pressure applied.
Zig Sumi Pen Ink 60ml
The Zig Sumi penk ink is used primarily for large lettering, Japanese manga illustrations, and calligraphy with brush pens. This ink is meant for dip pens and brush pens only, and may not be suitable for fine-lined calligraphy due to its ink consistency. This ink may also be difficult for overwriter and sidewriter left-handers when doing calligraphy because it is not quick-drying ink.
DANIEL SMITH, 2oz Jar Walnut Ink
The Daniel Smith walnut ink is made from walnut husks, creating a natural walnut color, and can be used with brush and dip pens. It’s not permanent ink and could be smeared if water falls onto your paper. But being water-soluble, the ink gives you the option to create different shades and layering.