A nib consists of a handle with a metal nib that must be refilled with ink as you write with it. Although most of the time they have been replaced by fountain pens in everyday use, nibs can be great for writing calligraphy and sketching. Learn how to carry a nib, write with it, and care for it so you know how to use it correctly.
Part 1 of 4: Choosing Your Tools
Step 1. Find a nib nib that meets your project needs
The nib is perhaps the most important part of the nib, as it is the part that you are actually going to write or draw with. There are a few factors that can help differentiate nibs, such as overall size and shape, but any nib that fits the pen holder will work fine. Inquire at your local art store or search the internet for a suitable nib.
- One factor that can make a significant difference in the type of nib you use is "stretch." This refers to how easily the nib tip bends, and the amount of pressure required to switch between thick and thin lines. If you write very lightly, you may need a nib with a lot of elasticity. If you have a heavy hand when writing, you should wear something with low stretch.
- Standard nib sizes are typically fine or ultra-fine, and both work well for writing, drawing, and calligraphy. If you are going to work on a large project, such as a poster, there are wider nibs that will give you much larger strokes.
- In addition to the size, the shape of the nib will also change the final result. A thinner and narrow nib will give smaller strokes, while a nib with a wide tip will make much larger strokes.
Step 2. Choose a pen holder compatible with the nib
The pen holders are the "body" of the nib or the part that you grip when writing. The most important thing when choosing a pen holder is that the shank of the nib is compatible with the point of the pen holder where it will be attached. Look online or ask your local art store for help to make sure the pen holder and nib are compatible.
- Pen holders can be made from all kinds of materials and come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Choose one that you can grip comfortably and that has a good weight when you hold it.
- Many nibs and pen holders are interchangeable, but may come in one set when you first buy them. The pens and pen holders sold together need to be compatible, although a bit of trial and error may be necessary if you want to use them with other nibs or pen holders.
Step 3. Choose a suitable ink, such as Chinese ink or acrylic
In order to use the nib, you will need to have some ink that you can dip it in. Almost any type of ink will work with a nib, so choose the type or color that works best for what you want to write or draw. Here are a few types of ink to consider:
- Chinese ink is the easiest to find, making it an excellent black ink for beginners. Chinese ink is waterproof once it dries and has a slightly shiny appearance. It will be easy to find at your local craft store. However, India ink tends to solidify over time in the bottle.
- Sumi ink is very similar to India ink, but dries slightly more matte. It does not solidify over time like India ink, although it can be harder to find.
- Calligraphy inks come in many different colors, but they will also have a much finer consistency. They may be more practical to use perfectly, and they usually require thicker paper to prevent smudging or smudging, but they'll look great once you learn how to use them.
- Acrylic inks are versatile and can be used for all kinds of crafts. Acrylic inks are usually water resistant and fairly easy to find.
Step 4. Use a high quality thick paper, over 70GSM
When learning to use a nib, thinner paper could bleed too easily or tear when trying to apply the proper pressure. Please use a high quality paper, thicker than 70GSM when you are learning to use a nib.
The high-quality paper will also provide you with a much better-looking final product for your calligraphy or drawing project. Calligraphy or drawing paper will be available at your local art store
Part 2 of 4: Dip the Nib
Step 1. Hold the nib like a pencil
With the tip of the nib in the pen holder, position the nib so that the tip rests between your thumb and index finger. Make sure the tip is on the middle finger before circling it with your thumb and index finger to keep the nib in place.
Some tip stands have bumps and grooves along the surface to help it sit comfortably in the hand. Wiggle the pen holder until you can easily grasp it
Step 2. Dip the nib of the nib into the ink until it covers the hole in the reservoir
Remove the ink cap and slowly dip the nib into the ink. It is not necessary to submerge the entire nib, just enough to reach the level of the nib hole. This is where the ink will be stored while writing, with the pressure applied to the nib pushing the ink towards the nib while writing.
- Some nibs may have deposits that sit on top of it rather than being a part of it. In either case, find the small hole somewhere near the center of the nib and dip the nib only to that point.
- If you dip the nib too far into the ink, you could end up spilling ink or staining your hands and paper.
- Some people prefer to use an eyedropper to drop the ink onto the nib, rather than dipping the pen into the ink itself.
Step 3. Remove excess ink with a sharp downward motion
As you lift the nib from the ink, some of the excess ink will begin to drip off. Hold it over the ink tank and give it a few firm shakes to remove any ink that is not in the tank. It is better for the ink to fall back into the reservoir than to drip all over the paper or drawing!
Use just one or two rough downward shakes to remove excess ink. Anything else can splatter ink everywhere
Part 3 of 4: Writing or Drawing with the Pen
Step 1. Hold the nib at a 45 degree angle to the paper
This will allow the ink to travel toward the nib tip at a natural rate, as well as preventing any part of the nib other than the nib from touching the paper. With the nib on the paper, adjust the angle of the nib until it is about 45 degrees from the surface you are writing on.
Step 2. First draw a few lines on some scrap paper
This will use up any ink droplets on the tip of the pen that could cause large smudges on the paper. Draw a line or two on a piece of paper to make the ink flow smoothly and to give you an idea of how the nib works.
If you're just starting to use a nib, this might help you get an idea of how much pressure to apply and how the pen works. Spend some time experimenting with the nib on some scrap paper before you start drawing or writing
Step 3. Practice using the pen with different amounts of pressure
Once the ink flows smoothly and you know how to use the nib, start using it to write or draw. Use light pressure at first to get a very fine line, before adding more pressure to make the line thicker. Experiment with this as you write or draw to get the most out of the nib.
- If you are using the pen for calligraphy, try switching between lighter and stronger pressure as you write different letters.
- To draw, try applying different amounts of pressure as you cross-hatch for a darker or deeper look.
Step 4. Dip the nib back into the ink after each sentence
Since the nib reservoir can only hold a small amount of ink, you will need to re-immerse it in the ink container frequently. When you notice that the lines become thinner and slightly broken, or you see that the ink tank itself is running out of ink, lift the nib from the paper and add more ink to the tank.
- The thickness of the nib will change how often you will need to reapply ink. Thin nibs will need more ink after each sentence, while thicker nibs may need more ink after each word.
- How often you will need to wet the nib when drawing will depend on what you draw. Keep an eye on the nib and the lines you make to see when the ink starts to run out.
Part 4 of 4: Clean the Nib
Step 1. Rinse the nib in warm water
Once you've finished using the nib, soak it in a small glass of warm water to wash off any ink residue. If you let the ink dry on the nibs, the nib may not work as well in the future, or it may be much more difficult to clean.
Keep a glass of warm water by your side while you use the nib so you can clean it immediately after you are done with it. This will also be useful if you want to use multiple colors of ink in one project
Step 2. Dry the nib thoroughly
Remove the nib from the water and shake it vigorously to remove excess water. Place the nib on a dry cloth or paper towel and wipe it until it is completely dry and all ink has been removed.
- Make sure no fibers from the paper towel or cloth get caught in the nib, as it can get caught in the ink and ruin future projects.
- Nibs rust very easily if left wet for a long time. You should always dry your nibs well before storing them.
Step 3. Store the nib without putting pressure on the nib
You should never store the nib with the weight resting on the nib, as this will damage it over time. Place the nib on its side in a drawer, or store it in a pen holder with the nib facing up.