5 Awesome (and affordable!) Pens for Beginners Brush Calligraphy

One of the most common questions I get is about what pens I recommend for a beginner in brush calligraphy.  There are so many options out there – and sometimes they can be hard to find or frankly, kind of pricey!  And as a beginner, you might not be ready to shell out a ton of money for pens quite yet.

After some thinking, here are my top 5 right now for beginners learning brush calligraphy.  I intentionally left off the Tombow Dual Brush pens because, let’s be honest, you already know about those and I’d rather share some other finds. 😉

Check out 5 awesome beginner pens for brush calligraphy - that AREN'T a Tombow Dual Brush Pen!

5 Awesome (and affordable!) Pens for Beginners Brush Calligraphy

Note: Some of these are affiliate links, which simply means that if you happen to purchase something, I get a small commission at NO extra cost to you.  Thanks for your support!

Crayola Broad Tip Marker.  Yep, you’ve heard that right – the school supplies you used to buy are also a great beginner tool for calligraphy.  They’re fun to use, come in so many colors, and are less than $6 for 10 markers. They aren’t permanent or “light fast” (meaning they will fade in sunlight), but you can’t deny how fun they are to use.  You can follow along with regular drills, check out the #crayligraphy or #crayoligraphy tags on Instagram, or follow @TierneyStudio Colin for his Crayligraphy series.  Purchase at any general, art, or drug store like Target, Walmart, Michael’s, etc.

Crayola Paint Brush Pen. These are shocker of the list – who even KNEW these existed?! I stumbled upon these at Target and had to give them a shot.  I got 5 of these in basic colors for less than $5.  The tip is large, I think even larger than a Tombow, and their tips are just a tiny bit more pliable which means you should go slowly.  Requires just a touch more practice to utilize. Meant for kids, they are super inky.  See it in action here.

Artist Loft Dual Brush Pens.  These are the Michael’s general brand of brush pen, in direct comparison to the Tombow Dual Brush Pens.  I did a video comparison here, but I like these pens because you can get 24  for $30 – and if you wait for the right week, you can get 40% off.  These tips are a little firmer than the Tombow, so they are actually pretty friendly for beginners.  Bummer? No purple. Boo!

Pentel Sign Brush Pens. I LOVE these.  They are fine tip meaning you can use them in your bullet journal and smaller works, as well as pretty easily manipulated for beginners. I use them all over my Instagram page. I’ve never been able to find these in stores (the black one is available sometimes at Michael’s on the end-cap), but I’ve gotten mine at Wet Paint (St. Paul), Amazon, and JetPens before.  A single pen is about $2.50 on JetPens, which isn’t too bad.

Tombow Fudenosuke Hard Tip. This is available on Amazon but is cheaper on JetPens ($2.50) – it gets sold out pretty quickly but is a FAVORITE of mine (and so many others) for lettering. It’s basic, fine, black – and makes it easy for you to really PUSH down for thick downstrokes.

How to Start Brush Calligraphy

I use regular printer paper, so I wouldn’t worry about that YET.  But now what?

  • Do drills.  Some of my favorite ones are by Sharisse.  You must practice with these parts of the letter before doing full words.  I got SO much better from doing drills.
  • Practice Guides.  You can use some common guides to get started on practicing your letter forms.  Everyone has a different style, so it’s fun to practice each one.  I compiled a ton of my favorite brush calligraphy practice sheets here.
  • Check out my brush calligraphy tutorials for how I draw each letter of the alphabet on YouTube! ABCDE, FGHI, JKL, MNOP, QRS, TUVW, XYZ

What are your favorite beginner brush pens? What are you working on in your lettering game?



5 awesome calligraphy pens for beginners that aren't Tombow!


26 thoughts on “5 Awesome (and affordable!) Pens for Beginners Brush Calligraphy

  1. Perfect time for this post. I’ve been wanted to start learning calligraphy and my husband was asking what pens I need. I think he’s going to buy them for me as a gift!

    Thank you for pointing me in the right direction.


  2. I just bought the set of 24 Artist Loft pens. When I read your statement about no purple (one of my favorite colors), I jumped out of my chair, looked at the set, and lo and behold – NO PURPLE!! But 2 shades of brown? You’re right . . . REAL bummer!


  3. I love your recommendations! I’ve been using the Crayola markers to practice and was STUNNED at how well they work. Plus, I already had them in my kids’ old art bin. I just ordered the Tombow Fudenosuke hard and soft pens yesterday. I’ve been enjoying the KOI Coloring brushes a lot. I’ve been wondering about the Pentel sign pens, so I’m glad you recommended those!


  4. Absolutely *love* the Pentel Fudes and I just got into the Crayola madness too — SuperTips for me, since a 20-pack of SuperTips cost as much as a 16-pack of PipSqueaks. I like the Sakura Koi pens as well, but they lose their firmness pretty quick. I’m pretty surprised at the prices though! The Fudes go for about $1.50 here (after conversion), and my Crayolas were $8.

    P.S. 24 pens and no purple? That’s awful!


    1. The crayolas were $8?! That’s kind of absurd! The Fudes seem cheaper for you – bummer for me (or good for my wallet… :P) I have just started using the Koi pens, so I’ll have to see hwo well they hold up over some time…


      1. Meh, Crayolas have always been considered a kinda expensive brand here, I think? Fudes and Kois are about $1.50 which is awesome and bad for *my* wallet! I desperately want that grey Fude. It looks gorgeous! The cheapest (individual) pen is the Artline Stix though. It’s about SG$1.40 so… $1-ish in USD? 😛 It’s REALLY hard to resist buying more colours of that one!


  5. Wow nice pen for Brush Calligraphy .I love that types of Chinese calligraphy art .Brush calligraphy is attractive and without a good knowledge you can’t make it. I found they are simply great by doing awesome brush calligraphy. I am talking about one of the best Sumigraphy website (U-CAN Americas, Inc.). You can find their lots of japanese sumi painting.Thank you for sharing this nice blog.


  6. If you’re in the SoCal area, all these pens are available at the Art Supply Warehouse in Westminster for awesome prices, no more the $3.00 ea, some at $2.10 ea; Crayola of course is whatever Crayolas are going for at Target… But they have the obscure kinds in store too.
    The Zebra hard fine & soft medium are available at Daiso for $1.50 ea when in stock. They go fast though.


  7. Hi, I love my fudenosuke marker with a hard tip (dark blue barrel) for my handlettering, but it’s only available in a black colour. Could you recommend any markers with a similar nib which are available in more colours? I have Tombow dual brush, but it’s good only for bigger letters, not for tiny ones which I can do with my fudenosuke 🙂 Thanks.


  8. This is so helpful, I’ve just bought a single Tombow brush pen and have instantly fallen in love!
    you make it look much easier than in real life, if you have time please check out my blog where I’ve written an intro to my self-taught journey into calligraphy, I would love some tips x


  9. This page, JetPens, do you know if they send to Europe, or just US? Btw I love calligraphy too, I use Stationery Island Brush Markers


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