Fountain Pen vs Calligraphy Pen: Which is better?

To understand which would be better, a fountain pen or a calligraphy pen, it is first essential to understand the nature of these writing tools. Although both have their root antecedents in the reed or quill pen, each has unique properties.

As with many art supplies or writing supplies, a fountain pen vs. calligraphy pen, which is best, depends largely on the work at hand.


For ornamental calligraphy, such as the first line in a book chapter (illumination) or for a wall hanging, or an artwork, a calligraphy pen might work better. For signing books, creating several labels, or just for writing in free-flowing script, a fountain pen is probably going to be the preferred choice.


Calligraphy pens

Fountain Pen vs Calligraphy Pen: Which is better?These pens are primarily a holder and a steel pen nib. These nibs usually have a certain amount of flex to them, which gives the calligraphy strokes their unique attributes. These attributes are a broad line on the downstroke, and a thin line on the upstroke or side sweep. A calligraphy pen can never be pushed directly upward in the same manner as a pencil, felt tipped pen, or ballpoint pen, because this would dig the point of the pen into the paper. Calligraphy pens usually use an ink that has a heavy viscosity so it will stick to the pen better, and this also affects the results.


A fountain pen

This is the most immediate descendant of the calligraphy or stick pen. It uses a similar point but because it is designed to last a long while, it uses a higher quality steel which usually has less flexibility. Like the calligraphy pen, it writes best by using a down pull plus side sweep motion rather than pushing the pen directly upward. With that said, because of its stiffer nib, it writes differently from a stick pen. It can be used for some styles of calligraphy, but not the more ornate scripts. However, on the other hand, it allows a freer flow of thought while using one to write generally because it does not require frequent dipping. The reservoir allows the user to write several paragraphs (with some models several pages) before refilling. Because a fountain pen has a reservoir and the ink must flow from it, it will use a thinner ink than a calligraphy pen.


Note: While ink designed for fountain pens can be used with a calligraphy pen, the reverse is not true. The thicker calligraphy ink will clog a fountain pen and quickly ruin it.



The art of calligraphy is frequently used when illuminating manuscripts, designing wall hangings, or creating a special message to be shared with a group. There are a variety of styles of calligraphy ranging from Old English to Modern. Each has its own unique characteristics. Spencerian is possibly one of the most ornate, while copperplate was developed so that it could be engraved on copper panels, inked, and stamped on paper.


What about brush pen calligraphy? We’ve got more information here!


Fountain pens

Fountain Pen vs Calligraphy Pen: Which is better?These pens were invented more or less as a convenience. You could write longer with them, could apply less pressure, and the ink from them flowed easily across the page and (because it was thinner) dried more quickly with less smudging. It is said that the very first fountain pen was invented because a pharaoh of Egypt wanted a writing tool that would not smudge his fingers.

Furthermore, a fountain pen was more portable than a stick pen, several nibs, and a bottle of ink. The writing was still beautiful and had a permanence similar to that of the writing done using a calligraphy pen. It would not fade in the way that a lead or charcoal pencil would fade and did not have to be sharpened to gain a fine point.

Some sources suggest that fountain pens even have an advantage over ball point pens, their modern successor, and they certainly have advantages over felt tipped pens. Ball point pens require pressure to encourage the ball to roll and distribute the ink. Felt tipped pens work best if no pressure is applied, but the felt tip can be easily damaged by users who think pressing harder will promote a darker line. In addition, most of them have a limited use-life because they will either run out of ink or the ink will dry up. Although, a few models of felt-tipped pens are refillable. The advantage of ball point or felt tipped pens over either a stick (calligraphy) pen or a fountain pen is that they can be used with an upward push in the same manner as a pencil. Plus, they are even more portable than a fountain pen and are usually less likely to leak.

By way of contrast to more modern ink writing tools, a fountain pen – by its very nature – is always refillable. A few of them even have interchangeable points that allow them to mimic the nibs on a stick pen, otherwise known as a calligraphy pen. This makes them a versatile tool for writing important letters, creating ornate cards, signing books, or writing special package labels.

But let us not discount the flexible nibs that can be attached to a pen stick. First, the nibs are available in a variety of styles and points ranging from the very finest sharp point – which is usually split up the center to a loophole approximately the same size as the head on a dressmaker’s straight pen, to a broad nib with has slots at the bottom of a folded piece of metal that encompasses a wavy metal piece designed to help the nib hold more ink. The fine nibs are excellent for delicate writing, such as Spencerian, as well as inked artwork such as hatching and cross hatching. Specialize paddle shaped nibs produce wider lines that the writing nibs, and the wide nibs are excellent for producing lettering on posters.

As you can readily see from this brief comparison, whether a calligraphy pen or a fountain pen is the best choice for you depends a great deal on which pen, made by whom, for what purpose; and upon the kind of project for which you need the pen. In a few cases, more modern tools such as ball point pens or felt tipped markers will be a better choice.


Related Questions

If you were illuminating a manuscript, would you choose a calligraphy pen or a fountain pen?

This would certainly be a task for which a calligraphy pen, or better yet as set of calligraphy nibs and two or three holder sticks, would be the best choice for the job. Only calligraphy pens will product the thick and thin lines characteristic of the ornate capital letters used at the start of a chapter.

7 Fun Tips for Coloring Mandalas to Enhance Them and Make Them UniqueYou are an author and have been asked to hold a book reading and signing at a local bookstore. Would a calligraphy pen or a fountain pen work best?

For this chore, a fountain pen would be an excellent choice. It will require less refilling – especially with the more modern pens designed for extended use. A calligraphy pen would require frequent re-dipping of the nib to pick up more ink. A fountain pen would also be better than a ball point pen because the ink would flow freely without pressure, making less work for your small-motor muscles.

Why not just use a felt tipped pen?

There are, in fact, felt tipped pen sets that are designed to be used as calligraphy pens. However, they do not produce the fluid variant of line produced by a pen using a steel nib and liquid ink.



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Shawn C

Hi! I’m Shawn and I Love Coloring and Art and the people in it! I created this website as a resource to help those who are considering getting into adult coloring. My website is your one-stop destination for all the inspired instruction and resources you need to start and grow your adult coloring hobby. From geometric to floral to zen doodles and from time to time even mandala’s when I am in the mood. I have researched and gathered the information to help you in your goal of starting your adult coloring hobby.

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