How to Use a Dip Pen

A dip pen, or a nib pen, consists of a handle with a metal nib that has to be refilled with ink as you write with it. While they’ve mostly been replaced by fountain pens in day-to-day use, dip pens can be great for more intricate calligraphy and sketching. Learn how to load a dip pen, write with it, and take care of it to know how to use a dip pen properly.

EditChoosing Your Tools
Find a dip pen nib that meets your projects needs. The nib is perhaps the most important part of the dip pen, as it is the part with which you’ll actually be writing or drawing. There are a few factors that can be used to differentiate between nibs, such as the size and overall shape, but any nib that fits your nib holder should work well. Ask at your local art store or look online to find a suitable dip pen nib.[1]
One factor that might make a significant difference in the type of nib you use is the “elastic”. This refers to how easily the tip of the nib will bend, and the amount of pressure needed to shift between thin and thicker lines. If you write quite lightly, you may need a nib with a high elastic. If you have a heavy hand while writing, you should use something with a low elastic.

Standard nib sizes are normally either fine or ultrafine, which would both work well for writing, drawing, and calligraphy. If you are working on a larger project, such as a poster, there are broader nibs that will give you much larger strokes.

Along with the size, the shape of your nib will also change the finished result. A finer, narrower nib will give smaller lines, where a nib with a wide tip will make much larger strokes.

Choose a nib holder that’s compatible with your nib. Nib holders make up the “body” of the pen or the part that you will grip while writing. The most important thing when choosing a nib holder is that the shank of the nib is compatible with the tip of the nib holder where it will be held. Look online, or ask for help at your local art store to make sure that your nib holder and nib are compatible.[2]
Nib holders can be made out of all sorts of materials and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Choose one that you can grip comfortably, and that has a nice weight to it when you hold it.

Many nibs and nib holders are interchangeable but may come in a single set when you first buy them. Nibs and nib holders sold together should be compatible, but it may take a little trial and error if you want to use them with other nibs or nib holders.

Pick a suitable ink, such as India or acrylic ink. In order to use your dip pen, you will need to have some ink that you can dip it into. Almost any type of ink will work with a dip pen, so choose whichever type or color will work best for whatever you want to write or draw.[3] Here are a few different types of ink to consider:
India ink is the easiest ink to find, so it makes for a great black ink for beginners. India ink will be waterproof once it dries, and has a slightly glossy look to it. It should be easily available at your local craft store. However, India ink has a tendency to congeal over time in the bottle.

Sumi ink is very similar to India ink but dries with a slightly more matte appearance. It won’t congeal over time like the India ink, although it may be more difficult to find.

Calligraphy inks will come in lots of different colors, but will also be much thinner in consistency. They may take more practice to use perfectly, and normally require a thicker paper to stop them from running or blotting as much, but will look fantastic once you learn how to use them.

Acrylic inks are multi-purpose, being able to be used for all sorts of other arts and crafts. Acrylic inks are normally water-resistant and should be quite easy to track down.

Use a high-quality, thick paper over 70GSM. When you’re first learning how to use a dip pen, a thinner paper may bleed too easily or tear as you try to apply the right pressure. Use a high-quality paper, with a thickness above 70GSM when you’re first learning how to use a dip pen.[4]
High-quality paper will also give you a much better looking final product for your calligraphy or drawing. Calligraphy paper or drawing paper should be available at your local art store.

EditDipping the Pen
Grip your pen as you would hold a pencil. With the pen nib in the nib holder, place the dip pen so the end sits between your thumb and index finger. Make sure the tip is sitting over your middle finger before wrapping your thumb and index fingers around it to hold the pen in place.[5]
Some nib holders will have bumps and grooves along the surface to help it sit comfortably in your hand. Move the nib holder around until you can grasp it easily.

Dip the nib of the pen into the ink until it covers the reservoir hole. Take the lid off of your ink and slowly dip the nib into the ink. You don’t need to submerge the entire nib, only just enough that it comes up to the level of the hole in the nib. This is where the ink will be stored while writing, with the pressure applied to the nib pushing the ink towards the tip as you write.[6]
Some nibs may have reservoirs that sit on top of the nib rather than being a part of it. Regardless, find the small hole somewhere near the middle of the nib and submerge the nib only to that point.

If you dip the pen too deeply into the ink, you might end up spilling ink or getting it all over your hands and paper.

Some people may prefer to use an eyedropper to drop ink into the pen, rather than dipping the nib into the ink itself.

Shake off any excess ink with sharp, downward strokes. As you lift the nib out of the ink, some of the excess ink will start dripping off. Hold it over the ink container and give it a few, firm shakes to remove any ink not sitting in the reservoir. It’s better for the ink to drop back into the container than dripping all over your paper or drawing![7]
Use only one or two sharp, downward shakes to remove excess ink. Anything else may splatter ink all over the place.

EditWriting or Drawing with the Dip Pen
Hold the pen at a 45-degree angle to the paper. This will let the ink work towards the tip of the nib at a natural pace, as well as stopping any part of the nib other than the tip from touching the paper. With the very tip on the paper, adjust the angle of your pen until it is roughly 45-degrees from the surface you’re writing on.[8]

Draw a few lines on some scrap paper first. This will use up any drops of ink sitting at the tip of the nib that may result in large blobs on your paper. Draw one or two lines on a scrap piece of paper to get the ink flowing smoothly, and to give you a sense of how the dip pen itself works.[9]
If you’re just starting out using a dip pen, this might help you get a sense for how much pressure to apply and how the pen functions. Spend a while playing around with the pen on some scrap paper before you begin drawing or writing.

Practice using the dip pen with different amounts of pressure. Once the ink is flowing smoothly and you have a handle on how to use the pen, start using it for writing or drawing! Use a light pressure at first to get a very thin line, before adding more pressure to make the line thicker and thicker. Play around with this as you write or draw to get the most use out of your dip pen.[10]
If you’re using the dip pen for calligraphy, try shifting between lighter and heavier pressure as you write different letters.

For drawing, try applying different amounts of pressure as you crosshatch for a darker or deeper look.

Dip the pen in the ink again after each sentence. As the reservoir in the dip pen can only hold a small amount of ink, you’ll need to dip it back into the ink container frequently. When you notice the lines becoming thinner and slightly broken up, or see the reservoir itself running out ink, lift the pen up from the paper and add more ink to the reservoir.[11]
The thickness of your nib will change the frequency with which you’ll need to reapply ink. Finer nibs will need more ink after every sentence or so, whereas thicker nibs may need more ink after every word.

The frequency with which you’ll need to dip your pen when drawing will depend on what it is you’re drawing. Keep an eye on the pen and the lines you make to see when the ink begins to run out.

EditCleaning Your Dip Pen
Rinse the nib in warm water. Once you’ve finished using the pen, dip the nib of the pen into a small glass of warm water to wash away any remaining ink. If you leave any ink to dry into your nibs, the dip pen may not work as well in future or may become much more difficult to clean.[12]
Keep a glass of warm water beside you as you use the dip pen so that you can clean it immediately once you’ve finished with it. This will also be helpful if you want to use multiple colors of ink on one project.

Dry the pen thoroughly. Lift the pen out of the water and give it a firm shake to remove any excess water. Place the nib of the pen onto a dry cloth or a paper towel and wipe it until it is completely dry and all of the ink has been removed.[13]
Make sure that no fibers from the paper towel or cloth get trapped in the nib, as these can get caught in the ink and ruin future projects.

Nibs will rust very easily if they are left damp for too long. You should always dry you the nibs thoroughly before storing them.

Store the pen without putting pressure on the nib. You should never store the pen with the weight resting on the nib, as this will damage it over time. Lie the pen on its side in a drawer, or keep it in a pen holder with the nib facing upwards.[14]

Over time, the tines at the end of the pen nib may start to separate. Hold your nib up to a light. If any light comes through the nib, it’s a good sign that the nib is damaged and needs to be replaced.

EditThings You’ll Need
Dip pen nib

Nib holder



Warm water

Paper towel

EditSources and Citations
Cite error: tags exist, but no tag was found

Read More

Today in History for 23rd January 2019

Historical Events

1865 – -Jan 25th) Battle of City Point, VA (James River, Trent’s Reach)
1941 – WOR-AM in Newark NJ moves to NYC
1948 – Bradman scores 201 in 272 mins v India, 21 fours 1 six
1961 – Venezuela adopts constitution
1974 – 1st edition of women’s magazine “Story”
1994 – Worldwide Day for peace in Bosnia-Hercegovina

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1833 – John Randolph Chambliss Jr, American Brigadier-General (Confederate Army), born in Greensville County, Virginia (d. 1864)
1897 – Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, Austrian architect, born in Vienna, Austria (d. 2000)
1907 – Hediki Yukawa, Japanese physicist (Nobel 1949), born in Tokyo, Japan (d. 1981)
1929 – Patriarch Filaret (Mykhailo Denysenko) of Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate
1950 – Daniel “Danny” Federici, American rocker and musician (E Street Band), born in Flemington, New Jersey (d. 2008)
1969 – Eric Carter, Canadian CFL cornerback (Hamilton Tiger Cats), born in Jesup, Georgia

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

1833 – Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth, British admiral (b. 1757)
1889 – Alexandre Cabanel, French painter (Birth of Venus), dies at 65
1996 – Shirley Carter Burden, patrician, dies at 54
1997 – Jeremy Stephen Maas, writer/art dealer, dies at 68
2006 – Chris McKinstry, Canadian scientist (b. 1967)
2017 – Lee O’Denat, American internet entrepreneur (, dies of heart disease at 43

More Famous Deaths »

Read More

How to Dry Makeup Brushes

It is important to properly dry your makeup brushes after you wash them. Otherwise, you could damage the bristles or allow bacteria to grow, negating the cleaning you just completed. With proper care, you can extend the life of your brushes so you can get the most use out of them.

EditDrying with a Towel
Set your brushes on a towel after you’ve washed them. You can use either a clean, dry bath towel, or a dry paper towel to start the drying process. A larger bath towel may work best, because it will absorb a lot of water and will be big enough to hold all of your brushes.
Set the towel on a flat surface, with the brushes an inch or two apart on top of it.

Leave about half of the towel empty.[1]

Fold half of the towel over the brushes. You’ll want to get some of the water out of your brushes before you set them up to dry. You can do this by folding the empty half of the towel over the brushes so they are completely surrounded by it.[2]

Press gently on the towel. Using your hand, press gently on top of the towel. Do this for five or six seconds with each brush, so that the towel absorbs some of the water from the bristles.

Place the brushes on the counter edge. You want to make sure that the bristles of the brushes stick over the edge of the counter or shelf. That way, air circulates around the bristles and they do not rest on a damp surface. It will help the bristles to dry faster and keep them from acquiring bacteria.
Leave the brush handles on top of the towel, with just the bristles sticking out over the edge of the counter.

While they dry, it’s a good idea to turn on a fan, especially if they’re in the bathroom. The fan will circulate the air, dispersing the moisture.

It will usually take 3-4 hours for the brushes to dry completely.

You’ll want to check the bristles by touching them with you hand before you use them, to make sure they are dry.[3]

EditHanging Brushes to Dry
Attach brushes to a clothes hanger. Using either rubber bands or hair ties, attach the handles of your brushes to the bottom of a clothes hanger. Make sure the bristles are facing down when you attach them. This will allow the bristles to maintain their shape, and allow air to circulate around the bristles.
You can place the hanger anywhere, but make sure the bristles are free and not resting against anything.[4]
Your brushes will dry fastest if you hang them over a fan in a well-ventilated room.

Buy a holder for your brushes. There are holders available for purchase that allow you to hang your brushes to dry. These holders allow you to insert each brush into its own hole upside down. Air can then circulate around the bristles. Because they’re upside down, water won’t seep down into them.
These holders may be sold in different sizes for different sized brushes.[5]

Place a towel under your brushes. With the brushes hanging from the clothes hanger, or the holder, water may drip from the bristles. Place a clean, dry bath towel or paper towel under the brushes to absorb any water.
Leave the brushes hanging with the bristles facing down for four or five hours.

Thicker brushes may need a bit more time.

If you wash your brushes before bed, you can let them dry overnight while you sleep. That way they are ready for you to use in the morning.

You can place a fan near the brushes to help them dry a bit faster.[6]
Do not dry your brushes with the bristles facing up. If you do this, the water will run down onto the handle and could damage the glue that holds the bristles to the handle. You can avoid this by drying brushes with the bristles facing down, or by drying the brushes on their side with the bristles protruding over a counter edge.

EditSources and Citations
Cite error: tags exist, but no tag was found

Read More