A popular question we get on Instagram is what type of nib am I’m using for my calligraphy work. When starting out with calligraphy, it is hard to know what to start with! In general, you want to try out a variety of nibs and see what feels best for you. The nib I prefer might not work well for you and vice-versa…and that’s okay! Nibs vary in their flexibility, which can produce different results depending on your own pressure as well as the ink & paper combination.

Below are the four nibs I use most frequently in my work, some of their differences and when I choose to use them. If you’ve never used calligraphy supplies at all, though, we definitely recommend our starter kit which provides instruction on how to actually use the tools.

Zebra G

The Zebra G nib is a large nib with a very fine tip. It creates an extremely fine hairline but you have to press pretty hard to get a thick line. Similar to the popular Nikko G Nib, but a little more flexible and sharper. It will produce a finer hairline than the Nikko G. If you are using the Nikko G but would like to be able to write with thinner hairlines and thicker strokes, I recommend using this nib.

I don’t recommend this nib on paper prone to catching because the tip is so sharp. Personally this is my least favorite of the four because I find it too firm, and would really only use it if I didn’t have any Nikko Gs on hand.

Hunt 56

Hunt 56 is also a fine tip nib, very sharp and prone to catch on textured papers. It is slightly easier to get a thick swell as this nib is more flexible than the Zebra G. The Hunt 56 produces healthy swells of ink when firm and deliberate pressure is applied, but you can still achieve a fine hairline.

I prefer to use this nib on smooth or shimmer paper when I want to achieve a fine hairline using metallic or white ink, which generally come out a bit thicker.

Now we’re moving into my two favorites…

Gillott 404

The Gillott 404 is a more flexible nib but still stiff. Less pressure is needed to create a thick swell, which is why we love this one for beginners. The tines are more flexible, so they are prone to catching in textured paper {like many others}, especially as it starts to go dull. The hairlines are slightly less fine, even with a brand new nib, so you’ll want to be sure to use a light touch.

I use this nib daily for envelope orders!

Nikko G

The Nikko G is another large, firm nib and holds quite a bit of ink in the reservoir. It is less firm than the Zebra G, so it’s easier to get a heavy swell of ink. However, it still creates a nice fine hairline. Because of the firm tines, this nib lasts through many hours of work without going dull.

This is another nib that I use almost daily, and I prefer to use it when working with handmade or textured paper.

You can find packs of each of these nibs here. Please keep in mind that all of these opinions are my own, and other calligraphers may have a different experience with them.