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Pointed pen nibs – Hints for angle/speed/movement

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Hi all!  Having exclusively used fountain pen for my first year of learning Spencerian script, I am just now starting to use an oblique holder with nibs. I recently purchased a “variety pack” of twelve different nibs and have done some experimentation, but I’d like some hints on how best to use the dip pens.

Up strokes obviously present more drag on the nib path than downstrokes.  Is there a particular pen-to-paper angle that works better to prevent catching on the paper?  I’ve seen some beautiful video examples where I can definitely hear the scratching sound of the upstroke movements, but some nibs are so sharp they just catch.  I’m trying extremely light pressure … do you just “push through” the drag?  How to prevent “skittering” on the paper?  I’ve also been using Claire Fontaine paper which feels extremely smooth with the fountain pen, but certainly not as much so with various nibs. 

Mostly I’ve just been experimenting with various pressure and angles and speed.  I’d very much like to hear descriptions from the experienced forum users on how to use these new (to me) writing instruments.

Peace and joy to all!

Wonderful to have you jumped on this band wagon.  It is a whole new learning experience.  Try this drills to learn the pressure required and learn the light of hand.  I am still learning after 5 yrs.  And the type of nibs matters.  Try stiff nibs first then gradually progress to more flexible nibs.

And now the hunt for the perfect nib began for you.  Please note one nib is perfect for one user is not perfect for you


@InkyFingers Thanks for your input!  Yes, I've been totally invested in drills with the nibs and ink ever since the illustrious @Erica McPhee had encouraged me to do so.  And I'm oddly comforted to hear that learning will continue for years. My journey, so far, has been one of setting aside expectations, putting on a "growth mindset" and practicing regularly without losing hope. Some days I do better with that than others.  :-\

Grateful for your response,

Erica McPhee:
Hi Karl,
Oh the fun is just beginning!  ;D First, make sure you have prepared your nib properly using either a flame (very quickly put nib through it a couple of times), a potato (stab it in and let it sit a minute or two), some Windex, or saliva. This removes the protective coating and allows the nib to hold ink and glide better.

Second, some nibs are not good right from the start unfortunately. And others require a bit of warm up to find the “sweet spot.” I find Nikko G and Zebra G nibs are very industrious but have a bit of a breaking in period.

Lastly, are you using an oblique or straight holder? This can make a big difference. Are you a rightie or a leftie?

Which nibs are you trying? Which are giving you the most trouble?

Hello Zivio-

Finding the best position/angles for the nib within the holder and the pen to the paper (as well as the ergonomics of your body and arm in relation to your desk) involves many adjustments. It’s worthwhile to spend some time to get it all right—as well as comfortable. Ultimately you’ll find what’s best for you.

Dr. Joe Vitolo offers some excellent advice on the IAMPETH site:

Good luck!


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