What’s the difference between pointed and broad edge calligraphy nibs?! The short answer is, “their shape”. But the real difference is how each nib works as they write. For a primer on nib anatomy, check out our blog post, “What is a Calligraphy Nib??”. There’s a video included with the post if you prefer!
Pointed and Broad Calligraphy Nibs: A Quick Contrast
|Pointed Nib||Broad Nib|
|Highly Flexible||Somewhat flexible|
|Thickness of strokes depends on the pressure applied to the nib||Thickness of strokes depends on width and angle of the nib itself|
|Measure the x-height with a ruler||Measure the x-height in widths of the nib|
Pointed Calligraphy Nib Details
By design, the writing surface of a pointed nib will give light weight strokes, or “hairlines”.
Applying pressure to the nib as you write causes the tines to open wider, allowing more ink to flow to the page across the distance between the tines. This results in a heavier stroke that contrasts the hairlines. Pointed nibs’ flexibility makes this high contrast possible.
Because the person writing controls the weight of the strokes, they can use a pointed calligraphy nib to write letters at several different sizes.
Broad Calligraphy Nib Details
Broad edge nibs already have a wide surface to make thick strokes, no pressure necessary. Instead, holding the writing edge of the pen at a consistent angle as you write makes contrasting thin strokes.
Unlike pointed pen calligraphy, we measure the height of broad edge calligraphy using the width of the nib itself. We call this unit a “nib width” or a “pen width”.
Proficient calligraphers can actually turn the pen in their fingers as they write. This allows them more control over the width and shape of their strokes.
Now, just because pointed and broad edge calligraphy nibs operate in a specific way doesn’t mean they don’t lend themselves to variation and play! For example, you can write a traditionally broad pen script using a pointed pen, minding the places you’re adding weight to the strokes. You could also write it with a regular pen or pencil. This variation is called monoline.
You can also slightly twist a broad pen with your fingers as you write or finish a stroke, adding interest to your letters. You can even add flourishes to broad pen calligraphy using a pointed pen, combining the techniques.