Common Issues


Pen Snagging, Splattering

This likely occurs when you push your nibs (especially very fine nibs) to deep into the paper so that the tines catch on the fibers and ink will spray all over your paper. This can also happen when you use rough paper, or simply come across an irregular spot in your paper, and also when your nib is worn down. Try applying less pressure, especially on upstrokes when you push the nib against the paper texture. The nib should touch the paper very lightly on the upstroke and only glide ever so softly over the surface.

The Ink Won’t Flow:

This is a common problem with some nibs as well as certain mediums like watercolor or gouache paint. You can also experience problems if you hold the nib at the wrong angle. Remember that a 45° angle works best for the most nibs.
Sometimes you will find that a certain nib/ink combination doesn’t work as desired. Particularly with watercolor or gouache, the paint can sit in the nib and refuse to leave it. Try putting the very tip of your nib into water, just a tiny bit to get the paint flowing.
For some nibs, especially the Brause Rose or the EF66, the ink flowing problem is a common one and happens practically every time you put them to paper. You’ll have to use a special trick to get those guys started: Hold the nib very upright and make a small point or dent into the paper with the tip, until the ink begins to flow, then proceed with your normal line. As soon as there is some ink on the paper the ink flow won’t be a problem.

Ink Clogging:

You might experience this after a while of writing when you don’t clean your nib in water: ink, or paint clogs up your nib and doesn’t reach the paper. You should clean your nib in water from time to time and wipe it off with a clean cloth. Absolutely avoid ink or paint crusts forming on your nib.
Also make sure to clean your nib thoroughly after use.
When your ink is too thick altogether, it can help to dilute it with a little bit of water. You might want to fill it in a separate container for this.

Letterforms are not regular

When your letterforms don’t look regular and well-formed, this mainly has to do with irregular pressure und too little practice. This is something you should deliberately practice, with the help of my practice sheets or other resources from which you can study single letters. Use a guide sheet and really take your time to write slowly. This is an issue I don’t have a shortcut for, you will simply become better over time and with practice.
If all else fails and you don’t seem to make progress, try switching your nib. Sometimes you don’t make friends with a certain nib until you’ve mastered some basics, and some nibs are more forgiving than others.

Jittery, shaky lines

Particularly at the beginning of a calligraphy session, you might notice that your hand seems shaky and your lines don’t looks very graceful or even jittery. This can be helped by some warming up sessions before you start the real writing. You can use my Basic Stroke Pratice Sheet or just write random words and ovals, strokes and different letters for a little while (5-10 minutes). You’ll be surprised at how much better your lines look afterwards.
If you are properly warmed up and notice your lines look shaky or less elegant, try to relax and let it flow. Calligraphy has to be practiced by letting go, executing less pressure and control and applying loose movements to your letterforms. As I said above: this will come with time, and repetition.
Lastly, you can choose to use more forgiving tools that mask your shakiness: use a thicker ink or a nib that makes broader strokes and you won’t see jittery lines as easily.

I hope these tips for troubleshooting your calligraphy have been helpful, if you’ve come across any other issues that you can’t figure out, make sure to let me know!


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