General rules for calligraphy in Gold and Silver

Words written in gold are especially beautiful on dark surfaces. I have explained here how to work with white ink on dark surfaces, it’s a similar principle for metallic inks: you should think about adding thin guidelines on dark paper. For light papers you can use a lightbox.

There are several possibilities for calligraphy in gold: a special kind of ink, or gel pens. If you use gel pens, you’ll have to thicken the downstrokes like I explained in this post, you can get gel pens from Uniball or Pentel in almost every store that has pens.
For the metallic inks there are several manufacturers, I’ll give you an overview on the brands I tried out. As with black and colored ink there are manufacturers who offer a very thin and non-opaque ink, of course that’s not what you want for your calligraphy in gold.

Different gold and silver inks


All inks with a metallic effect have one thing in common: they contain small particles that make the ink shine. There are no real gold or silver particles in the ink, but more inexpensive metals like bronze or copper. Depending on the mixing ratio these particles can be distributed good or bad, actually you’ll always have to shake these kind of inks very well, before and while you use them, to get a rich, shining writing. So every few minutes you should shake the bottle, it also can help stirring the ink with a small brush and applying the ink with it on the nib. Depending on the size of the particles, writing with certain nibs may not work very well – I have found that the relatively rigid Nikko G is not very suitable for writing in gold, the more flexible Brause EF66 lends itself much better to this task.

Rohrer & Klingner Drawing Ink Gold

Despite a lot of shaking I couldn’t get this ink to write satisfactory golden lines, the pigments are rather sparsely dosed and let the writing look thin. Since those early attempts, I use this ink for surface accents when I want to have a golden shimmer on my paper, for this it works perfectly.

Encre Sennelier Argent 02 Silver

A shellac based ink you have to shake very well and a lot, because the pigments will sink down again really quick. It’s best to apply this ink with a brush. It has a lot of pigments and it has a very compact feel to it, so it may be a bit difficult to get it to write with. The ink has a beautiful shine, almost a sparkle.

Ecoline Gold

This is a liquid watercolor that works quite well. The paint has to be thinned a little bit in a small jar, but it is very opaque and has a rich golden tone. It’s quite inexpensive.
I’ve read in a few places that you can use watercolors because they have a high opacity. This sounds counterintuitive, but then it only applies to the metallic hues. The Ecoline paint is only available in gold, but for silver and other gold nuances Finetec’s compact watercolors seem to be a great solution.

I’ll extend this list when I try out more gold and silver inks.

Examples for calligraphy in gold and silver

I have made small cards with all of the inks I’ve presented here, by applying the ink on paper with a broad brush. Here you can see that the Rohrer & Kligner ink truly shines, it leaves a light golden sparkle on the paper. Whereas the Ecoline ink looks a little bit muddy, and the Sennelier silver looks like I found a metalliferous vein in a piece of rock. You can certainly achieve different effects when diluting these inks.
If you want to write on these colored cards, you should try it out first before you plan to write all your place cards with this technique, it may be that the writing will bleed into the paper.

Below are a few examples for gold ink calligraphy.



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