These are the Pilot Parallel Pens I bought recently. They are calligraphy pens and are real fun to use. The price is quite affordable so I think they are great for beginners.
The Parallel Pens come in four nib sizes: 1.5, 2.4, 3.8 and 6mm. Each size comes with a cap of its own colour. There's no clip on the cap.
The cap is the screw on type and it does effectively prevent the ink from drying out. When you uncap, the nib is always wet and ready to be used.
The pen design is simple with body comes with a tapered end, and at the end is just the name of the pen.
Other than the metal nib, everything else is plastic. The seemingly cheap construction material is probably what makes the pen affordable.
The nib and feed is housed inside a transparent grip and you get to see whether or not the ink has been used up.
The pen comes with a box with all the items inside neatly laid out. Included are the pen, the cap, two disposable ink cartridges (red and black), an ink convertor and a piece of thin plastic for cleaning the nib. There's also a small instruction manual on how to use the pen, and a brief guide to writing calligraphy.
The Parallel Pens use a lot of ink. The 6mm nib is an ink guzzler where you can use up the ink in probably under half an hour if you write a lot.
The ink convertor is the pinch and press type. Unfortunately, it's not transparent so you won't be able to tell whether the ink has run out.
For me, I actually refill the disposable plastic cartridge with Rotring ink using the small bottle. I noticed that the Rotring ink does not flow as smooth as the Pilot ink, but it's not that big an issue as I just have to write a bit slower. I've friends who do away with the cartridge and just fill the whole body with ink.
The disposable ink cartridges are also sold separately, either in packs on six for single colours, or packs of twelve for assorted colours.
With the Pilot Parallel ink, you can mix ink just by holding the nibs in contact with each other, letting the ink flow from one pen to the other. After which when you write, you'll get a nice gradation from one colour to another.
The pen can be disassembled easily by just pulling out the feed from the grip. This makes cleaning and maintenance easy.
The size of the nib is stamped to the side of the plastic part that holds the nibs together. The nib is actually two pieces of flat metal held together.
There are very tiny grooves cut onto the horizontal edge of the nib. This enables the ink to flow evenly and reach all parts on the edge. You can also use the thin side of the nib for a 0.5mm stroke.
I don't know any calligraphy so pardon my penmanship. Just like a calligraphy pen, depending on how you hold it, you can easily vary the strokes that come out.
On the top is the 1.5mm Parallel Pen vs the Platinum 3776 that has a broad music nib. The ink that comes with Pilot is deep black. I used the Noodler's ink below for the Platinum pen which you might be able to notice is slightly lighter. Pilot ink is not waterproof.
If you write too fast, especially for the larger nibs, the ink might not flow fast enough and you'll get the dry strokes. There are some interesting effects to create depending on how fast you drag the nib across the paper. The large nibs are good for filling in black areas fast.
If you write with the pen vertically, you can force the nib against the paper so that it sort of gets caught and when the nib gets moving again, there will be ink splatter. Quite a cool effect. One downside is paper fibre may can caught between the nibs.
The calligraphy pen is quite a peculiar pen to use for drawing because of the strokes it creates. One has to be aware of how the pen is held so that you know when get a thick or thin stroke when you want it. I like the textural look you can get when drawing fast not allowing the ink to keep up.
Here's a video showing Leigh Reyes drawing with the 6mm Parallel Pen.
The Pilot Parallel Pens are a good way to get into learning and writing calligraphy. They are real fun to use and very affordable.
Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | Jackson's Art (UK)