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Review: Rotring ArtPen Calligraphy Pen Set

I recently decided to learn calligraphy with this Rotring ArtPen Calligraphy Set my husband gave me.

It was a tad daunting at first when I started out with strokes that just didn’t appear right. But I soon got the hang of creating and connecting the thick and thin strokes after much practice.

The Rotring ArtPen Calligraphy set comes with 3 stub nibs in sizes of 1.5mm, 1.9mm and 2.3mm respectively. Each nib has a single slit;

There are 3 pen caps for each of the nibs (although the top of each pen cap specifies the nib size it is to be used for, each pen cap fits all three nibs perfectly well). There’s a clip on the side of each cap, and the caps are the push down type (which I personally prefer for its convenience);

The pen holder comes with a tapered body and rounded end, that comes installed with the 1.5mm nib;

The body of the pen (i.e. the pen-holder together with the nib) is longer than most conventional pens, which gives you more space to decide the position you are most comfortable with gripping the pen. My personal preference is somewhere slightly above where the nib is connected to the holder.

This is how the pen holder looks like on its own (the nib may be removed by unscrewing it from the top of the pen holder).

There are 6 ink cartridges included in the small box.

I like the fact that other than the metal nibs and cap-clips, everything else is light plastic – which makes the ArtPen easy to hold and manoeuvre, and thus ideal for calligraphy as you need to be able to control the angle of the pen as well as pressure exerted on the nib.

Ink Flow
The ink-flow isn’t exactly smooth when you use each new nib for the first time. In fact it felt a bit scratchy with a rather inconsistent ink-flow initially. I later learnt through writing on different mediums that the paper you use also plays a significant role in the quality of your writing experience (basically, the smoother the surface of your paper, the smoother the ink flow). The ink flow only improved and became more consistent after a couple of strokes.

As I practised extensively, I also used up quite a lot of ink. Thankfully I have a 1ml syringe (with blunt tip fill needle), and spare bottle of Noodler’s black ink at hand, which I used to refill the empty cartridges with. However, please note that I am using this fountain pen ink purely to practise my calligraphy writing in draft form - fountain pen inks are not recommended if you wish to produce calligraphy writings for presentation purposes. Because fountain pen inks have a lower pigment concentration and thinner consistency than calligraphy inks, whereby writing with the former tends to result in a more watery and diluted appearance. Furthermore, watery-inks aren't ideal for creating fine lines.

The ink is drawn when the piston of the syringe is pulled back, and I subsequently push the piston down to inject the ink through the small opening of the cartridge.

Then the refilled cartridge is inserted and pushed with its narrower end straight into the hollow space of the pen-nib.

Do be careful when you are cleaning the nibs. I was wiping the metal-end of the 2.3mm nib when it became dislodged from its plastic body. I tried fixing the metal-end back to its plastic body, but I noticed that writing with it was no longer the same anymore – the ink-flow was permanently affected, being rather inconsistent.

Here are some writing samples with the respective nibs:

1.5mm nib

1.9mm nib

Written with calligraphy ink

Written with fountain pen ink

The thickness of strokes are varied by adjusting the angle of and pressure exerted on the pen nib. However, it’s essential to maintain the same amount of pressure throughout or you may end up with patchy writings (darker and lighter patches for areas where greater and lighter pressure are applied respectively).

Note the difference in color intensity and consistency between the two writing samples of 'france' above - the sample written with fountain pen ink has a lighter tone, more watery and diluted appearance than the sample written with calligraphy ink.

2.3mm nib

Basically, the wider the nib, the thicker the strokes you are able to create, and hence the greater the distinction between thin and thick strokes within a word.

Overall, I would say that this Rotring ArtPen Calligraphy Set is helpful for beginners wishing to practise their calligraphy writing.


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