zest-it register trade mark


zest-it register trade mark

Tip and techniques for using dip pen nibs and ink,
often referred to as Inking

Drawing and Inking work was part of my life for many years as an HND qualified Draughtswoman.
An element of this type of work involved knowing and being proficient with all types of surfaces and forms of ink work.
Also being highly skilled with the drawing and writing instruments, including pens of many types as well as the dip pen nib. I often do ink work when we attend art shows, most of the questions I get asked are 'how do you get fine ink lines on parchment and what is the best nib to use'?

Many people seem to use needle pointed Mapping nibs on their Parchment craft work, but, Mapping nibs are very delicate and were designed for use on paper and card, to easily form fine and wide lines, to indicated land features, when held in a normal hand writing style.

At shows I offer people the chance to try out Joseph Gillott Drawing nibs, these are needle point nibs that give the very best fine lines.
The 170 for a light hand; 303 for a normal hand and 404 for a heavy hand, all with the pen held normally.
After a little instruction about hand pressure, almost everyone found them easy to use, they achieved fine lines and felt happier about inking their Parchment work.

Use this link to my personal site if you wish to know about hand-pressure and dip pen nibs  you can also find ink work in the pen and ink gallery.

I personally prefer to see expressive ink lines, so in inking the examples on the right I have used thick and thin lines. I've used Royal Gold Metal Ink which is a slightly thicker ink than normal and a Gillott 303 drawing nib.
This thicker ink allows the finish to have a slightly raised 3D effect, which gives it a different look and style to the work.

The dip pen nib is held in a normal handwriting hold, thick and thin lines are obtained by the amount of pressure exerted by the hand on the nib tip. Fine lines are achieved by resting the nib on the surface, without undue pressure, the needle point of the nib is designed to leave a thin line of ink behind. Thick lines are achieved by the amount of hand pressure applied.

Expert, knowledgeable and experienced Victorian steel nib makers like (to name a few)Joseph Gillott; William Mitchell; Hinks Wells; Leonardt; I D Belcher; Brandauer; E S Perry and G W Hughes made nibs for every conceivable writing and scribing application.
Copying; sketching; for china clay; drawing; writing; lithograph; mapping; shorthand; artists; school, accountant and ledger were the main nibs, each tailored for a specific trade, surface or style of writing. Parchment and its modern-day equivalent were around at that time.

All were made for use with a normal hand hold, not held like a technical pen, perpendicular to the surface. The needle point dip pen nibs produce lines best in two ways, either pull towards you or at a slight angle moving sideways.

Most of the company's mentioned closed their doors in the late 1960's, however, William Mitchell and Leonardt still product quality dip pen nibs, a fine selection can be found in our online shop www.dippennibs.co.uk  and a selection of Vintage nibs in our online shop J and T Art and Calligraphy.

For anyone having problems using a dip pen nib for inking their Parchment or other work, I hope the information above is helpful.

Copyright Jacqui Blackman 2005

Pen and Ink examples.

tree drawing with gillott 303 and ink

Fine lines obtained using a Gillott 303



inking with gold ink
Inking the drawing
with Gold ink on Parchment paper.


thick and thin ink lines

using both thick and thin lines.


ink lines

Ink coloured background with Gold ink outline.

For help with cleaning your nibs try Dip Pen Nib Cleaner


the Dip Pen Nib Cleaner pot, the  pot has a sponge inside a PET jar, this is impregnated with Dip Pen Nib Cleaner.
The dirty nib is pushed into the damp sponge and left to soak for about 5 minutes, hen clean rinse under clean water and dry.

dip pen nib cleaner pot

Click the link for blending oil pastels on parchment by Karen Fitzpatrick.

Blending Coloured pencils          Ink properties for pen work       Blending toolss


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Suitability for Use
The information contained in this document is furnished without warranty of any kind. Whilst every care is taken to maintain the highest standards of quality, J. & T. Blackman Ltd. whish to make it clearly understood that it is the users responsibility to ensure that the goods are suitable for his or her own particular requirements. In no circumstances can claims be entertained for the value of work alleged to be spoilt by the use of a product which proves unsatisfactory, the makers liability being confined to replacement of any product proved to be defective in respect of materials or workmanship.