What Paper Is Best For Brush Pen Calligraphy?

Ever wondered which paper is the best for calligraphy? If you’re worried about ruining your brush pens by choosing the wrong paper, then this is for you.


This is a question I get ALL the time! So, I’m going to show you the 3 rules you should follow when buying paper, my favourite papers for practicing, the best paper for brush calligraphy, and which specialty papers are worth splurging on!

First Things First…

The links below may be affiliate links where appropriate. This means that your purchase through these links may result in a few cents in payment to me, to support creating further resources like this one! That being said, I will never suggest supplies that I do not personally use and fully recommend.

Tools Mentioned

Now let’s get started!

Prefer watching over reading? Feel free to skip right to the video and see these in real-time! 👇🏻


Note: I am mainly talking about brush pens, BUT this info also can apply to pointed pens. For more on those, check out this video where I talk about how to set up a pointed pen for calligraphy. The brands of paper I am going to discuss may vary in availability depending on where in the 🌎 you are. The paper I mention here I am easily able to find where I live in Canada, and also generally in North America. However, it’s not a dealbreaker if you need to get a different brand!

So, What are the 3 rules you should follow when buying paper?

Rule #1: Look for paper that is SMOOTH

If it’s gritty or has too much texture to it, it will fray your pens and we do not want that! Just because it says “calligraphy paper” on the package, DOES NOT mean it’s actually smooth 🚫. The best way to know for sure is to physically go in to a store and touch it.

Rule #2: Buy 2+ of every pen you get (if possible!)

This will help ensure that if you do accidentally fray one, you won’t be so heartbroken.

Rule #3: When in doubt, stick with faux calligraphy

Sometimes you just can’t find the right paper, so you would just default to faux calligraphy, so you don’t need to use and potentially ruin a brush pen and you could use a less expensive pen.

If you follow these 3 rules, you’ll save yourself time from too much worrying about the right calligraphy paper!


Now on to the types of paper that I use!

I’ve categorized these to go from practice, to good copy, to specialty.

For practice…

Marker Paper

A little more expensive than Tracing Paper (see below).

Marker paper is known to be really smooth and it’s great to work with. You can also put a guide underneath a sheet and it’s still transparent enough to see through.

Tracing Paper

Any tracing paper will work!

Rhodia Paper

Tracing paper is a step down from marker paper, however it’s a bit cheaper and still see-through. It’s also a bit flimsier and not as smooth.

Rhodia paper is one a step up and is wonderfully smooth. It’s great for brush pens or pointed pens. It comes in all kinds of different formats and sizes. You can get them in grid or dot format, as well as just blank. It is a tiny bit more opaque than tracing or marker paper, but you can still put a guide under.

A client comes you and wants a “good copy”…

I get this question a lot – what kind of paper or card stock do you use for a client?

Bristol Paper

This paper is more of a card stock and super smooth. I will often times cut this paper into smaller, card sizes, depending on what a client needs. I prefer to buy this paper to pre-made cards, because I find those are often times too gritty in texture.

Bristol “smooth surface” – I DON’T recomment the “velum surface.”

Now if someone gives you an envelope or some sort of painting they want you to add calligraphy too, what do you do?

I have two solutions for this:

  1. I use faux calligraphy, again check out this video that goes more in-depth into how to do it, but it’s basically a technique using a regular pen (most people will NOT know the difference!).
  2. I keep a stack of my brush pens (hence the tip on buying more than one if you can) and I mark the ones I need to use on rougher paper, with washi tape. That keeps my good pens safe for the good paper, and I know my stack of rough paper brush pens will be the ones that run out of ink faster, etc. These are my sacrificial pens 😂.

So remember…

  1. Use smooth paper
  2. Get multiple pens if you can
  3. Practice faux calligraphy

And my final two tips are:

Tip #1

If you ever have a client who wants to provide you with their own paper, ask them for a sample beforehand.

Tip #2

Tombow makes an eraser called The Mono Sand Eraser…that can erase ink! 🧙‍♀️


And that’s a wrap!

I hope this was helpful in your paper searches, and please be sure to check out my 50-page free supplies guide!

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