some things about nibs

Oy, summer is busy around these parts. I have some of my doodles colored and some more begun but in the meantime I have a huge pile of work and we are out of town next week and it’s just all kind of crazy.

I did buy a big pile of nibs from John Neal Bookseller – which is super, if very difficult to navigate (I can’t seem to link directly to products, for one thing) – and I have been trying them out. So I thought I would put my thoughts down here. I should note: my choices of what to order are somewhat arbitrary. Some nibs (brands, at least, if not specific nibs) came recommended from more than one source, some were based on the notes at John Neal, and some were whimsy.

The John Neal people are hardcore Lettering Folks, so a lot of their recommendations are based on what’s best for certain kinds of lettering (especially, apparently, Spencerian, which I guess is like the holy grail of hand lettering) which is not at all what I am doing. That said, they sure do know what they’re talking about. They also sell Dappen Dishes, which I still wish were even narrower, but which are a hell of a lot better than the shot glass I was using before getting some. I hate wasting ink.

Brause Rose – The John Neal people seemed to really love this nib. I thought it was okay. Definitely not my favorite, though it does have a fair amount of flex.

Brause 66EF – Also kind of so-so on this one. Holds very little ink (as many of these do.)

Principal EF – Another one they absolutely raved about. More ink than the above, and it’s one I’ll try out again, but not my favorite.

Nikko G – Medium flex and easy to work with. I’ve gone back to this one since my test page.

Gillott 170 – Gillotts are favorites amongst comics inkers. I liked this one quite a lot and it is very flexible.

Gillott 303 – Also quite flexible and smoother than the 170. I liked it better than the 170 in general.

William Mitchell 3.5 Roundhand – Nice if you’re doing Roundhand, not so much if you’re…not.

William Mitchell 4 & 5 Roundhand – a little better (esp. the 5) but still really roundhand nibs.

William Mitchell 6 – Bought this after seeing Laura Barnard’s lovely work, and I do like it. Still a little bit roundhand-y but really not bad at all.

Hunt 512 – Reasonably smooth but fairly stiff.

Hunt 56 – Not very smooth but fairly flexible.

Hunt 99 – Crazy flexible. Almost impossible to handle. It just bends willy-nilly all over the place.

Hunt 108 – Also incredibly flexible. Marginally easier to manage than the 99, but still very difficult.

Hiro – I liked this nib quite a bit. Quite flexible but still smooth on the paper.

So far I have particularly liked the Gillots, especially the 303, the Nikko G, and the Hiro. I will probably experiment more with the Brauses and the Principal, but most of the Hunts were not my thing and the Mitchells seem fantastic for their purpose but other than the 6 not helpful for me personally.

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One Response to “some things about nibs”

  1. Jen says:

    I have the two Hunts – I like them because you can get such a variation in line – but they break easily.

    Great list! – I will have to try out some of the others.