In contrast to a fountain pen, ballpoint pen, or other pen with an internal ink supply, a dip pen must be dipped in a separate ink supply. Dip pens are also known as nib pens because a small amount of ink is typically stored in the pen’s metal nib, or tip, when it is dipped into an ink supply. A dip pen’s nib can often be removed from the pen’s body and replaced with a different nib that is better suited to the task at hand. Nibs are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, ranging from wide and flat for calligraphy to small and very pointy for precise writing or artistic work.
Dip pens can be made out of a variety of different materials. Because the nib of the pen must be both durable and flexible, it is usually made of metal. The pen’s body or handle can be made out of almost anything. Plastic, bone, and wood are all common materials. Some dip pens are entirely made of glass, and while they are functional, they are more ornamental than functional.
Despite its inconvenient nature, the dip pen continues to be widely used in some fields, though it is rarely used for standard writing. Dip pens are generally inexpensive because they are made of low-cost materials. Artists will appreciate how easily their nibs can be replaced. Dip pens can handle a wide range of inks, including India ink, which can clog and damage fountain pens. Artists use a variety of different kinds of ink, so having a pen that can handle them is very useful.
The quill was the primary writing instrument prior to the invention of the dip pen. Large bird feathers were used to make quill pens. Quill pens are similar to dip pens in that they must be dipped into a separate ink supply on a regular basis. Dip pens, which are more durable and long-lasting than their feathered counterparts, improved on the concept of quill pens.
Dip pens are still used some artists, illustrators, and calligraphers because of their versatility and low cost. Because of their ability to produce a wide range of line thicknesses, they are frequently used comic artists and inkers. They also prefer the dip pen because of the low cost and ability to switch nibs, which allows for frequent ink color changes.