Image of a well-lit studio, filled with the most essential tools for a graphic designer and artist filling with warm light from the southern california sun.essential calligraphy and design tools

Tool Guide

Tools are one of our favorite ways of turning our work into play like when you get that feeling of being productive without actually doing something. I want to use some of my experience and knowledge on what works and what doesn't, to help you get to creating faster.

‍Check out all of these resources I use for different parts of my work, and if you have any questions, shoot me a DM on Instagram (@skybluejenny) or reach out.

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I receive a small commission from sales of certain items, but the price will will stay the same for you.

Calligraphy

Ink

Very dependable ink for dip pens. I've used this in multiple classes and it dries slightly glossy.
Very dependable ink for dip pens. I've used this in multiple classes and it dries slightly glossy.

Brush pens

This brush tip marker helps scale your calligraphy to a larger size. Use for a more gestural, expressive style.

Nibs & nib holders

This holder helps right-dominant writers with maintaining a 30° slant in writing Copperplate Calligraphy.
Highly recommended for beginners, this nib's stiffness makes it easier to control for someone who is just learning how to create thicks and thins with a pen.

Paper

Smooth paper that I use in my laser printer for printing my calligraphy worksheets. It's one of the smoothest kinds of paper and the weight holds the Moon palace ink very well without ANY feathering.
This size of paper is great for running series of drills on. The grid paper makes it so you don't have to draw lines all the time, and also white aesthetic gives me major bonus points.

General organization

Planners

Using this notebook for filling out daily morning pages, so I got it personalized with the words "good morning" on it.

Watch the full 2021 Mossery unboxing video here.
The half-planner / half-notebook solutions of Mossery is really great for regular planning on one side, and daily capturing on the other. The covers are all refillable with other notebook combos. This one I used in 2020 has a vertical half-year planner refill (undated).
Tested this out from Mossery because the vertical planner has been a little narrow to include information, but will be shelving for a while while I use my Year Task Planner These give a full week a full spread, and weekends get the same amount of space.
Currently testing out this planner. What I love about it is the tabs that help me jump from month to month. The size on this planner is very generous, and I leave it open on my desk to double as a desk calendar.

Digital Tools

After using Evernote for years, my friend Brigitte shared with me this tool and I transitioned all my systems here. It's such a flexible tool that can capture so many different parts of my life and work. I have a template featured in the official gallery and absolutely love to talk about building systems in Notion if you ever have any questions!

Sketchbooks

This I let myself scribble any notes or messy sketches and bring it with me EVERYWHERE. It fits in my purse and with the number of pages, it takes me about 2 months to fill.
Watercolor sketchbook, I prefer this size for travelling with watercolor paint
Works great with pen, but the watercolor washes tend to make the paper wrinkle a bit.

Fountain pens

Just purchased this one, and is a little pricer and slightly heavier than my Lamy Safari.
My very first fountain pen. It ended up getting lost in my bags, so I didn't use it very often, but Lucas is having a lot of fun with it.
I use the Herbin ink in a sheer color here to turn this into a refillable highlighter. It's a good enough size to highlight text in most of my non-fiction reading.
My favorite pen to bring on travels, it is pretty compact and it makes it easy to take notes in a tiny notebook.

Fountain Pen Ink

This is the ink I keep in my fountain pen, because it does not bleed when I use my highlighter or in my Year Task Planner
This ink inside of the parallel pen makes a refillable highlighter combination (watch me put it together here). It's the right sheerness of blue. It does run a little wet and causes some ink to bleed.

*Eligible $10 off your first purchase via this link on Mossery.

Graphic design & tech

Brushes

RetroSupply Co does it again with this set of shader brushes that I use in Adobe Photoshop with my Cintiq
These textured brushes by RetroSupply Co work amazingly in digital lettering and illustrations and are very dependable for use in Procreate. You can check it out in some of my own work.

Software

This monthly subscription reaches it's max value for me because I use these apps daily: Illustrator for most of my digital work and vector drawings, Photoshop for illustrating on my computer, InDesign for long text-based projects, After Effects for All of my animation (Even has Cinema 4D baked in), Lightroom for editing my photos, Media Encoder for exporting my AE files... and so on.

TLDR; this is one powerful subscription where you get a ton of value, especially if you're multi-disciplinary. If you're a student or teacher, you can register with a discount.
What I use to build my website and all of its pages. I have some experience in HTML / CSS, but I would get so frustrated when it came to developing for different screen sizes. I've been able to keep up with updating all the content because the designer backend matches the front end, and Webflow does so very elegantly.
I use this app and device to turn my iPad Pro into a second screen. This app was very helpful when I didn't have a cintiq, because it would include some of the frequent shortcuts I use in Photoshop on the side.

Hardware

I use this as my main monitor because of its size and lets me work directly in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. It comes with a remote that I've also reprogrammed to use shortcuts native to all apps including Adobe Suite and Zoom (so I can mute and unmute quickly). I got it to use with the ergo stand.
I use this split keyboard to keep my chest and shoulders open. It took me about 1 week to get used to the typing, and then another week for me to get to my normal typing speeds. It comes with tools to help with transition. I've added a series of DSA keycaps to help me with the keys, also for aesthetic purposes.
A habit built from college days where I used my laptop in tandem with a Wacom Intuos Pro. it helps with scrolling and zooming in and out.
I wanted to get an upgraded setup from my 15 inch MacBook Pro, so decided to get this with my Cintiq as the monitor. I purchased it with the intention of handling more motion graphics, but I've had to rely on creating proxies for editing my YouTube videos. One thing I didn't realize when I got this was that you need to have a separate microphone, camera, keyboard, trackpad, etc.

Video & streaming

Main camera setup

I purchased this camera because of it's live-streaming abilities, swivel frame, and that it's very similar to Lucas's Canon Mark IV that I was borrowing for a while. I keep it very close because it's super easy to use.
The single lens I've borrowed from Lucas and use the most for shooting portraits and video.
Lucas has invested in a lot of lenses over the years, , and so I can just use the ZEISS, I purchased this adapter. There is another version that has a control ring I was debating about, but turns out I didn't need it.
I use this teleprompter on a desktop clip stand. It's the perfect size for my 1st-gen 12.9" iPad Pro. Used in combination with Luna Display's teleprompter mode, I use it mostly for maintaining eye-contact with my students on Zoom calls.
I use this app and device to turn my iPad Pro into a second screen and a teleprompter when you use "Enable teleprompter mode" in the Preferences.

Other Equipment

I use this arm to top mount my camera or my phone, so I can view all the still-lives without rotating my RP
This is a solid table-top camera that has zoom and a light built-in making live-streaming calligraphy and artwork super fast.
I use this mount to attach my phone to a tripod, a c-stand, and a boom arm for the most control of taking photos / videos with my iPhone.
Lucas originally grabbed this to monitor his 3D prints, but I've stolen to use as a permanent web cam for live-streaming and Zoom calls because it's the easiest to setup.

Lighting

I use this ring light for all of my zoom calls by pointing it at my wall and having the light bounce on my face, otherwise the windows behind me tend to turn me into a shadow.
A set of 2 lights Lucas and I invested in for shooting products. They work, but the knobs on the side take more time to adjust.
I use these inexpensive gel covers on my Light kit to make my room blue. These were cut to size in order to fit.

Microphone

I had to get a blue, Blue microphone. As my first external mic, sometimes I plug my headphones directly into the mic to listen to myself sing, karaoke-style.

The caveat, is that the sound is best when this microphone is directly in your face, something I didn't learn until after using for a while. If you want to record yourself without the camera in frame, you're going to need a shotgun or dynamic microphone.
I was deciding between the Compass and the Rode, and decided to use this one because it has a larger reach, looks really on camera, and it literally says "Blue" on it.
This was my first pop filter, and it has maintain it's structure, despite my indecisiveness of changing the placement of my mic a dozen or more times.
Since my microphone is mounted directly onto the computer, this helps capture some of the movements I have on my desk, so it wouldn't be picked up by the mic when I stream. I thought the color would be a cute reference to "silver-lining".
Inexpensive lapel mic I use for adding voice to my YouTube videos. The cord is super long and there are settings to use it connected to a phone or a DSLR camera.
Tools and tips

Want tips and updates on my tools list?

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