How to use the Pilot Parallel Pen (full beginner’s guide) (2023)

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Pilot Parallel Pens are one of the best calligraphy pens available. And, in this blog, we are going to discuss how to use the Pilot Parallel Pen?

These pens are best suited for broad-edge calligraphy styles like blackletter.

And, Pilot Parallel Pen is my first choice when it comes to writing these scripts.

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For better understanding, I have divided the blog into these sections:

  1. Unboxing the Pilot Parallel Pen
  2. Construction and Durability
  3. Cleaning the Parallel Pen
  4. Refilling the Parallel Pen
  5. Blending with the PPP
  6. Papers to Use
  7. Calligraphy with the PPP
  8. Recommended Nib Size
  9. Are they worth it?

If you prefer watching a video over reading, you can watch the entire review of the Pilot Parallel Pens here:

Unboxing the Pilot Parallel Pen

They come as a set of 4 pens. But, you can also buy a single pen from the set on Amazon.

Each pen has a different nib width and is colour-coded. Here are the nib-width in ascending order along with their colours:

  • Blue: 6.0 mm (widest)
  • Green: 3.8 mm
  • Orange: 2.4 mm
  • Red: 1.5 mm

Here’s how the nib-widths compare to each other:

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Recently, Pilot has added 2 more nibs to the set

  • Pink: 3.0 mm
  • Teal: 4.5 mm

Although I don’t have them yet, I look forward to buying them.

Apart from the pen, the box comes with these accessories:

  • 2 Ink Cartridges (usually filled with red and black ink)
  • Plastic sheet (to clean the nib)
  • Blue pipette (again to clean the nib)
  • Manual with information about the pen and some basic calligraphy instructions
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We’ll go through each of these as we discuss.

Where to buy the Parallel Pen from?

Pilot Parallel Pens are very economical.

However, if you are in India, the complete set of these pens is available on for approximately INR 4,100.

So, I would recommend buying a single nib for now. Although a single nib would still cost you a little more than INR 1,000, it’ll help you get started with your calligraphy journey.

Remember, you do not need all the nibs right away to learn calligraphy. You can get started with one nib.

Now you’ll ask which nib should I get? Well, I use the pilot parallel 6mm (blue) the most. So, I would suggest that you get the same.

On the other hand, parallel pens are extremely affordable in the US. The entire set retails at approximately $25 on

So, if your friends and family are coming over from the US, you can get the entire set for around INR 1800/- That’s how I got them.

Construction and Durability of the Pilot Parallel Pen

First, let’s understand the construction of the Pilot Parallel Pen.


That’s because once you understand your tool in and out, you’ll be able to troubleshoot issues easily.

In essence, the Pilot Parallel Pen is a fountain pen. It consists of the following removable parts:

(Video) How to use the PILOT PARALLEL PEN | Full Beginner’s Guide

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It’s made by joining two parallel steel plates cut at 90°. The ink flows in between these plates from the cartridges. Hence, the name parallel pen.

Ink Controller

This is the part that consists of these black rings. As the name suggests, they feed the ink to the nib in a controlled and continuous way.


The ink controller of the parallel pen is covered by a plastic outer body which also forms the grip of the pen.

Ink Cartridge

This is a small cylinder to store the ink. It has a small metal ball to mix the ink in the cartridge. Also, it has a plastic stopper at the opening to regulate the flow of ink.

The box comes with 2 ink cartridges commonly in red and black. You can take the ink cartridge and push it inside the ink controller to fix it.

The ink might not start to flow immediately. So, keep your pen cap down for a while and let gravity do its job.

Once you run out of ink, you can also buy these cartridges separately. However, it’s easier to just refill them.

Alternate Ways

Some people also prefer using it as an eyedropper pen.

It means that they remove the cartridge and fill the entire body of the pen with ink. I haven’t tried it yet.

But I can imagine this helps them create a bigger reservoir of ink as compared to the cartridge.

That is very convenient especially when you are using a large nib like the 6mm where the ink runs out faster.

You can also use the Pipette here as a bigger ink reservoir than the cartridge.

You can fill some fountain pen ink in it and fix it just like a cartridge.

However, in this case, you’ll not be able to secure this pipette with the plastic body of the pen.


It’s a hollow plastic covering that screws onto the ink controller and covers the cartridge.


It’s colour-coded and screws on the nib and reservoir.

Overall, most of the pen body is plastic which makes it very lightweight. Usually, a lightweight pen helps you write for long durations without getting your hand sore.

How long does the Pilot Parallel Pens last?

Even though the body is plastic, the pilot parallel pens are very durable.

Although, I have had one incident where I broke the plastic body of the pen. But this happened after I used the pen for more than 3 years.

I was a beginner and applied too much pressure on the pen on every use. Plus, I used them very regularly. Hence, the accident.

Nevertheless, I am still able to use this pen without the plastic body.

And sometimes if I need the length of the pen, I just tape the plastic part to the rest of the body and it works fine.

So, now, I have been using these pens for over four years and there’s still no sign of damage. Because of the simple construction of these pens, they last really long.

How to clean the Pilot Parallel Pen?

With use, the ink gets clogged up in the mechanism of the pen and it’s good to clean the pen regularly to increase its life. Pilot Parallel Pens are low-maintenance and very easy to clean.

Quick Cleaning

Use the black plastic sheet

You can take this plastic sheet and run it between the two metal plates of the nib.

This clears any build-up you have from the dried ink in between the plates. Especially, when you dip your nib into thicker inks like acrylics.

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(Video) Pilot - Parallel Pen - How to Parallel Pen? (Full version tutorial)

Use the blue pipette

You can also take the pipette and fix it like a cartridge. Blow air or water in it to clean the entire pen assembly.

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Deep Cleaning

For deep cleaning, you can disassemble the entire pen. Remove the cartridge. Take out the plastic covering. Pull the plates out. Clean it with water.

Keep all these parts on a paper towel to air dry. And then re-assemble the pen.

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How to refill the Pilot Parallel Pen?

As discussed, if you run out of cartridges, you can always buy new ones. But, that’s not a great idea for two reasons:

  • Buying new cartridges is expensive
  • It limits the options for ink colours

So, you can clean up your cartridge and refill the same one with ink and use it as a new cartridge. Also, make sure you clean the pen regularly to avoid any blockages from ink.

To refill your cartridge, you’ll need:

  • A syringe
  • Any fountain pen ink

Just take some ink from the syringe and put it in the cartridge. Then fix the cartridge in the pen. Keep it upside down for the ink to flow and you are good to go.

If the ink still does not come out, slightly dip the nib of the pen in water to facilitate the flow of ink.

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Be careful around syringes. If possible, get a blunt syringe.

Which inks can you use to refill the Pilot Parallel Pen?

Pilot Parallel pens are compatible with a wide variety of inks, offering a lot of creative options.

As mentioned before, I use fountain pen inks to refill the Pilot Parallel Pen. That’s because these inks are not pigmented.

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If you use a pigmented ink to refill your Pilot Parallel Pen, it’ll clog the mechanism of the nib.

And if left unused, it’ll dry inside the pen and might make the pen useless.

So, if you are refilling, always use fountain pen inks.

You can use economical fountain pen inks like

How to use Parallel Pen with pigmented inks?

If you want to use pigmented inks with Pilot Parallel Pens, just dip the nib in ink to use.

Do not refill the pen.

Some heavily pigmented inks include

For 10% OFF, use code ‘SIMRAN10’ on Creative Hands’ website.

Once used, dip the nib of the pen in water and clean it with the plastic sheet to remove any left-over pigment.

How to use the Pilot Parallel Pen for blending?

You might have seen beautiful gradients created using the pilot parallel pen. Here we are going to discuss three ways in which you can do that as well.

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Dip the nib in the ink

This is a very simple yet very effective method to create beautiful blends.

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(Video) Pilot Parallel Pen 101: Use, Care, and Hacks

Say that your pen is filled with one colour of ink.

Now, take the second colour that you’d like on a palette.

Dip the nib of your Pilot Parallel Pen in the ink and start writing.

The first colour that appears will be from the palette followed by the one in the pen.

Using this technique, you can create multiple gradients like these. This is the method I prefer the most.

Change cartridge

Another blend that happens automatically is when you change the cartridge.

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Say, if your cartridge was filled with one colour, the nib still has ink even if the cartridge has run out.

So now, if you change the colour in the cartridge, the colour in the nib will appear first, followed by the colour in the cartridge.

Touch nibs

Another way to create a gradient is by touching the nib of the parallel pen with another parallel pen—both filled with different inks.

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The ink from one nib is transferred to the other nib which results in a gradient effect.

Which paper to use with PPP?

Well, it depends on which ink you are using.

Fountain pen inks work well on a wide range of papers.

A general rule of thumb is that if you use very thin paper, the ink will bleed.

So, try and use a paper of weight 100 gsm and above.

For practice, I use

Printing paper by JK Cedar is very smooth paper and the pen glides on it.

Whereas, JK Excel Bond is relatively textured. This offers nice friction while using the pen.

I recommend both these papers.

For a finished artwork, I use

You can buy these from and use the code ‘SIMRAN10’ to get 10% OFF.

Calligraphy with the Pilot Parallel Pen

As we had discussed, the nib is cut at 90 degrees.

This helps you place the pen perpendicular to the paper.

The writing experience with this pen is excellent.

If you are looking for a tutorial on using the Pilot Parallel Pen, I have one where I’ve demonstrated the Foundational Hand. You can have a look here: Easy Pilot Parallel Pen Calligraphy (Plus Foundational Hand Exemplar)

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(Video) Pilot Parallel Pen Calligraphy Tutorial | Foundational Hand Exemplar

The ink flow is very smooth and the thickness of the lines is consistent.

Also, you get very sharp and clean lines with these pens. Unlike chisel tip markers which have broad corners.

Speaking of corners, you can create a wide variety of strokes with these pens. When you use the broad edge, you get thick lines.

And when you use the corners, you can get fine hairlines.

Also, if you change the angle of the nib on paper, you get a wide variety of strokes of different thicknesses.

Sometimes, calligraphy artists cut the nib and modify it to create different strokes. I haven’t tried that out yet.

Which nib size do I recommend?

Now, which nib size should you get first?

A lot of people recommend going for the green one which is 3.8 mm.

But, when I wanted to buy my first parallel pen, a friend suggested that I go for the 6mm one which is the biggest nib size.

I started practising with that and later purchased the rest of the nibs.

Looking back, I find his suggestion to be the best for two reasons.

Firstly, it is always easier to start with a big nib size and move to a smaller one.

Secondly, big nibs help you notice your flaws easily.

So, I would recommend buying the blue one, the 6mm which is the largest of the lot, first.

Are the parallel pens worth it?

Absolutely YES.

If you want to get started in broad-edge calligraphy, these are undoubtedly the best pens available.

The writing experience is amazing.

They are compatible with a lot of inks.

They are easy to maintain.

And, they last long. I have mine for 4 years now and they still work well.

I hope you found this blog article helpful. If yes, let me know in the comments.

And, if you are also interested in brush pens, you might want to check out the review of Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens.

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Simran Sahni

(Video) PILOT【Parallel Pen】1.Basic writing techniques

Simran is the founder of The Calligraphy Raven. She helps creatives learn calligraphy through workshops, online courses, and printable downloads and has taught more than 500 students to date. She also has a keen interest in UI-UX design and marketing. For a break, she likes to travel solo.


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