So you want to be a scribe?

One thing I look for when I want to learn a new skill is a list of all the things a brand new person would need to start. I could ask people who are more skilled than I am but I tend to be a bit socially awkward and I also sometimes feel like it harder for me to use the information than it would be to see a list.

I’m admittedly a very new scribe. It’s been about a year since I finished my first scroll (my troll scroll and a scroll blank went out around this time last year) but I think that makes it even easier for me to remember the basics to help you begin scribing (yay!)

What I am going to lay out is the materials you may want to have on hand to begin. This list absolutely varies with preference and if you REALLY want supplies to suit your preferences, I would highly encourage you to attend a local scribal meeting and try out some things. These are the things that I’ve found really worked for me and how much they cost.

  1. Gouache is the paint that many scribes use to start painting with. It’s great for beginners and more advanced scribes. Some scribes eventually move on to more authentic pigments but most scribes start with gouache. This is the set that I bought, made by holbein, it’s around $30. I just ran out of a couple of colors this month, they last quite awhile. Another popular company that scribes like is windsor & newton (W&N), this is a starter set from Amazon. The colors I use most are burnt sienna, carmine, ivory black, permanent green deep, permanent white, permanent yellow, and ultramarine deep if you want them seperately. I found value in the set because I could try the colors to see what I like and have small tubes when the less frequently used colors are needed. I also purchased a tube of gold gouache from W&N for about $15).
  2. The paper I use is bristol paper, which is fairly affordable and has a nice quality. I use strathmore 300 series, most commonly in the size 11×14″, and this will run you about $12 a pad. I have heard that some people use hot press watercolor paper which I would imagine would work really well, but I haven’t tried it yet.
  3. For calligraphy I use mitchell calligraphy nibs, you can find a set of them on this page on John Neal Books’ website for about $10. I was actually gifted some nibs when I first started but I went back and bought a 10 “variety pack” of nibs as well. You can also get a straight holder, such as on this page this page.
  4. I use two types of ink for callligraphy, the first you can also get on John Neal Books, True Walnut Ink for less than $10 and the second I get on etsy from another scadian, Iron Gall Ink for $10 plus S&H. I use two inks because the walnut ink gives beautiful browns and the iron gall ink gives a dark black but you could certainly pick just one.
  5. The last thing you’ll really need is brushes which is really personal preference. I use a variety of sizes of watercolor brushes that I picked up at a local art store. Honestly, you just want the tips to come to a point instead of bristols that fan out or are bent. You’ll also want a variety of sizes.

These five things above will get you started with materials that you will still want to use as you progress. I also find a cork backed ruler, t-square, lettering guide to be useful, and I use them for almost every scroll I work on but they are not essential.

If you want to try materials before you purchase, you should head to your local scribal gathering. Seriously! The scribes are extremely helpful and generous and love newcomers!

Finally, many of the things above are my preferences or preferences of others that I look up to. You probably won’t need it all to get going (you may choose calligraphy or illumination, or you may be able to borrow supplies) but this is what I would get if I were just beginning.

I hope you enjoyed this post and would love to hear your feedback! What supplies would you buy if you were to start again? If you are new, did you find this useful? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Until next time!

embla signoff


Author: Embla / Lacey

I'm a 30 year old with a lot going on! I hope to share some of it with you!

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