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Which art materials do I need to start drawing?

Sep 13, 2021
Which art materials do I need to start drawing

It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the art materials out there, especially when you just started drawing. Not having the right materials can be frustrating because your artwork will not turn out how you hoped. Here’s a list of basic art materials you’ll need to get started. 

Having the right materials doesn’t mean you’ll be good at drawing right away but it can make a real difference for the final result.

Paper

The paper I use for my graphite pencil drawings is bristol smooth paper. You can use any paper you like as long as it’s around 270 gsm (100 pounds) because it will be easier to layer, blend and erase when you need to. I prefer to use smooth paper because I like how the graphite blends on it.

The best paper to use for colored pencils is paper that has a bit of a tooth. I use bristol vellum paper for my colored pencil drawings.

By using paper with a bit of tooth the colored pencil pigment will have more grip on the surface and you will be able to add more layers. If you use very smooth paper it will be more difficult to layer the colors. Using very rough paper like pastel paper it will be more difficult to create smaller details. 

Graphite pencils

There are many different brands of graphite pencils and I have tried out a lot of them. The ones I like the most are Faber-Castell 9000 graphite pencils. They layer and blend beautifully and I can create great detail with them. The ones I use the most are HB, 2B, 4B, 6B and 8B. For the darkest values where the 8B isn’t dark enough, I use a black colored pencil. The Faber-Castell polychromos black pencil blends well with the graphite pencils. 

 

Colored pencils

There are two different types of colored pencils: wax and oil based.

The brands I use are Faber-Castell Polychromos and Caran D’ache Luminance.


Faber Castell Polychromos are oil based pencils. They have a hard pencil tip which I like to use for fine detail. I normally don’t use them to color bigger areas, for that I use the Caran d’ache Luminance, which are wax based pencils. 

Wax-based colored pencils are softer and much easier to blend than oil-based pencils. I use the Luminance pencils to lay down lots of color and when I need to blend bigger areas. They do need to be sharpened more often and also replaced sooner. Luminance is a brand that is expensive to buy, but they are an excellent choice if you are a serious colored pencil user.


There are many different brands of colored pencils. As a beginner, you may want to start out with student-grade colored pencils so that you get a feel for it first. But once you start using colored pencils more often and want to start selling your art you can invest in professional-grade colored pencils. The price of good quality pencils is a bit higher but it’s definitely worth the investment.

Good quality colored pencils are: 

Wax-based:
Caran d’ache Luminance
Prismacolor Premier

Oil-based:
Faber-Castell Polychromos
Caran d’ache Pablos

Sharpener

When using pencils it’s best to use sharpened pencils. If you use a dull tip it will be more difficult to add graphite or color into the tooth of the paper, you might also apply too much pressure and this will prevent you from adding more layers.

Try to use high-quality sharpeners because they usually have sharper blades. Or make sure to replace your sharpener every so often.

The pencil sharpener I use has 3 holes so I can use it with my graphite pencils and colored pencils which both have different widths.

Erasers

There are different kinds of erasers. I like to use a pencil eraser or stick eraser to erase fine details and a kneaded eraser to lift up some of the graphite for the highlights.

Colored pencils are much more difficult to erase than graphite. The more layers you have the more difficult it will be to erase. That’s why it’s important to layer using light pressure. 
 

Blending Stumps

I have different sizes of blending stumps. I use the larger ones to blend larger areas and the smaller ones for the smaller areas. Blending stumps only work well with graphite, when blending colored pencils you will use a layering technique. 

 

White Acrylic Marker

For the brightest highlights in my drawings, I use a white uni posca 0.7mm. This is an acrylic paint marker. What I like about it, is that once it’s dry you can go over it. When you do that make sure not to press too hard with your pencil or you will remove the paint.

 

Embossing Tool

This can be handy for creating small thin details like highlights, fly away hairs or whiskers in animal portraits. You can indent the paper where you want the fine details to be and once you color over it the graphite or pigment of the colored pencil won't get into those indented areas. There are different sizes of embossing tools or you can just use the tip of a mechanical pencil.

 

Brush

This is the best tool to keep your paper clean and avoid smudges all over your artwork. I use it to brush away any pencil bits that come off while coloring. You can use any kind of soft brush. The one I use is a large makeup brush.

 

Craft Knife

A craft knife is great to use with colored pencils. After you have burnished the layers you can use a craft knife to remove the colored pencil for small details or highlights. This only works if you have enough layers of colored pencil. Be careful with this technique because you don’t want to damage your paper.

 

Remember that whatever materials you decide to buy, the most important thing is to practice. If you’re a beginner you can’t buy the ‘right’ materials and expect to create a beautiful drawing right away. It takes time and a lot of practice.

 

If you would like to learn more about drawing with graphite or colored pencils you can join us in the membership. In the real-time drawing videos, you can follow my entire drawing process. While drawing, I think out loud, explain my techniques and show you how to fix mistakes when they happen.

You can also reach out if you want to so I can help you move forward. This way, you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself.

Read more details about the membership here and join us today so you can start practicing.

- Emmy


*This blog post contains affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

 

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