I totally get you, there’s so much to choose from, which pencil should I buy? What’s the best paper to use?
Another scenario: You enter an art store and there’s just so much colorful and good looking materials and tools to choose from!
You just need to get them all! Some of these, you don’t even need them, but you want them anyway because they look cute!
Oh… Am I the only one doing this?
Nevertheless, there’s always a ton of options for you to choose from and I’ve gathered some of my favorites, especially if you’re a beginner and just entering into the art world!
I also have a lot of Recommended Tools on this page, so if you’re torn on what you should choose, here they are!
Good Drawing Pencils
All pencils might look the same.
The truth is that there are different levels of hardness.
Sometimes, you might choose pencils that are just too hard, that will scratch and leave marks all over your paper.
They can also happen to break too easily.
On the other hand, you might also buy some pencils and find out they’re too soft and smudge a lot. And that’s just not your thing!
There are two things to have in consideration here: decide what kind of drawing you’ll be doing and get pencils that are appropriate for it.
And two, buy a pencil that you’re comfortable with!
This last one might seem pretty obvious.
All pencils look and feel the same. Or at least they seem to!
Well, not always. Some might be thinner than others.
For me, personally, my hands tend to strain a lot, and using a thicker pencil can help them not getting cramped that easily.
So I do recommend you to try out different graphite or colored pencils, or both and see what you feel more comfortable with.
Now for the other side: deciding which kind of drawing you want to do.
Well, first of all, you’d want to decide if you prefer to work in grey tones, with graphite, or if you’d prefer to work with colors. Of course, you can always go for both, having both graphite and colored pencils is always a great idea!
Choose Pencils Depending On The Drawing
Now let’s go for the second part: what kind of drawing are you doing? Sketching, technical drawings, a lot of shading?
Depending on these, the hardness of the pencil should be different.
For technical drawings (very complex, realistic drawings of, say, cars, machines, etc), people usually go for a harder pencil, so they can draw thin, perfect lines more easily and avoid smudges.
If you want to use graphite pencils merely for sketching, like me, and even for shading, go for a medium or softer pencil.
Not too hard, but not too soft either.
This way you can comfortably sketch away, with some softness on your pencil and thickness to your lines.
Now, of course, you can also end up choosing this or that specific hardness, because you like to work with it. You like how it feels when drawing. It’s important to note here, that this might not happen at first try, that’s why I usually recommend buying a case.
They usually come with a nice range of different hardness on the graphite and they’re not too expensive.
Get a Pencil Case for Variety!
If you’re just getting into drawing, this might be the perfect option for you.
This way you can explore different kinds of graphite pencils and decide better, what do you prefer to use.
You’ll also have pencils that will last you for quite a while!
Now before we go to our next material, just a note or two about colored pencils, if you’re leaning into that.
Once again, you can get them separately or in a case.
If you already know what colors you want or prefer to use the best or if you just ended one of your colored pencils and need another, then by any means, buy them individually.
However, if you don’t own any and you’re just starting, once again I recommend you to start with a case.
Once again, they’re not that expensive and you’ve got lots of colors to explore!
Even if you’re just using your pencils to relax with some coloring books, a case gives you much more options!
Now as for the hardness, this is not so obvious as with graphite.
Usually, it has a medium hardness to it. But, some colored pencils are water-soluble (perfect for watercolors!) and these tend to be softer.
I talk more about this and recommend specific pencils right here if you’d like to check it out: Recommended Pencils!
The Right Paper For Drawing
As it is with pencils, so it is with the paper!
Having the right paper for drawing is very important.
Regular printing paper just won’t cut it.
The only times I recommend for you to use printing paper is when you just feel like doodling and you happen to not have your sketchbook around.
And even then… Well, keep your sketchbook around, chances are that will be your favorite kind of paper to use!
Invest in a nice pad of heavier cartridge paper or in a whole sketchbook. Especially if you’re using other mediums like inks and watercolors, having the right supplies is very important!
Like I just mentioned, you should also take into consideration what kind of medium you’ll be working with. If you like to use wet mediums, like watercolors and acrylics, you should get the thickest kind of paper.
Something around 300 gsm would fit just right!
However, if you mostly use pencils, pastels and inking pens a pad with around 100gsm, maybe even 90gsm is more than enough. As for markers, something thicker might also be good, but there’s also specific paper for you to use with markers, so you can try that out as well!
Here is my Recommended Paper.
Get A Sketchbook To Your Size!
As for sketchbooks, the most important thing to have into account is probably the size.
Personally, I always have at least two: a bigger one, usually A4, to use at home and a small sketchbook, around A6, that I can carry around with me.
Now, I talk a lot about sketchbooks in this post, as well as my recommended sketchbooks, so you can go check them if you need some inspiration. It’s pretty clear over there that I love these.
You can not only draw on them but take notes and ideas that come to your mind.
Keep small cutouts from photographs or imagery that you saw, liked and inspired you.
It’s almost like a journal and I really recommend for you to start carrying a sketchbook around with you at all times. It really gets your inspiration and motivation going!
And, again, my Recommended Sketchbooks.
Again, depending on which material you’re using, you might need different kinds of erasers.
But, there isn’t much to say here, really.
I’d say to always have at least one, very common, white eraser. The ones you’ve probably always used in school and see everywhere.
This is what I usually use since I don’t do a lot of traditional art, I tend to just use my eraser to erase small details or lines on my sketches.
To be quite honest here, it’s very rare for me to use an eraser.
You should do the same!
Having an eraser at hand makes so that you focus too much on your mistakes.
Before you know it, you’ll be spending 90% of your time in that tiny line you can’t seem to get right, instead of having fun with sketching.
But, if you do work a lot with traditional mediums, you’ll need erasers. In this case, though, I’d recommend for you to buy a Kneaded Eraser at some point. I really like the Faber-Castell ones!
Very simply put, these are very good not only for graphite pencils but also to erase colored pencils and even charcoal!
It has also many other uses and I go about all of them, as well as how to use a kneaded eraser right here. So if you’re interested in getting one and want to know more about them, jump on that!
There’s isn’t much else I can add here, except maybe that you can check out some of my recommend erasers right on my recommended tools page!
A Pencil Sharpener
Broke your pencil tip? No problem! Always have a pencil sharpener at hand.
A regular sharpener is fine, but I do recommend the X-Acto electric pencil sharpener for a more automated tool with different sizes for different pencils.
If you work a lot with pencils, you’ll notice that you need to constantly sharpen your pencil.
For this reason, might as well get something that will last you for a long time and that will also make you work faster and with fewer interruptions.
Not only is this sharpener electric, making the task way faster, it also has a small container, well all the rubbish will fall.
This way, you don’t even need to move from place. Simply put your sharpener on your desk, close to a plug and it’s always ready for use!
This is the one I recommend (click to check it on Amazon)
If you really want to do some inks or even practice calligraphy, quality inking pens is a must!
If I want to just sketch, but I’m feeling like fooling around with pens, I’ll just use some regular Bic pens, I usually have them in different colors and everything.
But, like I said, this is just to have some fun, sketching and to do some messy doodles.
For inking, best not to grab the cheapest pens that you find.
They can be a mess.
They can bleed a lot and spatter ink all around and ruin your drawing. Talking from experience here! When it comes to inking pens, I prefer to go for something that is more expensive, but that I know will work well!
I really like the Sakura Pigma inking pens, for example. They’re really comfortable to work with, they dry really fast and they usually come in packs, with different nib sizes.
Once again, if you’re just getting into inking and don’t know what kind of nib or size you prefer to use, buying a pack is the way to go.
They usually come with different nib sizes, as well as at least one pen with a different kind of nib, for example with a brush!
This way you can experiment and see what you prefer to use. From then on, you can start by just buying the ones you like the best, individually.
If you want to get more into inking pens, as well as other options, you can check right here!
The Drawing Tablet for You
Drawing Tablets are a whole other subject, that’s why I wrote about them in an article not too long ago.
But if you’d just like to skip ahead, I’ll keep this very short and you can also just that a look on what I recommend for Artists, so here’s the link to my Recommended Drawing Tablets.
Very shortly, there are two things to take in consideration: size and your budget.
There’s drawing tablets for everyone!
If you want something very portable, so you can carry around with you, something smaller might work better.
Also, the smaller and simpler the tablet is, the less expensive it is. If you’re just getting into digital art and want to start small, look for that.
If you want to have your drawing tablet always in the same place and you’re somewhat experienced with them, then you’re at a good place to get a bigger, more precise and complex tablet, that will last you for a long time!
Finally, if you really want to go all the way, there’s the screened option.
A drawing tablet that is also the monitor, this way you’re drawing right on your canvas, just like when you’re drawing on paper.
Here’s the link again with all my recommended Drawing Tablets, divided by Budget and options.
Anatomy Mannequins for Reference
This one can be a bit more secondary, but the truth is that it’s very helpful and you can get something already pretty good, at a very low price.
My point with anatomy mannequins is that with them, you can actually observe and learn with a 3D model.
By looking at images online, sometimes you might get frustrated at a certain pose or part of the body that you can’t just get right.
With a mannequin, however, by having the model right beside you, you can move around, look more closely and from there understand better the shapes you need to draw.
Another plus here is, if you buy an articulated mannequin, is that not only you’ll be able to have a model to check proportions and shapes, but you’ll also be able to move it around and have it at any pose you’d want.
From experience, I know how hard and frustrating it can be to find a specific pose or an image with the pose you want that you like. So in those cases, your mannequin is your best friend!
With this said, there are different kinds of mannequins: anatomy figures, in a neutral position, so you can learn the proportions of the body.
You can find different versions of these ones, body, muscles and even bones, so you can study every single detail of anatomy!
Then, there’s articulated ones, some more anatomical, others very simple.
And, finally, models for a particular part of the body, for example, hands or a bust! If you wish to know more about mannequins and some options, you can check them right here!
If you’re tired of pencils or would just like to try a bit more of Color, coloring markers are the perfect solution for you.
Markers are very fun to use, but finding the right markers can be hard.
Just like with Inking Pens, I always prefer to go on the safe way with markers and buy something that I know it’s high quality, so fewer chances of them failing on me.
I’m a very big fan of Copic markers!
One of the main reasons is the smell! They don’t give off that strong alcohol smell, at least not for me.
The thing that most bothers me with markers can be their smell.
I tend to be very sensitive to it and end up having headaches. So if the same happens to you, this is already a great advantage!
The second thing it bothers me is how much some markers can bleed and how long they take to dry.
And Copic delivers excellent quality in this topic!
Of course, if you’re just starting and don’t want to go with something so expensive right off the bat, there are some other options for you.
Overall, coloring with markers can be very fun, but it takes some learning, so don’t give up easily!
Have fun with it and practice a lot!
Here’s a link with different options, budget and high quality!
Watercolor Supplies (Big One!)
This is a big one. And it deserves its own post.
There are so many watercolor supplies to talk about. The main supplies you’d need to get would be obviously a good watercolor paper, ink, and brushes!
Now, I do go into a lot of detail about watercolors on this article right here, so you can check it out and take a look, see the essentials and what kind of materials are best for watercolor.
Drawing Courses To Help You Grow
Even though this isn’t a concrete material or supply, it still counts.
You can always learn by yourself and be your own teacher, it can be harder though!
Also having someone that you can turn to, to ask questions and help you if you hit a slump can be very helpful and less frustrating.
There’s a lot of people just like you, learning a new skill.
And there’s also a lot of people that have done the same road you did and want to help you.
You don’t even need to leave your house! There are wonderful online platforms with very friendly communities that you can join. So do consider investing in yourself and future as an artist and grab one drawing course and go through it!
I am, happily, part of these communities and I have several beginner-friendly drawing courses that you can check out (and grab a discount while you’re at it)!
Artwork and Supplies Storage
Wow, all these new materials, but where to put them? I’ll be honest here… I’m a mess when it comes to storage!
But, I do keep them in specific places, when I remember them.
Plastic storage boxes, those that you can find in the supermarket or other supply stores, usually do it for me.
Having a safe place to store everything is important. Don’t let your artwork get crumbled around or lost under the furniture (trust me!).
For artwork, a simple solution is to just put it in a folder, in a cabinet on your house.
But if you’re looking for a more professional storage solution, check out one of my recommended Drawing Tables which comes with a storage for your supplies.
This one is very handy, since it with, you can have both your supplies and even some of your artwork, right next to you while you work!
Summing It Up
This is my personal selection of drawing materials and supplies that you must have.
As a beginner artist, you might be intimidated by such a big selection.
Alternatively, you don’t need to buy all of these right away.
Take your time, buy one tool, then other and figure out what you prefer to work with.
So if you can’t really invest the money on these tools right away, just grab a pencil around the house and a piece of paper, and get going.
There’s nothing stopping you. Just go do it and have fun!
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