In fact, you probably already own your basic drawing supplies: a piece of white paper and a pencil. With a bit of luck, the pencil has an eraser tip.
This is quite sufficient to start learning how to draw. This probably the cheapest form of art you could practice! The supplies you need are easy to transport, and you can just go out, have an adventure and come back with a full sketchbook.
But little by little, you will want to expand your palette of drawing techniques and progress in your art. Then you will need some additional art supplies such as an easel, brushes, canvas.
Here is a range of must-have art materials for the discerning artist!
Basic Materials For Beginner Drawing Lessons
Drawing is a fairly affordable passion, especially as a beginner. You certainly won’t be spending your whole salary just on a pencil and an eraser.
However, you do need to recognize good materials from bad. If you stint on the quality, you will only end up spending more.
But What Do You Need To Buy?
Your art teacher will probably give you a list, but until then, here is a little overview of some basic art supplies in addition to the cost of your art classes.
To become a good artist, a proper lead pencil is the first and most important item on the list.
Unless your drawing tutor has given you specific instructions, a pencil case with a pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener, and a ruler is enough. For most drawing courses you find, the teacher provides the paper.
What’s The Difference Between The Different Types Of Pencils?
Whether it’s called a lead pencil or graphite pencil, it will be your best friend for many long years to come. It is mostly used for preliminary sketches, a few broad strokes you will then fill in with the actual medium - unless, of course, you are drawing in pencil.
Graphite pencils come in several strengths, depending on how hard or soft they are. HB is the traditional lead pencil, a good compromise between soft (B) and hard (H) pencils - but there are many gradations on either side.
When taking beginner drawing lessons, you don’t need to buy all the gradations. In addition to an HB, you might want to buy a 2B. A little softer than HB, it lets you draw lighter lines - and make your shadows darker.
But how can you draw with a blunt pencil? You need to be able to draw precise lines to bring your vision to paper - so don’t forget to pack a pencil sharpener.
How To Sharpen Your Pencils
The most important question is not whether your pencil sharpener should have a casing for the shavings. The most important question is whether it makes a nice tip without breaking the lead.
As an alternative to a pencil sharpener, you can use a cutter or knife instead. This gives you more freedom in shaping the point, so your graphite lead is always exactly the way you like it.
What Type Of Eraser Should You Use?
You will also need an eraser to remove your errors. Learning to draw means making a lot of mistakes until you acquire a sure hand. You can leave some messy lines as they are, but it’s preferable to erase those that confuse the image.
There are two types of erasers.
One is the kind you have been using since Kindergarten. But there is also a “kneaded” or “kneadable” eraser that you can press into any shape you like. It also allows you to simply lighten lines and shading by carefully dabbing with it - great for highlights or certain effects such as drawing fur. If you press down more firmly, you can also erase lines completely.
It is as close to perfection as you can get in an eraser, as it unites two functions into one object.
Now all you need to do is put all your new supplies into a pencil case or an etui, together with a small ruler for straight lines and perspective grids, and you’re ready to start drawing.
If you’re still confused, here’s a list of the essential you should have as a beginner artist:
Necessary Art Equipment For Beginning Artists
Every artist needs their trusty arsenal of tools to begin learning and working. Alongside some of the supplies we’ve mentioned, these things are necessary to invest in:
The sketchbook is arguably one of the best art supplies for drawing. Though any book with hundreds of blank pages can become a ‘drawing book,’ few stay consistent when using it.
That’s why you must have an active sketchbook – one that receives your attention daily. And if you have qualms about whether buying a sketchbook is necessary, consider this:
A professional athlete works out daily for several hours to improve their overall performance, especially on game day.
Even though others won’t see the dumbbells and weights they use in their daily workout, those tools are crucial and play a vital role in an athlete’s ultimate success.
Similarly, the sketchbook – particularly the active sketchbook – is an artist’s dumbbell. It’s the dedicated equipment that helps create an artist while laying the groundwork for innovative ideas.
The world may not see your sketchbook, but it’s often the leading factor in the artist’s success.
Since the sketchbook is vital for everyday practice, you must choose one with several pages and the correct dimensions to cater to your vivid imagination.
Also, it must be durable because you will probably take it everywhere with you! Hence, you should choose one with a hardcover, so it can withstand repeated travel and use easily.
Remember, the hardcover will keep the corners of each page covered and flat, especially when you’re used to shoving your sketchbook in your bag with carelessness.
High-Quality Drawing Surfaces
No art supplies list is complete if you don’t have a top-quality drawing surface. Though you can draw on any drawing surface, the quality matters a lot and is equally vital as other drawing tools.
However, there are some aspects to consider before investing in one. These will impact the final result:
The “tooth” of a surface refers to the texture of the paper. This aspect contributes significantly to the overall drawing process, especially how the ink sits on a drawing surface.
Heavy textures will produce lines, which may seem “broken”; on the other hand, smooth textures will create smooth lines, value, and gradation.
Some artists prefer heavily textured surfaces, while others fancy smoother textured surfaces. See what suits your abilities best and choose a texture accordingly!
The term “paperweight” implies how much the ream weighs – 500, 1000, or 1500, etc. For many papers, their weight is connected to their thickness.
However, this isn’t always the case as there are papers that have a considerable weight, but, in reality, they’re thinner. For instance, 80lb paper is heavier than 60lb; while, 100lb paper is thicker than 80lb.
Unlike other papers, acid-free paper lasts longer. Without getting into technicality, the acid paper will not face discoloration or turn yellow with time.
In addition to that, it’s highly resistant to fading, which can happen if the paper is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.
For your convenience, here are some recommended papers you can experiment with:
- Bristol paper: Bristol papers are smooth and display a heavier texture (think cardstock). It’s rigid and perfect for producing smooth gradations or detailed linework with ink
- Drawing paper: A medium paper used primarily for illustration with drawing tools such as color, charcoal, or graphite pencils. Although you’ll find several drawing paper options to choose from, Strathmore paper is arguably one of the best art supplies for beginners
- Charcoal paper: Charcoal papers are thicker tooth papers with lightweight features – almost semitransparent, and it’s ideal for making textures. Like for drawing paper, these can also accommodate graphite, charcoal, and colored pencils
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Quality Pencil Sharpener
No matter what type of pencil you have, it has to be razor-sharp – a quality only achieved with quality pencil sharpeners.
If you rely on poor-quality sharpeners, you will quickly end up with a pile of broken pencil nibs. Pencil sharpeners are usually divided into two classifications: electric and manual sharpeners.
An electric pencil sharpener can do the job without breaking nibs or eating up your pencil. These variants are especially useful when you’re in a hurry.
However, make sure you don’t use them with your colored pencils. This is primarily because colored pencils have waxy binders that can easily build up in your electric pencil sharpener’s blades, rendering them useless. In addition to that, these sharpeners are durable and can last years.
The prices of electric sharpeners vary from model to model, and the higher the price, the better it will sharpen your pencils.
Although electric sharpeners have their appeal, manual sharpeners are also helpful and do the job nicely for most artists.
The way electric sharpeners come in various forms and shapes, the manual pencil sharpeners are also available in different sizes.
Choose a manual sharpener that suits you; however, it is better to start with a handled metal pencil sharpener.
That’s because it’s an easy and affordable solution, which can easily be replaced and moved. Though you can use a manual pencil sharpener for all sorts of pencils, it’s ideal for colored pencils.
Conte Or Charcoal
There are several ways to work on white and black drawings without depending on graphite. No art supplies list can be considered complete without conte or charcoal.
For example, Charcoal offers a wide range of mark-making and value gradation than graphite. Additionally, it also marks with a visible difference.
It’s available in the market in both pencil and stick form. But keep in mind that sticks are usually either compressed or vine. Within the two, the vine sticks are softer and create light marks.
On the other hand, compressed charcoal is concentrated and generates darker marks. Moreover, you can easily sharpen a charcoal pencil like a graphite pencil, making it an ideal pencil for detail lining.
Conte pencil is very much like the charcoal pencil in terms of color richness; but, the material used in Conte is different from Charcoal. Charcoal is made from organic material; whereas, Conte is mostly clay constituents.
Experimenting with different inks teaches artists to master the usage of lines. The line is employed to create an illusion of texture, light, and form.
Technical illustration pens are easy to find, portable, and affordable – making them a perfect illustration tool for young and beginner artists.
And you have the option of choosing between a Staedtler technical pen or Sakura Pigma pens, as both are good options.
Furthermore, when you’re set to hit the next level in ink drawings, consider using a nib or dip pen. These pens require bottled ink and are relatively easy to refill.
Although this approach needs more time, skill, and effort and is also less portable, the resulting illustrations have more appeal and character.
Also, you can choose felt-tip pens as they provide artists with the ability to make several different marks.
In addition to that, it allows you to make a wide range of lines. Apart from the perks mentioned above, felt-tip pens have a positive psychological effect on an artist.
Using a tool that creates permanent marks compels artists to be extra cautious and deliberate with the work.
Resultantly, artists become more careful when making marks. Believe it or not, you can improve your illustration abilities by simply replying on felt-tip pens while sketching.
Tortillions/ Blending Stumps
A blending stump is vital for artists who want to move or smudge material around. It allows artists to create gradations without using finger smudging.
It’s important to remember that finger smudging can turn your drawings into dirty, uncontrolled, and inferior pieces of work.
Therefore, you’ll be able to add smoothness, gradations, and thoroughness using blending stumps and tortillions, which can be otherwise challenging.
High-Quality Colored Pencils
Wondering where to buy art supplies? Well, for starters, you can visit your local art shop. And if you’re unable to find your desired equipment, just look for it online!
However, not all colored pencils provide the same results. Therefore, it’s essential to choose high-quality colored pencils. Here are some options to choose from:
The Prismacolor Premier pencil is buttery and soft and allows you to layer multiple colors to form a robust application, often similar to the painting. However, some users have complained these pencils break easily.
A Faber-Castell Polychromos pencil is oil-based and works differently from wax-based pencils. They need many layers to form a color depth; however, the results are impeccable.
Although these pencils are slightly more expensive than others, they perform exceptionally well on most surfaces.
A Luminance pencil is a premium, wax-based option. Compared to the Prismacolor Premier pencil, they are much stronger and provide a pleasant and smooth layer.
Perhaps the best about them is that they don’t break as easily as some of the other options readily available online and in-shop.
And if you’re planning to work on dark surfaces, choose D’ache Luminance pencils as they’re the brightest among all.
However, D’ache Luminance pencils are more expensive than the other two: Prismacolor Premier and Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils.
Art Supplies For More Advanced Drawing Techniques
Whether to alleviate boredom during the summer or because you have been curious about a specific technique for a long time, intensive or summer courses such as those offered by the Royal Drawing School are an ideal way to improve your skills and spend several days immersed in drawing.
It is a great way to discover new drawing techniques or improve your favorite art style. Whether you want to take drawing classes in watercolors, sketching in Scarborough, living model in Manchester, still life in Liverpool... You have only to choose!
But what kind of art supplies do you need when practicing between two art classes?
The materials an artist use are important. It is in fact possible to recognize the works of an artist merely by looking at the drawing materials he used.
You don’t need a fully-stocked art studio to improve your craft. However, it might be useful to invest in some art supplies little by little to allow you to touch on various different drawing techniques.
Pencils For Advanced Drawing Classes
Are you starting out with graphite?
There is a whole range of graphite pencils that will help you add subtlety to your pencil drawings by adding contrast, highlights, and shadows.
From 9H (the hardest strength) to 9B (the softest), the range is great. But what do you need them all for?
By having the whole range of pencil strengths at your disposal, you can create highly nuanced drawings. But certain strengths are also associated with certain styles:
- Hpencils are often used for technical drawings (architecture etc.)
- HBpencils for writing
- Bpencils for realistic drawing
So the latter will be most useful to you for figurative drawing.
However, lines and shading will also come out differently depending on the type of paper you use.
Finding The Right Paper For Your Drawing Style
Although a lot of drawing teachers will provide paper for their students, it’s useful to have a stock at home so you can practice any time.
It’s important to be able to draw whenever you like! Indeed, in order to learn to draw well, you have to be able to improve at your own rhythm.
What type of drawing paper you buy will depend on the technique you are using. Going out to buy paper means reflecting on what you will be drawing and how (landscapes, portraits, drawing animals, technical drawings…)
Different types of paper have different weights, colors and structure (grain).
A4 paper at 125g/m² is perfectly fine for beginner drawing sketches, but you will soon find it more pleasant to draw on thicker paper.
Sketchbooks are often the most practical. Their leaves are thick enough that you won’t punch through with too much paint, a hard pencil or too much erasing. An A5 format fits into most bags, but they also come in A3 if you want to make larger drawings.
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If you want to keep up with drawing, you might want to consider getting an easel. It lets you have just the right stability and inclination to position your paper or canvas and let you bloom as a pencil artist or painter.
If you want to become an illustrator, a light table is a good investment! It makes it easier to copy your line drawings.
Obviously, there are a number of drawing techniques that require their own specialized supplies (chalk, charcoal, sanguine, watercolor, gouache, acrylic or oil paints, tempera…) Most artists have a favorite technique that they regularly feed with new art materials.
So choose one or two techniques that appeal to you particularly and invest in those first.
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How To Store Your Artwork And Keep Your Art Supplies In Good Shape
Once a drawing or painting class is over, it’s important for you to be able to put away your art supplies and even more important to make sure they’re protected. Some materials easily become damaged and it would be a pity to have to buy new paper every week. It’s important to take good care of your materials so they will last a long time.
Not to mention keeping your finished artwork in pristine condition.
Whether you are taking private lessons, going to an art school or taking weekly classes at an art studio, you should always use a pouch for your papers.
The size, of course, will vary depending on your needs: while sketches and illustrations often make do with A4-size paper, a comics board is usually closer to A3 in size, and reproducing a painting often requires an even larger format.
An art folder, ring binder or a plastic pouch are some of the options available to you.
The most important thing is to protect your papers and artwork from light and humidity.
Some types of paper degrade quickly in contact with light, and humidity warps even the thickest of papers.
The same goes for your drawing supplies. A pencil case or etui will protect your pencils.
And don’t hesitate to use a little box for your kneaded eraser - they quickly pick up dust and dirt, rendering them unusable. An old film case is just the right size, or a washed-out mint tin. The closed box will prevent graphite dust from your pencils from adhering to the eraser.
And don’t forget to clean the edge of your ruler so it won’t leave traces on your next drawing.
It’s usually a good idea to review your drawing supplies about twice a year so you can replace used or damaged materials.
Where Should You Buy Your Art Supplies For Your Next Drawing Lesson?
It is generally fairly easy to find art supplies - no need to go trudging through kilometres of rain and mud to get what you need.
You have several choices.
Department stores generally have basic drawing materials on offer. Their shelves are usually well stocked with tracing paper, Bristol paper, graphite pencils, erasers or pencil sharpeners.
However, there are certain art supplies you won’t find in a department store. Your local stationary shop will have a better choice; some have whole aisles devoted to drawing supplies, with different weights of paper, graphite pencils in varying strengths, etc.
But the best selection is obviously in specialized shops. They have the greatest variety in terms of brands and mediums. And you can always ask the shop assistants for advice when choosing new colored pencils or Copic markers.
If you don’t have a specialized art supplies shop near you, there are a number of Internet sites that can help you out. However, it’s better to use them only when ordering replacements since you can’t try out or finger the materials like you would in a live shop.
So it’s best to have some idea of what you want before ordering from an Internet shop, though some offer samples for $1.41or less if you want to try out new materials you can’t get anywhere else.
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