Drawing materials play a hugely important role in the success of the final artwork. Everyone has different taste and different budget but at the end of the day, the materials that an artist must have for drawing are the same. I hope this checklist that I prepared will be helpful for you in your drawing journey. If you want to buy these materials from Amazon, you can click on the highlighted words as I linked the pages there.
Having at least a set of 12 is a must. I have a set of 24 and although I don't use all of them (you can understand from the length of the pencils in the photo) it is good to have a variety of choices. Since I draw mostly realistic portraits, I rarely use the end of the H spectrum such as 5H-9H But I do use H for especially lighter skin tones. Because HB, 2B and 4B are the most frequently used ones, my set has a couple of each of those shades. How thoughtful of DERWENT brand! Although I don't think Derwent is great, they work well for the price.
2. CHARCOAL PENCILS
Another important item in Artist's drawing checklist is charcoal pencils. Charcoal pencils are my favorite to work with. They usually come in 3 kinds: soft, medium and hard. The difference is that hard one is more difficult to blend as it leaves more charcoal on the paper. Whereas the soft one can easily be smudged so it is usually preferred for larger areas, instead of fine details. Charcoal blocks are super helpful (and also super messy, so be careful!) especially when you are shading large areas such as backgrounds or dark clothing. I use GENERAL's Charcoal set and I am IN LOVE with it so far. I highly recommend it. It comes with 3B, 5B and HB shades of each soft , medium and hard charcoal pencils. There are 3 white charcoal pencils included in the set, as well.
3. DRAWING PAPER
Drawing paper can have any tooth (the roughness of the paper) it depends on the preference of the artist and the nature of the art. For example, I prefer drawing on medium paper, vellum paper and hot press watercolor paper. But there is also the sketch paper which is relatively thin, fine tooth paper and cold press watercolor paper that you can draw on. The issue with the fine smooth paper is that it barely holds the charcoal as the charcoal can't get into any tooth. And with the cold press watercolor paper, it might be hard to get fine details as the tooth will be rough but it will hold the charcoal beautifully. You also have to be careful about the color of the paper as for example Strathmore 400 Drawing paper comes with a yellowish tone whereas its sketchbook is white.
The heroes that saves our day! In artists' checklist for drawing, multiple types of erasers are needed. I personally love the Black 18 Factis Eraser (It comes with the charcoal set also) as it picks up the charcoal in a magical way. And the kneaded eraser creates miracles at picking up the graphite. This is why a lot of artists use kneaded eraser to erase their initial sketch. The best thing I like about the kneaded eraser is that I can shape it into whatever I want. So, for example, I can sharpen one edge and go in and erase a fine detail. OR I can pick up the charcoal or graphite in a rounded shape, etc. The other two extremely useful erasers are eraser pencils that I use for highlighting. They work wonders when I want to give the highlight s in the eye, in the hair, on the lips. OR giving details like vein of the leaves, animal fur, etc.
5. BLENDING STUMPS AND OTHER BLENDING TOOLS
In order to blend, an artist can use different tools. Blending stumps, - they are basically rolls of compressed paper- are the most common ones. They come in every sizes and the set that I have has a pretty good variety. It comes with the sharpener, which is used to get rid of the charcoal on the stump after each use. I find them really helpful especially for small or medium sized areas. A medium sized painting brush is also helpful when you want to do shading on the cheeks, neck or forehead area. It is also useful for blending hair. I use q tips (swabs) for small areas such as eyes and ears. Tissue is perfect for blending the large areas such as face, clothing or background.
6. PENCIL EXTENDER
This came in with my blending stump set, it was a nice surprise. If you go through your pencils like crazy, this could be your best friend. We all know that good art materials are not cheap. So it is great to use them as long as we can! This tool is really helpful for that. Especially for colored pencils this is a perfect tool.
7. PROPORTIONAL DIVIDER AND MASKING TAPE
Although these are more optional than necessary, they definitely help your art to improve. Proportional divider is great if you are trying to sketch a real life object on your paper with accurate proportions, OR if you want to sketch a smaller photo into a bigger size or vice versa. I use masking tape as I don't want to move my paper a lot (then my YouTube Channel audience rightfully get mad at me since I go out of the frame). But I also love to use it in my charcoal drawings since it leaves a very clean nice frame in the middle of that messiness.
8. PENCIL SHARPENER
After trying so many different kinds, sizes and brands, I finally bought an electrical sharpener and yes, I am finally happy. Especially with charcoal pencils and colored pencils artists need to be really careful while sharpening as they tend to break very easily. Glad that I am finally at peace. Again, I will share the link to this sharpener below if you want to buy it.
PS. My BB8 was so excited to see another little robot in the house. And was a little jealous, rightfully so!
9. WAX PAPER
Unless you want to look like straight out of a Vikings movie, you need to use wax paper during your charcoal drawings. Because your hands will get dirty. Like... Pure black. Then you will forget about it and smudge it everywhere. Then you will scratch your nose, itch your eyes.... You got my point. While working with charcoal it is good to have a wax paper right under your drawing hand in order to prevent smudging.
10. COLORED PENCIL DRAWING
Finally, I would like to talk about colored pencils. There are wax based and oil based ones. I own both types and I try to post tutorials about them on my YouTube channel: Ece Gurler Art. They have different qualities. But, in summary, I would definitely say that for realistic portraits, my wax based Luminance set works the best. Whereas Faber Castell oil based set does a good job with hair and fur details. As far as the drawing paper is concerned, I get my best results with fine paper. Strathmore Bristol smooth surface or Vellum surface works best with colored pencils.
I hope you find this checklist helpful and useful! Also, if you haven't received your FREE E-BOOK "10 Art Tips for Beginners" yet, please click here to download it.
Hope to see you in my next blog post or my channel at ECE GURLER ART