Career | Real Life

11 Materials And Tools Every Sketch Artist Needs

Sketch Artist Draw
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A keen eye, an even hand, and patience: Those are undoubtedly the most important tools in the sketch artist’s arsenal.

However, getting into sketching also requires some physical tools and materials. This article lists the 14 most essential items to stock in your drawing room. Whether you’re a novice sketch artist or a bona fide expert, this is your go-to checklist for success. You can find these items at quality arts supply stores like Above Ground Art Supplies, which stock products aimed at every skill level.

Start with a Generous Array of Drawing Tools

To start, let’s list the actual drawing materials you need. Aim for various implements and tools, allowing you to create stark lines, shades, tonal variations, and edits. The six most significant items are:

  • Pencils: These are your workhorse sketching implements. You can buy pencils individually in piecemeal or opt for a good quality set like the Derwent Sketching Collection.
  • Erasers: Any eraser that successfully deletes your pencil marks will do the trick. Classroom classics like the Dixon Pink Pearl and Staedtler Mars Plastic work; for a slight upgrade in quality, try the Tombow Mono Sand or Derwent Slim eraser.
  • Sharpeners: If you have space for a wall-mounted, multi-gauge sharpener, that’s perfect. If not, opt for any sharpener that accommodates various pencil styles.
  • Charcoal: Charcoal is a fantastic sketching product, allowing the artist to make quick changes and seamless blends, as well as develop richly contrasting tonal values. Buy vine charcoal by itself, or consider a charcoal set.
  • A Blending Stump: If you don’t trust your fingers to blend precisely, pick up a four-pack of Staedtler Blending Stumps.
  • Drawing Fixatives: Fixatives are used to “fix” and preserve finished sketches, and tend to come in spray cans or spray bottles. Krylon, Grumbacher and Winsor & Newton make excellent examples.

Know Your Papers

Next, break out the paper. While it’s true that almost any blank paper can serve as a canvas for your next hit of inspiration, some papers are better than others. The two basic types to know are:

  • Sketching Paper: These are thinner, finer sheets ideal for the creative process.
  • Drawing Paper: These are heftier sheets that come in various textures. Experiment with different weights and textures to see what you like best, or ask a knowledgeable arts supply store employee for recommendations.

Store and Organize Supplies

Without dedicated storage, your workspace can quickly turn into a work of art itself – an abstract work of art. Keep everything tidy, compartmentalized and at-the-ready with these three items:

  • A Pencil Case: Pencil cases help you keep your instruments in an orderly fashion, while protecting them in transit. Global Art makes an excellent lineup of cases in different materials. Likewise, the Derwent Carry All Tote is a good all-around choice for storage.
  • A Field Sketch Board: This simple board-and-clip mechanism lets you collate your artwork and carry it around for field sketching. It also provides a solid mount for drawing on the go.
  • An Art Portfolio: A portfolio enables you to safely store your in-progress and finished sketches (while keeping them separated). The best ones also look professional enough for a formal portfolio showing – whether you’re handing in work to professors or employers. Check out the Itoya Art Portfolio, the Selectum Black Nylon Portfolio, or a basic, fibre-stock wallet-style portfolio.

The sky’s the limit when shopping for sketching supplies. But before you start soaring for the skies, start with these 11 essentials.

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