I quite often get asked what materials I use in my drawings, so this blog post is an attempt to go over a few of the things I like to use, and some little tips for things that I've found work well. I do a lot of sketching on the go, in coffee shops or outside on location, so I like to have art materials that are portable, quick to use and not too messy!
(I'm not paid to mention any brands or anything, these are just all things I like to use in my work)
Here's a quick look at some new things I got in my last Jacksons Art order. I really like their site, it has everything I need in one place and it's good to support more independent businesses. I had just finished my sketchbook (I have a full flip through video here) and needed a replacement, and of course ended up getting a few other things I had my eye on. I think the only thing I haven't used much yet is the recycled A4 paper pad, as I found it didn't take wet media that well, so I'll keep it for pencil and marker drawings. I don't often do loose sheet work as I much prefer a sketchbook usually.
Pencils - I'm a recent convert, I never used to use pencils but lately I can't stop buying new colours! They're just so convenient, you get instant colour without any mixing or blending. I have a mix of a few different types, including Caran D'Ache Luminance and Holbein Artists which are both so great to use. I won't go into comparisons as I'm no pencil expert but I'm enjoying trying them out so far! I also love Derwent pencils, I have some Coloursoft and Lightfast, as well as the water soluble ones Graphitint and Inktense. These are so so great as you've got some amazing pigments without needing a full set of inks or watercolours!
I also like to 'swatch' all the colours of pencils I have in the back or front of my sketchbook, so that when I'm sketching I have a quick reference of the colours so I can easily pick out which I need. Also a pencil roll is way easier in my opinion than a case for pencils as I can see what I've got, and they don't tip out everywhere!
Sketchbooks - Right now I'm using a Seawhite travel journal, A5, hard covers with 130gsm paper. I just filled one of the same type so decided to get another, it's great for mixed media and the paper is just thick enough that things don't go through. If I had one criticism I'd say sometimes it goes a little bit grainy when using wet media like watercolours, and they don't looks as saturated as on other paper I've used. Overall though it's still one of the best sketchbooks I've tried, especially for outside as it's a portable size with nice rounded corners!
I also have another Seawhite on the go, but an A4 landscape watercolour paper book. I really like lanscape orientated sketchbooks for on location sketching, but they're a bit more cumbersome to hold especially if you're sketching stood up. The paper in this one takes the watercolour so much better, and my fave Pentel ink brush pen, which tends to bleed out on thinner paper. I guess watercolour paper is more absorbent so it can take the wetness of the ink.
Pens - I could go on about pens all day but for now I'll just give you my top 3! Firstly, the Pentel pocket ink brush pen, I love the inky effects you can get with this, it's refillable, and waterproof so you can add watercolour over the top! I've had it for years and it's always been a staple of my pencil case. Secondly, the Tombow Fudenosuke calligraphy pen with soft point, I think this is the one I use the most and it's perfect for detail but still has that lovely variable line you get from calligraphy pens. Perfect for writing as well as drawing, and once again waterproof. Thirdly, a chunky Artline calligraphy pen, really good for a variation of line and filling in darker areas quickly, almost doubles as a marker. There's a theme here, again it's waterproof - I have no time for inks that run! I often cheat a little and add colour to sketches onces I get home, so the lineart needs to be waterproof for me.
Paints - I'm a big fan of using watercolours; my old reliable set I use at home is a Windsor and Newton 24 pan set. Again I prefer quick sketches so usually go for pans over tubes. I also dabble with gouache once in a while, and found that Arteza gouache colour tubes are really good quality.
For outside painting, I made myself a messy little watercolour set using an empty tin and some pans from an old set. I also keep a tiny paintbrush in there, and a tube of white gouache for any mistakes. I also have this round set which is kinda cool and portable as you can separate the layers of colours, but the paint quality isn't quite as good - ok for quick washes though!
Water - I'm often using watercolour paints or water soluble pencils, so this (now rather battered) pop up water cup is one of my fave bits of kit! I got it years ago, I think it was by Faber Castell, and I've used it so much- as you can tell. I love the bumpy top edge to keep brushes from rolling off! If I'm painting outside I still use it and just fill it up from my drinking bottle I always have in my bag (stay hydrated kids!) However, a recent game changer is this Caran D'Ache water brush, with an extra reservoir tank that holds a decent amount of water- so useful for quick work.
Markers - so useful for quick sketching as you can fill a space up with really saturated colour so easily. I have a handful of Tombow ABT water based markers, which are a bit blendable if you add water, which can create some nice effects. I prefer water based to alchohol based markers as I like to draw on both sides of the pages in my sketchbook, and alchohol ones go through the page. Water based don't blend together as well as alchohol based but I quite like the loose, textural style of layered colours they can give. As a budget friendly alternative to the Tombow ones I have some WHSmith ones that are similar, great to start out with.
Finally, I always have a couple of bulldog clips for windy days so the pages don't blow about, and of course a pencil sharpener and eraser! Hopefully this was helpful, and any questions about specific materials or techniques please ask! :)