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My Top 5 Art Supplies - Part 1

I get asked a lot what my favourite art supplies are, or what I use the most to make my artwork. Let me tell you, it has been quite the journey trying to figure out what works, and what doesn't. I am happy to say, however, that after many years of trying out (SO MANY) products, I have narrowed them down to what works best for me. Hopefully after reading this, you will be able to get a kick start on that process too.

Let's take a second and imagine... Have you ever been in this position? Standing in front of a massive isle of an art supplies store, with not a clue in your mind of what you should buy? Art supplies are expensive, and you don't want to waste your money on products that might not work for your purpose. In this post, I hope to help you figure out what products will work for you, or at least, point you in the right direction!

Paint Brushes

What I Use

Now, there are about 5 types of art supplies that I use ALMOST EVERY DAY! These supplies can work together to make countless styles of artworks from sketchbook spreads to feature pieces. There are countless options (that I will narrow down) depending on your skill level and price range.

So you might be wondering... What are they?

My top 5 art supplies are:

  • Fineliner Pens

  • Mechanical Pencil

  • Pencil Crayons

  • Watercolour Paints

  • Paint Brushes

With these 5 supplies in your art drawer, I am confident that you can explore many different styles and techniques.

My Review and Recommendations

In this post I will be going over the first three items on my go-to list. Fineliner Pens, Pencils, and Pencil Crayons. I will explain why and how I use them. Then I will also let you know a few different options for those products, depending on your preferences, price range, and skill level.

#1: Black Fineliner Pen

Emmanuelle Connor Ink drawing

Fineliners are probably my favourite art supplies in the world. They are generally made with a secure lid and very thin felt tip. They're portable, consistent, and so clean looking! I use them to make large detailed drawings (such as the one here), add detail to my watercolour paintings, and sketch out random things in my sketchbook.

If you go to a store, and see hundreds of pens on display, it can be rather intimidating. So, I have some rules when it comes to buying a good fineliner pen. First of all, the ink must be waterproof! Look for a pen that says it is waterproof and ideally fade resistant. Usually it is written on the pen itself. Watch out for pens that are water based, as they will smear if they get wet. This is especially important if you plan on painting over your ink drawing. Please learn from my mistakes and buy a fineliner with waterproof ink.

My go to fineliner is the Sakura Micron Fineliner. I could go on about them for litteral hours. When I say "quality.".. I mean "QUALITY"! Their most common use is for comic books, however, I use them for pretty much everything as they come in a huge variety of sizes. If I was to recommend any pen in the world, it would be these.

If you are looking for a cheaper option, Sharpie also makes fineliners that will do the trick. My only complaint with those is that the ink they use sometimes has a purple tint to it that could possibly become more obvious over time. But they still work pretty well, especially for beginners.

In conclusion, as long as it is waterproof, you're probably good to go!

#2: Mechanical Pencil

I feel like saying that you need a decent pencil is kind of obvious. But really, it is so necessary for the planning and execution of any idea you will have. I find that as my skills have progressed, I use a pencil less and less on the actual piece I'm working on. Since graphite (the material inside the pencil) tends to have a shiny component to it, I try to avoid showing pencil in my coloured drawings. But when it comes to sketching ideas and laying out a light outline for my final piece, a good pencil is so important.

So what makes a pencil good?

  • Its ability to stay sharp

  • Its ability to be erased

In all reality, you can probably get your pencil at the Dollar Store. I usually use those cheap mechanical pencils that you can buy in a 50 pack! But the most important thing is, that you need to be able to erase any unwanted pencil marks in your artwork. This is why I go for mechanical pencils, because the lines are so thin and light. But remember, if you push too hard on your pencils when you draw, it will be super hard to erase, and will likely damage your paper. One thing to look out for is uneven graphite in pencils. I usually just take a scrap piece of paper and scribble on it a bit. Then I try to erase it. If the graphite lays down well on the paper and comes off evenly with the eraser, you should be set!

My favourite pencil is the KURU TOGA Mechanical Pencil because every time I push down on the pencil, the lead actually rotates. This means that the tip is always as sharp as it possibly can be. Now, this is a pretty "extra" feature, but it does come in handy!

If you don't want to buy a fancy pencil, any mechanical pencil will work fine! Just be gentle when drawing so that you don't draw super dark lines that are too hard to erase.

Also... make sure you have a good, clean eraser!

#3: Pencil Crayons

Pencil crayons are awesome. They are so easy to carry around, and they usually have great colour. I like to use pencil crayons on top of watercolour paintings to add extra texture and vibrant punches of colour.

You will find that there are SO MANY options for pencil crayons, and usually each brand or type has different strong suits. If you are looking to get into high level pencil crayons, they can be very expensive, so I'll let you know what my go-to's are for each skill level.

1. Crayola

I know that some people might give them hate, because Crayola might seem too juvenile to use if you aren't in grade school. But I am actually super impressed by these! They are cheap, very consistent when it comes to quality, and there are SO MANY colour options. I was really impressed with the Colours Of The World set as it gives so many skin tone options that were not available before. If you are wanting to spend very little money, and still have good quality, I'd go for Crayola.

2. Prismacolor Scholar

Prismacolor Scholar pencil crayons are a very good bridge between beginner and professional grade pencil crayons. They have a hard consistency, but still allow vibrant colours to go down on the page. One thing about Prismacolor, is that they prioritize blending in their pencil crayons. This means that the colours should layer on top of each other in a clean and smooth way... almost like oil pastels. The Scholar pencil crayons introduce this new technique very well since they still have a similar consistency to Crayola pencil crayons.

3. Prismacolor Premier

Once you try your hand at the Scholar pencils, you might get to a point where you are willing to invest a bit more money into even higher quality pencil crayons. At least, that's what I did. Once I realized that pencil crayons were a fun medium that I enjoyed, I wanted to get a professional grade set. The Prismacolor Premier pencil crayons are very high quality. Some highlights are that they have a super smooth consistency, vibrant colours, tons of colour options, and they blend so well. The downside is that they are very expensive. So maybe start out by buying one of their smaller sets, and trying them out! They often create their sets based on possible subject material, such as: portraits, nature, underwater scenes, etc. There are a few fun options you can choose from!

Conclusion to Part 1

I hope that this was helpful! Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts. I hope you check out next week's post where I will talk about my favourite watercolours and paint brushes!

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