Drawing Supplies, Techniques & Tips


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Tombow Homo-Graph Mono 100 Pencils
These have been hard to find, but highly recommended
You can now buy them from Blick Art Materials.
Just type "Mono Pencil" in the search field and they will come right up.
Buy them in quantity, because I'm sure you will absolutely love them like I do!
If they ever stop making these, I'll break down and actually cry. They are that good.
Sanford Prismacolor Verithins (set of 24) These have harder leads than regular Prismacolor colored pencils and are non-toxic, blend-able and erasable. I really like these.  You can get the smaller assortments and then later add colors, but you will spend about 75 cents to a dollar for each pencil, so it's more economical in the long run to just go for the larger assortments. 
It's helpful to have a good quality electric pencil sharpener.  I was glad when I finally 'went electric,' and I've never looked back!  If you plan to work a lot in Prismacolor pencils along with Verithin or Col-Erase, then get a very inexpensive electric sharpener, because the waxy 'leads' will cause you to go through a few sharpeners.  Some artists use two sharpeners - one for regular pencils and another for the waxy colored pencils. I use both electric and hand held sharpeners - it's nice to have a non-electric one for when I'm not drawing at home and/or I don't want to have to sit right by my electric model. I recently bought a handheld pencil sharpener made by Prismacolor. I thought that maybe it would be something special because it had the Prismacolor name on it, but it was just a regular hand held barrel type pencil sharpener. It has tended to jam up with the shavings too quickly for my taste.
You can get a generic brand one for $1.50.
I paid over twice as much for the one with the Prismacolor name on it. 
Mechanical Pencils:
I find that a good mechanical pencil is indispensable for fine detail areas like eyelashes, eyebrows, parts of jewelry, etc.  Go ahead and get a good quality one - I recommend Staedtler Mechanical Penils.. They should last you for years, and the leads aren't expensive to buy at all either! Most of my earlier artworks were nearly all done in mechanical pencil.
4B, 6B Drawing Pencils (variety of brands, but I prefer Stadtler-Mars or
Tombow Mono Homograph). Do yourself a favor and stay away from 'student grade' pencils. I won't mention the brand name here, but it starts with the letter 'G.' Graphite pencils are so affordable as far as art supplies go, you might as well get the very best you can.
Colored Pencils:

<DIV align=left>Prismacolor colored pencils are the most popular in the United States for good reason.</DIV>
<DIV align=left>They are very vibrant, have a wonderful range of colors, are non toxic, and have a smooth and creamy blending consistency. Downside? Non-erasable. They are waxy. If you make a mistake, you might be able to carefully scrape away some of the pencil, but that's it.&nbsp;I use a 'test paper' of the same type and shade as the portrait I'm working on, to pre-test pencil blends before committing them to the final artwork.&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>You might also be interested in a colorless blender pencil. When you overlay colors and want to blend them even more than a blending stump can do, give these a try.</DIV>
<DIV align=left>I have found that when I do colored pencil portraits on a colored matboard, the blenders can really help give the colored pencil a blended pastel quality. Something to watch for when using the blenders&nbsp;is that there can be some inadvertant transfer of colors - if you&nbsp;are working on something red, for example - and then you work on a yellow area, some of the red may still be on the tip and ruin your yellow. Rubbing it on some paper or wiping it usually helps avoid this problem. I have tried the blender markers and didn't find them very useful (were kind of messy and I didn't like the vapor it gave off).</DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>
<DIV align=center><STRONG>Paper:</STRONG>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>Smooth or Plate finish are recommended if you want to do the smooth blended style that I generally do - if you are working in charcoal or want more of a textured surface, then get the Vellum surfaced papers.&nbsp;The 3 links below are acid free, wonderful art papers, and the kind I use. <!--"''"--></DIV>
<P align=left></P>
<P align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>
<DIV align=left><A href="http://www.qksrv.net/click-1445655-10273655?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.misterart.com%2Fstore%2Fview.cfm%3Fgroup_id%3D4007002%26store%3D001" onmouseout="window.status=' ';return true;" onmouseover="window.status='http://www.misterart.com';return true;" target="_blank" ><FONT ?><FONT color=#663399 ?>Strathmore 400 Series Bristol Pad 11 in. x 14 in. sheets pad of 15 smooth</FONT></FONT></A><FONT color=#663399> <img border="0" height="1" width="1" src="http://www.qksrv.net/image-1445655-10273655"> <!--"''"--></FONT></DIV></FONT>
<DIV align=left><FONT color=#663399></FONT><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><A href="http://www.qksrv.net/click-1445655-10273655?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.misterart.com%2Fstore%2Fview.cfm%3Fgroup_id%3D4007014%26store%3D001" onmouseout="window.status=' ';return true;" onmouseover="window.status='http://www.misterart.com';return true;" target="_blank" ><FONT ?><FONT color=#663399 ?>Strathmore 400 Series Bristol Pad 14 in. x 17 in. sheets pad of 15 smooth</FONT></FONT></A><FONT color=#663399> <img border="0" height="1" width="1" src="http://www.qksrv.net/image-1445655-10273655"> <!--"''"--></FONT></DIV></FONT>
<DIV align=left><FONT color=#663399></FONT><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><A href="http://www.qksrv.net/click-1445655-10273655?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.misterart.com%2Fstore%2Fview.cfm%3Fgroup_id%3D4007018%26store%3D001" onmouseout="window.status=' ';return true;" onmouseover="window.status='http://www.misterart.com';return true;" target="_blank" ><FONT ?><FONT color=#663399 ?>Strathmore 400 Series Bristol Pad 18 in. x 24 in. sheets pad of 15 smooth</FONT></FONT></A><FONT color=#663399> <img border="0" height="1" width="1" src="http://www.qksrv.net/image-1445655-10273655"></FONT> <!--"''"--></DIV></FONT>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>Below is a link for a good economical student pad of Bristol paper in smooth surface.&nbsp; Note that this paper will not be good for longevity, it's basically for practice.&nbsp; They're good if you plan to go through a lot of paper and want to save money.&nbsp; However, the <EM>Series 400</EM> pads listed above will be a better purchase over time, because they are acid free (resist yellowing)&nbsp;The Series&nbsp;400 are the pads of paper I use.&nbsp;&nbsp; <!--"''"--></DIV></FONT>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2><A href="http://www.qksrv.net/click-1445655-10273655?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.misterart.com%2Fstore%2Fview.cfm%3Fgroup_id%3D4002620%26store%3D001" onmouseout="window.status=' ';return true;" onmouseover="window.status='http://www.misterart.com';return true;" target="_blank" ><FONT ?><FONT color=#663399 ?>Strathmore Student Art Bristol Paper Pads 9 in. x 12 in. smooth bristol</FONT></FONT></A><FONT color=#663399> <img border="0" height="1" width="1" src="http://www.qksrv.net/image-1445655-10273655"></FONT> <!--"''"--></DIV></FONT>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>You can also purchase Strathmore paper by the sheet, but I prefer the pads because storage is more practical for me. Pads can be kept high and dry on a bookshelf, whereas by the sheet, you need to have room to roll the paper for storage. </FONT></DIV></DIV></DIV>


<DIV align=left><A href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-1445655-10495307?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dickblick.com%2Fzz215%2F02%2F%3Fwmcp%3Dcj%26wmcid%3Dfeeds%26wmckw%3D21502-2720-1353&cjsku=21502-2720" target="_blank" ><FONT color=#663399><STRONG>Kneaded rubber eraser</STRONG></A> </FONT></DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT color=#000000>(I use the one made by Design Inc.)</FONT></DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>Old fashioned typewriter eraser, the kind with brush on end (optional)</DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>~Use<EM> non-colored</EM> erasers - I highly recommend the following:~</DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<A href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-1445655-10495307?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dickblick.com%2Fzz215%2F00%2F%3Fwmcp%3Dcj%26wmcid%3Dfeeds%26wmckw%3D21500-0000-5954&cjsku=21500-0000" target="_top" >
Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser</A>
<img border="0" height="1" width="1" src="http://www.lduhtrp.net/image-1445655-10495307">Staedtler White Plastic Eraser </FONT></FONT></A><FONT color=#663399> <img border="0" height="1" width="1" src="http://www.qksrv.net/image-1445655-10273655"></FONT> </FONT></DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><A href="http://www.kqzyfj.com/click-1445655-10495307?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dickblick.com%2Fzz215%2F35%2F%3Fwmcp%3Dcj%26wmcid%3Dfeeds%26wmckw%3D21535-2000-4368&cjsku=21535-2000" target="_top" >
Sanford Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick</A>
<img border="0" height="1" width="1" src="http://www.tqlkg.com/image-1445655-10495307"></DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>You will want this handy dusting brush to brush off the bits of eraser and pencil gently - it keeps your fingers off your artwork. Best not to blow the eraser bits and dust off your artwork - if often ends up damaging your work (because of accidentally spitting on your artwork - argh!)&nbsp; Your artwork is worth the few extra bucks to get this brush. Also, keep your fingers off the brush bristles, to keep the oil from your skin off them. </FONT></DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><A href="http://www.qksrv.net/click-1445655-10273655?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.misterart.com%2Fstore%2Fview.cfm%3Fgroup_id%3D5907689%26store%3D001" onmouseout="window.status=' ';return true;" onmouseover="window.status='http://www.misterart.com';return true;" target="_blank" ><FONT ?><FONT color=#663399 ?>Staedtler Mini Dusting Brush 10 in. brush mini drafting</FONT></FONT></A><FONT color=#663399> <img border="0" height="1" width="1" src="http://www.qksrv.net/image-1445655-10273655"></FONT> </FONT></DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=center><STRONG>Blending Tools:</STRONG></DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>Facial tissue, white, without lotion</DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left></FONT><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2><FONT ?><FONT color=#663399 ?><STRONG><U><A href="http://www.misterart.com/store/view/001/group_id/2395/JACK-RICHESON-Tortillions.htm" target="_blank" ><FONT color=#663399>Tortillions</FONT></A></U> </STRONG></FONT></FONT>&nbsp;- Jack Richeson, small pack of 12.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2><A href="http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-1445655-10495307?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dickblick.com%2Fzz049%2F57%2F%3Fwmcp%3Dcj%26wmcid%3Dfeeds%26wmckw%3D04957-1057-5362&cjsku=04957-1057" target="_top" >
Natural Chamois</A>
<img border="0" height="1" width="1" src="http://www.lduhtrp.net/image-1445655-10495307"><STRONG><FONT color=#663399></FONT></STRONG></A> is a must-have for smooth skintones!</FONT></DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>Cotton swabs (optional but handy to have on hand)</DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=center><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2><STRONG>Fixative:</STRONG></DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>When I use fixative I use Workable Fixatif </DIV>
<DIV align=left>after spraying, you cannot erase any more, </DIV>
<DIV align=left>but you can add on to the portrait without </DIV>
<DIV align=left>smearing the areas you are happy with).&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><A href="http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-1445655-10495307?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dickblick.com%2Fzz217%2F06%2F%3Fwmcp%3Dcj%26wmcid%3Dfeeds%26wmckw%3D21706-1006-1289&cjsku=21706-1006" target="_top" >
Blue Label Workable Fixatif</A>
<img border="0" height="1" width="1" src="http://www.awltovhc.com/image-1445655-10495307"></DIV>
<DIV align=left>YOU MUST use this in a well-ventilated area...ie: outside - and stay away from it until it is dry. I blame my use of sprays like this for some of my respiratory problems I have now. I really recommend that you ONLY use this if you feel it is a <EM>necessity</EM>. &nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>On some art websites, you might see artists say that the spray 'protects' the artwork. Technically, it does not protect the artwork - what it <EM>does</EM>&nbsp;do is keep the artwork from smearing.&nbsp; If you are going to be framing the artwork and you keep it protected from fingers in the meantime, fixative is not really needed.&nbsp;I personally feel that the fixatives could prematurely brittle or yellow art papers. I would rather protect the artwork from smearing without use of fixatives in the short term in favor of the pencil portrait lasting in the long term.</DIV>
<DIV align=left></FONT><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=center><STRONG>Art Sleeves:</STRONG></DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>I recommend the Crystal Clear bags available at Light Impressions Direct. Light Impressions has recently added a self adhesive sleeve that has the adhesive on the <EM>outside</EM>. At first, it doesn't seem to matter where the adhesive is, but it's better on the outside, so that when you slide the artwork in and out of the sleeve, you don't have to be concerned with the adhesive making contact with the pencil portrait and possibly damaging it. </DIV>
<DIV align=left>These are the type I use and recommend.</DIV>
<DIV align=left><A href="http://lightimpressionsdirect.com/" target="_blank" ><FONT ?><FONT ?><FONT color=#663399 ?>http://lightimpressionsdirect.com</FONT></FONT></FONT></A></DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>
<DIV align=left><A href="http://associatedbag.com/" target="_blank" ><FONT color=#663399>Associated Bag Company</FONT></A>&nbsp;and <A href="http://veripack.com/" target="_blank" ><FONT color=#663399>Veripack</FONT></A>&nbsp;are some other good sources.</DIV></DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV></FONT></DIV>

<DIV align=center><STRONG>Nice 'Extras':</STRONG></DIV>
<DIV align=center><STRONG></STRONG>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left>(Stuff you don't necessarily<EM> have</EM> to have, but are really handy!)</DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>Ellipses are great for drawing eyes, but you are bound to find some other uses for these handy templates too. They can sometimes help in drawing jewelry, buttons, etc.&nbsp; <!--"''"--></DIV></FONT>
<DIV align=left><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><A href="http://www.qksrv.net/click-1445655-10273655?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.misterart.com%2Fstore%2Fview.cfm%3Fgroup_id%3D5907777%26store%3D001" target="_blank" ><FONT ?><FONT color=#663399 ?>Ellipses Drafting Templates 977-146 Staedtler isometric ellipses</FONT></FONT></A><FONT color=#663399>&nbsp;</FONT></FONT><FONT face=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif size=2><FONT color=#663399>&nbsp;</FONT></DIV>
<DIV align=left>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV align=left><FONT color=#663399></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV></FONT></DIV>

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