By Nicole Tinkham
As you probably know from experience (and browsing the aisles of Keeton’s), each art medium comes with a variety of supplies to choose from, and drawing is no different. You’re probably aware of the various pencils and erasers available, but we are here to tell you that drawing goes much deeper than the basic supplies. While not all of these tools are always necessary, they’re worth knowing about. Let’s explore the tools of drawing and learn how a stylus and sand paper can be helpful in your next drawing.
• Drafting Pencil/Lead Holder
Mechanical pencils (also known as lead holders or drafting pencils) are often used for drafting. These pencils provide precise control with evenly distributed weight as well as a needle-sharp point when needed.
• Graphite Leads
When it comes to lead for your drafting pencil, you have many grades available ranging from a 6B (softest) to a 6H (hardest). This rank is the same that you will see in wood-cased pencils below.
• Wood-cased Graphite Pencil
These are the pencils you’re most likely familiar with already. They come in a range of grades (from 8B to 6H), 8B leaving a darker mark and 6H being the lightest. View our pencil blog for more information on the difference between H and B pencils.
• Solid Graphite Pencil
These are similar to wood-cased pencils but without the wood. They are solid graphite and have a different feel than that of a wood-cased pencil. Basically, when it comes to pencils it’s all about what you’re most comfortable with.
• Lead Sharpener
If using a drafting pencil, you will need to use a special lead sharpener to get a nice point. This will produce needle-sharp points if that’s what you’re after. You will notice that graphite powder will collect in the sharpener but you don’t have to throw it out. You can use this powder to create a gentle tone by applying it with a brush.
• Pencil Sharpener
The conventional pencil sharpener is used to sharpen wood-cased pencils. You can find these in a wide range of options from the very simple type to something more high-tech like the electric sharpener.
• Vine and Willow
These are often made from the wood of a willow tree and are very soft, making them easy to blend. These are ideal for lighter tones and you can find them in a variety of sizes.
Unlike vine and willow, compressed charcoal is very hard and will give you the darkest marks. These are able to be smudged and blended easily but they will make a mess! You can find compressed charcoal in rectangular or square bars.
• Charcoal Pencils
These are compressed charcoal in a wood casing, which reduces the mess factor. These come in three different tones (light, medium, and dark) and are awesome for portraits.
• Tinted Charcoal
Tinted charcoal provides a bit of color (mostly earth tones) with a range of grays and browns.
When using vine charcoal or compressed charcoal blocks, fine grit sandpaper can be used to sharpen charcoal.
• Stumps and Tortillons
These tools are used for blending graphite. Stumps tend to be larger and bulkier than tortillons. Both will get the job done and work much better than using your finger (you don’t want to get oil from your hand on your artwork). As with the pencils listed above, stumps and tortillons comes in many grades ranging from soft to hard.
• Color Shaper
This is another blending tool that is particularly helpful for tight corners. The color shaper is different from the stump or tortillon in that it doesn’t absorb the graphite. Just remember that this tool is not to be used for mass blending.
There are so many different types of erasers available that we created a separate blog post dedicated to them. Check out 5 Types of Erasers Every Artist Should Know About to learn about the many types and what they’re used for.
• Rubber Erasers
• Gum Erasers
• Kneaded Erasers
• Vinyl Eraser
• Pencil Erasers
What in the world can you use a brush for while drawing? Well, you don’t want to wipe away eraser crumbs with your hand because the drawing can absorb oil from your skin. Blowing eraser crumbs off can lead to moisture on your drawing and you don’t want that either. You can keep a large brush on hand to get rid of the eraser dust (provided you ever make a mistake).
A stylus isn’t just used for touchscreen devices. An indenting stylus can be used to impress a line into paper before beginning a drawing. This is ideal for creating clean white lines (as in a cat’s whiskers). Many items can be used as a stylus as long as they don’t leave a mark such as an empty pen, mechanical pencil, or toothpick.
In the world of art, there’s a paper for everything. We suggest checking out our Artist Paper Guide (see the drawing and illustration section) for a description of each type of artist paper as well as application.
Using a fixative spray on a completed drawing is highly recommended. It will prevent smudging, fading, and charcoal transfer.
Mentioned in this blog are the main supplies used in drawing, however there are other materials to consider as well such as storage bins, colored pencils, pens, etc. Of course, there’s no need to rush out and purchase all of the supplies on this list – it merely acts as a guide so you understand what’s available to you. If you have any drawing questions or would like a few tips from our art specialists, give us a call (941-747-2995) or stop in!
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