Whatever your technique, using good quality supplies can completely transform your work as an artist. While I mostly create art digitally more recently I still rely on traditional mediums as the backbone to my designs. I have put together this collection of my most essential supplies. It has taken me several years to perfect this collection and each I have repurchased multiple times so rest assured that they are fantastic additions to any collection.
The Copic Multiliner SP is probably my most purchased pen. Copic are one of the most widely recognised brands within the industry and certainly one of the most popular among artists of various calibre. The barrel is made of bushed aluminium making it a delight to hold in addition to it being slightly larger in circumference than many other pens making grip wise it is extremely comfortable to hold even for extended periods of time. I find this size an advantage for more detailed work and is significantly easier to maintain grip on for longer, larger scale pieces.
The particular size I have bought more times than I am able to count over the years is the 0.03mm which I find is perfect for more intricate outlines creating strong yet delicate line work.
You can buy refill cartridges for them but if I’m completely honest by the time it needs replacing I’ve probably misplaced it. The tip is a soft brush shaped foam, perfect for lots of line variation and it really is a truly premium quality pen in all respects.
+ extremely sharp lines
+ next to no bleed
+ tip is rather delicate
+ will dry out very quickly
POSCA paint pens have been a staple in my collection since the early days. They have a slightly different finish to acrylic or oil paint with a flatter, slightly more eggshell sheen so that’s something to be a aware of if that is the medium you work with but aside from that they are perfect for outlining prior to putting the paint down, or in replacement for more simple, abstract designs.
POSCA pens come in an array of shades with a wide variety of nib shapes and sizes transferring vibrant colour to pretty much any surface. They will smudge on canvas, however, so sealing pieces will require a spray varnish rather than brush. This will also eliminate the contrast between the finish of acrylic/oil paint.
They will work on most surfaces and permanent on absorbent media such as paper or card. On shiny surfaces it can be removed with a scraper.
+ multiple colours
+ multiple tip styles and sizes
+ clean, bold, vibrate lines
+ will smugde if using brush on varnish
+ does not have a consistent ink flow
The Tombow Monograph Mechanical Pencil is how almost every piece of my artwork begins. I have always preferred mechanical pencils over traditional with only a couple of exceptions and this is absolutely the best of the bunch.
The lead mechanism is rather different to most featuring a shaker mechanism that advances the lead when you shake the pencil back and forth. This is not mandatory as pressing the pocket clip will also advance the lead. The pocket clip also features a lead lock which allows you to disable both mechanisms and also clip it into your pocket or up your sleeve which tends to be my rather avant garde preference.
+ durable – pretty much any other mechanical pencil I’ve used before has broken but this is still going strong years later
+ the lead advance mechanism is quite strange to get used to
Daler-Rowney Smooth Heavyweight Paper is an off-white acid-free cartridge paper and has been my preferred paper for years now. The texture is smooth but not too smooth making it perfect at holding paints as well as being resilient to erasures. The 220gsm weight is perfect for all drawing techniques and takes light watercolour and acrylic use extremely well.
I have used this paper with an assortment of mediums including pastel, pencil, ink, acrylic as well as an array of utensils from pens to brushes to my fingers and it has held up wonderfully with all although heavy acrylic use can cause the paper to curl so securing it to a drawing board or easel will make the process a lot easier and prevent you from needing to press the piece once dried.
+ nice weight and thickness
+ off-white colour is particularly nice
+ holds paint well
+ gummed pad makes it quite tricky to tear the pieces of paper off
The Tombow Momo Drawing Pen is a water based pen ideal for illustrations, technical drawings, lettering and even bullet journalling. For slightly heavier lines or accents I use the Tombow Mono Drawing pen. The flow is much stronger than the Copic I use and it is great for dot shading the darker areas of a subject or simply for a stronger outline on a slightly larger piece.
The Mono Drawing Pen has a fine metal tip which allows it to withstands a firmer pressure without the nib bending; ensuring a steady ink flow, even on heavier more textured paper.
+ good, steady ink flow
+ the barrel feels a little cheap
The Apple Pencil is pretty standard for anyone who draws digitally and absolutely second to none in my opinion. I have used graphics tablets in the past with a variety of stylus’ and nothing has come even remotely close to the durability and ease of use as the Apple Pencil. Maybe I’m biased because I have always gravitated towards Apple products since being a student, but almost every digital artist I know owns one and if that isn’t testament to how brilliant these things are I don’t know what is.
In regards to the stroke marks this pencil can mark greatly depends on the program in which you are using but in general, you can create pretty much any mark at all with this.
+ nice weight to handle
+ tips can be replaced
+ the tip can sometimes come randomly un-screwed
+ needs charging