Author Topic: FUN101 - Materials  (Read 6213 times)

Pa Kalsha

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FUN101 - Materials
« on: December 14, 2015, 04:03:26 PM »
The bare essentials for drawing are a sharp HB (#2) pencil, a rubber, pencil sharpener and enthusiasm, but if you want to go any distance, you'll need a few more tools in your pencil case.

For pencil drawing:
  • Graphite pencils - a minimum of H, HB and 2B, but a range from 3H to 6B is best
    You could also use lead holders (in which case you’ll also need a lead pointer) or graphite sticks, but ordinary wooden pencils are fine. It’s advisable to invest in good ones from the outset, because nothing will kill your enthusiasm faster than scratchy pencil strokes. Good brands are Staedtler, Derwent and Caran d’Arche.
  • A sharp knife and fine sandpaper to sharpen your pencils.
    You could use a pencil sharpener, but these tools will give your pencils a lot more versatility. Get a knife with replaceable or renewable blades such as a Stanley knife or craft knife, and plenty of sandpaper. You can get sandpaper blocks from art suppliers, but cheap sandpaper from a DIY shop or emery boards are just as good.
  • A putty rubber/kneaded eraser
    Putty rubbers lift the graphite from the page, meaning that you don’t need to scrub at the pencil so it’s less likely to damage your paper. Also, unlike plastic erasers, they don’t fragment when they’re used; whoever cleans your studio space will thank you!
  • A plastic eraser
    Putty rubbers are great but they have limitations, one of those being that they don't do well erasing large areas.
  • An electric eraser
    A battery-powered eraser is a bit of an investment, but it’s great for making highlights and erasing fine line mistakes.
  • A 30-45 cm ruler with a bevelled edge
    A straight edge is essential for drawing perspective lines - don’t try to fudge them and don’t guess when you need accuracy. I use a metal rule, but a wooden or plastic one is fine too.
  • Tortillions or paper blending stumps
    Never blend graphite with your fingers - the oil in your fingers will make the graphite sink into the paper and you won’t be able to rub it out. If you want to smudge, use the right tool for the job.
  • A drawing table brush
    A small brush for getting eraser debris off your work. Better than using your oily fingers!
  • An eraser shield
    A thin metal template to make perfectly round highlights, hard edges, and protect the drawing around the area you’re erasing.
  • Drawing paper and a sketchbook
    A sketchbook is essential for building a drawing habit, but regular printer paper or even heavy-weight lining paper are great for the early exercises, mainly because they’re cheap so it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake.
For ink work:
  • Black Indian or Chinese Ink
    A jar of waterproof ink can be used with dip-pens and brushes. Be sure to clean your tools thoroughly after you’re done; if the ink dries, it'll ruin them.
  • A brush
    Look for a number 3 sable brush in the Watercolour section of your art supply shop. It's a little pricey, but it's not the most expensive brush in the grand scheme of things and it keeps its point well.
  • A dip-pen with nibs
    Dip-pens come in two parts: the shaft and the nib. The shaft is a matter of personal preference, so try a few different ones to see which you like the best.
    As you’re just starting out, you'll need a minimum of three nibs: one coarse, one medium and one fine. For Gillott nibs, get a 404, 303 and 170. For Esterbrook, get 358, 357, 356. For Hunt, get 56, 22, 99.
  • Kitchen roll
    You'll need a good supply of paper towels to keep your nibs clean. Letting the ink dry on a nib isn’t as much of a disaster as letting it dry on a brush, but only because the nibs can be cheaply replaced. The rolls of blue paper used in commercial cleaning is fine and can be purchased in bulk.
For later:
As you progress in your studies, you’ll find you need more equipment than just pencils and ink. Don’t worry about getting it all straight away; you can pick it up as you find you need it.
  • White chalk
    This will be essential when you come to start mass drawing and value studies on toned paper, but you don’t need it to get started.
  • Charcoal
    Darker than the darkest graphite, charcoal is best for value studies and mass drawing, rather than fine drawings.
  • Black Watercolour (pan or tube)
    Unlike ink, watercolour can be diluted to make greys for value studies. You only need black watercolour paint - the white is provided by the paper, which forces you to plan your picture and think about where and how dark you want your colours.
  • Black and white Gouache
    Gouache is an opaque watercolour paint, and ideal for learning to paint values. Unlike transparent watercolour, it doesn’t do washes, so you have to commit to your value choice!
  • A watercolour paint palette, two jars of water
    For mixing gouache and holding different strengths of watercolour wash. Using two jars of water to clean your brush will help prevent muddying the colours on your palette.
  • Grey marker pens
    You can use a set of alcohol-based markers in a range of grey tones instead of watercolours if you think you’d like to head in that direction.
  • A wooden board or table easel
    Drawing on a flat surface is definitely better than drawing on a curved one, but it can lead to distorted pictures. Having your drawing at an angle is closer to how people will see it when it’s finished, and can reduce the incidences of frustrating perspective errors.
  • Pencil extenders
    If you’re going to be drawing a lot (and I hope you are), and you’ll quickly wear your pencils down. Once they get too small to hold comfortably, you can use a pencil extender to prolong their life. Pencil extenders can also be used on full-size pencils to give you more variety in your mark making.
  • Non-photo blue pencil
    Non-photo blue is a special colour that can be easily removed from scans, so you don’t need to erase your pencil work when you scan inked pictures.
  • Toned paper
    For your value studies, it will help to have pre-toned paper. The type sold for pastel drawing is fine for finished work, but while you’re just practicing you can also use rolls of brown wrapping paper or even paper grocery bags.
  • Tracing paper
    Tracing paper can help you assemble a picture from disparate parts, check composition lines and flow in an image and transfer images. Useful stuff.
  • A mirror
    Use a mirror to draw your own expression and hands in tricky poses, and to flip your traditional drawings, showing you any mistakes in their construction.
For digital art:
Digital artists can forego a lot of the above equipment, but their field requires specialist equipment with a relatively steeper entry cost.
  • A drawing tablet
    Although it is possible to paint digitally using only a mouse, it’s much easier and far less disheartening to use a drawing tablet. You’ll need one with pressure sensitivity and good driver support, but you don’t need the biggest and most expensive straight away (if ever). Tablet computers with N-trig technology can double as laptops if you need the extra utility, but make sure you get one with a pressure-sensitive stylus.
  • An art program
    Like tablets, art programs come in a range of prices with different sets of tools, making it impossible to make any generic recommendations. Paint Tool SAI, ArtRage and Clip Studio Paint (AKA Manga Studio) are fully-featured drawing programs and cost less than £40. Corel Painter and Photoshop are much larger with many more tools and are priced accordingly, although an educational version of Photoshop may be available through your college or university. Older versions of both are still available, and are no less functional than they were when they were released.
  • A cotton glove
    A cotton glove will allow your hand to glide over the surface of the tablet (and also keep it clean). Specialist digital art gloves are available, but a cheap cotton glove from a pharmacy (with or without the first two fingers clipped off for added grip) is fine.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2016, 09:09:58 PM by Pa Kalsha »