When embarking upon your Art Eye Deer journey, you might wonder what materials you’ll need. To help, we’ve created a comprehensive list for you…
1. Graphite (lead) pencils: these are graded incrementally according to the degree of hardness to softness, and the corresponding marks these make on a surface. So often, student artists will be disappointed in a drawing, not because their skills are poor, but because they selected the wrong grade of pencil for the task. A hard, scratchy pencil will never give you a soft tonal gradation in a drawing. An HB pencil is situated right in the middle of the hard to soft scale – it’s a good one to acquire. The “H” designates it as a hard pencil, useful for light outlines when beginning a drawing. “B” pencils will give you a range of tonal controls. 2B (for soft tonal marks), 4B and/or 6B for making darker tonal shifts are adequate for the drawings we do. Combining the HB, with the 2B or 4B will also assist you to make smooth transitions in tone in a drawing. Derwent, Faber-Castell, Prismacolour and Staedtler all make excellent ranges of Graphite pencils.
2. A good pencil sharpener and a good eraser: it might seem silly initially to spend money on these when you might have them lying around at home. However, a solid metal 2-hole pencil sharpener (Studymate) will keep your pencils sharper for longer because the sharpener is less likely to weaken the lead through continual breakage of the tip. You can’t beat a clean white eraser (Faber-Castell or Staedtler) for both spreading graphite on a surface and erasing the graphite back to the white of the paper for sharp highlights.
3. Ball-point pen:black and blue ball-point pens are great non-art tools that can be used in so many ways to enhance a drawing. They are excellent for hatching and cross-hatching, continuous line drawing and contour line drawing. Choose your favourite ball-point pen for writing and try it out for drawing. If you love to doodle with it, chances are that it will be great for drawing.
4. Charcoal: willow, compressed and powered: What’s the difference, and what are their merits? Willow charcoal comes from burnt willow branches. It is in its natural state, it’s soft and can be easily snapped. It makes soft powdery lines and tones, that can be erased to leave minimal residue on the paper surface. It’s hard with willow charcoal to get strong dark areas of tone. Compressed charcoal (which has been made by combining powdered charcoal with wax or gum) on the other hand, will yield powerful dark tonal marks, where you can press with some force without damaging the charcoal bar. This quality also makes it hard to erase completely – erasing is better used with compressed charcoal to bring back minor highlights or spread tone. It can also be sharpened without splitting, for fine linework. You can manufacture powdered charcoal yourself – by gently grating compressed charcoal against a piece of fine grade sandpaper (one of the very useful non-art materials!). Collect the powder into a container and use by applying to your paper with a soft brush (make-up brushes/pads/small sponge applicators work really well – more useful non-art staples). A kneadable eraser (Faber-Castell) is really handy for working back into your drawing to spread the charcoal (all three types) – it’s great fun to use as it can be shaped to fit the tasks of erasing highlights or shaping fine details. In essence, the eraser is drawing by subtraction!
5. Coloured pencils: you definitely don’t need a big set of coloured pencils with every colour under the sun. ArtEyeDeer lessons teach you how to mix colours from a limited range of basic colours. The two important factors that you should consider are the depth of colour and the ease of glide of the pencil over the paper. If a coloured pencil has a lot of hard wax in it, the colour can be difficult to blend. This is often the biggest problem with very inexpensive sets from supermarkets. A set of 12 Prismacolour, Derwent or Staedtler is all you need to get started. As you progress, art shops sell individual specialty colours that you can gradually purchase to supplement your existing set.
6. Black Pens and Markers: Prockey medium bullet tip and chisel tip are great essential markers. Artline 200 Fine 0.4 and Pilot V 0.7 are two great pens for drawing fine line.
7. Coloured Markers: this is one medium where sometimes the cheaper, the better! There are so many interesting ways that you can overlay colours with markers, and all markers will perform this function. Even when they begin to run out, their dry scratchiness can be used to advantage in a drawing. Never throw them out until they’re well and truly dried out! Look around home for all sorts of markers – including highlighter pens, thick Crayola kindy markers, supermarket packs – they all have their merits as inexpensive tools for marking a paper surface with colour.
8. Specialty markers: *** Non-essentials: think birthday or Christmas gift! Uni-Posca Paint Markers are water-based pigment ink inside a marker pen. They’re fantastic for applying flat, vibrant colour – especially good for pattern-making. Once dry, they are lightfast and water-resistant, so you can even wash watercolour over them. The medium tip is the most versatile size. Sakura Permapaque Paint Markers are medium dual point – they have a bullet tip at one end, and a chisel tip at the other, which is great for getting variety in your mark-making.
9. Pastels: hard, soft, oil, PanPastels, and pastel pencils*** Non-essentials: more birthday or Christmas gift ideas! Soft pastels have wonderfully strong colour. They can be crumbly to use, but the powdery pigments blend very successfully. Layering colour onto colour is their specialty. *** To stop them smudging beyond what you want, remember to “fix” the pastel using hairspray of artist fixative. Reeves and Faber-Castell produce good student quality soft pastels. Pan pastels are relatively new and gaining in popularity. They are a soft pastel compressed into a shallow “pan” – the pigment can be lifted using a brush, sponge, or spatula (non-art tools can be used to lift them). They can be erased, blended, and mixed; and, they are great for fine detailed work as you can control the movement of the pigment more easily. They too, need to be fixed for permanency and stability. Hard pastels don’t crumble as easily as soft pastels, but also don’t blend quite as seamlessly. They are versatile and mix well with soft pastels. They’re very good for sharpening to a point to draw fine detail, or to use on their side for sweeps of broad of colour. Fix for permanency and stability. Van Gogh or Prismacolour make good student grade hard pastels. Pastel pencils are very versatile – they can be used in combination with any dry pastel medium, they’re great for sketching, or adding the final details to a soft pastel drawing. If you purchase a basic set of soft pastels, you could add two or three special colours of pastel pencils – the colours that you love to use. Fix for permanency and stability. Stabilo, Faber-Castell and Derwent make student quality pastel pencils. Oil pastels are waxyand won’t smudge, bleed or crumble. It’s like using oil paint in texture, and they don’t require any fixing to stay stable. The important thing to remember though, is that they can be applied over any of the dry pastel mediums, BUT they cannot be put down first and then have any of the dry pastels worked over the top. Many a good pastel drawing has been messed up when the student artist has forgotten this simple tip! Portfolio water-based oil pastels are so versatile – you can wash them with water to create semi-transparent glazes.
10. Clear plastic ruler, set-square and glue stick: always useful and recommended to have as part of your basic dry media kit.
1. Watercolour: A watercolour pan set is a must for your artwork. Mixing your watercolours means you can extend your colour palette, so don’t go crazy first up with huge pans of colour that won’t necessarily get used. Many cheaper student brands of watercolour have extenders and fillers in them, so their colours aren’t always strong, and they are not very light permanent. A good solution is to have two sets; a cheap set for underpainting – the process where you lay down paint, expecting to either paint or draw over the top with other media, and a better-quality set of fewer colours for artworks where the watercolour itself becomes the whole or majority of the artwork. Winsor and Newton have both inexpensive and good quality sets available. In a good quality set, look for the paint’s ability to wash in even transparent glazes, and whether the watercolour will stain the paper (this can be good and bad – staining can leave beautiful marks when dry, but it also means that you may not be able to blot out mistakes very easily). If you like the idea of watercolour tubes, Reeves makes a watercolour colour wheel set, where you have 12 colours relating to the warm and cool hues of the colour wheel. You can’t go wrong!
2. Watercolour brushes: You could go crazy with all the variation of brushes available, but every artist will tell you that just as important as good brushes are, there’s lots of merit in having a range of really cheap brushes available to use for unexpected results (the kind you can buy at the supermarket or $2 shop). In terms of good student brushes, medium quality synthetic round brushes (one or two fine and medium sizes) are essential to use because you can change and control the quality of your brush mark by simply altering the angle and pressure of the brush; plus, one medium flat brush will get you started. If you like to wash areas of your paper with water first, get a cheap small to medium house-painting brush from a hardware store.
3. White acrylic paint: one medium tube of titanium white acrylic paint is a must for adding highlights to either a drawing or mixed media painting (Winsor and Newton or Reeves). Look after it, and it will look after your finishing touches on an artwork!
4. Gouache: If you like to “design” with paint, then gouache will suit you. This paint is opaque, meaning that you can’t see through it. When painted on to paper, it dries flat, with few visible brush marks. It is always “active” though, so if you work wet over dry, the gouache underneath will active again, and mix with the new application. So, it is a medium which requires some planning before use. *** It’s another of those wonderful birthday or Christmas gifts! Richeson make a 12-tube student set worth trying. If you really get into using gouache, it’s worth then spending a bit more for a Winsor and Newton Designer’s Gouache set – you’ll find the application is smoother and the colours are richer. Your watercolour brushes will work well with gouache too.
5. Acrylic paint: If you’re the type of artist who is enjoying the expressionist lessons that ArtEyeDeer have to offer, then instead of gouache, you may prefer acrylic paint. Chromacryl offer 5-tube warm colour and 5-tube cool colour sets (Premium Student Acrylic) – a set of each would allow you to mix unlimited colours. At least one medium Round brush used for patterns, detail, and differing stroke weight; a medium Flat brush for painting shapes, lines and working up to edges of shapes or forms; and a medium Filbert brush, which is a mix between a round and flat, will help you out with blending. You can add varying sizes as you become more adept with your painting technique.
6. Drawing ink: this is such a versatile medium that can be used for drawing and painting. Black drawing ink is a must! Once you have it, you’ll use it all the time. Purple, Umber and Siena are also useful colours if you like drawing objects based in nature. Winsor and Newton have 4-colour sets of vibrant hues which when mixed, will offer you most of the colour wheel colours. If you like to experiment, try using food colouring instead of drawing ink – it won’t be as permanent or lightfast, but it’s a great alternative for strong colour. The brushes you have for your other wet media will work with drawing ink.
7. Those art “tools” you find for free around the house and garden:plastic knives,corrugated cardboard scraps, tiny plastic ice-cream cup spoons, bamboo skewers, old toothbrushes, thin pieces of doweling that can be snapped in half to reveal uneven edges that are great to draw with using ink, sticks from the garden, feathers, fronds from ferns or palms… there a an infinite variety of make-shift drawing and painting implements which you just need to ferret out, and which will offer you so many opportunities for experimentation. You should always keep a box of these alternate tools ready to use – every good artist does!
8. Alcohol inksare fast-drying, highly pigmented,alcohol-basedinksthat are great to use on any hard, non-porous surface including glass, metal, plastic, ceramic, stone, leather and polymer clay. …Alcohol inkis waterproof, adding to its durable properties. These dye-basedinksare transparent and extremely vibrant.
1. We most often use white cartridge paper as the regular surface for our lessons. The thickness of paper is described by its weight in grams (gsm) or pounds (lb). The average weight for good cartridge paper is 110gsm (41lb). If you really enjoy working with lots of layers of paint and dry media, then a 200gsm (75lb) weight will hold its shape and stand up to a lot of treatment with a variety of media. Art shops sell cartridge paper in packages and as loose sheets.
2. Ordinary photocopy/printer paper is actually very strong, even though it seems thin in comparison to cartridge (usually 80gsm/30lb). It’s a good paper for tracing as its thinness assists with tracing images from one sheet to another, using a window as the light source. It holds up to having collage materials applied to it and can support watercolour and acrylic paint. Drawing ink has a high degree of pigmentation (colouration), so it will often bleed through to the back of this paper.
3. Brown paper (often known in art shops as Kraft paper) is one of the most versatile paper surfaces that you can work on. It is very strong (280gsm/104lb) and has a high resistance to tearing. It can take a lot of layering and media treatments. The fact that it’s brown is a bonus – it has a form of “ground” already – meaning that if you are a bit tentative about working on a clean white paper surface, Kraft paper takes some of this worry away, as it helps you to feel like the drawing or painting has already begun. It can be purchased in A3 OR A4 sheets, or an 80gsm (30lb) roll, which is thinner, but still strong and flexible.
4. Coloured card packs of A4 or A3 assorted colours (220gsm/81lb) can be purchased at art or stationery shops. Sometimes, working on a coloured paper that is the opposite colour to the colours of the drawing or painting is a great technique for making colour “glow”. This kind of card tends to be very smooth, so inexpensive coloured pencils can have a build-up of wax that makes layering of colour a bit more difficult. The card supports acrylic or gouache paint well.
5. Watercolour papers come in a variety of weights and textures (smooth, medium, rough). The standard weight is 190 gsm (90lb), and the heaviest watercolour paper that is appropriate for our lessons is 300 gsm (140lb). Essentially, the weight of the paper dictates how much water it will absorb before buckling, pilling (those small balls of paper that pile up on the surface when a paper is overworked) or tearing. Watercolour paper can be manufactured as cold press or hot press. Hot press papers are very smooth, used for drawings or fine watercolour applications. This paper doesn’t like lots of scrubbing with the watercolour. Cold press has a bumpier texture, where the watercolour can settle on the surface and into the troughs of the paper, offering more opportunities for experimentation with technique and process. A lightly textured medium weight paper offers the most cost-effective versatility.
6. Pastel papers are specialised grounds principally used for pastel or coloured pencil drawing. This paper holds the colour of the pastel or coloured pencil really well, allowing you to layer colour over colour for tonal work. The brand Colourfix produces a range of coloured grounds in pads of either 12 sheets warm, or 12 sheets cool colours, in original and smooth textures, or the paper can be purchased as single sheets. You can replicate the pastel ground by using acrylic paint that you gently and evenly roll with a sponge or foam roller over a heavy cartridge paper. Very fine sandpaper is also a less expensive surface the is good to draw on with pastels or coloured pencils.
7. Yupo paperis a synthetic material pH neutral surface made of 100% polypropylene and is waterproof, stain resistant, strong and durable, used particularly as a surface for alcohol inks.The ultra-smooth surface remains flat when wet resisting buckling or tearing providing the user a unique alternative to traditional water colour papers as no stretching, soaking or taping is required. The non-absorbent surface allows watercolours and acrylic to sit on the surface of the paper resulting in true clarity and brilliance. Pen and ink lines remain sharp, markers and alcohol inks work well on the surface too. It comes in two weights 158gsm or 390gsm paper pads.
8. Tracing or drafting paper is always handy for using to trace images, but also, 110gsm (41lb) tracing paper is great for actually using as a surface for coloured pencil drawing. The paper holds the colour really well, and the semi-transparency of the tracing paper gives the drawing an interesting luminosity. Even non-waxed kitchen paper is an excellent surface to draw on.
9. Box cardboard cut from ordinary cardboard boxes is an inexpensive surface to use for drawing. A ground can be painted onto it with either a brush or a sponge roller, using any left-over water-based house paint that you might have stored at home. When dry, this surface is great to use for any drawing, painting or mixed media artwork.
10. Collage materials collected from a variety of paper products are a must for creating grounds on which to then draw or paint over and into. Keeping a plastic sleeve, or large envelope handy for storage of collage materials should be an on-going commitment. If you keep your eyes continually scanning for collage materials in your everyday life, you’ll be pretty amazed at how quickly that storage sleeve or envelop fills up! Think stamps, paper wrappers, the inside patterns of business envelopes, small scraps of wrapping paper, junk mail, tissue paper scraps, old sewing patterns – text, patterns, printed images, colour, black and white – nothing is too small, and this is one time when small really can be beautiful!