If you’re just starting out on your drawing journey, having the right supplies can make all the difference in progressing your skills. Assembling a set of drawing tools doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Here’s an overview of some recommended items to have on hand when you’re learning to put pencil or pen to paper.
When starting out with drawing, having instructive references is invaluable for building foundational knowledge. Some of the best books for learning to draw provide beginning artists with step-by-step guidance on techniques, as well as tips on composition and using different media. Find top drawing books for beginners to help you get started.
Quality drawing paper provides an ideal surface for a range of dry media. Look for paper that is heavy enough to prevent buckling, while still being smooth. Strathmore is one reputable brand known for making paper well-suited for drawing. A good starter option is a pad of 80lb drawing paper, which has enough texture for drawing techniques but won’t abrade your pencil tips.
Pencils come in a spectrum of grades, from soft and dark (B grade) to hard and light (H grade). A standard number 2 pencil is medium in terms of hardness, making it versatile for sketching, shading, and detail work. Supplement your number 2 pencils with a range of harder and softer leads to expand your tonal capabilities. Some pencil sets geared towards beginners, like the General’s Kimberly Drawing Pencils set, offer an assortment of commonly used grades.
Having a quality eraser is vital for lifting graphite and charcoal without damaging your paper’s surface texture. Kneaded erasers can be shaped as needed and leave little residue behind. For more precise erasing, try a plastic ‘click’ eraser encased in a holder, which extends the small eraser surface for controlled corrections.
A manual or electric sharpener will keep your drawing tools finely honed. Single- and double-hole manual sharpeners offer portability and precision. Electric sharpeners are a great choice if you’ll be sharpening a high volume of pencils. Look for electric models that stop automatically to prevent over-sharpening.
Blending stumps, trillions, and chamois cloth is useful for softening pencil strokes and achieving gradations in value. These tools allow you to smoothly blend without overworking the paper’s texture. They come in pointed and rounded shapes to suit different shading techniques.
As you advance in your drawing practice, consider adding charcoal pencils, conté crayons, pastels, pens, and brushes to expand your medium capabilities. Useful accessories like a drawing board, ruler, clips, and portable easel will also help you work comfortably on location or tabletop.
The quality of your tools matters, but don’t become overwhelmed by selecting supplies as a beginner. Start with approachable materials to grasp the fundamentals, then incrementally purchase more professional-grade supplies as your interests and skills develop. What matters most is making use of the materials you have. Practicing regularly is key to progress.
With a basic range of time-tested drawing implements, almost any paper surface can become your creative canvas. Be patient with yourself as you get accustomed to handling these tools. Allow your abilities to unfold naturally by exploring a variety of techniques and subjects.
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