For most of us, the first contact with drawing happened during childhood. And back then, equipment wasn’t that important. Maybe it wasn’t even on your mind because all you needed was some paper and a pen or pencil.
As you grow and develop as an artist, what you use may become more important. So if you’re getting serious about your work or want to find out what your arsenal shouldn’t miss, keep reading.
When learning how to draw a person step by step, you need specific equipment, starting with pen and paper. So here are nine things to add to your drawing case.
The drawing pencil is a staple for any artist. It’s your primary tool, along with a piece of paper. The graphite pencil comes in different shapes and sizes, especially when it comes to tip hardness.
Pencils are graded from H (hard) to B (soft), 9H being the hardest and 9B the softest. So for clear and light lines, you usually use hard-tip pencils, and for tones and more delicate drawing lines, you’ll use B-tips.
For lighter tones, you have hard-tip pencils; for darker tones, you have to switch to a softer tip. Because softer pencils don’t leave marks on the paper and are easier to erase, they’re the first choice when drawing.
Colored pencils are very similar to graphite ones. And they’re available in different nuances and forms.
You can find water-soluble, standard, thin or thick lead pieces with variable softness and quality. Experiment as you see fit to find the perfect option for your needs.
Charcoal and graphite
Charcoal and graphite sticks are pieces of charred wood. They’re the “original” drawing materials made from carbonized wood, vines or beech.
Charcoal also comes in different grades of hardness. You’ll usually find four types: extra-thick, thick, medium and thin. The thinner the charcoal, the finer your drawing lines are. So you’ll use thin pieces for fine details like fur or hair and thicker charcoal for larger areas.
Paper or sketchbooks
Paper is the second must-have piece of equipment you need to be able to draw. When you’re a beginner, any paper may be enough. You may want to move to textured or toned paper as you progress.
Using a sketchbook or a notebook is essential instead of any loose piece of paper. Finding all your drawings in the same place will always be more manageable. And you can quickly see how you’ve improved.
You can buy sketchbooks, notebooks with one-color sheets, single pieces or just canvas if you want. You can test different textures by purchasing single sheets of different types to see which is more to your liking.
Remember that sketchbooks are an invaluable piece of equipment when you’re drawing on location. You can find some in various sizes, with different surfaces or colors. There are landscape and portrait formats you can use. Carry pocket-sized sketchbooks anywhere you want and use larger pieces when drawing larger subjects.
It comes in thousands of styles and shapes, with fine tips for architects and chunky square tips for sign drawing. Of course, it may seem fun to try them all out, but you surely don’t want to overwhelm yourself – and your wallet – with all these materials.
You use brush-tip pens for calligraphy, but they’re great for beginners too. Instead of hard tips, try a flexible brush that helps you dose your ink as you draw and obtain stronger or slimmer lines.
You can choose between technical pens, fountain pens, ballpoint, roller-ball or fine-liner and cartridge pens for various types of drawing, like fast sketches or detailed graphics. Some are commonly found, while you have to look in specialized shops for specialist art pens.
To find the best balance between line size and width, you must experiment. You’ll find that pens are great for line-art, but you have to cross-hatch or hatch to obtain tones. Note that some pens use water-soluble inks that allow you to play with styles by rewetting line work.
There’s variety when talking about erasers too. For example, you use them to blur, highlight edges, or “delete” mistakes. In addition, there are soft and hard erasers for you to use when drawing.
Kneaded erasers, also known as putty erasers, are malleable and soft, so you can use them to erase precise spots or remove heavy highlights. Their disadvantage is they get dirty fast when used on soft graphite or charcoal.
Harder erasers are great for making patterns and textures or crisp lines on heavy tonal areas, for example. They have sharp edges and stay cleaner when used because they don’t pick up as much pigment as kneaded ones.
They come in many shapes and forms. You can use utility knives or craft knives, or specific pencil sharpeners. Cutters are best for wooden and charcoal pencils because they allow you to make a tip as sharp as you need: short, long, angled, etc. They’re also great for cleaning eraser tips by chopping off dirty edges.
For regular pencils, you’ll use sharpeners. Just make sure the blade is in top shape before use. You don’t want to make a mess out of your pencils.
You can also use a fine sandpaper block for graphite sticks if you need shaper edges.
You traditionally apply ink with a brush. And when you use watercolor or add washes of ink to your drawings, you can use sable brushes. They can hold large volumes of ink, and they hold up well if you maintain them.
Or you can use dip pens. Their nibs can be replaced or changed so you can use them for longer. You use pointed nibs for drawing figures, but you can also use rounded or square nibs with exciting results.
If you’re using brushes, you’ll definitely consider inks. You can find them in various colors, in waterproof and water-soluble versions. You can blend them with water to build tones.
Note that you can return to water-soluble inks to make changes and rewet them after they’ve dried, but you can’t manipulate waterproof inks after drying.
Easels and drawing boards
Sometimes, drawing sheets of paper need support. That’s where boards and easels come in. It’s easier to draw when your medium is secured. Of course, consider the size of the sheet you work with before buying something to support it.
If you have a drawing board to secure your sketchbook or papers, you don’t need an easel. But you can find yourself working where you can’t find somewhere to rest your board. That’s when an investment in a portable easel may prove advantageous.
To make realistic drawings and advance your skills, you must have access to the right tools. Of course, you don’t necessarily need all these materials and tools for drawing, but a surface and a pen are vital. As you progress, you can steadily build your arsenal to include more of the examples in this article and expand your knowledge and skills.