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Art Supplies for Pencil Drawing - Resources for Artists

Updated on April 4, 2013

Art Supplies and Pencil Drawing Techniques & Tips

A basic list of what you need in order to create pencil portraits. I am a professional pencil portrait artist and am happy to give you advice. Pencil drawing is a fun, affordable hobby or a small business to start - as long as you know what to buy! I hope that the information in this page will save you money and time.

Drawing Tables and Boards

If you don't have the room (or the money) to get an artist's or drafting table and chair, don't worry about it. I have a beautiful drafting table that I can't use right now, because my children are young and could tip it over and hurt themselves. So, I have been using art boards. In some ways, the art boards are preferable, but sometimes I really miss my table! It all depends on what works for you.

Now that I have been using them for awhile, I can really appreciate their portability and the fact that I can sit in a very comfy chair to draw. It also allows me to easily move to another room to work. A hefty drawing table will not allow you this freedom.

Clipboard Style Drawing Board

This is an example of the clipboard-style drawing board. Again, assess your needs. If you will be carrying the board with you a lot, then you might want one with a handle. The clips can be handy, too - but a drawback of clips is that they sometimes dent or otherwise damage the drawing paper. This board solves those problems - having legs that fold easily underneath and one clip with non-marring rubber grips to gently secure the artwork.

Lighting and More - for Pencil Artists

For good lighting, I really like my Ott-Light. It gives off a whiter light than most lamps will. The whiter light will help you avoid eyestrain, but an added benefit is that it allows you to see color more correctly.

Pencils

Tombow Mono Professional Drawing Pencils were previously very hard to locate. I had to order them from an online animator's supply store. DickBlick now carries them - hooray! Buy them in quantity, because I'm sure you will absolutely love them like I do! If they ever stop making these, I'll break down and actually cry. They are that good.

Prismacolor Verithin Pencils have harder leads than regular Prismacolor colored pencils and are non-toxic, blend-able and erasable. I really like these. You can get the smaller assortments and then later add colors, but you will spend about 75 cents to a dollar for each pencil, so it's more economical in the long run to just go for the larger assortments.

Pencil Sharpeners

I have a whole additional page about pencil sharpeners and I think you will find it helpful. Click Here to check it out!

Mechanical Pencils

Mechanical pencils - find that a good mechanical pencil is indispensable for fine detail areas like eyelashes, eyebrows, parts of jewelry, etc. Go ahead and get a good quality one like the Alvin Draft/Tec Pencil or Staedtler-Mars. They should last you for years, and the leads aren't expensive to buy at all either! Most of my earlier artworks were nearly all done in mechanical pencil.

Colored Pencils

and colored pencil art supplies

Prismacolor Colored Pencils are the most popular in the United States for good reason.

They are very vibrant, have a wonderful range of colors, are non toxic, and have a smooth and creamy blending consistency. Downside? Non-erasable. They are waxy. If you make a mistake, you might be able to carefully scrape away some of the pencil, but that's it. I use a 'test paper' of the same type and shade as the portrait I'm working on, to pre-test pencil blends before committing them to the final artwork.

You might also be interested in a colorless blender pencil. When you overlay colors and want to blend them even more than a blending stump can do, give these a try.

I have found that when I do colored pencil portraits on a colored mat-board, the blenders can really help give the colored pencil a blended pastel quality. Something to watch for when using the blenders is that there can be some inadvertent transfer of colors - if you are working on something red, for example - and then you work on a yellow area, some of the red may still be on the tip and ruin your yellow. Rubbing it on some paper or wiping it usually helps avoid this problem. I have tried the blender markers and didn't find them very useful (were kind of messy and I didn't like the vapor it gave off).

Pencil Portrait Drawing Papers

Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Board - Smooth or Plate finish are recommended if you want to do the smooth blended style that I generally do - if you are working in charcoal or want more of a textured surface, then get the Vellum surfaced papers.

Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Board

Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Board

Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Boards a good economical student pad of Bristol paper in smooth surface. Note that this paper will not be good for longevity, it's basically for practice. They're good if you plan to go through a lot of paper and want to save money. However, the Series 400 pads listed above will be a better purchase over time, because they are acid free (resist yellowing) The Series 500 are the pads of paper I use.

You can also purchase Strathmore paper by the sheet, but I prefer the pads because storage is more practical for me. Pads can be kept high and dry on a bookshelf, whereas by the sheet, you need to have room to roll the paper for storage.

Erasers

Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser

Design Kneaded Rubber Eraser

Old fashioned typewriter eraser, the kind with brush on end (optional)

~Use non-colored erasers - I highly recommend the following:~

Sanford Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick

You will want also want a drafting or drafter's brush to brush off the bits of eraser and pencil gently - it keeps your fingers off your artwork. Best not to blow the eraser bits and dust off your artwork - if often ends up damaging your work (because of accidentally spitting on your artwork - argh!) Your artwork is worth the few extra bucks to get this brush. Also, keep your fingers off the brush bristles, to keep the oil from your skin off them.

Pencil Portrait Blending Tools

Facial tissue, white, without lotion

Tortillions - Jack Richeson, small pack of 12.

Natural Chamois is a must-have for smooth skintones!

Cotton swabs (optional but handy to have on hand)

Fixatives

for pencil portrait art

When I use fixative I use workable fixative - after spraying, you cannot erase any more, but you can add on to the portrait without smearing the areas you are happy with.

I advise you follow all manufacturer's directions and warnings when using this product. Use this in a well-ventilated area. I really recommend that you only use this if you feel it is a necessity. As long as artwork is handled around the edges and people take care not to wipe their fingers directly on the face of your artwork, it should be fine without fixative - but there are some times that you have an artwork that has a large amount of dark graphite areas that you will want to keep from smearing.

On some art websites, you might see artists say that the spray 'protects' the artwork. Technically, it does not protect the artwork - what it does do is keep the artwork from smearing. If you are going to be framing the artwork and you keep it protected from fingers in the meantime, fixative is not really needed. I personally feel that the fixatives could prematurely brittle or yellow art papers. I would rather protect the artwork from smearing without use of fixatives in the short term in favor of the pencil portrait lasting in the long term.

Protective Art Sleeves

Nice to have to protect your finished art pieces

I really liked the Crystal Clear bags that Light Impressions Direct carried, however they seem to be continually out of stock lately.

I recently purchased some clear 'digital print' sleeves from Blick Art Supply and have been very happy with them. A nice feature they have is a fold-over flap, instead of adhesive - so now there is less worry about adhesive sticking to the artwork and damaging it.

Associated Bag Company and Veripack are some other good sources.

About This Information

Copyright 2007-2013 Darla Dixon

This Squidoo lens was written by Darla Dixon, a professional pencil portrait artist in Snellville Ga.

All rights reserved. No part of this page's text may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, or otherwise, without express written permission from the publisher, except for inclusion of brief quotations in a review.

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Every effort has been made to make this page as complete and as accurate as possible, but no warrant of fitness is implied. The information is provided on an 'as-is' basis. The author and publisher will have neither liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage arising from information contained on this page.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've always enjoyed art and making something from scratch. Enjoyed stopping by your article.

    • Darla Dixon profile image
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      Darla Dixon 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks, if you have any questions about drawing supplies, please let me know. I'm a big ol' drawing supply nerd :)

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