Sunday, August 21, 2011

Drawing How to: Materials

Armand Cabrera
There are a lot of things you can draw with; Charcoal, pastels, pencils, pens, felt markers for the sake of brevity I am going to focus on pencils.

There are a few basic things you need to have.

A kneaded eraser is a great eraser; I like them better than the hard pink ones. The eraser keeps things crisp and your whites white. I let the blank paper be my white but it helps to have the eraser to pick out areas that might smudge when working. A separate piece of paper works as a hand rest to reduce smudging also.

Pencils come in different lead grades and these control how dark of a mark you can make. I like a very dark one and a medium one. With those two I can get any tone I want. I like a 5 B and a B but try a variety and see what works for you. I use Derwent Graphics, Berol and General Artists Series

A small utility knife for sharpening your pencils is a very important part of your tool set. When you sharpen them do it so you have about an inch or more of lead showing. That way you can get a fine line or a very broad stroke. In the beginning you will go through a lot of pencils when you sharpen them this way because you will break them often. Practice on some cheap pencils first.

I keep everything in an old pencil box. It is the kind that has three tiers of compartments and a sliding lid. It’s compact, light and efficient. I can keep all my drawing supplies in it when I’m traveling and it will fit easily in a pack.

I use sketchbooks with smooth paper in them and buy them in bulk online. I am constanly buying sketchbooks. Crescent black books are my favorite but again try some different things and see what works for you. I know some people take a hundred pages of their favorite paper into a FedEx Office Store and have them bound into spiral sketchbooks for a couple of dollars. It’s a great solution if you can’t get the exact kind of paper you want already in a sketchbook commercially.

Next week, I’ll go into process and some ways to approach a drawing.


Jason Peck said...

Hey Armand, great post, and thats a fine pencil box. I haven't seen one like that before.

Unknown said...


Thanks. I'm old, they were popular back in the fifties and early sixties and probably before that. I think they still make a two tier version. I found mine online for a couple of bucks.

Anonymous said...

Great advice. Kneaded erasers are a must, I agree. having paper bound at fedex is a GREAT idea!!

The pencil box is brilliant - I have not seen a three tier one like that before. I must find one - any tips on who used to make them?

Unknown said...

There is no manufacturer on the box. I found mine on ebay for 5 bucks plus shipping, so I think it was 8 bucks total.

JonInFrance said...

OK, thanks. I use Faber Castell lead holders - 3.?? mm leads - 4B and 6B a lot - love 'em. Looking forward to you next post! Jon

billspaintingmn said...

Great post Armand! Pencil drawing/sketching has always been a simple pleasure.
I have difficulty sharpening the lead the way you mention,(snap! darn!) but I can do it.

Thanks for all your posts!

Unknown said...


If it works for you go for it.

Unknown said...


It takes some getting used to but it keeps your hand in a better position for drawing and once you have it under control it gives you more variety than sharpening the normal way.