Tools of the Trade: Drawing

“Art is magic, I don’t get it.”
”I could never do that.”
”You make it look so easy!”

I’ve heard people say these things, and many variances of them, thousands of times. But really, art is no more magic than any other skill. So here I am, to teach you how I do the thing and dispel the magic a little. This week, I’ll show you the tools of the trade, and next week, I’ll show you how to use them!

First up, the paper:


Strathmore 300 Series Drawing Paper

Almost anything I ever draw by hand is on this paper. It feels great under your hand when you draw, it’s got enough tooth in it to not feel like your drawing on glass, but it blends smoothly. This is one of three things I will ever come off as snobby or particular about when it comes to how I draw. This is the ultimate drawing paper.

Next, all of my gotdang pencils:


Black Ticonderoga HB (#2) Pencil

This is the second thing I’ll be snobby about when it comes to drawing. These are my absolute favorite pencils. You can get them at Walmart or Target or wherever, but they’re frequently sold out because they’re just so good. Nice dark graphite, nearly impossible to break, but it erases cleanly, and the eraser is phenomenal. I usually run out of eraser before I run out of pencil on these. This is typically what I use to initially sketch out drawings, and my base for shading.


BIC 0.7mm #2 Mechanical Pencil and Pentel Twist-Erase 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil

These two are what I use for my line and detail work. They’re different thicknesses for different types of lines. You’d be surprised at the difference 0.2mm makes in a drawing. I also typically use the Pentel pencil for details on hair. The eraser on the BIC pencil is okay, but the one on the Pentel pencil is great, and you can buy replacements for it online.


Pentalic HB Pencil

This one doesn’t have an eraser, which gets frustrating to me sometimes, but I tend to use this to lay in large areas of shading. The graphite on this isn’t as rich as the Ticonderoga, but it works well for shading mid-range tones.


Prismacolor Turquoise 4B Pencil

I use this for deep shadows, and if I’m outlining something that I don’t intend to scan. It blends super smooth and has a nice deep tone. I only use this one at the very very end of drawings, otherwise you end up with hand/finger prints all over the page.

Lastly, the erasers.


Mars Plastic Eraser

This is one of the best erasers in the world. It’s best for scrubbing large areas, especially at the end to get rid of the inevitable hand smears.


This Good Boi

I’m not sure what it’s called, but this is my favorite eraser. It’s great for hair, for highlights, for goddamn anything. You can buy the refills for it too, for super cheap!

So that’s the base tools of the trade. Check back next week for a tutorial on how to use these!

Abby Gordon