My Artistic Arsenal

“Tools do not a craftsman make.”
— unknown

"What tools do you use?" is perhaps the most recurring question in an artist's profession. To save time answering this inevitable inquiry, I've made a list of my current tools for your review. Ultimately, it's not the tools that make the artist, it's how the artist wields the tools. The following items are what I've found works for me. My arsenal is minimal, consisting of traditional mediums with a digital sweep through Photoshop.


Each tool title below is linked to a shopping source. If you have trouble finding something at your local art store, online is your next best friend.

 

Zebra Stainless Steel mechanical pencil 0.5mm

“The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half inch eraser - in case you thought optimism was dead.”
— Robert Brault

 

  •      Used when sketching. Light enough to plot the structure of the piece and easy enough to erase when necessary.

  •      Establishes a foundation upon which the values build.

  •      In later stages of the piece, I'll often go back over the drawing with this pencil. It fills in smaller spaces of the paper very precisely.

  •      Sharpens edgework where needed.

 

      Mitsubushi Hi-Uni Graphite pencils (ranging from HB-6B)

 

  •      I use these pencils to build up the value structure

  •      Buttery smooth, introduced to them when I went to Japan and ran out of my own pencils

  •      I get mine from JetPens because I use one kind of pencil more than the rest and can customize accordingly

 

Moldable eraser (large and lots of them)

Negative space is the audible silence of the visual world. Never diminish the importance of white space.
— unknown

 

  •      Creates a variety of effects (smudging, sharpening, carving).

  •      It cleans itself! When it gets dirty, I can fold and stretch it repeatedly until the dark marks are absorbed.

  •      I advise that you get a lot of these (at least 3-5 large ones) because I often lose them or they become irreparably dirty after being tossed around in my bag.

 

Single Blade Razor

“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”
— Confucius

 

  •      Sharpens the pencil in a unique way, equipping the point for a variety of mark-making.

  •      While taking art classes, I observed Ron Lemen's sharpening method and have used it ever since. Check out his demo

 

Sandpaper Pencil Pointer

 

  •      Smooths the edges of the pencil to create broad side strokes.

 

Tombow Retractable Eraser

 

  •      Useful for creating sharpdetailed negative shapes that the moldable eraser lacks.

 

Photoshop

“Writing the first 90 percent of a computer program takes 90 percent of the time. The remaining ten percent also takes 90 percent of the time and the final touches also take 90 percent of the time.”
— N.J. Rubenking

 

  •      Used for value and color correction. Brings my work to a finish.

  •      I currently use the monthly Creative Cloud subscription.

  •      Research their plans. Affordable options might be available if you are a student. 


Please feel free to experiment with other mediums you come across. I simply share what has worked for me. Before discovering the Mitsubushi brand, I was making do with other pencils. When someone introduced me to what I use now, however, I experimented with and ultimately felt more comfortable with the change. Tools are simply a means to an end. 


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