F I R S T:
If you're just starting to draw, get comfortable with the pens and pencils you have available first. Don't fuss around too much. This is your starting point, your access point to drawing. Just start making marks with whatever you have available. Play around. You are completely open and free to make them in any way and in any place you want.
Next, take a look at the sheet above and use it to start filling an ART box for yourself. It doesn't have to be huge, just deep and big enough to hold your first collection of materials. It can be cardboard, wood, plastic or something else you like. Draw all over it. Put your name on it and date it on the bottom if you want.
The T E S T page
Most artists create a test page before and as they are drawing. You can call it anything you want but for now we'll just call it that. You'll realize when you draw a lot that you just start to have a page (or cardboard, or wood...) like this next to your artwork; it will get full of scribbles, lines, and test marks that only serve to show you what your drawing media is doing for you. You'll draw a scribble or mark on it before you start in on your drawing.
Getting your test sheet started:
Take a blank sheet of paper, cardboard or scrap piece of anything and use it to get your ballpoint pen, marker, roller ball pen or even a pencil started. This is an extra piece of paper that you use during your whole drawing time instead of your drawing paper. Just scribble. Make marks. Draw circles. Draw lines.
All you're doing is finding out if your pen works, how it works, how the line looks, unloading your ink, what the color is, if it will make the sort of line you want and more, all before you even start drawing on your drawing paper. Mess around with a variety of lines. Get your pencil or pen moving. You'll get to the point where you do this in a natural motion before you go to your clean or final work.
- Colored pencils- They will come in packs or each color can be bought separately. A few excellent choices: Prismacolor Premier, Faber Castell Polychromos, Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor and Derwent Coloursoft. These are great for shading and working with tone (value, light and dark). Pencil pressure is another secret many people don't use when they draw. Press down hard for dark, heavy lines and then slowly lift up so your pencil is just barely touching the paper as you draw, those would be called light sketch lines or drawing lightly. Practice that a lot. It might sound boring but it's important to understand and practice. As you get better and more confident in drawing you'll use pencil pressure all the time, especially for value and preliminary work.
- Ballpoint pens-These are usually cheap. You can find a package of ballpoints just about anywhere. Stock up. Get a lot. The Drawing Horse art lab loves ballpoints. In fact, you could make a trip to the store, buy a bunch and experiment with what you find. You can do wherever you are. Fill a cup with a variety to find ones you like. Here's a short ballpoint list: Ballograf (Swedish), Paper Mate, Bic, Schmidt from Germany, Staedtler, Pilot (imported or regional) and Montblanc.
- Pencils-Don't worry about soft or hard leads right now. All the numbers will come to you in time. Just grab any pencil and start drawing. Practice your pencil pressure to create value scales. You can see a mechanical pencil in the picture above as well (Wikipedia: Mechanical pencil); these come in different lead sizes and might be something you find easier to work with.
- Here's a great site that talks about pencils.
- Markers and or Pens-You'll exhaust yourself trying to find and test all the markers and pens out there so take a look at the "In the Pen Mug" pen test(s) video on the drawing horse YouTube channel for detailed tests on several pens. It will help out a lot. In the drawing horse project pen mug you'll find: Pilot Precise V7, Ohto Graphic Liner, Morning Glory Mach 3, Foray rolle, Pentel EnerGel 0.7, Faber-Castell PITT pens, Uni-ball Signo, Stabilo worker, Rotring Tikky, Pigma Micron, and Pilot Varsity. These types of pens are easily available in office supply shops, craft stores, local grocers, online, and drug stores. They are usually under four bucks for a pen or pack. Update: a trip to a local dollar store scored a four pack of bic Mark-it permanent markers for one dollar...a buck, and these are good markers, so keep on the lookout for what's around you.
- Fountain Pens-If you want to start out slowly, Pilot makes a disposable fountain pen called Varsity. It's about three or four bucks and gives you a little spring in your line. Art and craft stores carry it, or simply search online. Easy to find. From there, be prepared for a whole lot of fountain pen exploration and discovery. There's a lot to cover, so for now, consider it as an option to start and keep your eyes open. The pen sheet below does mention a few fountain pens...both low and high costs.
- Technical Pens-dependable, precise, high-performance, even-flow with no line variation, some people like that and others don't. These pens will take some practice. You'll have to look after most of these sorts of pens. Read that again. Most will require filling, upkeep and cleaning. Here's a video all about technical pens on the Drawing Horse YouTube channel Here's some more info on technical pens.
Below you'll see a sketchbook page listing and trying out different pens and ink.Since most people never see inside an artists sketchbook and don't know everything isn't always clean and neat and simple, this page might look especially messy and crazy to you. Your work might be clean and simple or it might be messy and exploratory. It's fine to see all sorts of things, take in things and understand every artist has their way of doing something. Start collecting and using a bunch of different drawing tools. Find your favorites.
Note: The page shows how different pens produce different reds, blues and blacks. What have you found out about the pens you like? How black, red or blue do you like your ink?
Make your own page
Try making your own page like this, listing the pens you have, what you like and don't like and marking the quality of the color with one pen next to another.
Below are some tools, techniques and methods from some artists you may or may not know, just the same it's good to know this stuff.
Bill Watterson: small sable brush to draw the stip, strathmore bristol board to draw on and crowquill for odds and ends.
Matt Groening: graph paper for roughs, staedtler mars plastic eraser, acid free 2-ply bristol board, rapidograph pens, opaquing paint or liquid paper for corrections or white-outs.
Sergio Aragones: esterbrook fountain pen no. 2556 point, F-W india ink, Pelikan 120 ink and no. 6 or 8 winsor brush.
Lynn Johnson: animator's gloves, flexible speedball c-6 (c-5 for lettering), rapidograph, no. 2 nibs for lettering, 2-ply strathmore bristol
Jim Borgman: bristol board, Winsor & Newton Series 7 No. 4 red sable brush, india ink, rapidograph, and lots of white-out.
Daryll Collins: line work: Gilliott #170, Speedball A5 and B6, Hunt EF513 pen nibs, Winsor & Newton series 7 No. 2 brush.
Foster Moore: Pelikan ink, strathmore 2-ply, C-5 speedball, kneaded eraser, eagle-A bond paper for roughs.
Dale Messick: Pelikan ink, strathmore 2-ply, crow quill for drawing, pink pearl and kneaded
Bil Keane: Higgins or Pelikan ink, 2-ply strathmore, Hunt crowquill 107 for drawing, plastic eraser
Bud Sagendorf: Pelikan, Gillott 170-290-303, speedball A5 for lettering