Updated: Jul 23
Digital art is a lot of fun to make. Clip Studio Paint and Procreate have given artists lots of opportunities to create the art that they love. While I greatly enjoy drawing with my tablet, it's good to fall back to drawing with paper and pencil every once in a while.
Art Supplies for Traditional Art
I recently made a trip to my local art supply shop to browse and pick up a couple of art supplies. I picked up a new pen nib holder and some colored ink to play around with. It made me want to give you an updated supply list if you're looking to either start doing traditional art, or get back into it after a long time of digital art. As someone who uses mixed media techniques to make art, I have a list of supplies I go for that I'd love to share with you.
Let me help you write out your art supply list!
Paper! Sketchbooks! Boards! Canvases!
Canson Mixed Media Sketchbook Pads
Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board
Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board
Blick Studio Aluminum Tripod Travel Easel
I like to draw big, so I generally use big sketchbooks to plan out my ideas. It's good practice for any artist to carry a small sketchbook with them everywhere just in case the inspiration strikes. My favorite kind is the mixed media sketchbook. I like to use this just in case I want to throw down some watercolor paint or Copic markers on my sketches. The ones by Canson are my favorite.
The illustration boards by the brand Strathmore are great boards for mixed media. I love to get a couple of big boards and cut them into 4's to use for my illustrations. They take different materials very well, and I've made some of my favorite pieces with illustration board.
Sometimes I feel like painting on a canvas, so I'll use those with an easel. The easel I got is perfect for my small apartment because it folds up neatly in a little case when I'm done painting.
Bristol boards are my absolute favorite to make art on. I usually purchase these in bulk and use them as I need them. I used Bristol board to make "Jazz: High Kicks", and it worked out very well.
Copic Sketch Markers
Uni-Posca Paint Markers
I'm somewhat new to the world of markers, but I've fallen in love with Copic markers lately. I mainly used Copic markers for my Blacktober 2020 pieces. The way they flow on the page is very nice; the only thing bad about copic markers is that steep price tag. There are always dupes to find, but I think the best way to get your hands on Copic markers is to purchase the markers you need for each project. By the time you do several art pieces, you'll have a little collection of markers going, and it'll only grow from there!
I also like to use Posca markers from time to time. These are paint markers that provide a vibrant, saturated color.
Pencils, Pens n Paint
Blick Studio Drawing Pencils - HB & 3H
Krylon Spray Fixative
Sakura Pigma Micron Pens
Higgins Waterproof Black Ink
Yasutomo Black Sumi Ink
Watercolors - Windsor & Newton brand
Gouache paint - Windsor & Newton brand
Blick Studio Acrylic Paint (I am not picky when it comes to acrylic paint, I'll use any 'ol brand.)
Masterson Sta-Wet Palate Seal (for acrylic paints)
12-Well Plastic palate (for watercolors)
Drawing with pencil on paper is where I feel the most comfortable when I create art. I use hard pencils, up to 3H to sketch with. I'll sometimes use a softer pencil to block out details or add value, but other times I'll use pens to add that detail. I used to draw with mechanical pencils in my sketchbooks, but I found that they smudge too much over time and can mess up your sketchbook. The hard pencils don't smudge, but if you're trying to preserve a pencil drawing, I recommend spray fixative. This spray can keep your pencil drawing in tact, but be sure to wear a mask in a ventilated area when using fixative.
My favorite pens of all time are Micron pens. They come in many different sizes, colors and styles. I use .5 most of the time, but I'll dip down to .005 for those minuscule details that I have to hold my breath to add. Like I said above, dip pens are always fun to play around with. I love Higgins brand ink to make my lines, but I recently bought some Sumi Ink to test out too; I'd like to get back into making ink wash paintings like I did in college. I recommend trying out both, but practicing your lines with dip pens before committing to a piece. Ink wash paintings are very beautiful when executed, but it's a very unforgiving material to use.
Speaking of painting, I want to get back into that too! I mainly use watercolors and gouache as a base color for my mixed media paintings, but I'll bust out acrylic on canvas if I'm feeling up for it. With paint comes brushes, palates, palate knives, easels, and more. Here are some general supplies I use for painting:
Palate holder; I have one that has wells to put my paint in. Just add some water into it and get to painting!
Watercolor brushes; they are soft brushes that glide easy on textured, toothy paper
Sta-wet palate; This is a palate that comes with a sponge that you wet with water and place palate paper on top so that your paint will stay wet for prolonged paint sessions. This is very handy for acrylic paint since it dries very fast.
Gesso; a great tool if you need to repaint your canvas back to white for any reason.
Acrylic Medium; material that thins out acrylic paint for layering purposes, very good if you're looking to add some depth to your paint without using water.
Masking fluid; A great tool to have for blocking out shapes in you painting that you don't want to paint on. I've used this to block out characters so that I can paint background washes.
If you're looking to experiment with your art and add some pizzazz to your pieces, you can never go wrong with glitter! The best way to apply glitter without making a huge mess I've found is using roll-on glue, or glue markers. If you go to any craft store, you can find an overwhelming amount of glitter! One fun way to use glitter is to use embossing powder. When you apply embossing powder to a piece then use a heating tool, it will give you a really cool effect! I learned this while working at a store called Paper Source, which carries many embossing tools to play around with. I suggest looking there and at other craft stores if you're interested.
There are lots of different ways to create art, both digitally and traditionally, and everyone's supply lists are different. A lot of my art was created with trial and error, trying out different mediums and techniques until I found a process that I both enjoy, and that looked good to me.
You can go to the store and feel overwhelmed at the idea of starting fresh with art, knowing that you might need hundreds of dollars worth of supplies. But I'm here to say you don't need to break the bank! If you're looking to start acrylic paintings for example, take a look around and see if anyone is selling or getting rid of art supplies they don't need anymore. Most times you can get really cheap materials that way, and people would be glad to take it off their shoulders to someone who needs it.
I was able to attend art college, and a heavy majority of art supplies I have I still use, even after seven years. Things like brushes, sketchbooks, palate knives, rulers, drawing boards, and even paint!
Shop smart for your supplies, and happy arting everyone!