Drawing Materials

In this chapter, you will be introduced to the basic materials needed to carry out the exercises in the book. The list of choices is rather basic so that you can keep things simple at this beginning stage.

A Sample of Drawing Tools Different Papers

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This is a sampling of the many tools that are available to use in drawing. The items presented here have proven to be indispensable to artists. In this section, you will learn each tool's different applications. Take special note of how the tool is used differently by each artist in the gallery sections throughout this book, and practice what you see.

Various Mediums


Graphite pencils are probably the most common drawing tool. They are available on a scale from hardest to softest. The scale ranges from 10H to 9B, where H denotes hardness and B indicates softness (the B refers to black). An H pencil makes a sharp and precise line. As the H number decreases, so does the sharpness. With the B range, the higher the number, the softer and more blurred the line becomes.

You can also buy water soluble graphite pencils. You draw out your image with the pencil, and then paint over areas with a brush that has been dipped in water to soften passages of tone, or line. This will give your drawing a more "painterly" look.

Note: Graphite can be easily erased, as long as you don't press really hard when you draw. A jar of graphite powder (see the photo on page 36) is excellent for creating a ground, or tone, on your paper. You'll learn more about tone in Chapter 4.


Charcoal is available in sticks as willow or vine charcoal. Both charcoals range from soft to hard and are easy to use to create tones. Charcoal can be messy but produces a velvety, rich, dark tone on the paper. You can sharpen the end into a point with some fine sandpaper or a small sanding pad. You will use a lot of it, as it wears down quickly. Charcoal can be very easily erased, and so it must be made permanent, or "fixed," with a fixative. You can buy fixative in an aerosol form to be sprayed onto the surface of your completed drawing. "Workable fixative" is also available, and as the name suggests, you can spray it onto your drawing and then go back and work into it again. It is therefore not permanent.

Note: Fixative is extremely harmful to inhale. If you apply it to your drawing, always do so in the open air, and never indoors.

Note: Fixative is extremely harmful to inhale. If you apply it to your drawing, always do so in the open air, and never indoors.

Drawing Materials chapter..


Conté crayons and pencils are available in earth colors. Sanguine (red) is probably the most popular color, and a variety of Sanguines are available. Because the pigments are mixed with kolin clay, conté is a hard medium. This makes it somewhat difficult to erase, and so it is not the best medium for a beginner. However, conté is a lovely medium to use—practice and persevere, and you will be rewarded!

White chalk is useful when working with tone to emphasize highlights, and pastels are softer than chalk and bring an element of color into your drawing. You can use them as a basis for adding a tone to your paper (see Chapter 12). Of course, they can also be used as a drawing medium in their own right.


The eraser and the chamois cloth become drawing implements when working with tone. (In Chapter 4, you will learn how the eraser is used to create tone.) The chamois cloth's purpose is to erase large areas of tone, while the kneaded eraser can be manipulated to erase a variety of shapes and sizes. Next to the chamois cloth are some tortillons, or "shading stumps," which come in different sizes. They are rolled paper with small to large points on both ends.

When working with charcoal or graphite, you can use tortillons instead of your fingers, as your fingers do not have such small points. They are useful for softening and moving around the charcoal or graphite into very small and precise areas on your paper.


There is nothing more annoying than drawing with an uneven, stubby pencil, so make sure that your pencils are sharpened and ready to use. The pencil sharpened with a razor knife is on the left. You can obtain a very long point by carving the wood away. This gives you the ability to not only use the point, but the whole length on the side of the point. The second pencil from the left is sharpened by an ordinary sharpener. The point is a lot shorter, and this is actually the only part of the pencil that you can use to make a mark. Drawing boards are essential to give you a firm foundation. Any hard board will do, as long as it is stable. Here, we have used a piece of Masonite, which is available at your local hardware store. You will need strong clips to attach the paper.

In this section, you'll be introduced to a variety of papers. The surfaces of each paper are demonstrated visually in the photographs. The marks on the papers give you a "feel" for the different textures. However, when you buy your paper, make sure you feel its surface. This helps you to understand how your drawing tool of choice will react to the surface's roughness or smoothness, hardness or softness. The marks shown in these examples are made using (from top to bottom) the side and point/tip of a small piece of charcoal, the side and point/tip of a stick of conté, and the side and point/tip of a graphite pencil.


You can buy your paper in sketch books or in big rolls of paper. With ring-bound sketch books, it is easier to detach the paper from the ring rather than tear it out of the book. Rolls of paper enable you to determine the exact size of the piece you want. A smooth paper is shown here. There is no interruption from the surface of the paper to disrupt the drawn lines.


This paper is rougher. The line does not flow so easily and continuously. Think about the subject matter you are drawing and how it is suited to the surface you are using. If you want to draw a subject with fine detail and the quality of the line is important to you, you should use a smooth paper. If, however, you will not be concentrating on fine detail but an overview of the subject, then a less smooth paper will best suit that need. There are no hard and fast rules; just be aware of the possibilities, and always experiment.


Newsprint is the most economical paper to use and is available in pads. This is not the best-quality paper, but it is great for practicing. It comes in large sizes and gives you a great sense of freedom while drawing. As you can see from the examples using the side of the tools only, it has a very smooth surface. If this is a drawing that you want to keep, do not use charcoal or pastel, or any other soft medium on this surface.


This is paper that is made for charcoal. It comes in a variety of colors and is not extremely smooth, like newsprint. The texture of the paper grabs hold of the charcoal particles, and so consequently, it retains the charcoal. Notice that the graphite pencil is not such a successful medium on this paper.


Watercolor paper comes in varying thicknesses. As the name suggests, it is made for watercolor paint. It has a much rougher texture in comparison to the other papers listed in this section. As you can see, the lines created here really reveal the surface of the paper.


Printmaking paper is excellent for drawing. It comes in different shades of white, cream, and ivory, among other shades. Its beautiful warm or cool shades can emphasize your drawing medium, and so enhance the drawing as a whole.

Drawing Materials chapter

Figure Drawing Light And Shade

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