Tuesday, February 25, 2014


 How Tues-day is the series I wish I had when I was starting out as an artist. It's where I disclose information about how I do things as a creative. Tutorials, information, tips and tricks, as well as my personal experiences, advice and go-to tools. You can expect an insider's look in to the life of a creative, and gain some valuable insight at the same time. 


This week I'm sharing my all-time favourite art supplies with you. Let me start this off by saying not to get hung-up on the specifics. There are artists who make art with only the top quality materials. Personally, I think that's hogwash, and that some of the greatest works come from the freedom of using tools you can abuse, but that's just me. 

What I'm trying to say is - keep an open mind. This is not a bible to follow by the book - I found what worked for me through a TON of trial and error. These may or may not be the tools for you, but I think it's a great starting point for anyone wanting to dip their feet in, or find some quality tools without paying a hand and a foot! 

So, here we are - my go-to tools for making, well...pretty much anything. I keep all of these on me as often as I can: 


1. UHU glue stick: 
Acid free, chunky, and pretty much the best for glueing things on the go. It doesn't hurt that they come in packs of 3 or 4, and that the glue, for a glue stick, really can hold paper (I can't STAND when something peels off after you've glued it. You have to WORK to get things off with UHU glue). 

2. Coccoina paper glue: 
This stuff is the GOD of collage glues. It smells like almond cake, it doesn't make your fingers feel gross, and the pot (it also comes in sticks) has a brush, so you get complete control over where you glue. It also doesn't cause paper to buckle, and dries really nice and fast. It's not as sticky as UHU, but it's great for laying down details in a collage, or bookbinding. 


3. Slice ceramic precision cutter:  
Words cannot describe my love for my Slice cutter. I've had it for four years, and it's little blade is as sharp as the day I got it. It fits perfectly in my hand, it's easy to carry around, and for a little wee blade, it can cut. It's perfect for rummaging through magazines, or cutting out tiny details. 

4. A GOOD pair of scissors: 
 Mine is a pair of Witshire stay-sharp scissors, but play around until you find your pair of scissors. It will change your life.

5. A bone-folder:  
This guy is multi-purpose and wonderful. If you want to make a nice precise crease on anything, these are the best things to use. I use it to rub out bubbles from between two pieces of paper. It also works as a sculpting tool for me, if I'm working with clay. 


6. A tiny, sturdy portfolio:  
This little buddy holds it's own. It's meant to keep work in, but I use it as a modifiable sketchbook, slipping in papers and clippings and whatever else I manage to create or find useful. It's great because you can add or remove papers as you see fit, without having to worry about tearing it out. 


7. A crap pen: 
Because there are always going to be notes and thoughts you need to record, and sometimes a pencil won't do. This way, you're not using your good pens writing down 'lesbian mermaids fanfic' in your sketchbook. 

8. A sort-of crap drawing pen (I use Sharpie Pens): 
I like the sharpie pens because I don't feel super-protective over them, and they have a nice, robust inkflow. I don't use them to ink good drawings, but I will use them for text-work, or when I need a nice, big, bold line.

9. A happy coloured pen (I use a pink Inkjoy)
Because you never know when you'll need to emphasize something, or draw an outline you can erase in photoshop later. Plus, colour in a sketchbook just looks nice.

10. A white gel-pen (Sakura Gelly Roll 08)
Nothing stands out better in collages than a nice white gel-pen. It's also great for adding highlights and details in areas you otherwise wouldn't get to do (pencil crayon drawings and/or paintings). I like the Gelly Roll pens because they last quite a bit, and because their ink is really thick and bright. But, again, personal preference (also, white gel pens are REALLY hard to come across. Take what you can get, really).

11. A good quality, thin-inking pen (Sakura Micron 0.2 pen): 
This is my detail pen. I absolutely love the Micron pens - they last the longest and seem to be the best quality for my work. I usually use the smaller pen for inking in the smaller details, patterns and designs.

12. Same as above, but bigger (Sakura Micron 0.5 pen): 
A bigger pen is a MUST if you're doing lineart. I use my larger pen for the outline, for defining shadows and prominent features. Thicker lines catch more attention, so use it sparingly until you're sure where you want the attention. Also, nothing sucks more than filling in an important detail (looking at you, eye-whites) because your pen was too big. Ugh.

13. A big, bold, thick brush pen (Sakura Graphic 1 pen): 
These are for big, bold things. Typography, quotes, anything where I need a lot of emphasis as quickly and effectively as possible. This pen especially, look for quality. If you go cheap, the brush will wear out, your ink won't be opaque and you'll get weird boogers on the end of the pen and everyhing sucks after that.

14. A GOOD eraser (Staedtler Mars white eraser): 
Okay. If you don't already use this eraser - GO AND BUY ONE IMMEDIATELY. You know how I said 'Find what works for you'? This WILL work for you. Just trust me and start using them right this instant. My grandpa drafted for half his life, and swore by these guys. Make him proud and do the same. 

15. A happy pencil (Staedtler 0.7 mechanical pencil): 
Pencils are as varied and unique as the artists using them. This guy is what works for me, but you might like a different thickness, or maybe you hate mechanical pencils (I am VERY picky about what pencil I use). Try out as many as you can to find what works for you.


16. Turner Designer Goache in an old watercolour travel container: 
Ok. This...is my workhorse tool, and my Most Favourite Art Thing Ever. It's expensive (a 12-set of Turner Goache will set you back at least 60 bucks [CAD] at most stores) but it's SO worth it. SO WORTH IT. If you're testing paints - get a black and a white, and see how you like them. Also - reuse what you don't use anymore. That paint container was just sitting with crappy paints in it. Now I use it every day. 

17. A big, thick, fluffy brush (for big washes of colour/ink): 
Find a brush that can hold a lot of water and that's fairly large and soft. This is perfect for washes of colour, or filling in larger areas with water/colour. Don't use it for details, though. 

18. A big-ish, stiff, skinny brush (for mixing paint, and applying medium detail): 
Find a brush that's springy and stiff (when you push the bristles, they resist and don't feel poufy). These guys are great for mixing paint (if you use a wash brush, all the colour you mixed will stay on the brush. Mix with this guy first, then go in with your wash brush). They also are good for some detail, or blocking out colour when you need some control. 

19. A wee little skinny brush (for details and lines): 
I'm known for using brushes for my inking sometimes, and this is my favourite little brush to ink with. It's also great for adding details in colour - bright bold blobs and lines. It (obviously) doesn't hold much paint, so don't, please don't try to colour with this. 

20. A bigger inking pen (I use speedball): 
I have NO idea what size this is (anyone?), but it's a bigger nib for a pen. I use this a lot like my bigger inking pen, but only for instances where I want to be more expressive. Getting used to working with a pen and ink can be hard (I'm still learning) but it's FUN, and it adds a TON of character to your drawings (plus you feel like a badass pioneer/scholar, which is important)

21. A smaller inking pen (I use speedball crow quill nib):  
This guy is tiny and skinny and thin. It almost feels like drawing with a really, really precise pencil. I find the speedball nib holds the most ink, and is really easy to clean and take care of. Try not to scratch the paper with this guy, and experiment. This isn't a marker, or a brush, or even a pencil or pen. Drawing pens are their own beasts, but they're great. 

I use ink for everything. I'm not a fan of using black paint unless I need to - when I need black, I almost always use ink (you can dip your brushes in ink, you can dip your ink-pens in ink, you can even print with ink, if you try). I'm not even going to mention the name because it's awful. Splurge on some semi-nice ink (speedball ink is the best I've used) or else you'll end up with really piddly, semi-transparent, soak-through-the-page ink, which is what I'm dealing with right now, and it's a sad state of affairs. 


So, there you go. My most-used tools for making cool things. I hope you find some awesome somewhere in there, and like I said - experiment, experiment, experiment. It's the only way to find what you love. There will be hits, there will be misses - it takes time to build a repitoire that works, but it's so great when you find things that work! Keep at it, fellow artists and creators!

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