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When I first started drawing, I had NO clue what I was doing, what to buy, or where to begin. Flash forward a few years and now I’m addicted to that signature scent of a tin full of drawing pencils. If you’re looking for the best drawing supplies for beginners, then here’s your guide. I’ll share all my favorite sketching supplies that I use and love.
Table of Contents
- Derwent Graphic Pencils
- Strathmore Spiral Bound Sketch Pad
- Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener
- Prismacolor Kneaded Rubber Eraser
- Blending Stumps & Tortillions Set
- Sakura Pigma Micron Pen Set
- Brutfuner Watercolor Pencils
- Arteza Professional Watercolor Pencils
- Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad
- Steal Like an Artist
- Anatomy for the Artist
Not all pencils are created equal
You know how in school everything required a number 2 pencil? Well, that meant that pencil’s graphite core had a US hardness rating of “2.” The drawing world has a wide range of pencil hardnesses and two different hardness rating systems, Numerical (US) and HB (International).
Want to improve your drawing? Then you’ll find using a variety of pencils at different ratings essential. Harder core pencils make great early sketches, and softer pencils help you get rich blacks.
So I would suggest getting a set of pencils spanning the HB system, like this one from Derwent. These are my absolute favorite pencils and they come in a sturdy metal tin (and they smell like art).
Sketchbooks help you grow as an artist
Just like how what pencils you use dramatically affect your art, so does what paper you draw on. Obviously, any scrap is better than no paper. But sketch paper has the perfect texture and resistance for your pencils to lay down their graphite on.
I’ve also found keeping a sketchbook has helped me appreciate my growth as an artist. If you draw on individual sheets of paper, they quickly get separated, jumbled, or thrown away. Meanwhile, consistently drawing in a sketchbook is like keeping a journal. You can always look back at your early attempts and appreciate how much you’ve grown.
Keep your pencils sharp without ruining them
When you start investing in better pencils, it’s a good idea to get a high-quality pencil sharpener that won’t splinter them to pieces. My go-to favorite is Prismacolor’s pencil sharpener.
Erase your mistakes big and small
Kneaded erasers are a must in drawing. They pick up graphite so much better than “regular” erasers you’d find on the ends of number 2 pencils. You can also shape and mold them to fit into tiny spaces to erase exactly what you want. They also don’t leave a lot of residual eraser dust as regular erasers do. Using Prismacolor’s kneaded erasers have spoiled me, and now no other eraser compares.
Blend your shading
You’ll find blending stumps and tortillions perfect for mixing and smoothing out your shading in pencil drawings. I use them occasionally. I personally prefer to work with watercolor pencils (see below) instead. But if you plan to do purely graphite pencil drawings, you’ll find these useful.
Best for inking your design
If you’re interested in eventually inking your designs or drawings, I highly recommend getting a Sakura Pigma Ink pen set. Their different size tips are perfect for creating both thicker and thinner lines in your work. Also, they generally don’t run when exposed to water. Which makes them great to pair with watercolors or watercolor pencils.
The best coloring experience
I find drawing in black and white fun. But what’s even better? COLOR. And in my opinion, watercolor pencils rule the coloring world. I love their pigment’s bendable, mixable, buildable, and beautiful qualities.
After creating a quick sketch with your graphite pencils, you can outline it with Sakura ink pens and then color it with watercolors. After a few quick swipes of a wet paintbrush to blend the watercolor pencil, you have a finished art piece. Just make sure to use mixed media or watercolor paper (see below) when doing this to prevent warping.
I got my favorite Brutfuner watercolor pencils from a website called AliExpress. It’s essentially the Amazon of China. So shipping takes a while to order art supplies from them but the pencils are amazing (and cheaper).
An Amazon watercolor pencil alternative
If you’re interested in getting watercolor pencils from Amazon instead, these have great reviews.
For expanding beyond pencil drawing
If you want to start using markers, watercolor pencils or paint to take your drawings to the next level, then you’ll need mixed media paper. Sketchbook paper works great for pencils, but it can’t handle wet mediums. I personally use and love Canson’s paper. I use both their mixed media and watercolor papers.
Perfect for drawing anywhere
The best way to get better at drawing? Practice, practice, practice. And having a lap desk lets you practice anywhere. Even though sketchbooks have hard backs on them, they still need the excellent support of a hard surface while you draw. And a good lap desk provides that. I love just being able to sketch while watching TV with my family with my lap desk.
Perfect for beginners to learn essential anatomy
If you want to draw people, then you need to understand what makes them up. This includes the muscles and bones that makes humans look, well, human. A drawing class I took recommended getting Sarah Simblet’s Anatomy for the Artist. I’m so glad I did. I saw a great improvement in my drawing once I became conscious of anatomy.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it includes expert analysis of classic masterpieces. They discuss what the artist did well and how they messed the subject’s anatomy up. This helped me feel so much less pressure in my drawing. Once I realized that if the classic masters got anatomy wrong and their pieces still sell for millions of dollars, I don’t have to be perfect in my drawing anatomy either.