Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'm a Tool! No really!!!

Well this week I thought I'd discuss the tools of my trade which is much better than tricks of the trade. A couple of people were talking/writing on podcasts and forums about what type of pencil, pen, paper etc. they use, then a daughter of a friend who follows my blog also asked to talk about my tools. How could I turn Emma down!?!

My disclaimer is that this is what I use at the moment of writing. I may change my tools as I go along finding something "better" or something "as good" but less expensive...

As for availability, this is another consideration. I tend to but at least 2 of everything. This saves me from running out before I have to order again. I am not a professional and tend to spend less time at the drawing board so you may want to pick up more than 2 of each.

What Tools?

In fact if I'm not a tool, at best I'm a tool user! Now like many of us I enjoy new stuff. I also enjoy going to my local art store(s) and seeing what is new and exciting in the illustration department. What this means to me is pencils, markers, inks, brushes, paper, rulers, tables, chairs, software, computers, paint, and whatever else I missed errr storage containers and so on... I told ya. I love tools!


OK. I don't spend a huge time at the art store looking at pencils. I have "flitted" from wood and lead art pencils by any company (including many sets bought as gifts by friends) to Mars Staedler drafting pencils (where you purchase the led separately and sharpen in the special rotary sharpener). One problem with the "old school" technical pencil was you had to take the bulky sharpener everywhere. Now they have an attachment that does the trick for you.

9H 8H 7H 6H 5H 4H 3H 2H H F HB B 2B 3B 4B 5B 6B 7B 8B 9B
Hardest Medium Softest

Lately I have gravitated towards the cheaper technical pencils from any company as my wife and father in law use em and I have an endless supply of pencil leads. As for the softness I tend to stick to HB (hard black) unless I am strictly doing a pencil sketch (no inking). In a pencil sketch I may move from H (hard) F (fine) to B (black) or 2B. I find that I smudge too much if I wander too far down the B's and I have to press too hard if I go too high up the H's...


I use any kind of paper for my sketch ideas. When I was younger I was hung up on getting those black covered sketch books from art stores. I guess I like the idea of standardization so they could sit all neat and cool and in order when they were on my shelf... HA! Not really. They were an inexpensive option.Many art stores had them made and branded for them using fairly low quality sketch paper. The thing is, since the advent of the computer age and the relative inexpensive "fax-scanner-copier-printers" a lot of times I just use standard "8 1/2 by 11" printer paper for my ideas and then scan em into the puter. I use a clipboard from the dollar store when I am TV watching/listening and yes I still have moleskins and hard cover sketch books from the local art store...

Enough for Now:

Whew who knew I could talk so much about pencils and paper? I haven't even reached the different paper grades or markers or brushes or ink. Sigh. Sorry Emma, not that interesting I know! Go! Right now and grab an HB pencil, some paper from the printer and draw!!!

Don't waste time learning the "tricks of the trade." Instead, learn the trade. ~Attributed to both James Charlton and H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)

My Art Week:

Put down the "how to" books and read some Jeffrey Brown. Great stuff!

Did some work on my own stuff including starting an auto biographical sketch book (I think I'll call it As the Puck Strikes Me and other Hockey Stories)

Oh. Here is a quick sketch for Halloween!

I hope I get time to ink and or colour it!

Keep Creating!



  1. I like that one. Don't learn the tools of the trade, but learn the trade. I'm also not too much attached to particular brands and models, since professional illustrators increasingly go all-digital and manufacturers pay less and less attention to quality. I'm not a pro, so a digital illustration studio is not within my reach, and I need to use at least some analog tools.

  2. Yes. We can get caught up in tools and researching tools etc. But as many people have discovered (including myself) you have to know how to craft before you can "know" your craft...

    As for analog tools, I think there is a reason that pencil and paper have endured as the main medium of the budding artist. They are still the most "instant" tactile form of expression!


  3. Hey man, thanks for all your awesome comments. That was really cool of you.