Drawing Supplies & Materials: A List For Beginners Learning How To Draw
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So you want to jump into drawing but aren’t sure where to start.
I’ll admit, it can be intimidating. Especially if you have practically no experience.
But all the materials you need to start drawing are easy to find and won’t break the bank.
I’ll guide you through all the materials needed to get into drawing. Most of these are rudimentary art supplies that you can find online or in any art store.
And these supplies don’t vary too much between brands so when you’re getting started you can worry less about the brand and focus more on just drawing.
So on that note let’s get into this list!
You won’t get far drawing if you don’t have a pencil. Statement of the year right?
But I always suggest that aspiring artists pick up a pack of real art pencils rather than working with a #2. The quality will feel a bit different at first but that’s not a huge hurdle to get over.
You want to get comfortable working with professional-grade art supplies and graphite pencils are the best starting point.
Typically art pencils do not have a built-in eraser so that’s one way you can tell them apart. But they’ll also have little pencil grades that range from 6B-6H(on average).
The “B” grade pencils have softer lead while “H” pencils have harder lead. The larger the number, the softer/harder the lead. So a 2B is soft but a 6B is even softer.
That paper is much more uniform and easier to predict with the same 8.5″ x 11″ measurements.
And printer paper comes in reams of 500 sheets where you can draw on both sides.
Assuming you work through 5-10 pages per day(which is a lot!) you can have one ream last you over two months.
Just one note: I recommend buying a separate pack of printer paper for drawing. Keep it with your art supplies and don’t use it for printing at all.
The reason is you’ll feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment once you work through a full ream. And truthfully, one ream is just the beginning.
So if you know you’re only using one ream for drawing you’ll have a way to count how many pages you’ve drawn right from the beginning.
Erasers(Kneaded & Regular)
When you draw with a generic yellow pencil you always get that pink eraser on the other end.
That can be found on some art pencils but it’s not typical. That’s because artists typically need more control while erasing.
When you’re brand new to drawing this may not make a lot of sense.
But as you learn how to refine your work through critiques you’ll realize that tiny changes can make a big impact on your composition.
So, erasers. They’re a bit more that just little rubber cylinders.
I specifically recommend getting two different types of erasers:
The plastic erasers usually come in white and are real easy to find. I recommend Staedtler because they’re the most well-known brand.
For a kneaded eraser you can look around to find a preferred brand or a good price point. These come in many different styles but they all basically work the same.
The kneaded eraser feels more like a putty or Play-Doh. You can tear off pieces to make it smaller and roll it up into different shapes.
This makes it so much easier to erase very small areas in your drawing without erasing other surrounding marks.
You’ll find these erasers mostly in a light grey tone and they get darker with use(like any eraser).
The cool thing with the kneaded material is that you can literally “knead” the eraser like dough. As you do this you’ll mix up the graphite(or charcoal or whatever) which is like a self-cleaning technique.
Eventually it will end up pretty dark and you can see a comparison in the photo below(new eraser on left, used on right).
If you’re a complete beginner then a simple white plastic eraser may be enough.
However if you’re buying a bunch of art supplies at once there’s no reason to wait on the kneaded eraser. It’s something you’ll eventually want so the sooner you practice with it the more comfortable you’ll feel using it.
Take a look at some kneaded erasers to see what you think. You’ll find plenty of 2-packs for dirt cheap and they’re great to have around.
I typically find that kneaded erasers get more use when you’re working on finishing a piece. The plastic erasers are better for practice time and basic drawing exercises.
But they’re both invaluable materials to throw into your toolbox o’ art goodies.
A Sketchbook(or two!)
The single best thing you can pick up for drawing is a quality sketchbook.
We actually published a detailed guide on finding the right sketchbook. It’s a lengthy article so I’ll share a few recommendations here too.
But really, your sketchbook is the one thing you can always rely on. It’s the best way to draw anywhere, anytime.
And if you’re serious about learning how to draw then you need to sketch.
There’s quite a few reasons why sketchbooks are so valuable to artists but these are the key points:
Lightweight and portable
Tons of variety in page material & texture
Hardcover sketchbooks provide a firm drawing surface
They last forever and you can keep them to look back on your improvement
Think of your sketchbook much like your practice book. It doesn’t have to be something you ever show to anyone.
In fact many professional artists typically have two working sketchbooks.
One is their rough/practice sketchbook where anything goes and there’s no concern for end quality. This one is solely about learning and improving.
The other sketchbook is more like a “public” sketchbook where you might practice the stuff you’re good at to show your friends.
What good is learning to draw if you can’t show it off!
When you’re first getting started you’ll be pretty bad at drawing. That’s normal.
And that’s exactly why I recommend sticking with one sketchbook at first. Get one and try to fill it up.
You can use it for anything you want so long as it’s getting used.
Maybe you only draw in it for one hour a day. Or maybe you only draw in it while you’re outside.
Doesn’t matter how you use it, so long as you force yourself to get comfortable drawing in a sketchbook.
As for which style to get, there is no single best choice. You can browse sketchbooks to see what grabs your attention or what fits into your budget.
I like the Pentalic wirebound sketchbook since the wire binding makes it easy to flip through and work on individual pages. Plus the front & back hardcovers make a great impromptu drawing surface.
Either way there’s no denying the value of a sketchbook.
Every single artist at every skill level should have at least one lying around getting some use on a regular basis.
You may have a pencil sharpener hanging around from grade school so this may be an easy one to check off the list.
However there are a surprisingly large number of different pencil sharpeners out there. Even the manual hand-held sharpeners come in a wide variety with different blades and sharpening holes.
If you’re an artist I mostly suggest against electric pencil sharpeners. They’re certainly great, but it can be tough finding an electric model that’s gentle enough to not break your lead.
This goes double if you’re new to drawing and aren’t familiar with the strength of your art pencils.
However if you’ll just be using a typical graphite pencil then the sky’s the limit.
There’s plenty of little art pencil sharpeners you can find that are dirt cheap and even come in 2-packs. That way you can keep one at home and bring one with you on the go.
End of the day you can’t do too much damage by just picking a sharpener at random.
I personally like the metal ones more than the wood or plastic models but it’s totally your call based on your preferences.
However there is one electric model I want to mention mostly because of its portability.
It’s the TripWorthy sharpener which is powered by four AA batteries. This doesn’t need any kind of wall outlet so it’s a brilliant choice for drawing out in nature, at the museum, or just anywhere away from AC power.
Now you could use a manual sharpener if you’re away from power outlets so that is still a good choice.
But if you want something that’ll auto-sharpen and something with a container to catch the shavings then TripWorthy’s sharpener is a real beaut.
Out of everything in this list I’d say a drawing board is the least necessary item.
But it’s worth having one around if you want to work on larger paper or work in a room without a desk.
Basically a drawing board lets you draw from any vantage point. You can bring it around to any room in the house or to drawing locations like the park.
Typically drawing boards measure larger than A4 paper so they’re good for practicing on bigger sheets along with printer paper.
Think about this: you want to practice drawing some basic household objects. Your sofa seems like a fun subject to draw, but you don’t have anywhere to sit and draw in the living room.
That’s where your drawing board helps.
We’ve shared our top suggestions for the best drawing boards across a variety of styles. But really it comes down to your price range and what you’re looking for.
I organize drawing boards into three main properties:
Total weight & thickness
Some artists want a really thin drawing board that’s easy to carry around. Others may want a thicker one that’ll support clips at the top for holding a sheet of paper in place.