My Tools

April 6, 2018

Like most artists I am a bit of a tool collector! I follow lots of great artists on Instagram and often watch tutorials on YouTube and like a magpie I spot and collect various things that I think will help me improve my art or make my life that little bit easier. 


On a day to day basis, however, I keep it relatively simple! So for a portrait such as Bat Cats below much of my art stash is neglected!


This was completed on Claire Fontaine Pastel Mat Paper which I ordered in individual sheets from Jacksons Art Supplies and although at first I wasn't a huge fan of it, Pastelmat certainly has its advantages and I might slowly be falling for it! It's a sanded surface and used by a lot of coloured pencil artists even though, in theory, it eats your pencils a little bit quicker. It allows you to build up a multitude of layers (very important when rendering fur!) and layer light over dark which is probably its best feature for me!


One downside to Pastel mat is it's not so easy to remove unwanted marks so the Grid method of transferring my ref photo onto the page isn't a great option. Instead I use a pastel pencil to trace the main outlines and shapes onto the back of the page (so the image is reversed) and then rub it onto the Pastelmat. Now I know there is a big debate about tracing in the art world but I'm not getting into that on this blog post! I either trace or use the grid method which takes about 2% of the time of the whole portrait and so much more goes into making it right that the original 'trace' disappears pretty quick.


Once I have my outline on the page I go straight in building up layers with my Faber Castell Polychromos Pencils. I also use a sharpener and a putty rubber and that is pretty much it! The sharpener I was using was the Kum Automatic Long Point Sharpener which I bought at Hobby Craft. This worked great until I got something stuck in it and destroyed it trying to get it out :-( I ordered another one from Amazon but a slightly different version turned up and it was nowhere near as good so I went on the hunt again. I ordered a Faber-Castell Sharpener and so far I am in love! Super sharp points are super important in creating realistic portraits! When finished I spray it with Brush and Pencil Advanced Coloured Pencil fixative.


So my 'List'


- Faber Castell Pastel Pencils

-My living room window (in lieu of a lightbox!)

-Faber Castell Polychromos Pencils - I ordered the 36 set from Amazon and have since supplemented this with buying open stock from Hobby Craft and

-Faber-Castell Trio Pencil Sharpener Tub Box GRIP 2001 Silver

-Claire Fontaine Pastelmat (white)

-Generic Putty Rubber

- Pencil extender thingys for when my beautiful pencils are shrinking


There are a few other things I sometimes use that I didn't need for Bat Cat and they are:


- Titanium White Powder with Brush and Pencil Touch up Texture and a thin brush. This is to add white highlights (if needed) at the end. 

- BeFunky app - I use this to edit the reference photo (if needed) and to help me understand the values

- Colour Picker App or GIMP photo editing software - to pick out colours that you never knew were there (black is almost never just black!)

- Tombow Mono Eraser (pencil like eraser for fine lines)

- Guilloutine Ruler to cut the paper to size (don't ask me where it's from, I stole it from my Husband)

** If I am drawing people I will use Stone Henge Paper as I find it better for smooth skin rendering but I am keen to try out Pastelmat for a person soon!






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