People often ask what kind of artist I am. My medium has always been colored pencil, which is a bit rare I suppose. But my mom is a colored pencil artist, so I grew up standing on my tip toes at her drafting board to get a glimpse at her latest artworks. And each Christmas, my grandmother gave me new colored pencil sets. So it never really occurred to me to use anything else and it probably says a lot about my personality too, because I like the control that colored pencils provide. Maybe someday I’ll try watercolors (and bravo to those of you who do because I love watercolor illustrations!), but for now no watery messes or drips for me.
My absolute favorite colored pencils are Prismacolor Premier. I haven’t been able to find anything better! They go on so smooth, they blend well and there are a million color options. They’re a bit soft so I use a hand-held pencil sharpener as opposed to an electric one to prevent as much breakage as possible. I currently have this one and I like that it’s really sharp, which helps create a super fine point, and that it has a canister to catch the shavings. There are few things more frustrating than a rogue pencil shaving, which can mark up a clean piece of in-progress art. That being said, a dust brush is absolutely crucial to brush away any shavings or other annoying bits. Which brings me to my favorite kneaded eraser, which doesn’t shed like rubber erasers. It also picks up the color without smearing or damaging the paper and can be shaped into a point to lift out small highlights. So an eraser is as much a tool for creating the actual art as it is for erasing any mistakes. I keep all of these supplies in shoe boxes on my desk. Very professional, I know! 🙂
And lastly, I look for paper that’s relatively smooth. My favorite Canson Biggie Sketch paper was discontinued (oh, the devastation!), so I’ve been testing others. Lately, Strathmore Drawing paper (medium surface and weight) has been my go-to. I buy it in 11×14″ sheets and use a paper cutter if a client wants a smaller size.
In terms of tools for actually creating my illustrations, that’s about it! It’s really important to test things out because once you find what you like, it makes the process so much easier and reduces the guess work. I’ll post later about my scanner and printer and how I digitize my works, all of which deserve a post of their own.