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Drawing Tools to Improve your Drawings

June 10, 2009

Besides a pencil, there are a few other things that most artists consider necessary for drawing: erasers, a blending stick, a sharpener, paper, and a fixative.

Erasers

eraserYou will need two different kinds of erasers. You are probably familiar with the large white eraser, which is useful for erasing early mistakes and big areas of pencil. The other type of eraser is a kneaded eraser. These gray erasers are flexible and malleable, and come in rectangles wrapped in plastic. Before using it, you’ll want to work the eraser a bit to make it soft. Kneaded erasers are useful because you can form a small point to erase in tight spaces. They are also good for gently lifting graphite to create subtle highlights. If you can only have one, I would recommend the kneaded eraser as it is more versatile.

Blending SticksBlending Stick

Blending is essential to achieving smooth shading free of pencil strokes. Many people start out by blending their drawings with their fingers, but the oils in your skin can be damaging to your work. Blending sticks, also called tortillons, can be made by tightly rolling a piece of paper, or bought. They come in varying sizes and what you will need depends on the type of shading you are doing. A large blending stick is good for large areas of blending, while a small one is good for tight, detailed areas.

Sharpener

Duh. This is pretty self explanatory, but I wanted to mention that a good, sharp sharpener is the best. A cheap one is more likely to break lead and ruin your pencils. I also want to add that if you’re doing a lot of drawing and you can work it into the budget, an electric sharpener is well worth the investment.

Paper

Paper can be a very personal choice and it’s best to experiment with a couple different types. Some people prefer to draw on watercolour paper, which has some texture. Other people like to work with a very smooth surface for crisper lines and smoother shading. Whichever you choose, get a heavier paper that will stand up to blending and erasing.

Fixative

Fixative is necessary to preserve the quality of your drawings. A fixative “fixes” the graphite and keeps it from smudging. There are many different kinds of fixatives, but a good one is Krylon Workable Fixative. This fixative allows you to draw back on top of it, but is also a good finishing spray.

Now that you’re familiar with the basic drawing tools, the next step is learning how to shade!

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