The word ‘art’ and being an ‘artist’ has changed so much over the years. From the first cave drawings found in Indonesia to the beautiful drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, man has been drawing for a long time. We find ourselves at a place in time where the art of drawing has become a very important part of our future. 

Did you know that AI systems are being programmed to be able to draw and create art? With technology advancing this fast, we must embrace this talent and grow the inner artist.

So, you’ve decided you want to draw and have signed up for some classes, that is great news! But what will you need? A pencil and a sketchbook are the basic requirements for making an amazing piece of art, along with an eraser to fix any mistakes.

You surely have these basic drawing tools, and with only this you could transfer your creativity and ideas to paper in no time.

Here is more detail about what you will need in your art set.

Find Your Inner Artist

Out of everything you will need this is, by far, the most important element, and it cannot be found in any art supply store.

Think back to when you were a child, handing your mother your first landscape of the playground or backyard, eventually drawing and sketching with such gusto that there was no more space on the fridge left to display your works.

That is the artist in you pushing you to express yourself and grow your talents. For you to become the best you can be you must allow the artist in you to enjoy the process as much as possible. 

Keep yourself focused and remember to have as much fun as possible. Stay on track and practise at every available moment, doing this will be essential for you to advance from the thinking to the doing.

The Art Set

In the art of drawing, the 3 main supplies will be the pencil, sketch pad and eraser. But what else do you need to get for taking your talent to the next level.

When you start your drawing classes you will be given a list of what you will need but, in the meantime, let’s have a look at the bare essentials.

The weight and grain of the paper being used affects the drawing. - Source; Unsplash

Drawing Pencils 

Choosing your drawing pencils is not as simple as you would expect;  they need to be comfortable to grip, practical and help you to get the best result possible. Your pencils need to help you create the best artwork you are capable of creating. 

And there are a number of deciding factors to consider when buying pencils. You need to select the best tool for the job, without breaking the bank.

Did you know that there are many different types of  drawing pencils, and that harder pencils create thinner and lighter lines while softer pencils produce thicker and darker lines?

The standard HB pencil will certainly allow you to create and draw what you need as a beginner. 

However, as your drawing progresses, you may need some softer pencils (such as 4B or 6B) or harder pencils (such as 5H or even 9H) in order to create exactly the effects and level of depth you desire.  

You can expect to go through some trial and error before finding your perfect pencil set.

Buying a full set of drawing pencils is likely to be less expensive than buying individual pencils in your local art store.

Once you have your pencil set, make sure that you adequately protect it by getting a decent pencil case. A pencil sharpener will also be necessary for ensuring that your drawing tools will be ready to be used at any time.

The Sketchbook

Your sketchbook will bear the evidence of your work and progress. And yes, you will need to make the time and put in the effort to create as many drawings as possible.

And as this will be an active sketchbook you will need it to be durable and have plenty of pages for all the drawings waiting to be done. A hardcover will help protect it from any damage during travel and during regular use in your drawing class.

The sketchbook will be something to show off and should be well looked after to ensure the safety of your works of art. Investing in a proper case or bag to put it in would not be a bad idea.

The Eraser

You will, of course, need an eraser. Even if no mistakes are made, it is an invaluable tool that can be used to enhance your objet d’art

Your eraser can be used for much more than undoing a mistake. It can be used, for example,  for smudging, to adjust and create the perfect tones, and to soften or enhance certain textures.

There are 2 main types of eraser and each one is used at in a specific situation for achieving a distinct result. 

Firstly a ‘kneadable’ or ‘putty’ rubber available at all art shops. Secondly a regular ‘vinyl plastic’ eraser like the one you used in school.  So what’s the difference?

The Kneadable eraser can be soft, medium or firm, however, once out of its packaging it can be bent, smashed, pulled and formed into any shape needed for you to complete your task. This type of eraser is great for lighting and shading by just dabbing it where needed.

The Vinyl Plastic eraser is the standard eraser you would have used at school and does exactly what it says on the packaging, “erase”. But all erasers are not the same and you might find that some work better than others. The most popular brand in use is Staedtler. But you should test a few brands to find the one you prefer.

Advanced Art Supplies Kit

Ready to take the next step in developing your talents as an artist? This means you are now in touch with your inner artist and that he or she is growing and looking to create a masterpiece. 

Will your old drawing set still be of use? Of course you will still use it, but in order for you to advance you will need additional supplies.

You already have the feel for it and know what pencil you like to use for what, but now you need to broaden your horizons and explore the different types of pencils available. 

colourful pencils
Once you've mastered the basics, you'll want to expand your art kit. - Source; Unsplash

Drawing Pencil Varieties

The range of pencils go from soft (9B) to hard (9H) and will allow you to create art with more ease. “What type will I use for what?” you ask.

Harder pencils make lighter marks and retain their sharp tips for longer, while softer graphite pencils produce darker marks and need constant sharpening. Having a range of pencil grades will allow you to experiment with different drawing techniques and create a wide array of marks, lines and strokes.

The Right Paper for the Job

The average sketchbook paper will do, but as you advance you will learn that having the correct weight and grain can give you the much-needed edge to create the best art piece possible. One sheaf of paper can differ greatly from another, and the sketch paper used for pencil drawings is not the same as that used for scrapbooking.

Lightweight or "sketching pad" styles are typically non-archival and best for practice sketches or figure studies. Heavier-weight papers allow for erasing, reworking and applying pen and ink.

Having a small A5 book in your bag will allow you to practise more often but when sitting down to draw, an A3 book is recommend in order for you to create larger drawings.

Being comfortably seated is equally as important when you’re in your private drawing room as when you’ve dashed out to a local park during your lunch break. When you are physically at ease, you will be able to focus wholly on your drawing. 

Investing in a suitable easel for home use is a great idea and will allow your hands to move more freely. 

Where to Get What You Need

Buying your art supplies from the store that will give you the quality you seek at the best price is one of the hardest things to do. "Why," you ask? Well getting a great deal only to find that your pencil point keeps breaking or your eraser smudges the page could be a deal breaker. Lucky for us drawing materials can be found all around. 

pencil shavings
Where you aware that pencils range from soft (9B) to hard (9H). - Source; Unsplash

But where is the best place to find art supplies?

Supermarkets, such as Pick n Pay, Checkers and Shoprite,  offer most of what you need at an affordable price. For any amateur artist the supermarket selection will do. 

Then there are also specialist stationery and art and craft supply shops, such as The Deckle Edge or Merrypak, who cater to more advanced artists, with aisles filled with more drawing supplies than you could imagine. 

Buying art materials online is a convenient option, but remember that you won’t be able to sample the items before checkout. If you do know exactly which items and brands you prefer, sites such as Artist Warehouse Online and Art Attack may be worth a look. 

When buying art supplies you need to make a list of what you need in advance, and stick to it, because you will, no doubt, tend to want it all …

So, you’ve got your drawing paper and some coloured pencils … All that’s left to do is to sketch.

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Adventurer by heart, and always in search of a new challenge.