Using quality materials makes sketching a bit easier, because these materials are designed to produce visually appealing drawings.

Materials I recommend, include in my kits, and use all the time

Artist-grade materials work with you, unlike some craft-grade materials. That’s why I encourage using art-quality materials and provide them in my workshops. These sketching kits comprise the same materials I use in the field, in the studio, and when I travel.

My sketching kits include the following materials:

  1. Multimedia sketchbook. The hardbound option is a 9″x6″ landscape-format from Stillman & Birn (see photo above), and it is fantastic for mixed and wet media. It is my hands-down favorite sketchbook, and I use them all the time. The softcover option is an 8.5″x5″ lightweight book from Art Alternatives. The paper can take a bit of wet media, and it is handy for when you want to travel light or inconspicuously. I used a pile of these on my trip to Kenya and Tanzania for my “Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare” project.
  2. Permanent ink pen (Sharpie ultrafine) and ball point pen (great for ink washes and writing)
  3. Koi watercolor brush
  4. 2H drawing pencil
  5. Art gum eraser
  6. Transparency film
  7. Wet-erase marker
  8. Brush-dabbing cloth
  9. Derwent watercolor pencils in the three primary colors. I prefer Deep Cadmium 6 (yellow), Madder Carmine (red), and Ultramarine 29 (blue) over pure red, blue and yellow. The three pigments I suggest result in more realistic color mixing results. Watercolor pencils are water soluble, making them easier to use than watercolor pigments if you are new to the medium.
  10. Large resealable plastic bag (to keep everything organized and dry!)

*If you are participating in one of my workshops, these materials will usually be available for purchase or may be included in the participation fee.


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If you want to shop for your own art-quality materials:

  • I recommend the same materials I provide in the art kits described above. It is worth investing in artist-grade materials even if you are just getting started.
  • Anything you have will do! Even though artist quality materials will make achieving certain sorts of sketching effects more easy, you don’t actually need anything special to start sketching. Anything you can draw with and draw on will do, (regardless of brand/quality). So, as long as you have the following you’ll be fine:
  1. Sketchbook with blank pages  – You can find lots of options at craft shops if you don’t want to pay art store prices. Just note that using watercolor or other wet media on cheap sketchbook paper isn’t a good idea. You’ll need a paper designed to handle wet media, or watercolors and inks won’t behave the way they should. Pairing the wrong paper and media can complicates your efforts.
  2. Pencils & eraser – If you are just starting out, though, consider not using pencils or erasers. Challenge yourself to use pens and markers, and to not throw anything away. Learn from the marks you make, and think of them all as a record, of what you noticed, thus an end in themselves.
  3. Colored pencils, crayons, or markers – Any are fine, although artist-grade will give you more control, and watercolor pencils (which are included in my kits) make learning to control watercolors much easier. Also, crayons actually provide some neat effects.
  4. Ink pen – If you want waterproof, Sharpie fine-tip marker pens or a fountain pen with waterproof ink are your best bet. If you want water soluable, so you can draw, then use water to create washes, a ball point, a brush pen (like marker, but shaped like a brush tip) or any other soluable ink pen will work. The ink color is up to you – different colors can result in a wide range of visual effects.