Since having started drawing early last year I have accumulated quite the collection of tools to use for illustrating, painting, drawing fantasy maps, and castles. Here is where I give a rundown and also links to everything I use and where you could get it from (and where I recommend getting it from).
As a note, I prefer to purchase the majority of my art supplies from either jetpens.com or dickblick.com.
My Travel Pouch
I have a small pen pouch white I use for travelling and also just on the go drawing, I fill it with everything I need to draw and get along day to day and on the go. Specifically it is a small pouch which fits in the front of my laptop bag. Inside it are the following:
- Rapidograph 0.25, 0.35, 0.5
- Micron 005, 01
- 3 General’s Pencils
- 1 Pilot Precise V5 Black Ballpoint Pen
- Pilot Pocket Brush Pen
- 2 Pentel Fude Brush Pens
- 1 Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen
- 1 Zebra Disposable Brush Pen
- 1 Non-Photo Blue Pencil
- 1 Pencil Sharpener
- 1 White Eraser
- 1 Uni-Ball Signo White Ink Pen
- 1 Zebra Mechanical Pencil
- 1 Red Bic Pen
- 1 Black Bic Pen
- 1 Bic Ultra Round Stic Grip Pen (Black)
- 1 Big Ultra Round Stic Grip Pen (Blue)
- 2 Tombow Dual Brush Pens (N75 and N95)
The total cost to replicate this bag set would be: ~$175
If you use Microns solely instead of Rapidographs: ~$80
Pilot Precise V5 0.5mm Extra Fine Ballpoint Pen: these can be bought at walmart, they are precise and pretty great at quick sketches and I often use them when speed is important, as with my technical pens I cannot move super quick and sketchy without the possibility of bending or wearing down the nib. You can also get them in a multicolor pack. While I enjoy using them for quick sketches and find them great for writing (the ink is super black which is something I generally don’t get with a bic pen), I do prefer my brush pens for mapping. Links: Single Black V5 ($1.90), multicolor set ($11.00)
Pigma Micron 01, 005, 02, 03, 08: at this point if you have looked across the internet or seen people mapping I can assume you have seen these technical pens. They have a felt tip which I have found wears down pretty fast for me (I have too much pressure in my drawing hand), this means that you get different levels of precise-ness over the course of use. They are disposable and probably the best bet for entry level technical pens with archival quality ink. They were the first technical pens I got and I have a drawer full of them (primarily the 005 as that is a 0.2mm tip and great for precise detail work). I got the set of 16 of various sizes for about $20 and would recommend it in a heartbeat as a good sampler of size. They also have different colors too (although I have not got around to trying them). They’re great for hatching too! Links: Various Size 16 set of Microns ($24.00)
Uni-ball Signo UM-153: I use this white ink primarily for adding white highlights ontop of finished ink drawings. It is also good for minor corrections of cleaning up rough edges, however I find the ink to be goopy so I prefer to fix bad edges in photoshop. But I can’t recommend this pen enough as a white highlight tool, I have two and since I use them for highlighting I don’t go through them quick at all. Links: Single Pen ($2.50)
Rotring Rapidograph Technical Pens (.25, .35, .5): These are cartridge based technical pens with a metal tip which means it does not wear down over use! They do require you to be slow and not apply to much pressure though (as bending a metal tip can result in permanent damage which would require buying a replacement pen or a replacement nib). The cartridges are about as expensive as a single micron pen but the actual pens themselves can run up to a pretty penny sometimes $35 a pen. They are a high quality pen that I’d recommend if it seems like you burn through microns quick. I use these now instead of the microns because I find the lines to be consistently precise and the ink actually feels the slightest of a tiny shade darker. I use these for all of my city illustrations. They also make refillable ones which don’t use cartridges, however they do require more cleaning as far as I know, whereas the ones that use cartridges I have to clean only after I go through say 3 or 4 or if I left a cap off (always keep the cap on tightly even while switching between pens as the ink can dry very quickly on the tip). Links: Various Sizes (~$35 a pen)
U.S.A. General’s Cedar Pointe #333-2HB: These are my favorite pencils for everything from sketching to just basic pencil drawings and shading I cannot recommend them enough. They are literally the only basic pencils I will use that are not mechanical or colored. They feel great in your hand due to the wood, the eraser isn’t complete shit and the quality control is high (also they aren’t crazy expensive and I haven’t had lead break while using one, and none of the pencils I have ever bought have ever had cracks or splits). I have a drawer of these and they also don’t make squeaky scratchy noises when I use them which makes them perfect. I use these for sketching and also underlayer lines when I know I will be getting rid of an original ink drawing. Links: 12 Pack of No.2 ($5.30)
Zebra M0391 0.5mm Lead Mechanical Pencil: These are the mechanical pencils I use for details in pencil sketches prior to inking an illustration. I get them at walmart, they are cheap, and easy to replace. But they also function to the ability I need them too. The only downside is the eraser and that after about 6 months the grip that holds the lead can get worn down enough where you need to swap to a new one. But they are pretty cheap, the metal body and compact form make it nice to hold and easy to throw into a small pen pouch. Links: 2 Pack ($4)
Staedtler Non-Photo Blue Pencil: The non-photo blue pencil is great if you are worried about lifting ink due to erasing pencil marks prior to scanning as the type of blue lead makes it easy to edit out the blue lines in photoshop or gimp prior to final delivery of digital illustration files. When erasing over black ink with regular pencils you sometimes get lift, which means a certain amount of ink just comes off the paper which can cause a faded look, with the non photo blue pencils you don’t need to erase. However, if you do erase non-photo blue after inking, I have found that any ink that is ontop of the blue pencil lines comes completely off so I would not recommend this if you plan on selling the original paper (I find the blue lines make it less frameable). I’ll also mention that I have difficulty getting precise lines due to the the colored pencil lead. Links: Single Pencil ($2)
Prismacolor Colored Premier Colored Pencils: While I don’t use colored pencils often, I do find them useful for adding in lights shades or crisping up edges of watercolor painting. Specifically I have a 24 color tin set and also the 150 color complete box set. I’d recommend using the 24 color set as it has a good amount of variety and is a good gateway to finding out if you’d like to purchase a larger color set. My only complaints with these pencils is quality control, I have a few pencils in my 150 color set with crooked lead (meaning sharpening is goddamn impossible) and cracked wooden casings which mean the pencils can break easy. Luckily I got the 150 color set on sale and you can purchase individual pencils for replacing ones you have used. The quality issue isn’t bad enough that I’d not recommend them, but it is enough that it was worth mentioning. Links: 24 color set ($12), 150 color set ($80)
Pentel Fude Touch Bursh Sign Pen: These pocket pens are disposable and have a felt tip with enough give that I consider them my thick brush pen (they have a thicker start and finish than all of my other disposables). They are literally tiny brush pens which you could easily carry in your pocket, they also have a variety of colors available. I like to use these for some of my newer item illustrations for the big broad lines as well as for making lines that would have shadows darker by going over them a second time. I also use these for dungeon walls and stones, but not for slight details such as cracks and “doodads”. Links: Available Colors ($2.50 ea.)
Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen: This disposable brush pen has a lot of resistance and a small felt tip, it essentially is the micron 005 of brush pens, great for details such as cracks in stone and drawing little plates onto tables, drawing plant life etc. I can’t recommend these highly enough, because sometimes you want some varying weight in super thin lines which technical pens just don’t offer. Can’t recommend these enough for dungeon doodling and drawing details such as shoelaces on equipment illustrations due to the heavy amount of resistance and the thinness of the entire line width spectrum for these pens. Links: Single Pen ($3)
Zebra Disposable Brush Pen – Fine: This is a disposable brush pen I got on a whim to try it out and actually I am quite pleased with it based on the times I have used it, it doesn’t have as rounded a felt nib but a more brush like felt nib (long and slender but still has a good illustrating width). It has by far out of all of the disposable brush pens I have the widest range of width, in that it can go from the smallest of the fudenosuke width to the widest of the pentel fude touch width in the same stroke. The resistance is at a comfortable amount so you won’t accidentally get super wide or super thin lines, however I do have trouble keeping a super thin line super thin. I’d recommend these if you want a more brush like brush pen that is still a felt nib. Links: Single Pen ($2.50)
Kuretake No.8 Fountain Brush Pen: I bought this brush pen after watching a youtube video (this one exactly), it creates some pretty sharp lines and I actually have drawn a few things using it, but besides an orc face, I generally use it as a ink filler or brush sketcher. I don’t use it enough that I could recommend it as necessary, but I think I would recommend it as a small ink filler because of the synthetic bristles means you can walk right up against your technical pen lines then do big strokes to fill in with black. I should use it more, but it hasn’t been in the front of my carry all toolkit lately. Out of all my pens it does have the longest body if that would be a selling point for the sythetic part of it, also when used quickly you can get a sort of dry brush effect which is pleasant and gritty, whereas the pentel pocket brush pen has a higher flow rate. Links: Pen and Two Cartridges ($12)
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen: This is the common recommendation for brush pens, its a small body making it super portable, it uses cartridges which means you do have to buy extras in anticipation of it running dry. It has a fast flow rate meaning you always have heavy black and consistent coverage. I don’t use it a lot, but I do like having it in my travel pouch for quick gesture drawings. Links: Pen and Two Cartridges ($13.50)
Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers: They are great, end of sentence. If you want to add depth prcisely to your maps without muddying it up to much with tons of black lines, these water based colored markers are great (add some nice shadows to those dungeon hallways yo!). I purchased the Grayscale 10-pack and have my eyes on getting the 96 color set when it economically convenient for me to do so. But, the ten pack of grayscale is pretty awesome although you do have to worry about bleed when used alongside the brush pens (the technical pens I listed do not bleed when next to the water maters but the brush pens definitely do to a violet wash which I actually made use of in the John Silence zine illustrations). I also recommend these for hatching outside of the dungeon walls if you want tight hatches that don’t distract too much from the dungeons layout. Links: Grayscale 10-pack ($15), 96 color megapack ($140)
Crayola Super Tips Washable Markers: They were on sale at walmart for $10 so I grabbed a 100 pack of crayola thin tip markers. They are great for just doodling with bright colors and I don’t feel bad if they get wrecked because they were pretty darn inexpensive. I wouldn’t recommend them for professional drawing, but if you want to have fun with colors at the game table or on your own its worth it if they are on sale. Links: Amazon Link ($30 there, but probably cheaper in Wal-Mart)
Paints and Brushes
Koi Pocket Field Sketch Box from Sakura: This is my favorite watercolor set that I have, its small enough to throw into the front pocket of a backpack and even has a waterbrush that goes inside the plastic field box. Links: 30 Color Field Box ($25)
Pentel Aquash Water Brush Set (3 pack): Water brushes are awesome for watercolors! They have the water in them and make clean up as easy as just squeezing the brush to flush out the color. Great for travel watercolor drawings and just low prep watercolor painting. I use these every time I paint with watercolors. Links: 3 Pack ($19)
Mudder Water Brush Set: A relatively inexpensive water brush set that also has flat synthetic brushes in the set, I actually have an india ink wash in the smallest tip one for india ink wash type drawings. When used with a water brush of just water alongside it, it makes india ink washes fun and quick to do on the go. This is probably the better starter set of water brushes in the money side of things. Links: 6 Pack ($10)
Simply Watercolor Tubes: This was my first set of watercolors which I bought from wal-mart, their fun to use but I definitely prefer the koi for color vibrance, variety, and portability. Links: 24 set of tubes ($20)
Simply Acrylic Tubes: A set similar to the simply watercolor but for acrylics, again another 24 set of tubes which I got from wal-mart.
Watercolor and Acrylic Brushes: at the moment I has a drawer full of brushes which I got from wal-mart. So cheap brushes which I don’t feel bad about burning through. I would like to try out higher quality ones at some point, but not at the moment because of my current ability level with acrylic and watercolor.
Hair Dyer: This isn’t exactly a paint or anything, but I find it incredibly useful for when I’m doing both watercolor and acrylic painting to speed up the drying process so I can just work on the same piece for hours across multiple paint layers without the huge amounts of time generally needed to wait for things to dry.
Paper and Sketchbooks and Canvases
Pentalic Traveler Pocket Journal Sketch 6″ x 4″ (160 pages): This is a good pocket sketchbook for technical pen drawings, also tons of pages which is nice for a pocket sketchbook. I often do little doodles in the ones I have or draw little maps in them with notes. The pages accept ink pretty well and while there is a little bleedthrough, it isn’t enough to make it unusable. Definitely not for painting in though. Links: Sketchbook ($8)
Canson XL Paper: These are sketchbooks I get at wal-mart (no art supply store nearby sadly) and I tend to like them for watercolor and mixed media stuff. I specifically get the watercolor pads and the various sized mixed media spiral sketchbooks. I wouldn’t recommend using the micron pens on the mixed media paper though as I feel like it just burns through those felt nibs with how much tooth the paper has. Links: Watercolor Pad ($7), Mixed Media Pads ($6.50)
Cardstock: This is the paper I use for just about all of my ink illustrations! Its cheap, it comes in giant packs, and it works well for the technical pens and brush pens I use. The big thing is I can buy alot for a little and it is available at wal-mart which means when I run out its only 5 minutes to get more. I even have a binder full of sheets which I use as a inking sketchbook. I actually plan on getting a nice wire binding machine at some point so I can just make my own sketchbooks out of this paper so its portable and cheap. Links: 150 Pack ($5)
Canvas: Essentially I get what I can find for canvas board and prestretched canvas from wal-mart or random shops. If its on sale it works for me! Gesso generally fixes any problems I have with a canvases tooth.
Software and Equipment
Epson Perfection V600 Photo (Scanner): This is the best scanner I could find online and I love it dearly. I scan everything using it at 1200 dpi .tif before opening it in Photoshop for editing. Links: Amazon ($200)
Adobe Photoshop: Some people love Gimp, but I prefer photoshop since I also use indesign for all my layout needs.
Wacom 13HD Cintiq: This is the wacom I use for when I want to paint draw or edit digitally in photoshop. It’s super nice. Links: Wacom Store ($800)
Kyle Webster’s Photoshop Brushes: These brushes are the bee’s knees and are great if you use photoshop to paint or draw. Links: Webstore ($varies)