Thursday, July 01, 2010

Tools of the Trade

Since I have a hard time discussing my usual creation process, I thought I'd take a moment and discuss my tools, in hopes that it inspires me the next time I talk about my processes.  I'm a fairly simple girl, and my tools are pretty straightforward- a trusty mechanical pencil that has seen me through college, graphite and colored leads, a boatload of erasers, sketchbooks, scanners, a tablet, and Photoshop.  You'd think that with such simple tools, I would have been artistically proficient years ago, but that is not the case.  Part of my problem was a lack of skill, but another part of my problem were all the WRONG tools I had to get through to find the right ones.  Let me introduce to you my hand picked army of utensils-

Mechanical Pencil:

I'm aware that Pentel has released a newer version of the GraphGear, I've already tried it.  This is actually a DRAFTING pencil, not just a run of the mill mechanical pencil, and the metal grip really aids in the balance of the pencil.  I have one in a size .7, I used to have a .3 and a .5, but both of those jammed frequently and eventually beyond repair.  I've had my pencil for over five years now and have no intention of switching, but I'd recommend that you not use it for writing, as it can be tiresome on the hand.



And any Pentel .07 HB lead I can find in stores.

I love using a combination of aqua blue and dark blue for my under drawings, I find that it really helps keep things neat.  As soft as Uni Color is, it's still the hardest colored lead that I've found.  The aqua is very easy to erase, and the dark blue is slightly harder.  To erase these sorts of leads, your best bet would be in using a good white plastic eraser, but I'll get to those later.

Sometimes I'll go over it again with graphite, sometimes I won't.  It's hard to get HB to show up on the dark blue, so the 2B is really handy, although it's too dark for laying out thumbnails for comic pages.

This is a large group, so I'll break it down into basic categories.

Stick Erasers:

Though it has a diminutive stature, the Mono one is a great little stick eraser to have in your pencil case.  There's a small rubberized grip, and it's comfortable in the hand.

This is a great eraser for tight spaces, but it wears down very quickly on the edge you're erasing with and gets floppy.

I admit, I bought this one because it LOOKS cool, and I justified it by saying all those little nooks and crannies were clean erasing surfaces.  I really dislike the plastic used in this eraser, it's 'slippery' on my colored leads and smears.  I only use it in a pinch.

Block Erasers

Factis Black Eraser
Sorry for the lack of picture. 

This eraser is a pretty good overall eraser, but not my favorite, as it generates crumbs like most of the others.

Factis Technik
I've having trouble finding stores that sell this online, I bought mine at David Art on Veternals Blvd in Metairie.  Supposedly this is the eraser to go to when you're erasing pencils from behind inks, but I find it a very good overall eraser.

I think Tombow is quickly replacing Factis as my eraser brand of choice.  The non-dust variety is particulary nice, because the eraser shavings are self clumping and don't fuzz up the drawing.

Currently, there are only two pens that reside in my pencil pouch, if you don't count the Sharpie (that's more of a marker, IMO).

(Available nearly everywhere)

These aren't as permanent as regular sharpies, but they're cheaper than Sakura Microns, so they're great for everyday sketching, doodling, and writing.  I took class notes with these things, but they bleed through thin looseleaf.  I've yet to suffer the paper discoloration that I've suffered from other Sharpie products, so maybe the contents are different.

I've tried other disposable fountain drawing pens before, and have had terrible experiences before coming across the Copic Drawing Pen.  These are horrible to write with, but decent for sketching, and you can get some line variation with the application of pressure.


Intuos 4 tablet in small.  A huge improvement on the Intuos 3, the cord is detachable, so you suffer fewer shorts, a common problem with Wacom tablets.

I think that about covers it.