The Four Colored Pencil Supplies I Can't Live Without
When I started getting back into drawing, it happened because I was gifted a set of Prismacolor colored pencils one year. That set was successful at inspiring me to learn more about realism and how to achieve the look I wanted within artwork. Before too long, I found myself overwhelmed by the number of choices when it came to art supplies. There were numerous sets of colored pencils, endless options for papers, and tons of accessories that I didn't even fully understand. I have since tried many of these things, from the top sets of colored pencils to odorless paint thinner and battery powered erasers. When it comes to art supplies, many things are simply personal preference and what works with an individual's style of drawing, but I've found there are some items I reach for every single time I start a colored pencil drawing. These are my personal colored pencil must have items.
1. Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils
Once I started drawing consistently, I researched different types of colored pencils. I had always enjoyed Prismacolor pencils, but I heard so many great things about Polychromos that I had to try them. I ordered my first set and haven't looked back since! The Polychromos are very different from Prismas in that they are harder pencils that are oil based rather than wax based. I find them to not only be great for blending many layers together, but I constantly reach for these pencils when it comes to the finer details of a portrait. I have found no other pencil type to be as perfect for achieving details and I pretty much use Polychromos for approximately 90% of each portrait I work on. You can find different sets of Polychromos available at popular retailers online such as BLICK and Jerry's Artarama.
2. Tombow Mono Eraser
The Tombow Mono eraser is a very small, thin eraser that is helpful for precise lifting of color. I don't erase that often, but I do like using this eraser not only to erase graphite pencil lines from transferring my sketch to the final paper, but I also like to use this to lift small areas of color for a bit of highlight. This eraser is not great for larger areas -- if I have more substantial erasing to do (which I try to avoid at all costs!), the Derwent battery powered eraser works much better. But for details that can be accentuated with fine-tuned erasing or for cleaning up white whiskers again, the Tombow Mono eraser appears to be the best. There are two different shapes available for this eraser -- I tend to use the circular one. You can find the types of Tombow Mono erasers online at Jerry's Artarama and Tombow.
3. Drawing Boards
A while into using colored pencils, I started realizing that while my pieces were improving, the back of the paper I used was EMBARRASSING! Every single piece had specks of pencil all over the back from dust that would land on my desk while drawing. I tried to keep my desk as clean as possible, wiping it down regularly and keeping my sharpener and shavings container on one end only, but it didn't fix the issue. I ended up buying a few drawing boards and now use them with every single piece simply to keep them cleaner. I tape the portraits down with blue painter's tape and then nothing even touches the back the entire time. Problem solved.
4. Stylus Embossing Tool
The last item I can't live without is a stylus embossing tool, preferably in a very small size. I struggled for a while with getting clean whiskers and other tiny white hairs, but I now use an embossing tool which basically indents the paper slightly so it is easier to draw over the area while skipping that line. I do still go over each whisker with a white pencil (it makes it easier to clean up later on should a pencil mark go over the area), but I can get much cleaner whiskers and random white hairs this way. The type of tool I use is similar to this one found at BLICK.
While these tools have helped me, everyone has a personal preference due to different drawing styles and the effects we want to see in our artwork. Which tools are your own personal favorites and why?