5-Minute Crafts
5-Minute Crafts

A Guide to Types of Materials for Drawing

Very often, we start drawing in childhood without thinking much about how this process works. Children like painting all types of surfaces, using their own hands instead of brushes, and experimenting. But beginner artists don’t only get to know different materials and tools for drawing, but they also learn special techniques that help them create masterpieces.

5-Minute Crafts is going to tell you about different types of materials for drawing and how to use them.

  • Paper
    The choice of paper directly depends on what you will draw with. For example, for watercolors, you need a special type of watercolor paper that has a certain color, texture, and content. Sketchbooks are better for simple chalk or pencil drawings. If you want to use pastel pencils, you need textured paper for the color to be even and durable, and it shouldn’t contain any toxins, or the pigment will fade, and the paper will go yellow. Manufacturers usually note what the paper is for on the package.
  • Clips, masking tape, and clipboards
    Using clipboards and clips make drawing easier because they help prevent the paper from moving. It’s especially important when the paper comes into contact with water or other liquids that cause it to swell.
    Masking tape (if it’s not too sticky) can be used to temporarily cover the area on the paper that you are not planning to draw on yet.
  • Pencils
    A graphite pencil draws in gray with shades from light to almost black, depending on how hard it is. The numbers and the letters on the pencil mark the hardness and the color. A set of good pencils is not cheap, so it’s better to start with several pencils of different hardness, like 2H (hard), HB (medium), and 2B (soft).

    Hard pencils make light, clear lines. How hard you press on it doesn’t make much of a difference. A hard pencil is good for sketches and drafts. A soft pencil, however, gives you a richer tone.
    Tip: Use a box cutter instead of a pencil sharpener. This way, you’ll be able to shape the graphite the way you need it.
  • Colored pencils
    High-quality professional pencils have rich pigments, a wide color variety, and are easier to sharpen, but the price is very high. If you are a beginner, it’s better to buy professional pencils by the piece, and only the colors you need right now.

    The pencils might be based on different materials, like the following examples:
    🔶 Watercolor pencils are made from pressed watercolor, which means that you can first draw a picture on dry watercolor paper and then add water to blend it. This way, the drawing will look like it was made with watercolor.
    🔶 Wax-based pencils are softer, so you can draw in layers and get a full-color drawing with color transition. But such pencils are easily broken and not very durable.
    🔶 Oil-based pencils are based on vegetable oil. They are harder than wax pencils, so they are harder to break, but the color is less saturated.
  • Pastel
    It may come in the form of chalk or pencils. It can be “dry,” oil or wax-based, and also hard and soft. Beginners usually use oil pastel for sketches because it gives softer lines and is easier to blend. Some are more comfortable with hard pastel — the tip gives a clear line and the side of the stick can be used for blending.

    To correct a pastel drawing, you can use an eraser or razor blade and a brush. Pastel should be put on special paper that can grip the pigment. There are also special fixatives that are applied either during the process or after the drawing is completed.
  • Conté (charcoal)
    It can be vine (gives soft lines) or pressed (clear lines) and comes in sticks or pencils.
  • Chalk
    While charcoal gives dark lines, chalk can add white areas or shading, correct a charcoal drawing, add more volume, or blend areas. It may come in the form of chalk or pencils, which is great for small details.
  • Sanguine and sepia
    These materials are often confused with pastel and charcoal. They are either in chalk or stick form. Sanguine is made from clay, comes in a reddish color, and doesn’t get dissolved in water. Sepia is browner and easy to blend with water.
  • Erasers
    Rubber erasers remove graphite from paper. Plastic erasers are harder, so they can remove almost anything from paper but can also damage it. Kneaded erasers are more like play-dough. When you need to be extra careful with the paper, you should use a kneaded eraser. Besides, it’s easy to tear into pieces to correct the smaller details or blend the colors.
    Tip: You can make a kneaded eraser from a regular one. Rub one on a piece of paper until you have crumbs, then put them together to make a kneaded eraser.
  • Paintbrushes
    Brushes come in different shapes and materials and vary in purpose.
    🔶 Shape
    Round brushes are the most popular ones. Using a round brush, you can fill big areas and small details with color. Flat brushes are better for the background and wider areas. If a brush has short bristles, it may be better for the details that require clear lines. Flat fan-like brushes are better for texturing and blending. Tapered brushes are perfect for lines.
    🔶 Material and number
    The brushes with natural bristles are soft. For example, squirrel tail brushes retain their shape and absorb water, which makes them great for watercolor artists. Pony brushes are harder and are better for gouache. Synthetic brushes are not good for watercolor but perfect for acrylic paint. The number next to the name of the material usually shows the diameters of the brush in millimeters.
  • Watercolor
    Before putting watercolor on paper, the paint is dissolved with water, so the color is light and semi-transparent. It makes it easy to blend colors together, create smooth transitions, and form multi-layered drawings. You should have special paper with the right thickness, texture, and composition.
  • Watercolor palette
    A palette is where you mix different colors. They usually come together with watercolors (the other side of the lid), but you can use a regular white dish instead.
  • Water container
    When working with watercolors, it’s better to use 2 water containers: one for dipping a clean brush, and one more to fill a brush with water when working with a specific color.
  • Fineliners
    They come in different diameters and colors. They can be used for sketches and finishing watercolor drawings.
  • Gouache
    Gouache has a thick, rich tone and can darken areas with lighter tones. Gouache takes a short time to dry, light colors become a bit darker, and dark tones get lighter. Gouache for kids has less saturated colors, and gouache for artists comes in a huge variety of colors. There are kinds with gold, silver, and other pigments for decorations.
  • Acrylic paints
    Acrylic paints are thicker than gouache but they dry even faster and the color becomes darker. Thanks to different additives, they might have a matte finish. Acrylic paints are a great alternative to oil paints: they are cheaper, don’t crack after drying, and don’t need any fixatives. Besides, you can use acrylic paint on glass, wood, and even metal.

The best material to use

It’s impossible to give a definite answer here: all materials have their pros and cons and use cases. But you can learn different drawing techniques with certain materials and then choose the type you like the most or create paintings with any accessible materials.

5-Minute Crafts/Tricks/A Guide to Types of Materials for Drawing
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