My Favorite Art Materials

One of the most common questions I get is about what materials I use in my artwork. The truth is that we all have materials that we love; that perfect paintbrush, your go-to Photoshop texture, or the watercolors that mix beautifully.

The materials I share below are the ones that I count on every day and they always deliver flawless performance.

Traditional vs. Digital Materials

I didn’t always work digitally. When I first started as a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I created patterns with dyes, textile paints, silkscreens, and handmade stamps. I drew with charcoal, ebony pencils and India ink on Bristol Board, newsprint, and sheets of drawing paper. 

I still love the look of these techniques, but today I create patterns and illustrations by combining digital…Hello, Adobe Illustrator and Procreate, my new best friends…with the traditional materials I can count on. 

Uni pens, Black Cat India ink, Strathmore 140 lb. drawing paper and Arches hot pressed watercolor paper are just a few of my studio staples. 

In My Studio

I love combining traditional methods with digital. Most of my pattern design work is created first by painting with Black Cat India ink, gouache or watercolor on Arches hot pressed watercolor paper. The artwork is scanned into Adobe Illustrator where I can tap into all of the amazing tools. That’s my process in a nutshell and here are my favorite tools to make it happen. 

Traditional Materials:

  • Black Cat India Ink
  • Windsor + Newton Watercolours and Gouache
  • Arches Hot Press Watercolor Paper 140 lb – I buy it in an 8 x 10 block because it fits on my scanner :). It has a smooth surface, great for India Ink and scanning.
  • Strathmore 400 lb. drawing paper for sketching and some ink work
  • Dick Blick or Strathmore Cold press watercolor paper 140 lb. 9 x 12 pads. I use this for some of my watercolor and gouache painting. For digital work: You can eliminate the texture during scanning or Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator.
  • Brushes: For India Ink line work I use sizes round brushes in sizes  2, 4, and 5.  India Ink is hard on brushes so I use a less expensive brush.
  • Brushes: For watercolor and gouache I like Utrecht, Cotman, and Dick Blick brushes. Simply Simmons is a better priced brand that works well. Grace Art has a value priced set that is a good beginning set.
  • Staedtler Mars or DerWendt drawing pencils. I use 2B, HB, and F most often, but I have a set that spans 9H through 9B.
  • Mars or Dick Blick brand of plastic erasers
  • Uni black pens for line drawings
  • Sketch Journal for everyday practice. Dick Blick is a great source
  • Strathmore tracing paper
  • LightTracer2 light box for tracing

Digital and Tech:

  • Mac Desktop 27″ monitor
  • I Pad Pro 12.9″ with Logitech keyboard
  • Apple pencil with extra tips just in case
  • Paper-like Film for I-Pad screen – feels like drawing on paper!
  • MacBook Pro laptop… for taking my work along where ever I go.
  • Scanner Canon TR8520

Programs and Apps: 

  • Creative Cloud Suite Subscription Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop & Indesign
  • DropBox for storage and ease of working from multiple devices
  • Procreate for iPad
  • Adobe Draw for syncing the iPad to my desktop
  • Google Drive, Docs, and Slideshows

I would love to hear from you. What are your favorite materials, apps and tools when you are creating art?

4 Comments on My Favorite Art Materials

    • Yes! A daily art practice is a joy! It’s wonderful to have access to both, the digital and also the paint, paper, pencils, chalk, and other tools that are so great to work with!

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