Inexpensive papers like newsprint and bond are a good choice for high volume, quick studies, and practice.
For work you'll want to keep, show, or sell, consider higher quality papers with better working properties. Better papers (often made at least partially from cotton) provide strength, thickness and surface textures that perform better for layering, blending, erasing, and use with a greater variety of media. Higher quality, acid-free papers won't discolor or disintegrate over time, so they're also better for preserving your work.
For additional information about choosing a sketchbook, see these articles:
Papers we recommend include:
An inexpensive option with a high sheet count in each sturdy pad. Designed to provide lots of good quality paper for practicing and developing skills.
Available in pads and hardbound sketchbooks in a variety of sizes. Great for bringing a wider range of values into your drawings to include highlights and lighting effects with white pencils or pens.
For life-drawing sessions and classes, lightweight drawing pads such as Bee Jumbo Sketch and Strathmore Drawing and Charcoal pads provide quality papers with easily removable pages at affordable prices in surfaces from 5"x7" to 18"x24".
A sketchbook with durable binding and quality paper is a must for artists. Some excellent brands include Kunst & Papier, Stillman & Birn, and the Strathmore Hardbound Art Journal line. All three types have sturdy covers, bindings that open flat, and paper options for a variety of media.
Spiral-bound books provide the advantages of easily removable pages and binding that opens 360°. Brands with excellent paper for a variety of media include the Robert Bateman Series, Pentallic Nature Sketch, Bee Recycled Sketch, Stillman & Birn and Strathmore Visual Journals.
When you have space to work in a larger scale, rolls are the answer. We recommend toothy Bee Co-mo Sketch (available up to 60" wide), Bee Premium Recycled Sketch, Bee Heavyweight Drawing, Strathmore Toned Gray and Tan, and Strathmore 400 Series Drawing.
Different types of drawing media will enable you to achieve different styles and effects. Experiment with different media alone and in combination to expand the variety in your drawings and develop your own creative style.
For additional information about supplies for drawing, see these articles:
- Pencil Grades: What do the number and letters 2B, 4B, F, H, etc on drawing pencils mean?
- Types of Charcoal: Compressed, Willow, and Vine
- Erasers: Pink and White / Gum / Kneaded
Some drawing supplies we recommend include:
Use charcoal for a wide range of dark-to-light values and marks from crisp lines to soft, subtle blends. Erasers will lift lines and shapes easily from charcoal backgrounds. We like General's Primo pencils and sticks and Nitram brand for their dark blacks and smooth consistency.
Graphite and carbon provide versatility for very fine lines, a range of values, and precise blending. Tombow and Faber-Castell make excellent, break-resistant pencils. For a range of marks, explore the interesting forms and water-soluble varieties made by Viarco ArtGraf.
Color, whether subtle or bold, can create expressive accents, suggest depth, add definition, and enhance realism. Colored pencils and sticks provide options from hard to soft, thin to thick, and light to dark.
Erasers do much more for artists than fix mistakes. They can be used for blending, to clean up lines and edges, to lighten values, and for drawing shapes by lifting lines and shapes out of dark areas.
For fine lines, durability, and smudge-proof ink, we like Faber-Castell Pitt Pens, Pilot G-Tech, Pentel Hybrid Technica, and refillable Copic Multiliner SP. The range of Kuretake brush pens is excellent for expressive lines with variable widths,
Markers can expand your drawing style into illustrative styles and painterly effects with more layering and shading of values and colors. ProMarkers, Ironlak Tri-grip, Faber-Castell Pitt brush pens, and Uchida LePlume offer quality inks and durable nibs at reasonable prices.