Blog cover deisgned and illustrated by female tattoo artist Lu Loram Martin, Toronto, Canada

My essential drawing tools...

I thought I'd make a list of drawing tools I use on a regular basis, and buy time after time.

I have added links to the products, but If you wanted to pick up any of these please try to buy them from your local art store (if you're lucky enough to have one) as they sure can do with some extra support.


Copic multi liners & ink & nibs (0.2, 0.7 & brush are my standard set up) 

So forgive the gushing, but I looooooove these pens. Seriously, I'm obsessed. I've tried many pens over the years, and have delved into other brands when these become tricky to get hold of, but they still firmly hold the #1 spot for me. Now, I know the price tag can be a bit off-putting, especially when you find the same brand has a line of regular fineliners at a much lower price point, but the thing is they're refillable!!!!! You can buy replacement nibs and ink so the pen itself will last forever (or until you lose it if you're anything like me). I am quite heavy handed with fineliners and will destroy a nib long before the ink runs dry, which is always frustrating, and constantly throwing away pens feels gross and wasteful. So I love that I can just buy new nibs, rather than a whole new pen each time.

Another thing I like about these pens is their weight. They are heavier than standard fineliners and are also a little chunkier, which is far more comfortable in my hand. I find I can draw for far longer with these than I can with lighter fineliners.

But, of course, there are a couple of things that are not so great with these pens. Firstly, they can be tricky to find. I buy them from Curry's Art Store, but no other art stores in Toronto seem to stock them. Secondly, the amount of packaging! For something that is feels more sustainable, Copic sure do love their plastic packaging. But, other than a dip pen and pot of ink, this is the lowest waste option I have found in pens. If you have any suggestions for minimal waste alternatives do let me know!


Faber-Castell fineliners (link)

These are my go-to's when I can't get hold of the copic nibs. These were actually my first pen loves, and will always have a strong place in my heart, but gd are they expensive in Canada compared to the UK!!!! Seriously, I was in shock when I first went art supply shopping over here, which lead me to the refillable copic pens. The rate I go through pens makes these a little less viable then buying copic nibs.


Mechanical pencil with refillable 2b lead

Of course, another refillable tool! Now, I know mechanical pencils are not always highly rated in the art world, but I've always been a fan. Their precision and convenience works well for me. The mechanical pencil I have is quite chunky, similar in size to the copic pens, which feels comfortable in my hand. However I can't give you a link to it, as I've had it forever and have no recollection of where I found it! But here's the type lead I buy. 


Faber Castell 9000 Jumbo pencils (link)

These are my back up pencils in case I forget or lose (*frantically looks for wood to tap*) my mechanical pencil (or I need a harder or softer lead for some reason). They're also chucky, anyone else noticing a theme?


Moleskin ‘Art’ sketchbooks (link)

So just to reiterate these are the ‘Art' Moleskines and not the regular journals. The art sketchbooks have heavier weight paper than the journals, which makes such a big difference. I normally keep a pocket size sketchbook and the a5 sketchbook to hand as they will easily fit in to a pocket / bag. I like the hard-back versions, as I take them everywhere with me, so they're much easier to use when I'm out and about than the soft cover variety.

I recommend anybody with a creative interest carries a sketchbook or notebook of some kind. Not only does it give you the opportunity to practice in those moments of waiting in everyday life (like on the subway for me). But it is also a place to collect notes, inspiration and those ideas that come up when you're doing the most random of activities. I know everyone can make notes on their phone now, but there's just something about making handwritten notes and quick sketches of ideas that makes me happy.


Canson Universal Sketchbook 9 x12” (link)

This has become my sketchbook of choice during lockdown. I find this size of paper suits me at the moment, and I don't have to worry about portability as much when I barely leave my home. I also find I can be less ‘precious’ in this sketchbook as it's hefty and not too pricey, so I don't worry about ‘messing up’ a page. I think everyone should have a sketchbook like this. 

I also find that the paper is a decent weight, so if I do end up making something I like in this sketchbook the paper will hold up for a nice final piece.


Newsprint / white bond paper 18” x 24” (link)

This is something I've only started using in the last couple of years, but I find it's handy to keep around if you have the space. This is basically super cheap BIG paper that most art stores will have in stock. I use it for making ‘bad’ art, trying new things, figure drawing, gesture drawing, blind contour drawing, mediums I'm unfamiliar with. This is basically where I can really let go, as I feel like the paper itself holds no importance. So when I  find myself stuck with a ‘precious’ piece of clean paper (you know that feeling right?), I get out this and make a huge mess. It's amazing. If you wanted another option a stack of a3 basic printer paper works in the same way for me.


iPad pro / Apple Pencil / Procreate (link)

This set up is my go-to for digital drawing. I still prefer drawing ‘analogue’ but it is bloody handy to have, especially for tattoo designs. I found learning procreate fairly straightforward, as its fairly similar to photoshop, but there are tons of great Skillshare courses on procreate. One thing I would recommend is investing in a pencil grip and a matt screen protector. They both make drawing on the iPad much more comfortable. I find the shape of the new apple pencil especially uncomfortable, so I have this grip, which allows you to charge the pencil without taking the whole grip of each time which is handy. 


Let me know if you have any favourite go-to drawing tools!


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Links in this post maybe affiliate links.
This means I get a small percentage from any purchases made through those links. This does not affect the amount you pay in anyway at all, and just helps me out a little. I only recommend products I genuinely use and rate. 


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