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Tutorials and artistic advices

Drawing: Selecting your material

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When sketching from life, there's no point in loading yourself down with rags, erasers and fixatives: You need to take along the min-i-mum!


1. Select a solid, portable support 


Dessin - Choisir un support solide et transportableFor obvious reasons of organization, it is preferable to avoid working on loose leaf paper (because it can get lost or damaged). Your most practical tool is a sketch pad. 


How do you select it?

Select a pad with a hard back. This provides you with support.

- Spiral pads are practical because the sheets are independent of each other.

- As for format, go for simplicity. A4 or A5 sizes provide you with a very comfortable drawing surface and are not very cumbersome. As for volume, go light... a hundred sheets are quite enough.

- Sketch paper is usually bulked, that is, both light and thick. It is perfectly suited to graphite, pastel, charcoal and sanguine drawing.

However, if you work with a felt-tip or marker, select a pad of smooth, water and ink resistant, paper (layout paper).


How do you use it?

  • When you work on a subject from various angles, do all your rough sketches on the same page. This way, you can keep an overview.
  • Try turning your pad to be more comfortable. Draw in all directions.
  • Only draw on the front of the paper. Transparency could play tricks on you...


Memo: paper with bulk!

Connoisseurs tell us that sketch pads usually come with bulked paper. What are its qualities? It is both light and thick. It is a fairly rough paper, ideal for quick sketches and studies.



Dessin - Choisir un médium adapté

2. Selecting the right medium



Any pencil or ballpoint will do. But some media have significant advantages:

  • Graphite pencils, preferably very soft ones (7B or 8B), make it possible to add both light lines and dark contours.
  • Graphite lead or charcoal: alternate between a lead tip for contours, and a lead edge, for areas to be shaded. Another advantage with charcoal: you can make corrections fast. All you have to do is run your finger over the line to fade it.
  • A few color pencils or markers can be very useful for quick color references.

Suggested products

Canson® XL® Croquis, Extra White & Recycled

See also

Drawing: learning to sketch from life
Making a drawing with just a few pencil strokes isn't magic, it's sketching! Because this exercise is an art of its own. So where and how do you sketch?