I’ve been working on this website for the last 2 weeks. Because of that I’ve not drawn as well as I should have. Due to time constraints I’ve basically just been drawing in my sketchbook and posting on Instagram.

I thought I might use this first post as a “what materials I use” thing. So without further fluff, here we go.

A hardback  Moleskine sketchbook. It’s about A4 size and the paper is pretty thin but it works for pencil and ink. It tends to get angry at watercolour washes though. I have many cheap sketchbooks that I bought for like 5 quid at Rymans and £18 seemed excessive to spend on one but I’m going through my “I’m a proper artist” phase.

I use a number of tools in my sketchbook and when I’m doing full page/full colour stuff. From bottom to top: Rotring Tikki mechanical pencil 0.5mm HB leads. Staedler pencil 6B, I use this for tightening up drawings and adding darks. Staedler clutch with 2mm F lead. I use this because it’s cool. Rotring ArtPen, size medium. I use this for lettering sometimes but beware it is NOT waterproof. Faber-Castell Pitt artists pen. I have a huge stack of these and I don’t like them. They fade on erasing pencil lines which requires me to go over everything twice. I use them because it’s quick to ink something in my sketchbook. I favour the medium size for lettering while using the small size for inking. Generally I use the 1.5 size or medium for borders. Gillot 303 and holder. I use this when I can. It’s a whole other ballgame using a nib and ink but if I had the time I’d use nothing else. The one issue I have with it is drying time. Instead of the ink soaking into the paper, using this leaves a bead of ink on the surface. It looks great but you better make sure that shit’s dry before you erase your pencil lines. I use Winsor and Newton black and have done for years. Daler Rowney white acrylic ink. I use this when I screw up.

For full colour stuff I use Aquafine hot press watercolour paper. I buy it either A4 or A3. If I have A3 I’ll generally cut it down to A4. There’s no reason for this other than my scanner is A4 and it makes life easier. Sometimes I use Strathmore 300 series bristol in 5×17 sheets for strips but I prefer watercolour paper.

 

When I started drawing cartoons almost 20 years ago I could never get to grips with watercolour. Nobody actually explained what it was or how to use it and with my mental health problems over the years I wasn’t really up for powering through the learning curve. Fast forward to 2010 and I bought a new set and started learning how to use it.  I probably use watercolour terribly but my cartoons look like I’ve drawn and painted them. Again, I use Winsor and Newton products for this because I always have. Again from bottom to top: Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour set. This is a 25 half pan set and I’ve already had to replace a couple. Not because they’re terrible but because they’re so great, I go through them like nothing. And these half pans ain’t cheap individually. I found this set for £25 on ebay brand new as overstock. You can find some great art bargins if you know what you want. I’d always used the Cotman range and found it to be excellent but I wanted to upgrade and see what the difference was to my finished art work. Similarly, as far as brushes go you’ll see 3 of my most used Series 7 brushes. I have eight of these in different sizes from a 0 to a 1/4 inch flat. Above those you’ll see a Pro Arte synthetic sable, one of many I have used for years. The jump from Pro Arte to Series 7 is quite amazing. I’m not saying you need Series 7 brushes, I’m just saying buy some good quality brushes. I would still use ProArte if I had nothing else and these days I use them as my beater brushes for gouache. The main difference between them and the Series 7 is water retention and brush point. Above that brush, you’ll see some large brushes. An unbranded camel hair mop and a Daler Rowney 1 inch flat. I use these for backgrounds and nothing else.

Other than the Winsor and Newton watercolours, I also use Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolours. These are beautiful Japanese paints that sit somewhere between traditional watercolour and Gouache but have their own character and finish. If you lay the paint on too thick you get a shiny finish, however for cartoons and adding highlights etc they are fantastic. These are considered student grade by some people but they’re talking out their rears in my opinion. These are NOT your traditional European watercolours and shouldn’t be seen as such.

Prior to buying the Gansai Tambi, I was using traditional gouache. I use Daler Rowny “Simply” gouache which is thin like piss water but I bulk it up with some very heavy body Winsor and Newton Designers Gouache. I’m slightly unfair in saying the Daler Rowney stuff is piss water, it’s student grade. You can find this set for cheaper than a single tube of the designers gouache, such is the difference in quality. I tend to use gouache like water colour and it gives my paintings a flat, matt look which is nice depending on what you want to achieve.

I also, sometimes, use ink. I’ve had this set for the last 8 years or so and some of the bottles are close to drying out.Last but not least I have my pencils. I use Faber-Castell Polychromos in quite a lot of my stuff and sometimes use them exclusively for images. I’m not really a colour pencil guy so I can’t tell you much about how to use them etc but the quality is exceptional. And as an accompaniment to them, I also have a set of Conte Pastel pencils. I rarely ever use them though because pastel is messy.

 Aaaaaaaaaaaaand that’s that.

Christopher