Know Your Drawing Materials

 In art supplies, Drawing

Let’s rewind a bit, and go back to the very basics of our supplies. It’s important to understand your materials as knowing your materials will better equip you to using them to their full potential. This week’s article will be about drawing supplies. 


Drawing Materials


Wood pencils vs woodless pencils

The difference is in the name – one has wood that encases the graphite and the other is made entirely of graphite. They each have their pros and cons so it all comes down to your preference. With wood pencils, you don’t have to worry about getting graphite on your hand as you would with a woodless pencil. It’s a traditional pencil that’s pleasant to hold and gets the job done. With a wood pencil, a sharpener is a must-have.


Woodless pencils are for those that are impatient – those who don’t care about a perfect point and want to draw uninterrupted. With woodless pencils, there’s never any need to sharpen your pencil! They’re also great for those that draw on canvas, since canvas eats graphite quickly.


The numbers and letters on your pencils

The numbers and letters on your pencils represent how hard or soft your lead is. Below is a basic chart that shows you the difference between them.

A basic chart showing the differences between pencils.Testing the pencil's ability to smudge.

An easy way to remember whether your lead is hard or soft is by looking at the letter: H is hard lead whereas B is soft lead. The higher the number on an H pencil, the lighter your shading will be. The higher the number on a B pencil, the darker you can shade. The softer the lead is, the easier for it is to smudge and/or blend.



A picture of an ArtGum eraser.

ArtGum erasers are the best eraser to get rid of graphite. If you’re just looking to get rid of color, this is your eraser.




A picture of a kneaded eraser

Kneaded erasers are great for blending or creating soft edges. You can’t get a crisp edge with a kneaded eraser as well as you can with an ArtGum eraser. Kneaded erasers are also malleable, so you can manipulate the eraser to different shapes, such as a point.






The weight of a paper describes the thickness of the paper; the thicker the paper, the more paint or wetness it can handle without buckling or falling apart.

60lb paper is typically in sketching pads; you get more pages, but it’s thinner paper. Although it’s meant for sketching, we’ve used tempera for sketching with a brush. We artists often break rules; but to break the rules, you need to know them first. 100lb paper is typically in watercolor pads, and can handle more paint than 60lb paper can. You can feel the difference between the two if you walk into a store.

We never recommend newsprint, even if it’s just for studies and even if you’re a beginner, because it’s biodegradable. Over time, the paper will become brittle and disintegrate.



The finish describes the paper’s texture. It usually comes in hot press, cold press or not/cold press, and rough.

Hot press is smooth paper with no grit, usually found in drawing and sketching pads.

Cold press (AKA not/cold press) is the most popular type of paper and it has some grit. You can find this type of paper in watercolor pads, and, drawing and sketching pads.

Rough paper has a distinct texture, and is popular with pastel. Since the paper has “teeth”, pastel and other dry mediums grab the paper well.


Let us know if there are other drawing materials you would like to know more about and we’ll update this list!


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