- Lesson details
The New Masters Academy Beginner Series helps aspiring artists start their artistic journey on the right foot. Your expert instructors will gently guide you to an understanding of drawing fundamentals. In this lesson, Chris Legaspi and Heather Lenefsky show you the essential materials to begin your drawing journey. Including pencils, pens, markers, erasers, and so much more! At the end of this lesson, you’ll be given an assignment to practice what you’ve learned.
- Staedtler Graphite Pencil
- Cretacolor Monolith Graphite Pencil
- Mechanical Pencil
- Compressed Chrarcoal Sticks
- Willow Charcoal
- General’s Chracoal Pencil
- Kneaded Eraser
- Wolff’s Carbon Pencil
- Conté Charcoal Pencil
- CarbOthello Pencil – Burnt Sienna
- Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencil – Black
- Prismacolor Colored Pencil – Grey and Brown
- Soft Pastel – Black
- Smooth Newsprint Paper
- Bond Paper
- Tracing Paper
- Canson Mi Teintes Toned Paper
- Strathmore 500 Series Toned Charcoal Paper
- Strathmore 500 Series Vellum Bristol
- Rives BFK Paper
- Canson Biggie Sketch Pad
- Hard-bound Sketchbook
- Spiral-bound Sketchbook
- Post-it Notes
- Watercolor Sketchbook
- Strathmore Toned Sketchbook
Hardware and Software
- Wacom Intuos Tablet
- Wacom Cintiq 13HD
- Apple iPad Pro
- Adobe Photoshop
- Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
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on the right foot.
Your expert instructors will gently guide you to an understanding of drawing fundamentals.
In this first lesson of the series, Chris Legaspi and Heather Lenefsky, show you the
essential materials to begin your drawing journey, including pencils, pens, markers,
erasers, and so much more.
At the end of this lesson, you will be given an assignment to practice what you’ve learned.
So, let’s get started.
And I’m Heather Lenefsky.
And welcome to our brand-new Beginner’s Series.
If you’ve never picked up a pencil before, or if you’re a veteran that’s ready to
return and revisit some fundamentals, this is the perfect series for you.
We’re going to begin with our first lesson on materials.
We’re going to cover everything from pencils, erasers, pens, markers, everything you need
to get started drawing.
The pencils are probably what you’re going to be using the most, what I use the most.
Really, what it comes down to is pencils come in really only two forms.
Either some kind of long pencilly thing, usually with wood, or just a stick.
The stick is basically what’s inside without the wood.
Let me start with the most common pencil that you’re probably going to use.
It’s known as graphite.
If you go to an office store and you just buy the pencil, or if you go to a school supply
store, or when you were in school the pencils that your teacher gave you,
those were graphite pencils.
Probably the first pencils you drew with were graphite.
These are the three most common ways you can find, I guess, more artist type graphite.
One is just a good old-fashioned graphite pencil in a stick, and these come in many grades.
By grade I mean hardness.
This is a 6B so it’s fairly soft, gets nice and dark.
We’ll talk about the marks you can make later in this lesson as well.
This is only the graphite inside.
This is no wood.
It’s another creative way you can get graphite.
It’s really fun.
I believe it’s coated with some kind of plastic.
You can just stick it in your sharpener and sharpen it down.
You can get the same exact point and mark.
It’s just an automatic pencil.
It’s something I picked up at the office store.
You basically load it with these little graphite refillable things.
These are other very common things.
You can find these in ordinary office stores.
You just [clicking sound] and you’re good to go.
What I like about these is that you don’t have to sharpen them.
They stay nice and sharp, so they’re great for drawing in your sketchbook.
That’s a quick overview of various types of graphites.
Next, let’s talk about charcoal.
Obviously, charcoal is a little bit more advanced.
These we’ll be using to do your finer drawings, your longer studies, your more advanced drawings.
Charcoal comes in many forms.
The two most common forms are pencil and stick.
Here are sticks.
These are three types of sticks that I have in my box.
One is this really dark compressed charcoal in this flat kind of stick.
These are pretty common to find in the art store.
They get nice and dark and nice and soft.
They make really big broad strokes, broad marks.
These are willows, and they’re a little bit harder.
They come in a couple different sizes.
They’re typically these long skinny sticks and these big old fat sticks.
Usually you buy them and they’re about this long, so I just break them so they’re easier to use.
They basically work the same way as a square stick.
Just a way to make a big, broad mark.
Obviously, the pencil—and this is sharpened down with a razor blade—you can get them
more detailed and finer marks.
Again, charcoal is more for creating more fully value, full, longer-finish drawings,
and they’re very common to find in the art store.
Alright, let’s talk about some other pencils that you might find useful, especially if
you’re going to be transitioning into life drawing and figure drawing and things or going
This is a little different.
This is a Wolff’s Carbon, and this one is what’s called a Conté à Paris.
This one is actually a pastel.
These are very common if you’re going to be practicing a lot of life drawing, a lot
of head drawing.
What I like about them is that they have a nice, strong, sturdy wood so that you can
sharpen it with a long needle like this, a long point.
These are very, very common pencils that you’ll find at the art store when you’re ready
to begin drawing from life or drawing from reference.
These both are black.
This one is earth tone, sort of a reddish-umber earth tone.
Speaking of color, obviously, the colored pencil is another common thing you’ll find.
I love drawing with colored pencil.
This is actually a black colored pencil.
It’s called a Verithin, which is basically a hard colored pencil.
It comes in all kinds of different colors.
But obviously, for drawing I would recommend black and maybe a gray.
This is a colored pencil in an earth tone in orange.
This is a Prismacolor.
This is probably the most common colored pencil and arguably one of the highest quality brands.
These are great.
I like to sharpen them both ends so that I have two points.
Again, if you like drawing and you head to the art store, these would be readily available.
I would recommend picking some of these up, especially a black, a dark, or a gray.
Finally, the last thing we’ll talk about is the pastel.
The pastel is a very, very soft mark.
Pastels are made for coloring.
This is kind of an oily base.
This is very similar to paintings, which is more advanced.
You can have a lot of fun drawing from black pastel.
They typically come in sticks.
This is really, really soft.
Again, later they see the kind of mark you can make, but this is great for going really
dark and making big, bold strokes, big bold marks.
Not so much good for detail, at least a big stick like this, but pastel is great if you
want a lot of coverage.
If you want to do big, bold drawings, make big, bold marks, and you want to go dark quickly,
pastel is a great choice.
Again, these are fairly common and easy to find, especially in stick form like this.
Okay, you’ve seen some of the common pencils and drawing materials and drawing tools you’ll
see at the art store when you begin your drawing journey.
Now, Heather is going to show you which one to choose for the type of marks that you want
Alright, so Chris got us all fired up to start making marks.
You guys have probably already been drawing while you watched that, you could hardly stand it.
We’re looking for what type of tools will give us which type of marks.
If we’re looking at a thinner, sharper kind of line, this would be just a graphite clicky pencil.
You can get a really, really fine tight line.
Another kind of graphite that is going to be very, very similar.
If we want to do like a more kind of tonal line or a thicker line, something where we
want to fill in a greater space at a time, something like a Conté can also give us one
of these tight lines like this.
When you sharpen it, if you want to take it down, you can make the tip also function on
So, by preparing it this way, you can draw both on the tip and just take it and get some
tone in really fast.
This helps, too, when you get into sort of a more painterly method.
So, there are two tools in one.
Another one, if you want to take it down just the side like that, Chris using pastel.
That’s just one stroke.
A lot of volume in one swipe.
You may get to a point where you want to, sort of in-between, like an edge that’s
a little bit softer.
You can do that a variety of ways.
This is a graphite but it’s not encased in wood.
It’s sort of similar to that sharpened Conté where this is all active, this edge here.
So, if we wanted to get something kind of fuzzy, we might be able to just kind of take
it from that tip and kind of feather it out a little bit.
This is a general’s, and we can do the same thing when we get into some more of the charcoals.
The other cool thing is, you’ve got your fingers, and you can start finger painting
with a lot of these materials and kind of drag it out a little bit.
The degree of the mark that goes down is going to be relative to the tool you’re using
and also the type of finish on the paper.
If you zoomed in on a microscope, it would look kind of like a spiderweb.
What we’re doing is laying in pigments into that web.
One other note about graphite that’s a little different, the particles of graphite are actually
kind of like flakes or plates.
If you lay in enough graphite, depending on the paper, it actually starts to have more
of a shine to it.
With graphite you can also start much more slowly and get kind of a slow build-up too.
If you’re kind of wanting to be really, really ghosting in, you can also notice the
range of hardness or the range of graphite to clay.
The harder pencils are going to have more clay, and the softer pencils are going to
have more graphite.
And so that way, if you’re just starting off you might want to keep it really light.
You might not want to start laying in these thick tones until you’re getting really,
If you know the job you want to do, there are all kinds of tools available.
So, I’m sure you guys never make a mistake.
But even if you don’t, the eraser is a tool in of itself.
I’m just going to lay a little bit of tone tone.
Just taking the Conté, just something to work with.
We can just look at a few different types of eraser marks.
They can be drawing tools as well.
Mine come out a lot in life drawing, more than I’d like.
We’ve got this little guy.
That’s a kneaded eraser.
You can make sweet little dog sculptures out of these guys.
You can fold it so you’ve got kind of a clean spot.
If you really want to get in tighter on something.
You can kind of pull that in, find a new clean spot, pinch it.
That’s going to affect the mark that you can lift out.
I might have gotten a little carried away filling this in, but that’ll help lift it
out a little bit this way.
This guy, more just of an average white, kind of plasticy eraser.
This guy already has these hard edges.
See how it works on graphite over here.
This one is probably more reminiscent of the eraser you used in school growing up.
It doesn’t quite have the versatility of this one that you sculpt does, this kneaded eraser.
So, that’s this guy versus this guy.
Then you have, this is sweet.
I just swiped it out of Chris’ boxes.
This is an eraser pencil, literally encased in wood.
Looks like Faber-Castel.
Let’s just play with this.
Let’s take this guy over this tone.
It’s lifting it out as well.
If we look over here just on the graphite… so, look at that.
I mean this is really fine.
You can sharpen this to a point.
So if you’re doing an exercise where you want to do some really tight rendering or
careful work, this thing would be awesome.
Take that razor just like you would sharpen another pencil.
So, we’ve done a really quick intro to some different types of marks made with pencils
and with erasers.
So, Chris is going to tell you a little bit more about pens and markers.
Really, pens and markers come in two basic forms.
They are either going to be some kind of ballpoint like this on the right, or a felt tip like
this over here on the left.
Little tiny felt tip.
My favorite pen in the universe is the ordinary Bic office ballpoint.
Bic is a very, very common pen, just a nice, ordinary ballpoint pen.
It’s makes a beautiful, pretty line.
Very similar effect to like a drawing pencil.
They come in different sizes and forms.
This is an old school one here.
You can also get a ballpoint with what’s called gel ink.
This is a little bit of a gel pen, little bit of a darker ink.
These are all at the office store.
You can find them at the art store too, but you can just find them at any old school supply
or office store.
Very easy to find.
You can even get them for free.
That’s what I love about them.
Ordinary ballpoint pen is great for drawing, great for practice.
Another common pen you’ll find is the felt tips.
These are two different brands.
This brand on the right is called Staedtler.
This is more known for a drafting type of pen, a really nice precise type of line.
I’ll show you want that looks like.
A really tight line.
This is a Sakura Micron brand.
Very common brand, also felt tip.
These are more of the artsy kind in most art stores you should be able to get.
The advantage of felt versus ballpoint is that felt almost always dry right away.
A gel or a ballpoint may not dry too quickly.
Felt tips will dry almost instantly as soon as they touch your papers.
They’re great for making nice permanent lines.
Speaking of permanent, let’s get into the markers.
Probably my favorite marker in the Universe is the Sharpie, AKA the black permanent marker,
AKA you can find it anywhere in the universe.
Look at that bad boy.
Now Sharpies come in different sizes and shapes.
This is the most common marker.
Like the pen, it’s a felt tip pen so it dries instantly.
Nice dark and rich mark.
This is a Sharpie that has two sides.
These are fairly common now.
You can also get them in this big boy size with a fat wedge.
Great for making bigger strokes, getting more coverage.
I really love the Sharpie because it’s nice and dark.
It’s inexpensive and very, very easy to find.
And finally, the last type of marker that you may be using, you may enjoy are the art markers.
This is Prismacolor brand.
They also make really nice colored pencils and things.
But their markers are excellent.
There are several different brands you may find, but they typically will be in the same
style, kind of as big fat looking body with two tips.
This one has a fine tip and this one has a big fat head, a wedge tip as it’s called.
These come in different colors, but for drawing I love gray.
This one is 40%.
It’s right in the middle.
It’s about a midtone gray.
Of course, black all day long because black gives you a nice crispy, dark mark.
Get a lot of coverage.
These are great.
These actually have beautiful tones.
That’s the advantage of these guys versus the Sharpie is that you can get a whole range of tones.
It’s a really nice, clean pigment.
Think of Sharpies as more of a crude sketching tool.
If you really want to do renderings, there are many ways to do beautiful renderings with
Prismacolor markers or other types of art markers that you might find at your local art store.
Okay, so that was a quick look at various pens that you can use and enjoy while you’re drawing.
Now, let’s take a look at some papers and various papers and things you can use
as well when you’re doing your drawings.
We’re going to talk briefly about how paper is made and then show you some real ones you
can go out and pick up today.
If you look at paper under a microscope, you’ll actually see a web of these long fibers.
These fibers act as a file.
That’s what is going to hold the pigment that you use in your writing utensil on the page.
The degree to which you press into that or the degree of hardness of the utensil, you’ll
leave a variety of marks.
Paper can be made from a variety of plant fibers, but the most common are wood and cotton.
Now, wood is a little less archivable unless it’s treated, and you’ll find wood in
examples like newsprint.
Although, if it is treated with something like an addition of cellulose, you can actually
have a more archivable paper.
Things like tracing papers have a degree of cellulose in them.
There is a blend of the tow.
Mix of the cotton and the wood, and that’s probably the most common.
You’re going to see that in your sketchbooks and in a lot of charcoal drawing paper.
The alternative to a blend would maybe a 100% cotton rag, and those are some of the most
archivable and highest-quality papers.
The cotton is not going to degrade at the rate the wood will.
So, newsprint, if it’s made of wood, it might only last two or three years and it
gets kind of attacked by environmental factors right away.
That cotton is where you want to go when you’re ready to work on finishing some pieces, things
you want to keep or sell.
Let’s look at some common papers,
ones that we would recommend using at New Masters Academy.
Starting on the end here, this is a really smooth newsprint.
The newsprint is going to be great for sketching and studying.
It’s not going to be great for anything you want to keep.
Newsprint can actually start to deteriorate in like two or three years.
Next to that is a bond paper.
The bond paper is a blend.
It’s going to be a mix of the wood and the cotton.
Bond papers are common.
Those are also see in writing and printing, the stuff you stick in your copier.
They have varying degrees of quality, but they are going to last longer than the newsprint.
If you’re a student wanting to do sketches, and you’re worried about using newsprint
because you think I might actually like this; I might want to keep it.
Then you might consider stepping up to a bond or blended paper.
The tracing papers are great.
Those actually are nonaging.
These have a really nice smooth surface for doing studies on.
This is 66% cotton rag.
This is the Canson paper.
This also comes in a nice tone.
That’s another option.
If you want to have a dark value, and maybe you have like a white Conté crayon, you can
find a paper in a middle value, and let that be your middle value.
Use your utensils for the darkest darks and the lightest lights, and let that be the midrange.
You can also find paper with different tints and color.
This is also an example of a laid pattern.
The laid refers to the wire screen which gives it a texture.
Here we have the Bristol from Strathmore.
This starts to get a little bit more thicker.
The thicker the paper the more forgiving it’s going to be.
The more you’ll be able to get your eraser in there.
The more re-do’s you’re going to get.
This is a vellum finish, but there is a couple of different finishes with Bristol.
Then finally, at the end here, this is 100% cotton, and it’s handmade.
If you look at the edge here, it’s a little bit rough because it’s a deckled edge.
These are some of the highest quality, most archivable papers that are around.
So, you can really experiment.
You’ll find if you’re using something like graphite, you’re probably going to
want a smoother surface.
If you’re using a charcoal or a conte, you do want a little bit of texture.
If you’re using a pastel you probably really want a lot of texture in your paper.
So, we’ve given you a lot of options for paper, but let’s keep it simple.
We have two that we recommend that will get you a lot of mileage.
This is one favorite.
This is Biggie by Canson.
This is a bond paper.
It’s a little more archivable than a basic newsprint.
It’s easy to find.
You can get this in the store or online.
Great for sketches and studies.
This is a classic newsprint.
This one is bound, but you can get it even less expensive if you buy it in loose sheets.
It does come in rough and smooth, and we really do recommend you get smooth.
So, now you have an idea of what paper you might want to pick up, whether you’re starting
out or you’re working on your next masterful piece.
So, sketchbooks come in many different forms, many different sizes.
There are a lot of different ways you can go with this.
So, Heather, what are some of the common ways you can start with sketchbooks?
Let’s start with probably one of the most common ones.
This is just a hardbound, little mini black book here.
This is great.
Keep some notes in it.
Do some little thumbnails.
Holds them all together.
It’s a nice way to start.
What else you got?
Yeah, definitely, I see those everywhere.
And they come in all different sizes as well.
The hardbound is very common.
I personally like the spiral bound.
It’s just like the hardbound, same type of material on the outside.
What I like is that you can lay it flat.
This is great for photographing and scanning, so if you want to archive your work.
If you don’t want to get a premade sketchbook, you can get creative.
You can have your own made.
You can get some paper together and have it bound.
The hardbound books can feel really precious.
They’re permanent, right?
You don’t want to X-Acto knife out a page in here, and if you get a good, solid sketch
page, you’ll find you might start wanting to one-up yourself.
Don’t feel the pressure if you’re not.
But, if you start to get a little too precious with your hardbound book, there are some other
great ways to be more creative and a little more liberal with your ideas without starting
to sweat the composition and things like that.
One step up from the cocktail napkin from the bar, the Post-It note.
These are already like a frame.
You can sit there and you can whip through them.
You can brainstorm.
You can do thumbnails.
If you like them you can stick them up on the wall when you’re done.
These are a great way to start idea generation or maybe composing in the field if you’re
plein air, or you don’t want to have to carry around a bunch of stuff.
So, these are great.
Slip them in your purse.
Another way to free things up, be a little more creative with it.
Is just to get a clipboard and any kind of loose, cheap paper that you want.
If you want to take it a step up, you can also get specialty papers.
One of my favorite ways I like to do is with the toned paper sketchbook.
This is a spiral-bound toned paper.
This one is in a gray tone.
They come in all different shades.
What I like about toned paper obviously is that you have the option to go black and also
So, that’s great about toned paper.
Also, if you want to get into water media you can get a watercolor sketchbook, and obviously
has a little bit thicker paper so if you want to experiment with watercolor like this, or
if you’re just beginning drawing, you can go with inks and black and white watercolor
washes as well.
So, Chris, you travel a lot, you’re sitting by the pool, you’re on vacation, you don’t
bring a sketchbook, right?
Taking some time off on your travels?
Oh, what do you mean?
I bring it every day.
This is more than just drawing for me.
This is a way of life.
These are my personal sketchbooks.
Notice they’re full, son—what’s up?
Everywhere you go.
That’s one of things we want to stress.
No matter what kind of sketchbook you choose, Post-It note, spiral-bound, hard-bound, whatever,
you’ve got to bring it with you.
You’ve got to draw every day.
This has got to be a part of your life.
That’s one of the ways you can get the most out of your practice time is to bring your
If you’re a serious student—you know, Chris, I’ve heard that when you’re trying
to work in something like entertainment, I’ve heard they’ll ask you.
They’ll look through your sketchbook.
Is that true?
In fact, many, many entertainment studios, animation, video games, even film or advertising
entertainment work, they will want to see your sketches.
When you come to the interview, you better make sure your sketchbook is packed and make
sure it’s full because that’s how they judge whether you’re serious,
whether you’re committed.
So, definitely, if you’re leaning towards that career path, you definitely want to carry
your sketchbook with you and make sure it’s full.
Yeah, it makes sense.
It’s not just our enthusiasm.
It’s a profession.
Alright, so we’ve covered the basic materials to get started.
Let’s talk about the furniture you need to set up a studio space.
So, I’m going to show you a few options now.
Digital technology has come a long way
in the last two or three years.
These two we have from Wacom,
and this is one from Apple.
So, starting with this tablet, this is one thing that
you’re going to plug in to your monitor.
You will work here and see the image on the screen.
This is working with indirect vision.
The tablet is going to be able to recognize
tilt and pressure. This is a great option.
Next to that, we have another tablet,
but this is a tablet plus a monitor.
So, it still needs to be plugged into the computer,
but with this you will actually
be drawing directly on your image.
I’m going to show you one more, the iPAD Pro with the Apple pencil.
This one is great.
This one is a standalone computer.
This is a tablet computer that can be used
without plugging in anything else, and you
can just take this with you anywhere you go,
so it’s super convenient, and it’s very great to use.
If it’s in your means, this is probably the one we would recommend.
Now, there are several options for software that can go with these.
Photoshop is great.
Sketchbook is great.
If you have this, there is an app, Procreate is highly recommended.
And you are welcome to continue to work with me as I will be, which is traditionally, as
we move through the Beginner’s Series.
If you want to work digitally, that’s great as well.
Anything we do can be adapted for digital, because in the end drawing is drawing.