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Materials list

This is a list of my most commonly used art supplies. 


  • Drawing pencils. My favorites are the Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils, which you can buy in a 12 pack; gives you a very good range of pencils.

  • Pencil sharpener. Lots of different ideas on what's best, but I have settled on buying less expensive ones and replacing them frequently as the blades dull quickly

  • Blending stumps and sandpaper pointer, like those in this little set

  • A clear ruler

  • Erasers. I work with both a kneaded eraser and a plastic (hi-polymer) eraser, and I love my Tombow Mono Zero eraser.

  • Drawing paper. I like to have a sketch pad to work out ideas, but I also like to have some nice Bristol board paper for projects that are more special. Here are suggestions.

      • Strathmore 300 sketch pads (available in lots of sizes)

      • Canson XL Bristol pads (also available in lots of sizes, the vellum surface is awesome for graphite and the smooth)

  • Basic watercolor set. I use only professional grade tube paints from brands like Daniel Smith and Winsor&Newton.

  • Brushes. I use synthetic round brushes like the Da Vinci Cosmotop Spin series, in sizes ranging from 5 to 1. A flat wash brush is good to have as well.

  • Palette. I am a fan of the butcher tray style of palette.

  • Buckets. I like to use two water containers, one for clean water, and one for rinsing my brush.

  • Dropper or pipette. Very handy for moving water and paint around.

  • Watercolor paper. My go-to is Arches 300 lb. hot press watercolor paper. (Many watercolor artists prefer cold press paper, but science illustrators prefer the hot press.)

  • Sakura Pigma Micron pens. I always end up using pen on birds, whether it's for the eyeball, beak or feet. I typically use black pens in sizes 01 and 005.


**Note that many of the links are to the Dick Blick website, but these are standard items that can be purchased at most art supply stores.

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