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  • Writer's pictureJme Foronda

Tools of the Trade: Sketching

Because of a recent charity stream my friend and I did, I suddenly got back into sketching with actual pencil and paper, when I used to rely heavily on iPad, ProCreate, and Apple Pencil. The stream was donations-for-drawings, and artists needed to do fast sketches within 10minutes. So I had to be fast. And to be fast, you need to commit to the pencil lines you do and NOT press Undo / Ctrl+Z every 10 seconds.

So, here are my sketching tools:

First, the pencil. I use a Staedtler Mechanical Clutch pencil that uses 2mm lead. I prefer it over the .7mm or .5mm mech pencils because I need a little bit of heft in my hand; anything lighter will send my sketches flying everywhere on the page. This is the same reason I don't sketch on the iPad; the surface is so slippery. I need a speed limiter when I sketch, apparently. Also these things aren't 100% erasable, which is a GOOD thing because you're not supposed to be erasing sketch lines anyway. It trains you to commit to the lines you've already put down.

The barrel sharpener is another accessory for the clutch pencil. That's how you sharpen it. And yes, I know the clutch pencil has that hidden sharpener in the end cover, but I like the barrel sharpener, okay? It looks cool.

The 2mm lead refills are Blue June Gold and are sturdy and non-erasable. I like them because they're the right shade of blue. I've used the non-photo blue pencil before and it was too light for me. June Gold makes some other colors, too, and I've tried the red, but too harsh/stark for me.


Next is the sketchbook. The perfect sketchbook I've found is this one:

Piccadilly brand sketchbook, available in 8"x11" and 5.5"x 8" sizes. I have both sizes, the big for home sketching, the smaller one for outdoor (but thanks to Covid-19, they're now both used for home sketching). So, what I like about these sketchbooks?

The binding. This kind of binding makes it lie flat at any part of the book. I have tried spiral bound sketchbooks before and those things don't last long. The spiral will tangle or totally unravel and you get a nasty looking sketchbook that doesn't even close properly.

Texture of the paper. Some artists like the smoother paper for sketchpads, but I've tried those before and they just don't work for me. They don't "feel" right, I guess. Again, the roughness of the paper puts a "speed limiter" to my sketching and that's another plus.

And lastly:

Okay, so yeah. I do have an eraser (after all my talk of "committing to the line" and using a non-erasable blue lead). I have an eraser included, because sometimes I want to lighten a part of the sketch at the end, and while this cannot erase the blue lines, it does the job of rubbing out a decent enough amount to lighten it. Also, this type of eraser is handy because the container keeps the white eraser clean, as opposed to a naked eraser sitting inside a pencil case.

And there you have it! The materials I use for sketching!

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