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Whether on par with Picasso, or emerging from drawing stick figures, every artist can create better art with the proper tools. This guide below is a review for some of the best art supplies for sketching artists:


True sketch artists need an adequate selection of both graphite and charcoal pencils. Graphite pencils range from “9B” (very soft and dark; needs frequent sharpening) to “9H” (very hard and light; stays sharp longer). “HB” and “F” (fine) pencils are in the middle of the range. Charcoal comes in both stick (vine or compressed) and pencil form. Vine is softer and produces lighter marks, while compressed makes darker marks.

Ink Pens

The tip of the pen is measured in “nib” size, the smallest of which is approximately 0.25mm. This tiny tip is used for extremely fine detail. A 0.5mm nib is a good multi-use choice. It’s small enough to create detail, yet big enough to cover a large amount of surface quickly. Another choice is the brush/graphic nib. This pen resembles a traditional felt tip pen and fills in large areas quickly. Choose a pen with archival Indian ink as it won’t fade over time.


Sketch artists use erasers to both fix mistakes, and make negative space marks on their drawings. Rubber (less expensive) and gum erasers (better preserve surface) both remove medium though friction. A kneaded eraser lifts the medium from the surface. Hard vinyl/plastic erasers will erase almost anything without a trace, but they can tear paper.

Blending Stumps / Tortillions

A blending stump allows the artist to smudge, smooth and move medium on sketches without added oil from a fingertip.


A metal manual pencil sharpener will do the job of sharpening graphite pencils without eating them away. Many artists use a craft knife and sanding blocks to sharpen charcoal pencils.


Higher quality paper will produce higher quality art. Artists should use acid free, archival paper for final pieces as it will not yellow and better resists fading. Heavier textures, those with more “tooth,” will show “broken” lines. Smoother textures, those with less tooth will produce smoother lines and value gradations. Experts recommend Bristol paper, which comes in “vellum” (more tooth and better for soft graphite and charcoal pencils) and “smooth” (great for hard graphite and ink drawings).