How To Choose The Right Drawing Tools For Illustration.

Let’s face it, choosing the right drawing tools for illustration can be a daunting task. With so many options available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. But fear not! In this article, you will discover some valuable tips and tricks to help you navigate through the sea of art supplies and find the perfect tools for your artistic endeavors. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned artist, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and confidence to choose the right drawing tools that will bring your illustrations to life. So let’s get started on this exciting journey of artistic exploration!

Understanding Different Types of Drawing Tools


Pencils are a versatile and essential drawing tool. They come in various grades of hardness, ranging from 9H (hard) to 9B (soft). Generally, an HB pencil is considered a standard, providing a good balance between light and dark lines. Softer pencils are ideal for shading and creating darker values, while harder pencils are best for creating fine lines and details.


Pens offer a precise and clean line quality, making them perfect for inking and creating intricate line art. There are different types of pens to choose from, such as ballpoint pens, gel pens, and fineliners. Each pen has a different tip size, allowing for different line widths. Ballpoint pens are great for general sketching, while fineliners offer a consistent line width, making them ideal for precise work.


Markers are known for their vibrant and bold colors. They come in various types, such as alcohol-based markers and water-based markers. Alcohol-based markers, like Copics, provide smooth and even coverage, while water-based markers, like Tombow Dual Brush Pens, can be blended with water for a watercolor-like effect. Markers are often used for coloring and adding vibrant details to illustrations.


Brushes are commonly used with painting mediums, but they can also be used for drawing. They come in different types, such as round brushes, flat brushes, and fan brushes. Round brushes are versatile and can be used for both detail work and broad strokes, while flat brushes are ideal for creating sharp edges and precise lines. Brush pens, which have a built-in reservoir for ink, combine the convenience of a pen with the versatility of a brush.


Charcoal is a drawing medium that offers rich and bold lines, perfect for creating expressive and dramatic illustrations. It comes in different forms, such as vine charcoal and compressed charcoal. Vine charcoal is soft and easily smudges, making it great for creating loose sketches and shading. Compressed charcoal, on the other hand, provides darker and more intense lines, ideal for adding depth and contrast to drawings.


Graphite pencils are similar to traditional pencils but contain graphite instead of lead. They come in different grades, just like regular pencils, ranging from 9H to 9B. Graphite pencils are versatile and can be used for both sketching and shading. They are known for their smooth texture and ability to create a wide range of tones, from light to dark.

Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are a popular choice for adding color to illustrations. They come in a vast array of colors and are typically wax-based or oil-based. Wax-based colored pencils offer vibrant and bold colors, while oil-based colored pencils provide a more subtle and blendable appearance. Colored pencils are versatile and can be used for both detailed work and broader color applications.

Watercolor Pencils

Watercolor pencils combine the precision of colored pencils with the versatility of watercolors. They have a water-soluble core that allows you to create watercolor effects by adding water. Watercolor pencils are ideal for creating washes, blending colors, and adding texture to illustrations. They offer a unique way to add depth and vibrancy to your artwork.


Pastels come in two main forms: soft pastels and oil pastels. Soft pastels are made of pure pigment and have a powdery texture. They can be easily blended and smudged, creating smooth and soft lines. Oil pastels, on the other hand, are made of a combination of pigment, wax, and oil. They offer a more creamy and opaque consistency and can be layered, blended, and scraped to create various effects.

Inking Tools

Inking tools, such as dip pens and brush pens, are specifically designed for inking and creating line art. Dip pens consist of a nib and a handle, allowing for more control over line weight and thickness. Brush pens, as mentioned earlier, combine the convenience of a pen with the versatility of a brush. Inking tools are great for adding bold lines, intricate details, and precise linework to illustrations.

Considering the Purpose and Style of Your Illustration

Determining the Subject Matter

Before choosing your drawing tools, it’s essential to determine the subject matter of your illustration. Different subjects may require different techniques and tools. For example, if you are drawing landscapes, you may want to consider using watercolor pencils or soft pastels to capture the natural textures and colors. On the other hand, if you are working on a detailed portrait, you might opt for graphite pencils or colored pencils for precision and control.

Identifying the Intended Style

Each artist has a unique style, and the choice of drawing tools can greatly influence the overall look and feel of your illustrations. If you prefer a clean and precise style, pens and fineliners would be a suitable choice. For a more expressive and loose style, charcoal or soft pastels may be more appropriate. Consider your preferred style and how different drawing tools can enhance or complement it.

Considering the Level of Detail

The level of detail you want to achieve in your illustrations should also be considered when choosing drawing tools. Some mediums, like colored pencils and fine-tipped pens, allow for intricate and highly detailed artwork. Others, such as markers and oil pastels, lend themselves better to bolder and more expressive illustrations with less emphasis on fine details. Think about the level of detail you want to incorporate in your work and choose drawing tools accordingly.

Analyzing Different Drawing Techniques


Sketching is the foundation of any drawing, and it involves creating loose and rough lines to capture the basic shapes and proportions of your subject. Pencils, particularly those with varying degrees of hardness, are well-suited for sketching due to their ability to create both light and dark lines. Many artists also favor charcoal for sketching due to its bold and expressive lines.

Line Art

Line art involves using clean and precise lines to define and outline the different elements of your illustration. Pens, fineliners, and dip pens are commonly used for line art due to their ability to create sharp and consistent lines. Fine-tipped pens are great for creating intricate details, while dip pens allow for variations in line width and thickness.

Shading and Texturing

Shading and texturing techniques are used to add depth, volume, and dimension to your illustrations. Graphite pencils, charcoal, and soft pastels are excellent choices for shading as they allow for smooth transitions from light to dark. Brushes, particularly round brushes, can also be used for shading and creating textured effects with ink or watercolor.

Blending and Layering

Blending and layering techniques involve combining and blending colors or tones to create smooth transitions and variations in your artwork. Colored pencils, pastels, and markers can be used for blending and layering. Colored pencils, in particular, can be blended using techniques like burnishing or using solvents to create a painterly effect. Soft pastels can be layered and blended using your fingers or specialized blending tools.


Coloring involves adding color to your illustrations using various mediums like markers, colored pencils, or watercolor pencils. Markers provide a vibrant and bold color application, while colored pencils allow for more precision and control. Watercolor pencils offer the ability to create washes and blend colors using water, providing a unique watercolor-like effect.

Evaluating the Skill Level and Experience

Beginner-Friendly Options

For beginners, it’s important to choose drawing tools that are easy to use and forgiving. Graphite pencils, pens, and colored pencils are great options for beginners due to their versatility and ease of handling. They allow for gradual learning and experimentation without overwhelming complexity. Additionally, markers and watercolor pencils can also be beginner-friendly, offering vibrant colors and unique effects with less technical skill required.

Intermediate Tools

As your skills and experience grow, you may want to explore more advanced drawing tools. This could include experimenting with different types of pens, such as brush pens or dip pens, for more dynamic and expressive linework. You might also consider investing in higher-quality colored pencils or markers that offer a wider range of colors, better ink flow, and improved blending capabilities.

Professional-Grade Equipment

When you reach a professional level, investing in high-quality and professional-grade drawing tools becomes essential. Professional-grade tools often offer superior performance, durability, and longevity. These tools are designed for artists who require the highest level of precision, color accuracy, and control in their illustrations. These tools may be more expensive, but their quality and performance justify the investment for serious artists.

Ergonomics and Comfort

Pen/Pencil Grip

The way you hold your drawing tools can greatly impact your comfort and control while drawing. It’s important to find a grip that feels natural and allows you to move your hand and wrist fluidly. Experiment with different grips and find one that is comfortable for long periods of use. Many pens and pencils have ergonomic designs that offer a comfortable grip, reducing fatigue and strain on your hand.

Weight and Balance

The weight and balance of your drawing tools can also affect your overall comfort and control. Some artists prefer lighter tools, which allow for greater maneuverability and precision. Others prefer slightly heavier tools, which can provide stability and a more substantial feel. Consider your personal preferences and try out different tools to find the weight and balance that suits your drawing style.

Comfort of the Handle

Drawing for extended periods can sometimes cause discomfort and fatigue in your hand. Therefore, it’s important to choose drawing tools with handles that are comfortable to grip. Look for pens and pencils with ergonomic designs that provide a natural and comfortable grip. Some tools also come with rubberized or textured handles, offering an extra level of comfort and control.

Understanding Quality and Price Range

Considering Budget Constraints

When choosing drawing tools, it’s important to consider your budget constraints. High-quality tools often come at a higher price, but they can offer better performance, durability, and overall user experience. However, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to get started. There are plenty of affordable options available for beginners and intermediate artists that offer decent quality and can help you develop your skills.

Balancing Quality and Affordability

Finding a balance between quality and affordability is key. Look for reputable brands that offer reliable and well-constructed tools within your budget range. Reading customer reviews and seeking recommendations from experienced artists can also help you make informed decisions. Keep in mind that investing in higher-quality tools can save you money in the long run, as they tend to last longer and provide better results.

Investing in Long-lasting Tools

If you’re serious about pursuing illustration as a long-term passion or career, investing in long-lasting tools can be a wise decision. High-quality tools often have superior construction and use more durable materials, ensuring they withstand the test of time. While the initial cost may be higher, the longevity of these tools can save you money in the long term by avoiding frequent replacements.

Exploring Different Brands and Manufacturers

Researching Reputable Brands

When exploring different brands and manufacturers, it’s important to do your research. Look for brands that have a good reputation for producing high-quality drawing tools. Some well-known brands include Faber-Castell, Prismacolor, Copic, Staedtler, and Winsor & Newton. These brands have a long history of producing reliable and well-regarded art supplies.

Checking Customer Reviews

Customer reviews can provide valuable insights into the quality and performance of drawing tools. Take the time to read reviews from both professional artists and fellow beginners to get a well-rounded perspective. Look for common themes or issues raised in the reviews and consider how those factors might impact your own drawing experience.

Examining Product Range

Different brands offer different product ranges, each with its own strengths and specialties. Some brands may excel in producing high-quality pens and markers, while others may be known for their exceptional colored pencils or watercolor supplies. Consider the specific drawing tools you need and look for brands that offer a wide range within that category. This will give you more options to choose from and ensure you find the perfect tools for your needs.

Experimenting and Trying Out Different Tools

Testing Various Drawing Instruments

The best way to find the right drawing tools for your needs is to try out different instruments firsthand. Visit art supply stores, if possible, and test out different pencils, pens, markers, and brushes. Get a feel for their weight, balance, and overall performance. Experiment with different lines, shading techniques, and colors to see how each tool responds to your touch. Testing various tools will help you find the ones that feel most comfortable and suit your artistic style.

Attending Workshops and Art Classes

Attending workshops and art classes is a great way to gain exposure to different drawing tools and techniques. Experienced artists and instructors can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on their own experiences. They may introduce you to tools you haven’t considered before, expanding your artistic horizons. Additionally, workshops and classes often provide the opportunity to try out different tools in a guided and supportive environment.

Seeking Recommendations and Opinions

Art communities, both online and offline, are full of passionate artists who are eager to share their knowledge and experiences. Seek out recommendations and opinions from fellow artists to get a wide range of perspectives. Online forums, social media groups, and art communities are great places to ask for advice and learn from others’ experiences. Just remember that everyone has different preferences, so it’s essential to consider your own artistic style and needs when making a decision.

Considering the Portability and Convenience

Travel-Friendly Options

If you plan on drawing while traveling or on the go, considering the portability and convenience of your drawing tools is crucial. Compact tools like sketchbooks, travel-sized watercolor sets, brush pens, and portable pencil cases can make it easier to carry your artistic essentials with you. Look for lightweight and compact options that fit your travel needs without compromising on quality.

Storage and Organization

Proper storage and organization of your drawing tools can make a significant difference in their lifespan and convenience of use. Invest in a storage solution that keeps your tools organized, protected, and easily accessible. Pencil cases, brush rolls, or storage boxes with compartments are popular choices. Consider your specific needs, such as the number of tools you own and the mobility required, when choosing a storage solution.

Just-in-case Tools

Having a set of “just-in-case” drawing tools can come in handy in various situations. These tools are backup options or duplicates of your favorite tools that you can keep in different locations, such as your bag, workplace, or even car. For example, keeping a small sketchbook and a portable pencil case in your bag allows you to seize any creative opportunity that comes your way. Having backup tools ensures you’re always ready to create, no matter where you are.

Taking Care and Maintaining Your Drawing Tools

Cleaning and Storing Properly

To ensure the longevity and performance of your drawing tools, it’s essential to clean and store them properly. Pencils and pens should be kept capped when not in use to prevent drying out. Brushes should be rinsed thoroughly after each use to remove any leftover paint or ink. Colored pencils and pastels can benefit from occasional cleaning with a soft brush or cloth. Proper storage, away from extreme temperatures or moisture, can also help prevent damage and maintain the quality of your tools.

Replacing Worn-out Parts

Over time, certain parts of your drawing tools may wear out or become damaged. For example, the nib of a pen may become frayed or the bristles of a brush may become too worn to achieve desired effects. It’s important to replace worn-out parts to ensure optimal performance and prevent damage to your artwork. Many brands offer replacement parts for their tools, making it easier to extend the lifespan of your favorite drawing instruments.

Preserving the Lifespan

To preserve the lifespan of your drawing tools, handle them with care and avoid excessive pressure or force. Sharpen pencils properly to prevent breakage, and clean your tools regularly to remove any buildup of ink, paint, or graphite. Avoid dropping or mishandling your tools, as this can lead to damage or deformation. Following manufacturer recommendations for usage and maintenance will help ensure the longevity and performance of your drawing tools.