I've been getting asked quite a bit lately about what tools I use when drawing and especially how I keep my lines clean. I've also seen a number of my peers getting asked the same question so here's what I use on a daily basis. The items you see above are the most imperative tools when I draw almost anything hopefully this can help some of you in the creation of your art and your own individual technique.
I'm sure many of my colorists would beg to differ on how "clean" my pencils are and honestly I don't consider myself a terribly clean artist to be honest. You might be surprised at how many smudge parks are all over my pages. But I understand how frustrating the process of keeping clean lines can be so I'm happy to help where I can.
A.) Lead Holder Pencils and HB Lead: A lot of pros use this type of pencil because of how versatile it is. The lead can sharpened to a near razor-like point with the sharpener, for tight details and fine lines, (see image "C") or let it ware down to a blunt tip for thick lines or large areas of shading. I use an HB lead which is a soft lead that leaves a nice dark line without too much pressure. Also I use HB because I don't typically have an inker and the line work needs to scan well into the computer for coloring and/or digital inking. Lead types vary on personal preference though so feel free to experiment and use what YOU like best and what feels best for your art.
B.) 0.5 Mechanical Pencil and HB Lead: Lately I've been using this pencil more often but I always go through spurts where I switch between this and the Lead Holder. Again, it's personal preference. One thing I will stress is don't fall for those outrageous $30, $40 or $50 pencils. Sometimes people think that expensive pencils are nice or will help them draw better but that simply is not true. To me it's a waste of possible beer money. I bought this pencil (and all mechanical pencils before it) at places like Wal-Mart, grocery stores and office supply stores. So unless the $50 pencil is a magical robot pencil that draws by itself the pencil that you use has no positive or negative effect on how talented/skilled you are. Just like a really expensive ruler won't make a straighter line than a $5 ruler with Hello Kitty on it. Invest wisely because everything else you use to make art costs a fucking fortune.
C.) Barrel Style Sharpener: This is the lead sharpener that I like to use for my Lead Holder pencil. There's several different kinds of sharpeners for Lead Holders (all are great) but this just happens to be the most affordable, convenient and portable one that I have found. I like this because I can have just one sharpener to keep at my desk and take to conventions if I need to and I don't need to empty it every 15 minutes.
D.) Sanford "Peel-Off" Magic Rub Eraser: This bad-boy here is my secret weapon! So much so that I don't even use my full size Magic Rub block eraser anymore. These guys are about the size of a pencil and have a high quality eraser tip that erases very clean. Much like a pencil it can be sharpened to a fine point with a regular handheld pencil sharpener to get into the tiniest of spots, clean up the edges of holding lines, or even create detailed negative space in positive spaces. Very very cool tool to have and the best part is they cost less than $1 each!
E.) Kneaded Eraser: I'm pretty sure most of you use this so I won't go too far into detail, but I pretty much use this only to erase really large areas of pencil smudging and occasionally shape into action figures. I will say to clean your kneaded eraser just stretch and fold it until all the dark black spots are gone. I only say that because some people are not familiar with that.
F.) French Curves: Another special tool that I find a lot of people aren't familiar with are French Curves. The best way I can think to describe these is; they're like a straight edge for curves. It's amazing how these things can seem to match up to any curved line you draw --especially big Bertha on the bottom there. I use these for EVERYTHING. Especially for drawing long lines on a woman's hips, thighs and butt, but they're also handy for hair and countless other parts of female anatomy as well as background elements or anything else you can thing of where you want a clean curved line.
So there you have it! These are the basic tools that never change for me and I hope some of you can find this information useful. Like i said, it's great to experiment but don't lock yourself into anything that conflicts with your state of Zen while creating art. I don't use electric erasers because they're noisy and sound like vibrators but some people swear by them. Some people say HB lead is very messy and they prefer 3H or H lead. It's all about personal choice and what you feel comfortable with. as Adam Hughes once said, "You and all your art supplies should get along together".
Everything pictured above is available at your local art supply store or at www.bluelinepro.com [link]
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