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Introduction to Drawing Materials
This is a crash course in drawing supplies to get you familiar with the tools you will need. First of all, don't be afraid of your supplies! This may sound strange, I mean, who's afraid of a pencil? Seems that a lot of people are when you tell them its a drawing pencil. Then they act like you have just given them a wand of power that will unexpectedly explode. Well, pencils are a little like magic wands. Anything is possible with one of these things, but you need to discard the notion that you aren't able to handle it. Don't defeat your creative efforts before you even try it. Now pick up that pencil, it won't bite.
There many grades of graphite pencils, they range from 9B to 9H. 9B is the softest pencil you can get and it will create the darkest lines. On the other end is the 9H pencil, which is quite hard and could probably be used to kill vampires. Seriously, drawing with a 9H is like drawing with a nail and they are only used for creating very, very light lines when drafting. I recommend getting a 2H for initial layout and a 4B for drawing. You might also want a 6B for creating those really deep shadows and dark lines. Many people will use whatever happens to be on hand, which in most cases is a 2HB pencil like what you use for school work. I don't recommend using a 2HB pencil. For a drawing pencil it is on the hard side so you will never be able to produce truly dark darks with it. Instead you end up with a drawing that is overall greyish with no true darks. Bleh. The transition to a softer lead drawing pencil will be difficult at first, but believe me it is worth it.
Another important tool is the eraser. I recommend the Sanford "Magic Rub" vinyl eraser. These are great erasers that lift pencil marks and certain brands of colored pencils without smudging, grinding the graphite into the paper, or ruining the surface of your paper. I use these erasers exclusively and you should be able to find one in an art supply store, a drafting supply store, or perhaps the drawing and drafting section at Office Max. Erasers can also be used as a blending tool to smudge and soften lines and shading by lightly rubbing the eraser over penciled areas. Your fingers are also excellent blending tools, though you may want to stop every once and awhile to wash your hands.
Well, to draw, you need something to draw on, so on to paper. There are hundreds of different kinds of paper for all kinds of purposes. For pencil drawing I have been using sheets of Strathmore 300 series Bristol. A pad of this thick paper is fairly inexpensive and it can stand up to a variety of mediums. Bristol is good to have if you want to experiment with integrating a little bit of water mediums into your picture because lighter weight drawing and sketch book paper will buckle. If you don't want to buy a pad of that kind of paper, I also suggest the Strathmore sketch book with 60lb. paper. I have used that and been pretty happy with it. If you don't want to buy any drawing paper at all you can use your printer paper, but it doesn't have the tooth or strength of drawing paper. Again, don't be intimidated by your drawing paper. Go ahead, mark it up. If you don't like your drawing turn the page and try something new. Don't use binder paper.
So there's your basic supplies. Now on to the instructions!