Top 5 tools that are a must for aspiring colored pencil artists

Learning to draw without any prior experience can be intimidating (at the very least).

When I first started drawing, I didn’t know what were the most affordable brands nor what kind of paper I should even be using! After extensive research and trial and error, I finally found what works best for the style I was looking for.

To make your drawing journey easier, I have come up with a detailed list of materials you’ll need to get yourself started.

1. Colored Pencils

There are so many colored pencils out there. I won’t blame you for not wanting to even touch the subject! If you’re anything like me, you’ll be looking for the most cost affective materials.

So here are a couple pencil brands that I swear by:

  1. Prismacolor premier

This brand is perfect to start out with. They are a wax based pencil which allows you to blend with smooth perfection while keeping a great pigmentation.

2. Faber Castell Polychromos

When I started to use these pencils, I was in awe with how beautiful the level of smooth yet sharp of an application!

3. Caran D’ache Luminance

I absolutely love this brand! The high quality wax base provides a very nice and even coverage. This allows for better blending overall. Because of the high price, I recommend these to those who are seriously invested in learning to draw.

2. Paper

  1. Strathmore Bristol Vellum Surface

This is a great start for drawing paper. It has a smooth surface which allows you to draw more detail. The only downside, it’s not great for getting amazing pigmentation. The darks just aren’t dark enough!

2. Fabriano Studio Hot Press Watercolor Paper 140 lbs

I will always use this paper. I absolutely love how the portrait comes out, nice and pigmented. The greatest thing about this paper is the ability to draw many layers without ruining the paper.

3. Clairefontaine Pastelmat

This paper is quite challenging to me. The surface is very bumpy but I have seen some beautiful colored pencil work done on this.

In my opinion, this paper is for those who have a different way of drawing with colored pencils. I have a hard time because I want to fill in all of the blank spaces where the tooth of the paper is showing. This creates a very saturated look, which I am not fond of.

If you are light handed and want more pigmentation, this paper is for you!

3. Erasers

Yes, you can use eraser with colored pencils. However, you’ll never be able to completely remove pigmentation. These are good for not only removing mistakes but also for creating highlights.

  1. Kneaded Eraser

I love a good kneaded eraser. This is great for carefully removing some of the color without ruining the paper. You can even shape it into a fine point for erasing details.

2. Prismacolor Premier Magic Rub

My favorite eraser for large coverage. This will not leave ugly marks all over the paper and you don’t have to press down so hard.

3. Electric eraser


Buy yourself an electric eraser and thank me later. This is fantastic for creating highlights, stray hairs, erasing very small areas, and so much more.

4. Sharpeners

Oh the variety of sharpeners out there…

Why are there so many pencil sharpener options? I’ve managed to narrow down the sharpeners that work best with any colored pencil.

  1. Hand held

These are a staple for most artists. I began with these until I found them to be quite tedious…

2. Manual

Manual sharpeners can be fun, they remind of the good ol’ days when every class room had a pencil sharpener attached to the wall.

The downside, it still takes too long!

3. Electric

If you are serious about drawing, invest in this hefty machine!

It is rechargeable so you don’t have to replace batteries. Not only that but it automatically adjusts to the size of your pencil.

This matters a lot because every brand of pencil has a different size.

5. Extra Tools

I will go into depth with these tools in other blogs. However, you should know these three in particular if you are wanting to level up your colored pencil game.

Check out this video or this video if you want to see how these are applied.

  1. Embossing

These tools have a tiny ball at the end. When you press into the paper, it creates an indentation. You can create whiskers with this!

2. Slice Craft Knife

I absolutely love using this tool! One side is curved and is a little bit thicker while the other side is quite sharp.

This is fantastic for etching small hairs into the portrait after you’ve created so many layers.

3. Gamsol oil

I don’t use this very often but it is great for blending your layers in. It is an oil so you have to be careful what paper you use it on.

Want to learn how to draw?

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