Skip to main content

Art Supplies for Colorists

Getting started with coloring can be as easy or as difficult as any other creative pursuit. Some supplies I bought when I first started coloring were not very good while others weren't quite suited to my purposes. Looking back, I could have saved myself a hundred bucks or so if I had given some of them a miss or if I had known then what I do now. So I figured I might as well write down my mistakes to help others avoid them.

When it comes to art supplies, it's a simple matter of price vs quality. You do get what you pay for but it doesn't automatically mean you've to spend thousands on the best pens, pencils or paints. The paper quality in adult coloring books can vary quite a lot so the most versatile medium is colored pencils. They won't bleed through even the worst quality paper, so you can use them without fear.

So my first post on art supplies will focus on colored pencils.

Colored Pencils


Scholastic Grade

The cheapest pencils you can get would be something at your local supermarket for kids. Although talented artists can create beautiful art even from those, I wouldn't recommend it. These pencils don't contain much in the way of pigment and you'll need to press very hard to get any color on to the page. Sooner or later, you're bound to get frustrated (I know I did). However if they're all you can afford, they're certainly good enough to do the job.

Student Grade Pencils - Enough or Move up?

A step up would be student grade pencils. They are easier to work with than supermarket pencils but not as expensive as artist grade ones. There are many, many brands available in this price range (typically $20 or less for 72 pencils) that it can be difficult to pick one. The Marco Raffines on Amazon are pretty good value and will suffice for many people. These were the second set I picked up and was pretty happy with them for a while.

Artist Grade Pencils

However some people are bound to look for even better quality supplies. This is where artist pencils come in. They come in 2 types - wax based and oil based. Each has its pros and cons and you'd find artists who swear by one or the other but it all comes down to personal preference in the end. Artist pencils can be bought individually, so you can always test a few brands for yourself. Generally speaking the differences are:

Wax based pencilsOil based pencils
Creamy and softer than oil pencilsHarder than wax pencils but still soft
Easy to create vibrant shadesNeed more layers to get vibrancy
Wax bloomNo wax bloom
More prone to breakageLess prone to break
Difficult to hold a point for longPoint holds for longer
Get used up quicklyLast longer

It's important to note that each brand will have their own strengths and professionals typically use more than a few sets. Derwent, Prismacolor and Tombow Irojiten are all wax based pencils. Out of these, I'd recommend Prismacolor Premier (about $40 for 72 pencils). In fact they are the most popular pencils used by colorists and you can even find detailed tutorials on youtube for your favorite coloring books with them. There are many options for oil based pencils too - Faber Castell, Lyra, Koh-i-Noor, Caran d'Ache etc.

Personally I ordered the smallest sets in Prismacolor and Polychromos to see which I liked best. The Polychromos pencils won hands down - I loved the way they glided on the paper, held a sharp point and how they layered. So I went ahead and ordered the biggest set of 120 pencils that you saw at the top of the post.

Always test a few pencils before spending more than $50 on a set!

Polychromos Pencils
My recommendations:

  • Inexpensive: Marco Raffine
  • Best Value: Prismacolor
  • Money no object: Faber Castell Polychromos, Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor, Caran d'Ache Pablo
Stay tuned for my next post on pens and markers.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Theory Of Color

My favorite thing about coloring is that it takes away much of the stress of drawing. I've seen disparaging remarks by people against colorists, mostly in the vein of 'just learn to draw already!' But I think that they are kind of missing the point. I know I can get better at drawing if I practice everyday. But being a full-time student with a couple of part-time jobs doesn't leave me much time for creative pursuits. Why shouldn't I enjoy playing with color just because I can't draw well?

Once I jumped into the world of coloring, I faced the biggest question for a newbie colorist - how do I pick colors for something? I loved looking at the finished pictures posted online by advanced colorists and even actual artists. I wanted to be able to create something like that! I started learning some basics about colors and how they work to get better at coloring my books.

So if you have ever wondered about color combinations or why some colors tend to look better toget…

Selecting Colors

Last week we talked about color harmonies and I promised to show you a couple of tools that I use regularly for coloring. Even knowing about the color harmonies doesn't mean it's easy to pick out colors for a page. Given the many colors in our pencils and pens, it's not hard to get stuck before you even begin. 

For all those times when you are starting a page and don't quite know which colors to pick, you need inspiration. You can get inspiration by just looking around your home or out the window.  Open your closet and  look at your clothes, see a pattern that you like? Use the same colors on your page.  You can also check out photos on the internet to get some ideas about color palettes and combinations. 

Still having trouble? Check out my 2 favorite tools below and see if you like those instead.

Palette Inspiration
There's one particular website that I absolutely love for color inspiration and that's Design Seeds.  This website has a veritable feast of palettes g…

Color Harmonies

Last week we talked about the basics of color theory and warm vs. cool colors. Today let's take a look at some color combinations from the color wheel. These are classic rules of thumb you can use to select colors for a page. There are two-color combos, three-color combos and four-color combos. When you select a group of colors from these palates, you're almost guaranteed a good-looking finished product. That's because these colors tend to work well together on the page.

Two Color Schemes
When you want to select just two colors for page, complementary and counterpoint colors are a good place to start. Complementary colors are those that are the opposite ends of the color wheel. Since we have 12 colors in the color wheel, we get 6 pairs of complementary colors.

The counterpoint color is the one to the right of the complementary color. So green is the complementary color for red but the counterpoint would be blue-green which is one step to the right.

You can get vibrant look…