The five art tools I can’t live without


So clearly I have been a lazy cow on holidays and haven’t any finished drawings to chat about! I could show you lots of holiday snaps of beautiful sunny beaches OR share my current list of essential drawing tools. Lots of artists share posts like this but its surprising how many new things I find when I read them so hopefully mine might encourage you to try something new.


1. Tombow Mono drawing pencils.  I don’t even know how I discovered these guys as they are not available in Australia.  Someone must have mentioned them in their list of top five art supplies! Tombows are quite a bit darker than any other graphite pencil I’ve used and I think for this reason they only go up to a 6B (not an 8B or 9B). They are definitely my favourite graphite pencil and pretty the only one I use.




2. Staedtler Mars Lumograph black pencils.  After reading JD Hilberry’s book I became a total convert to using charcoal to create true matt blacks.  Trouble is I find charcoal incredibly messy and difficult to work with.  The Lumograph is a nice compromise.  It contains a lead with a high proportion of carbon so creates matt black but is also easy to sharpen, is less prone to breakage and doesn’t leave as much messy residue as charcoal.  I generally just use the 8B or the 6B.



3. E + M Peanpole Pencil Extender. I find it quite difficult to work with my pencils once they are shorter than about eight centimetres.  With the pencil extender I can continue to use them until they are tiny little one centimetre long stubs! Derwent have a similar product with a twist locking system which I don’t find as effective as it works loose causing the pencil to slip especially when sharpening them.  Also the Derwent one doesn’t seem to fit as wider range of pencils.



4. Arches Watercolour Pad smooth (185gms or 300gsm) and Daler Rowney Smooth Heavyweight pad (220gsm).  Ok technically this is two things I know!  Arches is my absolute favourite drawing paper, however, it has become s so freakin’ expensive!  I’ve started experimenting with other kinds of paper and my new (cost-effective) favourite is Daler Rowney Smooth Heavyweight paper.  It is definitely not as smooth as Arches but HEAPS cheaper.



5. Epson DS 50000 A3 flatbed scanner. I spent years crying into my computer keyboard in disappointment and frustration over the poor quality scans my previous scanner produced.  I would just lose so much detail in the scanning process it was absolutely heart breaking. Whilst expensive the DS 50000 is brilliant.  It captures every little detail (sometimes more than you want it too!).  It costs a lot, but for me well worth it.


I have two honorary mentions; the Tombow Mono Zero eraser and the Tombow Ippo Pencil Shapener.

And if I could include one more “Wishlist” item it would be a desk lamp.  Dena Cooper at Brushstrokes a la Mode recently recommended one that I might have to get my hands on, but I am open to suggestions!

Oh and here is a photo of my holiday 😉


8 thoughts on “The five art tools I can’t live without

  1. Thanks, a worthwhile read and of course… leads directly to a purchase or two.

    I’ve now ordered a pencil extender, I used to think they were just for real cheapskates but I now see the benefits. Had a look at that lovely looking one there and gulp – pricey, the delivery prices to UK are ludicrous. So I’ve ordered one from Hong Kong for 1/20th of the price, due for delivery in August maybe and it’ll probably fall apart on the 2nd go but had to give it a try.

    Also ordered a 6B Lumograph to see how it compares against the Conte Noire pencils I’ve been using lately.

    When I was starting out drawing and obviously scouring the internet and youtube for tips I saw a professional using Faber Castell clutch pencils with a 2mm lead so ended up buying a couple.

    Several advantages to these but I’ve only had graphite leads upto 2B so they suffer from that “shiny grey”, got fed up of that last year so I ended up almost exclusively using ink instead. Now with trying out these charcoal-blend pencils I’m back to enjoying some good old-fashioned pencil drawing again, feels like meeting up with an old friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha I thought the pencil extenders were a bit silly too but I am getting an extra 7cm out of my pencils!.. I’m not sure how that translates to dollars!

      I might have to give the Conte Noire a try now too

      Liked by 1 person

      • They can crumble a bit with pressure and don’t like pencil sharpeners much – all I can guess from that is that the charcoal content is quite high.

        That Edward Sketcherhands a few days ago was drawn with the Conte pencils though that one was quite sketchy. The full name is Conté Pierre Noire.

        I was interested in the scanner above as well. I’m using the photocopier at work which seems pretty good at scanning and producing a 600 dpi tiff but when they find out I guess I’ll have to look to get one.


      • Well I’m sure the average home scanner has improved a lot since I was using them so maybe these days you can find something that will do the job but is not as pricey as the DS 500000. It took me years and moving to a well pay job in the UAE before I plucked up the courage to spend THAT much money on a scanner!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So… I tried the Lumograph 6B for comparison to the Conté and thought “wow, this is junk, it’s soft but fairly grey and sooo shiny, must have a high graphite content”.

    Then I had another look and the one they sent was indeed a Lumograph but it wasn’t a ‘Black’ – the body of the pencil is blue as well which was a giveaway but I hadn’t really noted on opening the packet.

    Needless to say, the black ‘Black’ is now on the way, better luck next time – hopefully anyone that reads Alison’s page doesn’t end up with the blue version like I had. Incidentally, I had ordered the right one, it was the supplier who got it wrong so it even catches others out as well 😬

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Colour Pencil Illustrations

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