Do you want to discover my top art tools list that I use to create my art?
Want an honest review of these artistic tools, which I personally use?
I’m always intrigued by the tools that other artists use to create their art. Instead of just visiting Amazon and choosing random art products based on customer reviews, I love artistic tool reviews from other artists. If you’re unfamiliar with myself and my work, I’m a freelance illustrator and artist based in Hampshire, UK. I’ve been creating art from a very young age (cliche but true), and have built up a strong illustrator portfolio over that time.
I have experience of the types of tools that I go back to time and time again. As a result, I thought I would take this opportunity to create this article and reveal my top artistic tools with you today.
What This Art Tools List Offers
Within this blog post you will discover my top art tools list I use to create my illustrations and art – including my drawings and paintings. I’ll be sharing my tools and materials for drawing, what I use for painting, and other tools I use to create my digital art. I’m also sharing my top books, products I use to sell on my Shop and Etsy items, and much more!
Most of the time, tools of an artists are mysterious (the internet and books have erased this problem thankfully). Especially on platforms such as Instagram, (which a lot of the time show final paintings or drawings), this article will help unveil the curtain, so you can see the tools I use to create my art.
To become a better artist, it’s all about learning your craft, experimenting, and constantly improving. If you’re a beginner and you don’t know what tools to purchase, knowing an artist’s tools can help you immensely. This art tools list article is also aimed at professionals who want to discover artistic tools they may have overlooked / haven’t heard about.
To be transparent as possible, please note that this article includes affiliate links. These links are mostly to Amazon, and I receive a small commission if you decide to purchase. This is at no extra cost to you, and I only recommend art tools list that I personally use. None of the items listed below are sponsored.
This I What I Recommend Before Buying Anything
The old saying rings true: “you get what you pay for”.
I couldn’t agree more with this saying, especially when buying art materials and tools.
Forget purchasing cheap tools with emphasis on quantity, instead aim for quality. Remember quality, quality, quality always wins the day. Of course, quality most often costs more, but in the long run this attitude is certainly worth it. If you lead a life which concentrates on quality rather than quantity, I promise you will actually spend less in the long run – as quality items last longer!
Focusing on quality tools certainly rings true when painting. Painting with cheap tools is a nightmare, as painting is hard enough! I personally own all of the items and tools that I’m sharing with you today, which are all of great quality. Some of the following items can be rather expensive (like the Epson printer for example), but these items have not only been vetted by myself, but will last you in good stead.
Sometimes you can pick up real bargains and manage to purchase quality items at a great price, which hopefully the list below echoes. So sit back and discover all of my artistic tools that I use regularly!
Canon Lide 210 Scanner
I currently use Canon Lide 210 for all of my scanning. I still use it to this day as it’s a brilliant scanner. Scanning up to A4 in size, this is a quick and efficient scanner, which can scan up to 600dpi, 4800 x 4800dpi resolution and 48-bit colour. It can also scan a 300dpi image in under 10 seconds! I’ve been using it for years because it’s high-quality, the resolution is high and is reliable.
If you’re a digital artist and don’t really need to scan your artwork for example, this may not apply. However, I think even digital artists can benefit from a tool like this. It’s always worthwhile sketching before working digitally, and this is the ideal scanner to do just that.
It’s a great price too and is very affordable!
Get it here: Canon Lide 210.
Epson Expression Photo XP-15000 Wi-Fi Printer Printer
For my Etsy and Shop products, I use Epson XP-15000.
As I print my Etsy and Shop products to a high standard, I needed a quick, high-quality printer, and this Epson printer ticks all of the boxes. The colours are amazing when printed, and has an efficient digital screen on the front.
It has both front and rear paper trays, and it’s inkjet cartridges are easy to replace and insert. The dimension of the printer is 37 x 47.9 x 15.9 cm. It’s not the smallest, but it conveniently sits on top of my chest of drawers.
This is quite an expensive printer, costing over £200. It can scan up to A3, is very quick and can connect to your computer via WiFi. I love it, and it’s just perfect for my Shop and Etsy store. I highly recommend if you’re looking for a high-quality professional standard printer.
Get it here: Epson Expression Photo XP-15000 Wi-Fi Printer.
Caran d’Ache Gouache Set
As I produce most of my illustrations with gouache and digital, this Caran d’Ache Gouache Set for ideal for me. With 15 different gouache ‘cakes’, a palette, a great brush, and a small tube of white paint, I use this at least several times a week.
It houses vivid colours, and the metal palette (even though I always recommend ceramic palettes), is easy to mix colours and clean. I used the small white gouache tube in about 3-4 paintings, so it’s well worth getting some extra white paint as you’re going to go through it! (I’ve discussed white paint a bit further down this page).
If you’re interested in purchasing this gouache set, please note these aren’t separate gouache painting tubes, but come in painting ‘cakes’. These are small 3 x 3cm, portable painting squares. Which you can detach from the metal container.
Get it here: Caran d’Ache Gouache Set.
PEBEO Studio Gouache & Winsor & Newton Acrylic White Paint
As an addition to my Caran d’Ache Gouache Set, I had to buy extra gouache and acrylic paints for the colours I use frequently. I mix white a lot whilst mixing, I deplete white paint very quickly (which I assume this is the case for most artists). I own PEBEO 100 ml Studio Gouache and Winsor & Newton 120ml Titanium White Acrylic Paint. I’ve had these great products for over a year now, so they do the job excellently.
I particularly love Winsor & Newton’s white acrylic paint. It’s high-quality, the paint flows naturally, and has a great consistency. The colours remain vivid once it’s dried. PEBEO’s white paint is ideal for illustration and decoration work, and is opaque and the colours remain vivid after drying. As I tend to paint with blue a lot as well, I also own this PEBEO 100 ml Studio Ultramarine Blue Gouache. This is a great size for me, and the painting colour is great.
These two brands are competitively priced (Winsor and Newton are more expensive), but they have served me very well for which I highly recommend.
Derwent Pencil Set
Derwent create epic graphite pencils, and I’ve also visited their legendary Pencil Museum in the Lake District too (which I highly recommend).
I learnt a lot when I visited their museum, and fell in love with their products! I currently use these graphite pencils, which come in a set of 12, from 6B-5H. It’s an ideal set to draw dark tones and also light tones.
Say no more about this set, it’s great!
Get it here: Derwent Academy Graphite Sketching Pencils.
Sketchbooks are the place where I spend a lot of my time. I use my various sketchbooks to produce roughs for my commission work, to learn, or to simply draw for fun. If you don’t own a sketchbook and can’t see the benefit of one, here’s a few reasons why keeping a daily sketchbook is essential for all artists:
- Work on your personal projects away from client work.
- You can draw whatever you want, no limits.
- A sketchbook is ideal if you want to learn something new and experiment.
- Crucial for client work, to sketch compositions, experiment with colour, or different tones.
- Sketchbooks are just great fun!
If you’re still not inspired to purchase your own sketchbook, then have a look at James Jean’s sketchbooks, which are out-of-this-world. Or have a look through mine if you’re lacking some inspiration.
I currently own 2 Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbooks (called ‘Notebooks’ on Amazon – but they are not really notebooks, and don’t have lines across them). I have already filled one of these sketchbooks, because they are so nice to draw and paint in. With 72 pages, 13 x 21 cm, and 200gsm in paper weight, it’s ideal for drawing and painting. I have found the pages to be strong, and I simply use a couple of bull-dog clip to hold pages together when I’m painting. I highly recommend Moleskine sketchbooks!
Get it here: Moleskine Sketchbook.
Royal and Langnickel Variety Brush Set And Winsor & Newton Brushes
I’ve said it before on a previous blog post, that there’s nothing worse than painting with cheap brushes. Painting is hard enough!
For all of my painting and illustrations, I use Royal and Langnickel Variety Brush Set and Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky brushes. I have been using Royal and Langnickel’s brushes for about 7 years, and still use them to this day.
I haven’t used Winsor & Newton’s brushes for this long (around a year), but these brushes are a joy to paint with. Kolinsky sable hair is one of the most notable brush materials on the market today. It is expensive, but it’s worth it. Great for painting finer details – just make sure you clean it thoroughly after each use – you want to keep these brushes in prime condition.
I mainly use gouache, watercolour and acrylic to paint with these brushes (with gouache being the most frequent), so I’m not sure how these brushes will ‘cope’ with oil. Make sure you read the reviews to see if other people have used oil with these brushes.
You don’t necessarily need Winsor & Newton brushes, or expensive brushes to create your art, but I think it’s a good addition in your toolbox.
Adobe Creative Cloud
A lot of you may be using an alternative to Adobe Creative Cloud (like Affinity Designer or ProCreate for instance), but Adobe is the industry standard when it comes to anything design, illustration or even art based. I use it daily, working on Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop the most.
It is a great product that a lot of creatives own (especially in the professional field), and is regularly updated. This is especially true for Adobe XD, which is becoming increasingly popular.
The major downside of Adobe Creative Cloud is the price. For all of it’s applications, it comes to an eye-watering £49.95 a month / £599.40 a year (at the time of writing this – February 2021). This might not be a great amount for agencies, but might be expensive if you’re new to the industry, or if you’re a freelancer. It’s a Catch-22. Have a look and see if it’s for you, or check out the alternatives above that are a lot cheaper!
Get it here: Adobe Creative Suite.
If I had to choose my favourite tool from this art tools list, I would select Posca pens. They are so fun and nice to draw with. Imagine drawing with a water based paintbrush, in the form of a pen. This is essentially Posca pens in a nutshell. They can write on wood, textile, cardboard, metal, glass, to ceramics. I can see understand why lots of different types of artists use them, as they are super popular.
The main reason I love Posca pens is it’s colour. They are vivid and complement each other so well. I currently have a 16 Posca pen set, with medium tips of 1.8 – 2.5mm. Posca pens come in a variety of different sized tips, from thick to thin. This set works perfectly for me though. I have a colourful set, ranging from orange, sky blue, to green. To activate them, you just have to shake vigorously, and press the tip several times onto a sheet of paper. This step is very satisfying, as you can see the paint flowing onto the tip.
They are certainly more expensive than other pen manufactures, but you get what you pay for (they are worth every penny!). My Posca pen set is currently priced at £39.50 (at the time of writing – March 2021), which is reasonable.
Get it here: 16 Posca Pens Set – 1.8 – 2.5mm.
My Top 15 Books – 5 Art, 5 Self-Help, 10 Fiction
I adore reading! You can learn so much from someone else’s life experience, all in the contents of one book. It can change your mindset, help grow your knowledge, and you can get lost in a friction book. I’ve read so many great books, so I’ll list 15 of my best loved books (5 art, 5 self-help, and 10 fiction – 10 for fiction as I realised I couldn’t choose just 5!).
Like most of these products that I’m sharing with you, these are all my personal favourites. This is a contentious subject, especially with fiction books – as everyone has their personal favourites. I understand fiction books in an art tools list isn’t essential to improve your art. However, I feel fiction books can help your imagination, which indirectly helps your art.
The books listed below tick some / all of these markers:
- Changed my perspective and mindset
- Taught me something completely new
- Excellently written, well researched and absorbing
- Has a lot of accolades
- Gripping story that I couldn’t put down
Top 5 Art And Design Educational Books
Colour & Light by James Gurney – a must read to help your use of colour, and to help you understand light.
Imaginative Realism by James Gurney – yep, another Gurney book! This book helps you paint from your imagination.
It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden – a great motivational book aimed at those of you in the advertising, artist and creative space.
Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton – a masterclass in how to use typography.
George Bridgeman and Drawing the Head and Hands – Andrew Loomis – yeah I know, I’ve got two books here, forgive me, but I had to include them both. Andrew Loomis’ and George Bridgeman’s books are must-reads.
My Top 5 Self-help Books
Limitless by Jim Kwik – want to learn how to learn? Look no further than Jim Kwik’s brilliant book Limitless.
Mindset by Carol Dweck – a great book that changed my mindset completely. Changing to a growth mindset can help you achieve more, win more and succeed more!
How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie – probably my favourite self-help book of all time. This book really does help you win friends and positively influence people.
The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz – a marvellous book. A classic book that really will help you think big for the rest of your life.
Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker – want to improve your financial situation? This book is for you, say no more.
Top 10 Fiction Books
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury – one of the best, most loved classic science-fiction, dystopian books out there. This chilling book tells the story of an American society, books are illegal and so-called “firemen” burn any that are found.
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks – A WW1 classic by Faulks – say no more.
1984 by George Orwell – Another science fiction classic that was made into a film (not as good as the book). 1984 was ahead of its time, and describes a ‘Big Brother’ society.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: A heart-breaking book that tells the story of Amir, a young boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul.
Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons – I absolutely adore Watchmen, for it’s stunning illustrations, colour and epic storyline.
Restless by William Boyd – A gripping detective espionage novel.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith – Probably Zadie Smith’s most famous and well known book.
The Stand by Stephen King – a rather large read, but a epic storyline that keeps you entertained!
Maus by Art Spiegelman – a classic graphic novel, probably the best of the best.
11/22/63 by Stephen King – not one of Stephen King’s most well known books, but I loved the concept of the book which I have read more than once!
Admittedly, I still use my ancient Wacom tablet that I purchased about 10 years ago (I need to get a new one). As a result, I can’t review or promote newer products (as I think there’s better alternatives out there – and not ancient devices like mine!). But what I can do is recommend Wacom as a brand. They create great digital drawing products, and my tablet has lasted years. Based on this theory, I can’t recommend them enough.
There are certainly different digital drawing brands out there. From Apple, Windows, to Samsung, there’s a lot of choice. Personally, I would choose Wacom. There are some cheap, more budget options (usually smaller drawing pads), and some rather expensive options (usually A4+ size screens). Purchasing a digital drawing tablet is a must if you produce digital art.
I connect my drawing tablet through USB, and I draw onto the tablet which moves just like a mouse (however with a pen). There are more intuitive devices on the market to make digital drawing easier. For example, drawing on the screen directly. It’s definitely worth researching and getting the best product for you.
Get it here: Wacom tablet.
Winsor & Newton Brush Markers
I love these Winsor and Newton brush markers! Packaged in nice set of 12, these twin-tipped illustrator’s markers allow you to draw with precision, flexibility and control. They are non-toxic, and you can create a lovely blended and overlapping quality to your work.
As this is a twin-tipped pen, this allows you to cover a large area of paper in a short period of time. At the same time, you can draw with precision with the other end of the marker.
There are so many positives with this marker set, however there are a couple of drawbacks. The smell whilst drawing can be quite strong and potent. I often have to cover my mouth and nose with a scarf whilst using the set.
The other thing is that these pens can seep through the paper if the paper is too thin. I use these pens in my Moleskine 200gsm sketchbook, and it can seep through a bit here and there, so make sure you’ve considered this before purchasing. This is my only two drawbacks from this fantastic set. An art tools list wouldn’t be quite the same without referencing Winsor & Newton!
They are currently under £30 (at the time of writing – March 2021), which I personally feel is a great price, given the quality, quantity and how long they last.
Get it here: Winsor & Newton brush set.
8 Sakura Pigma Micron Pens with Brush
When I was researching archival ink pens, this pen set kept coming up in reviews time and time again. They draw well onto most papers, and are waterproof, resistant, fade resistant, bleed free and are quick drying.
These pens don’t give off a smell when you draw with them – result! This is a real bonus as some pens have quite a strong potency to them (like the Winsor & Newton Brush Pens).
You can see how much I use these pens by the battered packaging!
Sakura is well-known in the art community for offering great artistic products, and I can’t recommend these pens enough! They come in 003.15mm, 05.45mm all the way through to Pigma Brush & Graphic size. Archival ink is meant to last 25 – 500 years, which means your drawings will last for many years. There’s lots of different (and most probably great) pen manufactures out there on the market, but I definitely think this is one of the best.
I particularly love the ‘Pigma Graphic’ and ‘Pigma brush’ pens the most from this set – because these pens offer such great line quality. I’ve actually nearly ran out of ink from these 2 pens, which shows you how often I use these them!
Get it here: 8 Sakura Pen Set.
A toolbox is especially useful if you create art on location. For example, if you have client commissions at a studio or if you enjoy plein-air painting. Attending life drawing sessions is usually when I use my toolbox the most, as I need to take my materials with me. I have a Daewoo 412 x 8.4 x 7.4″ toolbox, with a tray and compartments in the lid. It’s a great size and isn’t too big, but can fit a lot of things inside.
You want to pack your most-essential art materials in this box, but you can also use a rucksack if needs be. When choosing your art toolbox, this doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have to be expensive. You can find cheap ones out there that do the job perfectly.
I got my Daewoo toolbox for under £30 (even though this was over 7 years ago!), so I would say £30 or under is a good price to pay.
Get it here: Daewoo Toolbox.
An art tools list wouldn’t be complete without an easel. If you love to paint on location like myself, then you’re going to need (and probably want) a good easel. Much like a good toolbox, you want an easel which is portable and strong. Avoid flimsy easels, as these will ruin your painting experience. There’s lots of different variations and brands out there to choose from, but I personally have these two options whilst painting.
I have a standing easel, which when erected, is 227cm tall (a whooper!). This standing easel has adjustable height and angel, so it suits whatever painting needs you may have. It’s also inexpensive too, £54.99 at the time of writing (March 2021). I actually picked this easel as it had good reviews on Amazon, and it’s great so far! Like all of the products I’m sharing with you today, have a look at the product and see if it’s for you.
I also have this tabletop and portable easel. At a max easel height of 21.38″, and 24.80″ max canvas height, this is a great easel for when you’re sitting down at a desk. I purchased this easel because of its great reviews, and I can back these up completely! You can put your paints in the compartment below, and it folds into a neat little box. I highly recommend this one!
Website And Other Tools
These following website tools as part of this art tools list don’t necessarily help me create my art, but they do help me market my illustrations and art to a wider audience.
These tools help me manage my website, which I couldn’t live without:
TinyPNG: A great website that allows you to compress your images, without loss of image quality. It’s free too!
WordPress: I use WordPress to create content for my blog, which is a Worldwide blogging platform used by millions everyday. I love using this easy-to-use platform to create articles like this one.
Stablepoint: My website is hosted by Stablepoint. A great website hosting company based in the UK, which is a high-quality and cost-effective website hosting option.
Yoast SEO: A great, free and popular WordPress plugin. Yoast SEO analyses your blog posts, makes suggestions, and allows you to manually research, adjust and improve your content.
Bitly: A great website that I use to compress my links, that I can track and see which links perform well and from what sources. No one likes long URLs, so this resource is ideal!
Even though I’m sharing this resource with you today, this piece of kit isn’t a necessity.
A lot of the art and design industry works from Apple products (including iMacs), but as they can be very expensive, and other cheaper alternatives are also recommended. I produce most of my art, and illustrations from my iMac. I have an Apple laptop too, which is quite old (2009 production).
I love my Apple iMac, as it’s built very well and it comes in a sleek design – no bulky units here! 2019 Version, 21.5-inch 4K screen, 3.6 GHz processor and 16gb RAM. I recommend going for a ‘Fusion Drive’ where possible, as this is much faster than alternatives.
Like I said previously, Apple iMacs aren’t cheap, and a brand new iMac can cost from £1,099.00 to £2,299.00. So it’s worth doing your research and making sure this is the right item for you. If you do decide to purchase one, I’m confident you will love it!
Get it here: Apple iMac.
I love working on stretched canvas. You can paint over mistakes on canvas, but it changes my mindset completely rather than painting on watercolour paper. It’s more of a permanent feature which I love. I currently sell a whole range of different canvas paintings on my Etsy Store and Shop store, including landscapes, portraits and also abstract pieces.
I really enjoy Exerz’s stretched canvases. I have several 30 x 40 x 1.5cm, 280GSM 100% Cotton, triple primed canvases, which also come in a range of different sizes. I actually opted for these canvases because of the number of 5+ Amazon reviews, and I can certainly back up these reviews. Packaged in a plastic sleeve and canvas wedges included, this is a great set of stretched canvas for beginners all the way through to experts.
These canvases are also primed. It has a great price of £17.99 for 5 blank canvases – a steal for great quality too!
Get it here: Exerz’s stretched canvases.
Bull Dog Clips
I use bull dog clips when I attend life drawing classes, whilst drawing from online reference photos, and also when I’m painting and drawing in my sketchbook. I usually clip A3 / A2 paper to a wood board whilst life drawing, which works really well and allows me to quickly swap and change the paper easily.
When I’m drawing and painting in my sketchbook, I usually use bull dog clips to secure the paper together (which wraps around the page I’m drawing on and also the front / back cover). I recommend purchasing at least 42mm bull dog clips, which is large enough to clip your paper together.
Get it here: bull dog clips.
Ghiant Academy Fixative – 500ml
If you produce charcoal or graphite pencil drawings, then you’ll want to purchase some fixative. Fixative sets your drawings so they don’t smudge when pressed against other pieces of paper or other materials (like your fingers). One of the worst things is drawing on the opposite paper side of a drawing in a sketchbook, and it transfer to the other page (most artists have been there!).
To avoid this, I personally use ‘Ghiant Academy Fixative – 500ml‘, which is well priced and good quality to fix your drawings. It’s a 500ml bottle, which is fast drying, acid free, and non-yellowing. It has quite a strong smell, so I suggest you spray this outside, or in a well ventilated room at a minimum.
Etsy & Shop Products
I sell art prints, canvas paintings, and greetings cards on my Etsy and Shop. Even though this art tools list below aren’t used to create my art, I thought it would still be important to share as part of this art tools list. I love selling my art through products, and it’s been a good side hustle that’s grown over the years. I have revealed the printer I use above, but there’s also other resources that you might find useful:
- Marrutt 230gsm Archival Matt Single Sided Inkjet Photo Paper: I currently print my A4 art prints on this brilliant archival paper. Archival paper is meant to last 50 – 250 years, so it’s well worth it! This printing paper is thick, prints really well, and the printed colour is gorgeous. If you’re looking for an inexpensive photo inkjet paper, then I highly recommend this!
- Pre-scored A5 & A6 greetings cards – When printing and selling my greetings cards, I print onto pre-scored A5 & A6 recycled card from a great seller. I simply put the paper into the printer, print, and fold – it’s that easy!
- eRank – A great Etsy SEO tool that studies your shop, which offers suggestions to improve your products and listings in search results.
- Recycled plastic sleeves – I use these sleeves from a great Etsy seller that I use to package my products. Wrapping my greetings cards and art prints with confidence, that are also environmentally friendly. (Admittedly I’m trying to get through my pre-existing plastic sleeves so I can solely use these environmentally friendly sleeves).
- Jiffy bag – I use these Jiffy bags to package my canvas paintings, which are high quality, sturdy, and well-priced.
- Scissors, cutting mat, craft knife and ruler – all of these are essential for anyone selling on Etsy or online!
The Ultimate Art Tools List To Help You Succeed!
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this big art tools list that I use to create my art and illustrations. Even though tools are important to any artist, tools can only go so far. Focus on your skill and technique than the tools you use. Having said this, painting with a cheap paintbrush in particular is hell-on-earth, so be sure to strike a good balance.
Like I mentioned at the top of this blog post, most of these links are affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you click my link and decide to purchase. This is at no extra cost to you, and helps me earn a living. I wanted to write this again here, so I’m being 100% transparent.
Remember, always go for quality over quantity. It’ll save you time, money, and a lot of heartache in the long run. Thanks for reading, and be sure to come back to this art tools list in the future!
Many thanks for listening and visiting my news page today. You can follow what I’m up to on my Twitter, Facebook or Instagram pages, I’ll really appreciate it if you do, and don’t be afraid to say hi to me! Many thanks again, and have a great day!