Over the past few years since I started illustrating, I’ve tried loads of different tools and materials. Some of them were rubbish, some good, and whilst I’m definitely still open to exploring new things, I’m fairly happy with my current set up. It does the job. So I thought I’d share with you what my studio space looks like right now, and the equipment I have around me every day.
*My studio is no glamorous film set – as you can see from the photos, it’s a very normal box room in my house. It’s messy, tiny, and doesn’t have the best light. It’s not easy to take fancy photos in there. I wanted to show you the truth, because it can be easy to envy artists on the internet with their spacious, bright, photogenic studios. But your workspace doesn’t have to be pristine to be functional, and I feel extremely grateful to have a dedicated room to work in at all. That said, I really do need to keep it tidier…
On my desk I have two lamps, one is an old anglepoise with a 20W daylight bulb fitted, the other is a my latest purchase, an led Duolamp from the Daylight Company. Both of these cast neutral light that allows me to paint at night and on dull days – pretty essential in England! You can also see my light pad, an A3 MiniSun which I use most days to trace over sketches.
I thought you might be interested in the materials I use most frequently for my illustration. In this photo you can see:
- Paints – I mostly use Windsor & Newton Cotman watercolours in pans and tubes. They’re technically the student range. I find they’re perfectly good for me, though I would like to experiment with some fancier ones at some point. I also use a bit of gouache, again I use Windsor & Newton.
- Ceramic palettes – I love how these stack neatly, and are easy to clean
- Brushes – I have a small selection, but I mostly use this Cotman brush, a 00 Ken Bromley brush and a couple of old fat unbranded ones. I could do with upgrading soon.
- Coloured Pencils: I have a few, but these are my current favourite, Caran D’ache Luminescence pencils. I don’t have many as they’re expensive, but I’m building my collection slowly.
- Pencils – I get through so many pencils! 4B is my absolute favourite, though I also use 2B and sometimes use a mechanical pencil with 2B lead for sketching.
- Watercolour Paper – For my book illustrations I use Hot Pressed paper, which I usually stretch before using. I like experimenting with different brands, some of my favourites are Arches, Fabriano and Bockingford (which is the cheapest good paper I’ve found).
I hope this post has been useful, I find that artists don’t often explain what materials they use and I remember being a bit clueless when I started out! It’s taken a few years of experimenting to find the tools I’m comfortable with, and I still think that’s the best way, but if you’re feeling a bit lost, I hope this gives you somewhere to start.