As artists, we get asked this question a lot: “What is your favorite medium?” or, slightly similar: “What art tools do you prefer?”

Well, my lovelies, I have decided to compile a list of my absolute favorite tools of the trade, and why I love them, just for you. 🙂

Traditional media

  1. Watercolor paint.
    • I am a huge fan of mixed media art. For me, no one medium does absolutely everything I want it to do — but combined… well, then all bets are off. By itself, I’m not a huge fan of watercolor. I appreciate the beauty of the medium and I love looking at watercolor illustrations. But, it’s too fluid, and it doesn’t do what I want it to. (Stubborn, remember?)
    • However, watercolor paint makes a wonderful, ethereal backdrop and I will often use it to start color blocking my pieces. (I also reserve watercolor for larger pieces.)
  2. Copic markers.
    • Copic markers are like watercolor’s richer, denser cousin. Still liquid, still easily blended, but much more saturated. I usually start off with neutral gray hues to shade my piece and tone down the colors so that they look more natural. Then, I layer up the colors to add life to the piece.
  3. Colored pencils.
    • This is my third tool of choice. Colored pencils are a great way to add detail to an illustration and to further pull out the colors that lay underneath.
  4. Acrylic paints.
    • I don’t always use acrylic paints, but sometimes an illustration needs a little extra texture and lift. Acrylics allow me to really pull out the highlights and give the piece an extra 3-dimensional quality.
  5. Hot-press watercolor paper.
    • This is my preferred surface to work on. Watercolor paper holds all of the liquid media well, minimizes bleeding, and allows for easy blending. I prefer hot-press because there is a little less texture and tooth to the paper. However, I have used both and sometimes the extra texture is a good thing!

Digital media

  1. Wacom tablets.
    • As a die-hard digital painting fan, I cannot even begin to remember what it was like before pen tablets. My preferred brand is Wacom, the industry leader in tablets for professional artists. I personally have the Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch Medium Tablet (CTH680) and I couldn’t be happier. Well, that’s not completely true. I have been eyeing that Cintiq Companion 2 Intel® Core™ for a while now. Maybe Christmas? (I’m looking at you, dear husband…)
  2. Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2.
    • I have recently become more interested in sketching out drawings digitally. Call me a traditionalist, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to completely do away with good old pencil and paper for my initial sketches. But I have found the iPad to be a freeing way to sketch — especially when coupled with good drawing apps that can transfer easily to Photoshop (more about that below).
    • I love this stylus for drawing on the iPad. It’s easy to use, it has pressure-sensitivity, and it moves like butter across the screen. (Not that I’m putting butter on my iPad. That’s just gross.)
  3. Apple iPad.
    • I know there are lots of other tablets out there nowadays, but I admit I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to digital art and computers. While PC has come a long way, I’m just way too in love with Apple (all you PC fans, don’t freak out too hard — I love PC, too. I AM a Microsoft developer, after all. I do all my paintings on the PC!).
    • With retina display for stunning high-quality visuals, and mixed with the stylus I mentioned above and Adobe’s Photoshop Sketch app, the iPad is pretty tough to beat, in my opinion!
    • The only downside (currently) is that the drawings done on the iPad are not high-resolution. This isn’t an issue if you’re just sketching and moving into Photoshop for the final piece — but it would be nice to see this become available at some point in the future…
  4. Adobe Creative Suite.
    • What digital art list would be complete without good old Adobe (especially Photoshop and Illustrator)? I love the new creative suite and how it gives you cloud space. It’s a great way to keep projects available on more than one device! For instance, I can start a sketch on my iPad when I’m out and about, save it, and load it into Photoshop later to start doing the detail work!

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