Timothy Jahn Jahn Atelier

Drawing Materials

Drawing Materials 


The great thing about drawing is you don’t need to purchase that much. A simple pencil and some printer paper is enough to get going. Below is a comprehensive list of materials. Utilize what you have and over time additional material will be added. But I want to make sure you understand what available.  Keep it simple at fist it’s amazing what you can do with very little.  

Materials - Timothy Jahn - Jahn Atelier

Pencils – Drawing Materials 

  • Graphite Pencils offered to artists come in a range from a 9H to a 9B. The H refers to hardness  and the B to blackness.The higher the number before H the harder the pencil and the higher the number before B the softer the pencil . Basically the companies are manufacturing the pencils to control the amount of graphite that is being released to your paper. 
  • Primarily when sketching I use a HB or a 2B. The HB falls in the middle range of the pencil offering and the 2B allows gives me something that will more quickly give me a darker mark. If you want to do more elaborate graphite drawing I would recommend you experiment with a larger range of the pencils. Maybe from a 3H to a 6B. But for the exercise and procedures we will discuss in the course work you don’t need to buy them.  

There are many techniques with a full rang of pencil check out this blog post on James Gurney blog about The El Dorado Page.


  • Col-erase By Prismacolor These pencils were manufactured with animators and illustrated in mind. I prefer Indigo Blue and Terra Cotta. They have a flowy consistency and tend to slide across the paper. 

Charcoal – Drawing Materials

  • Charcoal Pencils Choose the softest charcoal you can find since it  will allow you to get the greatest range of values from one tool. This will also help you build efficiency and control. One of the main exercises you will learn is pressure control and you can gain a tremendous amount of hand control with a 6B charcoal pencil and charcoal paper.   
  • White Charcoal or white pastel pencil When using back charcoal you can mix the white in to help you create a larger value range.  

Pens – Drawing Materials

  • Ballpoint Pens When choosing a ballpoint pen test it on the paper you’re most likely to draw on. Ideally you should be able to make 10 marks  without forming an ink blob on the tip. 
  • Felt tip pens If you’re going to use a felt tip pen I recommend testing on your paper and find one that is inexpensive and satisfactory. To gain control over your line work, you will need to do a large amount of repetitions. So you will end up going through a large number of pens. Find what is readily available in your area and make the best use of your available tools. Felt tip pens can get a little pricey. So find a  brand  with a price point and quality that works for you. Some good quality options areThe more ideal pens are: Staedtler Pigment Liners and Faber Castell PITT Artist Pens (their sizing is different; F is the equivalent to 0.5) These are unavailable where I am currently living so I am working with Mango fine lines which are made in Sri Lanka and are very reasonably priced. However the tip is considerably different for the other pens. Learning to be adaptable to your situation is a good skill. Don’t allow the cost of materials to stop you learning. Adapt and adjust to what you have. You can do a lot with less than ideal tools.    


  • Inexpensive Paper Newsprint or simple printer paper around 75 GSM or higher works really well. When learning you need to draw a lot!! So finding an inexpensive paper that is easily  available is really important.  Utilizing repetition in your exercises and learning procedure will help to embed the skills and allow you to automate these activities. So a decent goal would be to buy two packs of printer paper on the first of January and spend the next year filling those sheets with drawings. 
  • Expensive Paper So many paper choices are at your disposal. For a finished illusion you may want Bristol pads or you may prefer Vellum. Hot pressed watercolor paper is very interesting to do finished drawings on and some artists really love coquille paper, which has a very pronounced tooth. Each paper has advantages and disadvantages. What you want to evolve is the control with your marks so that you can adapt to whatever paper you get. After some trial and error you will graduate to something that feels right and fits in very well with the final images you want to make. 
  • Tracing paper If you are  working analog tracing paper is a must. It will allow you to use iteration to elevate  your design and compositions. 
  • Sketchbooks Moleskine makes a really nice sketch book. Over the last 30 plus years I have used many different types. Because I am very rough with them I look for something that will last through a lot of wear and tear. You can also look at Cottonwood Arts Designer Sketchbook. But there are many options so choose one that fits in your budget.  


  • Kneaded Eraser Can be used with charcoal or pencil. Allows for small and large changes. Can be shaped into the size needed for smaller refinements. Can also be used to make your block in drawing more transparent. 
  • White eraser or plastic eraser Good for major changes in pencil drawings.


  • Electric pencil sharpener These vary greatly by manufacturer. Unfortunately, the companies have been racing  to make the cheapest product, so quality and, more importantly, durability has deteriorated over time.   
  • Hand sharpeners. Mitsubishi makes a good hand powered sharpener, the Uni KH-20 Hand Crank Wooden Pencil Sharpener. For this type it has been the best I have tried. I have also had some luck with Staedtler hand sharpener, but the point is not as nice as a new KH-20. Your mileage may vary.  
  • Sanding Block Sanding block is a tried and true way to get a point on your pencil or charcoal. Carefully use a razor to expose the graphite or charcoal.  Then hold your pencil nearly parallel to the sanding block. Place the exposed graphite or charcoal on the sandpaper. While moving your hand right to left slightly roll the pencil back and forth between your fingertips. Avoid putting too much downward pressure on the pencil as it will break the point  in your hand. Remember to wipe off excess martial from the pencil tip before returning to your drawing. 
  • An alternative is to sharpen with a sanding block. If you would like to learn how to, Check out this video here.

Useful tools 

  • Drafting dividers are tools for comparing sizes, dividing line segments, and measuring distances on drawings.
  • Mahal Stick Use full tool if you’re working upright at an easel. It helps keep your hand off the paper and allows for finer control
  • Ruler C-thur plastic rulers are a really good asset. They come in various sizes.  Choose the one that best fits your needs.
  • T-square Very helpful if you’re working on larger projects.


  • Light Boxes Light boxes help you to develop your drawings. They allow you to build your drawing in multiple layers and stages.
  • Electric eraser I have had good use of my battery-operated Sakura Electric Eraser. It is not inexpensive and is really a luxury item. It allows you to take the plastic eraser into small areas and quickly brings the surface of the drawing back close to white.  For many years I have drawn without it and the plastic eraser will accomplish its tasks fine, as you can cut the plastic eraser into small pieces and accomplish the same task.
  • Triangles The 45 degree to 90 degree triangles can be very useful drafting tools if you’re working on technical subsets or need to replicate angels across the surface of a drawing.

Drawing Materials Conclusion!

Ultimately over time you will experiment and find the tools that lend themselves to your needs. Remember that they are just tools and you can achieve a lot with very simple instruments. Enjoy experimenting with what you have available and I would love to see what you create.