Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tools of the trade.

I got started as an illustrator out of the pure joy of drawing. I had no formal training in illustrating so the tools I use are super cheap because I always just used what was at hand.

Because I get asked so often about the tools I use, here is the run down:

Pencil: The pencil I use is whatever is at my desk. It's either asked-stolen or given as a freebie. The one I'm using at the moment is a flat-tipped penpencil (gosh, I love it!) that my fellow got for me from China.

Pentel pocket brush pen: This is the pen I use the MOST. I used a plain 00 brush for the longest time and then found this was pretty much the same except that it speeded up my process because I never had to dip my brush any longer. No more brush cleaning and ink drying. I bought it on and a friend who came down from the US carried it for me. Makes sense. The shipping is ridiculous. I think it's about 2 years old now.

(You can tell how much I use an instrument by how much the end is bitten. It's terrible but an unconcious habit. My old wacom pen end was split. Why am I telling you this? )

Artline pen liners: These are just for detailing. Usually I have at hand a 0.05mm and a 0.1mm. I used a Rotring for a while (they were given to me by my brother's wife who is an architect) but taking care of it is a bit more work because I had to clean it ever so often.

Paintbrush: I use a student grade paintbrush from a local stationery store and this Pentel watercolour brush (the Sakura Koi is lovely too) that is my new favourite because, again, it saves time.

Camlin Watercolours: I did a number of online classes to learn watercolours. It was a bit intimidating so I bought the cheapest set that I still use. I did buy some tubes later too but I still love this terrible palette. The only hiccup is that it's rather grainy and sandy after it dries. It's Rs.22/- that I got from the local store, so I can live with that haha.

Camel Ink: Again, student grade ink that I fill my Pentel pocket brush cartridge with a pipette. The original cartridge is rather expensive because I go through ink rather quickly and this works just fine. It's a lighter black but I can always adjust that when I scan the illustration. This bottle literally lasts forever. It's been a year and I'm only halfway through. The ink I used before was Parker Quink but they didn't have it at the store so I bought this.

Staedtlar watercolour pencils & Derwent Inktense: I remember it was in university when I tried my friends Staedtler pencils and fell in love. I used to only use colour pencils then and didn't even use the 'watercolour' part of them. The lead was so soft compared to the unbranded nonsense I was using at the time. I bought a pack then and it's the same one that's still beside me. My friend then gifted me the Inktense and oh my gosh! the colours are so vibrant! But I feel I still like using the Staedtlers for colouring though if I have to use them as 'watercolours', then Inktense wins hands down.

Apsara Eraser: Seriously. Cheap and Best. (that's my favourite Indian-y shopping line ever!)

Paper: I guess because of my job, I tend to get a lot of notebooks for free. I have samples as well. I use them all. There is always the initial worry and sometimes hiccup with the paper as my ink can blot on some but most of the time it's alright. I guess I'm just not too picky. The paper I use the most is regular copy paper and sometimes the heavier stock version of it. (The regular copy paper is at 75gsm and the one I prefer is at 90gsm) I do have some fancy notebooks and use those too but I use them for detailed drawings or projects but daily illustrations are on copy paper.

Pentel brush pen: The ink comes out rather wonky for this, which is lovely for texture or fine lines.

Nib pen: Over time, I picked up random nibs and holders because I used to use these before I used a paintbrush.

White gel pen:
For highlights.

Cartridge pen: Buy this at a local store, it's cheaper. I use this a lot for outlining.

Noodlers Ink: This ink is seriously delicious. It's the blackest black and doesn't blot on most papers. It's just yummy. I use it sparingly because I got my friend to get it (again!) from the US when she was coming down.

L'occitane hand cream: Edible.

Coffee: My quick choice of drug.

That's about it! Phewp!
Oh yes, and the rest of the process is here.
Thank you! Let me know if you have any other questions and I'd be happy to help!


  1. Thank youuuu. This was so helpful! Btw, what online watercolour classes did you sign up for?

  2. Thanks! I love stationery. Any excuse to buy some. I'd also love to know what online watercolour classes you signed up for.

    Thanks again.

  3. Thank you for this detailed note, Alicia. Full marks to your sense of humour and crazy ideation. I embroider, paint from photographs and pics, and have immense respect for those like you who can draw free hand and from imagination. Good luck to you. Keep spreading colour and beauty.

  4. Hey Alicia, do you use Pentel refills for your brush pen or do you refill the cartridge yourself with ink?

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  6. I like designing. For joy of drawing purpose, i have started illustrator. I have no formal training in illustrating.

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