My Favorite Coloring and Shading Supplies
In this page I will add some of my favorite inking, shading and coloring supplies, to make it easier for those who ask. Keep in mind that the links contained here have affiliate links, that is, when you click through my links to Amazon and get these products, I get a small referral commission -- AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU. You must click through my links, otherwise I won't get the commission: I really appreciate it, it's just a way to support the work I am doing!
Inking and Fineliner Pens
Inking pens and fineliners are used to create the line art of a piece. These are my favorite ones:
If you really want a thinner 0.1mm (true size) pen but are hesitant in spending on the copics, then go with the Staedtler Liner. One of my favorite pens, the ink is beautiful, and the tip is very reliable, doesn't clog easily over other medium as the copics. Keep in mind that at this size, all pens have a tendency to clog a tiny bit when drawn over other media!
If you want to get this pen even thinner, then go with the Staedtler 0.05mm here!
You really need to have a light hand to work this thin, heavy handers beware!
This pen is for the ultimate light hand artist: a mere 0.03mm, it produces the thinnest and most delicate lines. I like this pen because the barrel is only slightly thicker than other disposable pens, making it more comfortable to use. Click here to get it on Amazon.com
Copic Black Ink Multiliners (refillable)
These are some of my favorite inking pens: they are made with the very superior pigment ink from Copic, and the pen is heavy and substantial, feels really well balanced. They are a bit on the expensive side, so if you want to get only one to try it out, then get the 0.1mm:
The good thing about this pen is that you can get a replacement cartridge when the ink runs out:
If you want to get the whole set, then go for a full range (notice how it includes a brush tip and also the super duper thin 0.03mm, excellent for very fine detail):
Keep in mind that although these are wonderfully substantial pens and feel great to draw with, it is a high tech piece of equipment: if you tend to be heavy handed, you can flatten the nibs (like I have done countless times). The good thing is that you can replace them!
Also keep in mind that this particular pen might get clogged if you draw over colored pencil.
Prismacolor Premier Fine Line Markers
I love these because they come in the ultra thin 0.05mm in various colors.
Copic Multiliner Gray Pigment Fineliner Pens
These are my newfound love: the gray pigment is not as strong as the black ink and allows for very subtle shading and softer lines than the black. This are only available in disposable pens, but in a good range of thin nib widths:
Sakura Pigma Pens
If you are on a bit of a budget, then get the well known Sakura Pigma Micron Pens. These are disposable pens, that is, once the ink is gone, you throw them out and buy new ones.
One important comment I would like to make: although the names of these particular pens are marked as 005, 01, 02, 03, etc, these numbers DO NOT correspond to the actual width of the pen nib. You can see that the 005 Sakura Pen is actually a 0.20mm, much thicker than the 0.1mm I enjoy so much. I find that a bit confusing. Still, they are very good quality and the ink will color over MOST other media, which makes it a favorite amongst artists including me:
The interesting thing about Sakura Pigma Microns is that they also come in a variety of other colors.
Distress Inks react with water and with other inks in ways that produce beautiful mottled backgrounds. My favorite brand is Tim Holtz's Ranger.
This is my all time favorite, it comes in a spray ink bottle, and you can also remove the top to dip directly into the bottle with a brush.
Tim Holtz Distress Ink Markers
These are fantastic water-soluble markers that not only can be blended with a simple paintbrush with a little water, they also form the gorgeous blooms with salt or water sprinkles.
Pencils come in a variety of hardness and blackness graphites. For super smooth shading, I recommend starting with 2H, then going to H, passing through HB for slightly darker areas and finalizing with 2B. I only use 6B for very large or dark areas, very selectively.
Most pencils are totally fine, and I've tried a number of brands, but my favorite one is Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils. The graphite is of very superior quality! Here is a good selection (this set lacks the H, though):
If you want to get the entire range, then get this one which comes in a neat tin box:
To make that graphite pencil smooth, I like to use a blending stump, which is a hard roll of paper in the shape of a pencil. This is not the same as a tortillion, which is a hollow roll of paper.
I've tried many different brands of colored pencils and I've come to the conclusion that colored pencils are a matter of personal preference. Some are more buttery and some are harder, it depends on you.
Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils
These are my all time favorite colored pencils, they are made of wax pigment and are soft and SUPER BUTTERY. The results are luxurious colorful!
I have the largest set of 150 colors, but you may not want to invest so much on pencils that soon. I recommend getting at least 72 colors:
Click on the image to go directly to the Amazon.com page: Set with 150 colors:
Set with 72 colors:
If you're really on a budget then get the 48 color set:
If you get anything other than the super large set, don't forget to get a Colorless Blender Pencil, to create smooth transitions between colors:
(Oh, if you would like more information on how to use the colorless blender with your colored pencils, get my Vibrant Color Shading ebook here).
Caran D'ache Neocolor II watercolor crayons
These are the most fantastic crayons even: not only are they smooth and waxy to work dry, they also are WATER soluble and blend into wonderfully vibrant colors. You can apply them directly over paper and then blend with a wet paintbrush, or scribble on a piece of palette paper to use as watercolor paint. The only drawback: don't draw too much with black inking pen over them, since the particles might clog the pen. You can get them here through Amazon.
Acrylic Markers - Red
Red acrylic markers are a fun supply to work over gold, as described in my ebook Tangling with Gold. Both brands I recommend are excellent, very vibrant and opaque red:
Montana Acrylic Marker
Molotow Acrylic Marker
Colored Pencil Sharpeners
I LOVE Prismacolor Premium colored pencils, they are soft and buttery. The only problem is that the wax lead sometimes can be prone to breaking, and I destroyed many valuable pencils while attempting to get a super sharp point.
Until… I found out that colored pencils require special sharpeners. These are the ones that I tested myself and they are all good:
Click on the image to directly to the Amazon.com page:
Faber-Castell Trio Sharpener
This one is Faber-Castell, but works just the same with all colored pencils I've tried. I like it because it also comes with a regular pencil sharpener, so it saves me space in my portable drawing kit:
Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener
This one is made by Prismacolor and works really well with their own pencils. The advantage of it is that it has two settings, you can choose the length of the pencil tip, short or long.
This sharpener is excellent, produces very high quality points. It has 5 different settings for point sizes -- a bit of an exaggeration in my opinion, but the sharpness of the blade is really good.
Paper & Artist Paper Tiles
Bristol Smooth 100lb
The paper takes a bit of a beating when shading heavily, so I always recommend a heavy card stock paper. My favorite is BRISTOL SMOOTH (or its nearest cousin Bristol Vellum), which has the smoothest surface for black and white shading. I would not recommend this one for coloring, though, it's too smooth.
This particular pad measures 11x14inches, so you can easily cut 12 3.5inch tiles from each page with minimal waste.
Bristol Vellum 100lb Artist tiles
If you are not the cutting type, then you can get these Artist Tiles by Strathmore in Bristol Vellum. Not quite as smooth as the Bristol Smooth, but still excellent quality. Keep in mind that these are NOT in the original Zentangle® 3.5inch square sizes: they are slightly larger, measuring 4x4 inches.
Zentangle original artist tiles
If you want to get the original Zentangle® tiles, then you can find them at Zentangle.com.
A bit of a taboo in the traditional Zentangle world (there are no mistakes!), I like to use a precision eraser after shading to bring back some of the highlights. My favorite one is the refillable one by Tombow:
Tombow Mono Zero Precision eraser 2.3mm
Gray Markers for Shading
Copic Markers (refillable)
My all time favorite brand is Copic: there is just something about the ink quality which makes it flow over the paper. Warning, these are not cheap markers, but the quality is infinitely superior to anything else I have tried. If you get them, then you CAN AND SHOULD also get the refills, which eventually offsets the cost of the markers. Here is a small set that comes with a multiliner too.
If you would rather get them individually, then get the Neutral Grays: N0, N2 and N4 to begin with.
White Pens for Highlighting
White pens have a number of useful purposes: you can "erase" (cover up) any mistakes you made with ink or markers or you can help to fade away excessive shading. My favorite use for white gel and paint pens is creating vibrant highlights over shaded or colored work.
I'm in love with this pen -- it produces very opaque results over most medium and is easy to use. Although the packaging claims to be "extra fine tip", this is not a delicate thin pen, it's very broad even for a marker. However, with care I've been able to create super tiny dots (not lines) with it, and am quite happy. The white is ULTRA white and that is enough for me.
The best use for this pen is to create very opaque and white highlights over colored pencil Gems. Make sure you get the WATER based one -- I tested the oil based cousin and it did not perform anywhere nearly as well.
This is a very thick paint marker -- 1mm -- and the only reason why I include it in my short list is because it's made of acrylic paint, and as such is VERY opaque and will paint white over almost anything, including those pesky purple and red colored pencils which tend to seep into other whites.
To view a comparison chart between pens, visit this post!
Other Tools & Supplies
My vision has deteriorated over the years due to harsh chemo and also aging. Glasses and head magnifiers weren't doing the trick! I finally found something I like, it's a magnifier glass that also has a lamp. I'm super pleased with it:
Workable Fixative Spray
Sometimes you need to seal the work first in order to continue adding more. For example, sometimes colored pencils can bleed the color onto Gems when adding the white highlights. Another example is when you've used so much colored pencil on the paper that it has lost its "tooth" (grain).
If you need to continue working on the piece, use a "workable fixative", that is, a spray that creates more tooth and allows you to continue working. This is different than a "Final fixative", which is used to seal off the work when it's done.
Grumbacher Workable Fixative
This is my favorite brand, it works beautifully and does not yellow (as far as I can tell).
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