The Tools Artists Use

Gabi Campanario

Posted on March 30, 2009 | Comments

Gabi Campanario is a journalist and illustrator living in Seattle, Washington. Originally from Spain, he has lived in the U.S. since 1998, more recently in Seattle, where he works for The Seattle Times.

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What are some of your favorite drawing tools?

I have not reached a point yet where I can swear by my drawing tools. I like the ones I use now but I'm always trying to discover new ones that may work better. Right now I use Micron Pigma pens for my line drawings and add color with gouache paints using a Niji waterbrush.

How do you decide on which to use on a particular drawing, project, or day?

I decide based on the type of drawing or illustration I'm creating. For my urban sketching I draw directly with the Microns. For illustrations I tend to start with a 4H pencil, which I really like because of the hard nature of the graphite. In both cases I use waterbrushes to add color.

How do you like your color? Watercolor? Acrylics? Oil? Colored pencils? Markers?

I prefer gouache for its opacity and because it works better on the waxy pages of the Moleskine sketchbooks. I also use watercolors for illustrations and color pencils occasionally.

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If you do use paints, inks, pencils, or markers for coloring, are there any in particular that are your favorites? Do you prefer travel sets of paints to a full set?

My travel set is pretty minimal so I can have it with me at all times. It consists of a small Winsor & Newton watercolor box, even though the paints inside are gouache (from tubes, also W&N brand.) I also like Prismacolor pencils but they are not handy to carry around.

Is there any particular type of notebook or drawing pad you prefer? Or does any scrap of decent-sized paper work in a pinch?

For my sketching I use the Moleskine sketchbooks. I always have the pocket size one in my jacket or coat and the regular size in my bag. I do like the panoramic format too and use it every once in a while if it fits the subject.

Do you ever do any kind of post-processing (like adding color in Photoshop or similar tool) to your drawings?

With my illustrations for the newspaper I do sometimes add color in Photoshop. It's just faster, but I prefer coloring with the waterbrushes if I have time.

Have you ever tried a new pen (or paper, etc) from reading about it, or seeing the results in another artist's work?

Yes, I bought a Lamy Safari fountain pen after reading that so many people love to use it. The ink that came with it wasn't waterproof and I stopped using, but I have refilled recently with Noodler's Ink and I'm testing it again.

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Do you have anything you use out of the ordinary for making your art?

I sometimes spread the paint on my sketches with my fingers, if that counts.

If you create purely-digital art, what are the software programs you use? Is one used more than another?

I also use Adobe Illustrator to draw with my graphic pen and Wacom drawing tablet and then color the shapes in Photoshop.

If you work both digitally and non-digitally, which do you find yourself doing more? Is there a reason you would prefer one of the other? Is it because of the toolsavailable in either space?

I definitely prefer to work non-digitally, but the computer allows you to be fast for some type of jobs. I like to color the drawings I do for my kids in Photoshop for example. My 3 year old daughter is already learning how to draw in the computer with the graphic tablet.

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I asked about post-processing on a computer, but do you think the computer is a helpful tool for making art? Whether it's looking for inspiration online, or using it to build a weblog to promote yourself and your art, do you think a computer is necessary, helpful, or a distraction (or all of the above)?

I find computers really useful when preparing an illustration. I may sketch some pieces of an illustration on paper, scan them in and assemble them in Photoshop, sizing them they way I want, then I can go back to the drawing board with a better idea of how I want to draw the final art, which will be all done manually.

Thanks Gabi!

Gabi Campanario is a very busy artist! In addition to posting regularly to his weblog, Seattle Sketcher, he also started up and runs the wonderful Urban Sketchers group weblog--a necessary addition to your daily blog readings. You can also find him on Twitter (@seattlesketcher), Flickr (baconvelocity), and Facebook. Gabi's professional portfolio can be found at gabrielcampanario.com.

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