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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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