The Tools Artists Use

Verónica Navarro Castillo

Posted on March 18, 2009 | Comments

Verónica Navarro Castillo is an artist based in Madrid, Spain.

What are some of your favorite drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, drawing tablet, all of the above)?

I always start with graphite pencil. It is the base of my work and, for me, the fundamental step in all the illustrations I make (no matter if they will end up being digital or traditional). Then, on my canvas paintings, I like to work with acrylics, on my works on paper, watercolour pencils and markers and if I choose to go digital, Photoshop is the one and only for me.


If you have a wide collection, how do you decide on which to use on a particular drawing, project, or day?

Usually it depends on the time I'm planning to spend working on the illustration. Most frequently I choose to colour it digitally. I don't have a large space to work at home so, making it in the computer turns out to be a lot easier. Also, another big reason for me to take the digital way is that I'm so lazy. One doesn't have to clean and wash all the brushes and paint stuff after a digital work session.

For more elaborated works or those in which I have a special interest, I usually go with acrylics, sometimes watercolour pencils. This doesn't mean that the digital ones are less important to me, it's more about my mood in each moment.

If you prefer pens, is there any particular brand, color, or type of ink you like best?

I have a huge collection of Stabilo point 88. They are available in a lot of colours and they are so cheap too (about 0,60€ ? each). Most of the Moleskine sketches I did during my college years were done with them. It has been a long time since the last time I used them for an illustration, but I don't think this is a permanent situation. I'm sure someday in a near future my interest in them will reawaken.

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

Acrylics, undoubtedly. Since I found them, while I was a student, it has been a true love relationship. I can do anything I imagine with them. They have bright colours, dry fast, are water-soluble, and they don't have that intense smell of oil painting. Also, they allow me to work fast and, if needed, to make a lot of corrections during the process.


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?

In acrylics, I like Amsterdam. They have a great price/quality relation. I use them with synthetic fiber round brushes.

If we talk about pencils, I adore the Faber-Castells, both graphite and colouring ones.

In graphite, I like the Grip series. I use the regular ones, not too hard, not too soft.

In colours, I choose always the watercolour ones, even If I'm not going to use water with them. In my experience, I found out that they are softer and give more vivid colours.

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

Well, I like the plain Moleskines a lot (and I have a shelf loaded with them), but there is a problem with "Molleys": they are a little too expensive. Fortunately, a lot of brands are starting to make their own version of the famous black notebooks, and I've found a few models with the same good quality at more affordable prices.

If you paint, is there any particular type of canvas you prefer? Do you like to paint on wood or any other materials?

I love to paint on wood. My home is full of plankets and wood pieces that I collect from everywere (furniture parts, boxes, etc). If it has a clean surface with no marks and it is made with natural wood, I mean, the one that has those beautiful tree streaks, then, it's perfect for me. I just prepare it with sandpaper, and, sometimes, a thin layer of gesso.


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

Yes. As I said above, I like the digital process as much as the traditional. It allows infinite possibilities of colour adjustments, retouching and effects, plus the advantage that you can step back and choose from different versions of the same work.

Sometimes, when I am making a non-digital work and I make a mistake, I have to think twice to realize that I can't type "ctrl+z" to fix it. I know it sounds stupid, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who has suffered this silly syndrome at one moment.

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

Yes, of course. I am always looking for inspiration on the internet or in the portfolios of other artists, and yes, sometimes I've tried by myself some of the techniques and tools I've seen there. The issue is that, in my case, very rarely I adopt the working method of someone else, or the use of a new material, as mine. I guess the pure copy is not for me, I have to adapt everything to my style and if it just doesn't work, I soon forget it and carry on.

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

I use Photoshop more than any other. It has everything I need to make a good work so I don't waste time trying other programs. The only exception is when I need to make a vector illustration (usually for web and graphic designs), then I use Freehand and Adobe Illustrator. I enjoy vector illustrations very much. I'm not sure why I don't use them more often.


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)?

It is once and for all a help for me. As a tool, as a way of self promoting and of course as an infinite resource of inspiration and knowledge. Maybe a few years ago there were still some doubts about this subject, but I don't think there's still anyone that thinks the computers are not useful in the artists work nowadays.

Thanks Verónica!

You can visit Verónica Navarro Castillo online at her website and portfolio, her weblog Sailing Sailing, or on Flickr (poorsailor).

Verónica also shares an Etsy shop with her boyfriend, Corcoise, where they sell prints of their work among other handmade stuff.

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