The Tools Artists Use

Ed Kwong

Posted on May 04, 2009 | Comments

Ed Kwong is an artist and illustrator living in Vancouver, BC.


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

Good old F and H pencils are what I've been using lately. Col-erase pencils are fun as well. For sketching I quite like brush pens that you can cut up and cheap ballpoint pens that leak and do funny things are great.

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

Depends how I'm feeling. Some mediums are more forgiving that others and things either lends themselves to good drawing days or not.

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

I found these really cheap, almost poorly made black dollar store pens made by a brand called Menji. They're not really good writing pens per say but great to sketch with. I find pens that do sometimes unexpected things are more satisfying to sketch with and things turn out to be a bit spontaneous.

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

I really like watercolour and gouache, though I don't consider myself very proficient with either medium. Coupled with pencil crayons and Photoshop, the mix is interesting to work my colour with. I have a love/hate relationship with Acrylics. Sometimes they do what I want and other times they drive me up the wall as I'm not the fastest worker. I'd really like to get back into oil painting like my early art school days.


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?

Paints, I generally stick to Winsor & Newton and Golden, but I haven't branched out much. I'm ashamed to say I bought a pocket watercolour set recently, but have yet to put it to any good use yet.

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

I sketch mostly in my Moleskine sketchbook, but any heavyweight drawing paper is good. Bond paper is okay too.

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

I like to paint on heavyweight paper (140-300 lbs watercolour paper block is nice) or cheap scraps of masonite.

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

I use Photoshop quite often in terms of applying colours or tweaking, but not exclusively. Lots of the foundation work is done in gray scale with traditional media, with colour applied afterward.


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

Sometimes. Much more satisfying to experiment and muck about on your own.

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

Nope, can't say that I do.

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 tools available in either space?

Lately it's been half and half, but I find myself pushing towards traditional methods more and more. With no undo key, it keeps you on your toes and at the end of the day feels more fulfilling to me.


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 don't think it's necessary at all really. Walk into an art museum and look at a masterwork on the wall and that'll say enough. If anything it's been bad and good. Bad in the sense that it can be a crutch, where you can come to rely too much on simple tricks, smoke and mirrors and what not. Things can look mechanical or devoid of any personal human touch. Really depends on the industry you work in too. They're indispensable when it comes to things like concept art where you can quickly make edits and pump out variations of pieces in relatively short time.

I'd have to say they sometimes help take the edge off my short comings as an artist, but I find them convenient at the same time. In saying that though, I make more of an effort these days to use the computer as a post processing tool because I really prefer putting real media to whatever canvas I choose. That's fundamental.

Thanks Ed!

Ed Kwong can be found online at his portfolio website and on his weblog.

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