The Tools Artists Use

Julianna Swaney

Posted on June 05, 2009 | Comments

Julianna Swaney is an artist living and working in Portland, Oregon.


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

The pencil is by far my favorite. I think the ones I use the most are Prismacolor Turquoise (they aren't actually turquoise) and I like them a lot, but I'm really not too picky.

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

I usually start with a medium hard pencil like an HB or H so it makes a lighter line but isn't so hard that it won't erase or make an actual dent in the paper. Then I move onto very sharp darker pencils to define lines better and do detail.

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

I don't use a lot of pens for finished drawings anymore. Sometimes I use Microns, 005 mm. in black ink.

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

I use watercolor, I'm tentative using color and afraid of messing up so I like having the option of doing progressively darker washes.

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?

I actually do have a small traveler set of Winsor & Newton watercolors that I love. It's so handy and has all the right colors; usually I only use browns and yellows, and hints of blue and red, and they're all in that set. I also have some small tubes, also Winsor & Newton, of colors that I use more of, like Van Dyck Brown and Raw Umber.


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 ideas and sketching I use a spiral bound hardcover notebook, I think the one I have is made by Strathmore. I also have a lot of scraps of Stonehenge paper around which I useful since I do all my finished drawings on Stonehenge (in "Natural" or Warm White color). It's a cotton rag paper that I found out about through printmaking, it's smooth and soft and takes color really well.

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

I only use Photoshop for some cosmetic things after I scan them, adjusting the levels and adjusting the colors so it look like the original drawing.

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

I've tried Gouache several times because some people can make it look so wonderful, but that's been an utter failure for me, I just can't get it to work for me

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

I don't know if it's out of the ordinary but one of my favorites is a colorless blending marker made by Chartpak. I used some collage in my work and those pens have a chemical in them that will transfer photocopies to paper.


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)?

Absolutely, I would be lost without it, I use it for blogging and promoting, and most important selling my work.

Thanks Julianna!

You can find Julianna Swaney online at her portfolio website Oh My Cavalier!, on her drawing weblog, and she has some original art, prints, and jewelry available for sale on her Etsy shop.

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