The Tools Artists Use

Tom Gauld

Posted on August 13, 2009 | Comments

Tom Gauld is a cartoonist and illustrator living in London, UK.


What are some of your favorite drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, drawing tablet, all of the above)? If you have a wide collection, how do you decide on which to use on a particular drawing, project, or day? If you prefer pens, is there any particular brand, color, or type of ink you like best?

I don't have a huge collection and I'm not hugely experimental with my technique. For pencilling I always use BicMatic disposable propelling pencils. For inking I always use Uniball Eye Micro rollerballs and Pentel Micro Correct whiteout. I use a Wacom for computer work. In my sketchbooks I also use Pilot G-tec C-4 rollerballs. Lying around my desk I have lots of Sharpies and Tombow brushpens for doodling

The Uniball is my favourite tool. I like the flat, unvarying line it gives, and the ink is lovely and black too. In a way I want the line (and, in a way all elements of technique) in my work to be quite unexpressive, just being there, not really being noticed.

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

I might add a bit of marker colour to doodles with a pen but generally all my colour is done in Photoshop.

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 use a Maruman F2 art spiral sketchbooks, they're Japanese and are a good size for my work (19 x 25cm landscape) and have a good, slightly toothy paper.

My finished artwork is done on Daler-Rowney 96gsm drawing paper.

And I doodle on copier paper and post its.


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

Yes. I do all my colour and cleaning up of artwork with Photoshop. I also usually do a pencil drawing, scan it in, fiddle with the scale and composition and then print it out and trace off that on my lightbox, to make another pencil or the finished ink. I'm really into composition and I find the computer really helps me work on this. I'm a bit colour-blind so I've always had some difficulties with this, but the computer lets me endlessly change things till they're right, plus I can check the CMYK values and be sure I haven't made something pink instead of green for example.

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

I tried using blue pencils after seeing some Chris Ware originals in an exhibition, but they didn't work for me at all.

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

Not really. I have a nice big lightbox which i use a lot.

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?

I don't really enjoy being sat at my computer but it is so useful for editing and repositioning and colouring. I use it for everything I do to some extent. But I much prefer to start with doodles in a sketchbook or drawings on a paper, I don't seem to be able to come up with ideas in front of the computer.


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's certainly a distraction, I spend way too much time looking at stuff on the internet. But as I said before it has some amazing functions. I think sometimes that the computer can rush me into making finished art before the idea is completely ready. I try to stay away from it when I'm trying to think. I try and leave the studio and just take my sketchbook when I can.

Thanks Tom!

You can find Tom Gauld online at his portfolio website, on Flickr (tomgauld), and some of his books can be purchased at Buenaventura Press.

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