The Tools Artists Use

Paolo Lazatin

Posted on January 29, 2010 | Comments

Paolo Lazatin is a freelance graphic artist living in the Philippines.


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

I use pencils--I always have in my case (1) a clay eraser and a .5 mechanical pencil from Faber Castell, (2) 3H, HB, 5B and 9B Pencils from Staedtler, (3) a sharpener, and lastly, (4) a shading stump, which I just discovered recently (No more dirty index fingers from smudging). I actually have more shades of pencils but always find myself using just those four in particular.

How do you like your color? Watercolor? Acrylics? Oil? Colored pencils? Markers? All of the above? Do you ever do any kind of post-processing (like adding color in Photoshop or similar tool) to your drawings?

The embarrassing truth is, I'm not too familiar with traditional colors. I used to just pick up any pen or pencil (I didn't even know the shades before) then scribble like crazy the first thing that comes to mind. I had no formal art education unless you count the short-lived basic cray-pas coloring that I tried out as a kid, so I wasn't "introduced" to the different traditional coloring media. I always do my colors digitally with a pen tablet and Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. I would really like to learn watercolor and acrylics (and I will, sooner or later). I've used colored pencils, that I was pretty good at, but I haven't touched one for ages.

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

Yes, definitely. I try to find tips and inspirations everywhere, especially art exhibits/museums and the internet. Every now and then, I try and search for a new artist's weblogs/sketchdump. I also frequent DeviantArt, CGSociety, and PencilJack.


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

Yes, I basically use anything to make illustrations and other stuff. You can ask my mom, who was a little unsupportive after seeing some of my "art pieces" when I was experimenting as a kid (e.g. drawings on the floor using her flower pots, "sculptures" I would make with my food instead of eating them, etc.). I know curiosity killed the cat, but I always feel a little victorious after discovering new ways to make art or conquering a specific medium, so I just keep on experimenting.

When creating your digital art, what are the software programs you use? Is one used more than another?

I use Photoshop, Illustrator and 3D applications such as Maya, Blender, and Google Sketchup. I use mostly Photoshop--I would die without it. For a time I even stopped using pencils and did my sketches directly in the PC with a pen tablet. The 3D applications are there for support when dealing with difficult perspectives and shadows. I also make some 3D-rendered pieces from time to time.

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?

To be honest, I prefer to be working digitally--less dirtier and much much easier. Although recently, I have been trying to get back to using traditional pencils. Working digitally has lots of advantages, but it spoils you....a lot (think layers, undo, etc). At some point, if you're not careful, it even pulls you down. I believe you should master traditional tools and techniques first. The computer should only aid--you shouldn't be dependent on it.


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 would say all of the above. Ever since I found out about the internet, I was glued to it, addicted to the endless information it provided. Now that I've picked up the pen (and the Wacom tablet) again, I find myself constantly looking for information and inspiration on how to become a genuine, solid artist. I used to be shy and kept my artworks to myself, but I have seen people grow unbelievably fast by participating in art communities and hearing out other artists' comments. These I think are the true benefits of the web--the accessibility and the interactivity. For a long time, I was stagnant because I had closed doors, but I'm slowly throwing my artworks to the lions (pride, shame, and other feelings aside) to grow as an artist. While the web is not a substitute, a lot of people like me who did not have formal art education can learn a lot from artists all over the world. Distraction? Yes, I love computer games and they make it so hard to focus, so I got a laptop solely for working and use my desktop for games.

Thanks Paolo!

You can find Paolo Lazatin online at The Six Thirty, a shared art weblog with Alex Lapa, and at

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