The Tools Artists Use

Adam Rex

Posted on June 28, 2013 | Comments

Adam Rex is an illustrator and children's book author living in Tucson, Arizona.

A page from the Neil Gaiman book Chu's Day, illustrated by Adam Rex

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

I use my Intuos 3 tablet a lot these days. I'm even starting to sketch in Photoshop, which is not something I expected. I like drawing with brush pens like Faber Castell's Pitt series, and my day-to-day sketching is mostly done with a Staedtler lead holder, and usually an HB or 2B lead.

I'm starting to really like doing finished drawings with just a black Prismacolor pencil. Takes some foresight, I guess, since it can't be erased. But I like the quality of the marks.

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

Well, I'm painting in Photoshop more and more, but in traditional materials I'm most comfortable using oils.

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 guess mostly I'm picking up Winsor & Newton? I'm not beholden to any brand.

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 used to get everything, including paints and brushes, in the Utrecht brand. But that was back when I lived in Philly and there were a couple of Utrecht store there. I miss that.

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

I don't paint on canvas. I usually paint on either illustration board or some heavy Arches watercolor paper (which has been sealed up with acrylic matte medium).

A couple of pages from the Mac Barnett book Chloe and the Lion, illustrated by Adam Rex

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

Sure, if it'll help.

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

I guess? I think I picked up brush pens after watching someone using one at the San Diego Comic Con.

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

I don't know what's ordinary. But I often sculpt busts of characters in Super Sculpey to use as models when I draw and paint. There are plenty of people who do that, though.

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

Just Photoshop. I don't know how to use anything else.

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?

Some pencil sketch ideas for the cover of Cold Cereal, by Adam Rex

I paint digitally when I'm pressed for time. And I'm almost always pressed for time, so I paint digitally a lot. I like all the obvious things about digital–the Undo button, the versatility–but I still can't paint characters digitally with the same charm that comes naturally in traditional media.

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 a toolbox like any other. It has its weaknesses and strengths.

Thanks Adam!

You can find Adam Rex online at his main portfolio site, on his weblog, and on Twitter (@MrAdamRex). The books Adam has written or illustrated can be found on

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