The Tools Artists Use

Aimee Pong

Posted on December 12, 2013 | Comments

Aimee Pong is a graphic designer and illustrator living in Queens, NY.

From 'The Great Serpent of the Sand' series, by Aimee Pong

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

I use a little bit of everything, but lately I've been sticking to Photoshop + Wacom tablet (I have an old Graphire4)... and to my ex-professor's dismay, mechanical pencils. I also have to give a shoutout to the Tombow Mono NP, my eraser of choice.

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

It depends on the project. I try to use what media will lend its natural qualities to the style/piece.

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

I use pens mostly for sketching and doodling. My favorite is the Pentel Stylo Sketch Pen. It makes nice thin lines with just the right amount of stroke variation for my taste. Unfortunately, they're not waterproof, if that's a deal breaker for you. Alas, most stores have stopped carrying them, but you can still get them online. Other pens I like include the Pilot G-2 and Staedtler Fineliners.

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

I like acrylics and digital. I love working with oil, too, but I don't like the toxic fumes and drying times that come with it. Pastels are a dream to work with but a hassle to preserve. (Who wants to frame everything they've made? No one. That's who.) What can I say? I am lazy.

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 have a set of Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics. I took them on the plane with me—does that make them a travel set?

Cover illustration of Missouri State alumni magazine, by Aimee Pong

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 have been using Hand Books for a few years...partly because I bought six of them at once and am still going through them. But seriously, they are great coptic-bound, hardcover sketchbooks—a good alternative to Moleskines if you want paper with a hint more of a bite. I also like making my own sketchbooks from loose paper. Everyone should invest in a long-arm stapler!

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

I mostly paint on watercolor paper or bristol. I like smooth surfaces.

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

I think it's a must to post-process. No straight scan does the original justice. Plus, how else will you get rid of the little specs and mystery fibers? (Besides cleaning the scanner, gasp.) In this sense, I don't like to use Photoshop as a crutch. It's not supposed to miraculously make a poor painting better. There is value in doing traditional art right. However, when it comes to digital or semi-digital work, everything goes. I use Photoshop to clean up line art, collage stuff, color, add texture, etc. When I do digital paintings, I usually work in PS from start to finish.

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

I mostly discover new tools through friends' recommendations. I'm also that person trying out every single pen at the store.

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

Just the usual blood, sweat, and tears.

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

For better or worse, I am a slave to Adobe. I live and breathe Photoshop and have most of the shortcuts memorized by heart. I use Illustrator for vector work, AfterEffects for animation, InDesign for all things type. There was a day when I made pixel art in MS Paint and learned how to paint in openCanvas, but I have since seen the errors of my ways.

Illustration for a series of Franz Kafka parables, by Aimee Pong

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?

This is a tough question. I like both for different reasons. There are a lot of qualities in traditional art that cannot be replicated in digital art, but with digital, there is an ease in getting started. The tablet's always connected, and it's so fast to rough out ideas and compositions in Photoshop and bring them to an acceptably finished state. I do find myself gravitating towards traditional art more these days. I work as a graphic designer during the day, and it is nice to not be staring at the screen 24/7. Plus, I semi-recently moved and downgraded from having a 23-inch desktop monitor to a 13-inch laptop. I'm crying on the inside.

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)?

All of the above. Like any tool, the computer is what you make of it. I definitely would not be able to make the type of work I make without it. Google is an invaluable resource, and I'm incredibly, incredibly grateful to everyone who has taken the time to follow and share my work. Yay Tumblr! Yay internet!!

Thanks Aimee!

You can find Aimee Pong online at her portfolio website, on Tumblr, on Twitter (@aipng), and on Instagram (aipng).

comments powered by Disqus