The Tools Artists Use

Paola Guimerans

Posted on April 02, 2009 | Comments

The artist and illustrator Paola Guimerans was born in Spain and a year ago moved to New York to pursue an MFA in Design and Technology at Parsons.

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

I love to work with all kind of drawing tools. I tend to work within the same color palettes. The most interesting for me is to explore all kinds of different textures and styles. I mix them all together.

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

I used to use a variety of drawing tools and paints ... but now I use almost the same colored markers and pencils. In my most recent series I use the same markers but focus on the sketches and content of the drawings. A wide variety is less important to me.

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

In pens I like bright and fluid colors to allow faster gestures. I don't prefer a specific brand, it all depends of the type of papers.

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

I used to work a lot with acrylics on canvas for painting. Currently I work in smaller paper formats. Since i work in my room and it is too small, I use pencils, markers and sometimes watercolor. The focus is more on illustration.

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?

To be honest, I use whatever is available around me, the best tools I can get my hands on were other people's pens.

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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 like to have a few of different sizes of drawing pad. I prefer cream and white. Mostly I like to use watercolor pads, even if I'm not using watercolor. I like the texture of the paper, and the way the ink responds to it.

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

I used to paint over all kids of materials. Now I'm more focused on paper, but, maybe tomorrow I will use wood again. I don't want rules when I want to create something I follow my ideas and let the idea dictate the materials.

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

Some of my illustrations are done just using Photoshop. I have a Wacom tablet and I like to draw with it. It depends on the drawing, some are just hand rendered, and some are a mix of both.

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

Not yet.

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

Sometimes glitter to brighten areas.

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

I use Photoshop of course, and I've recently been working on giving life to my characters and illustrations through animation using AfterEffects and Flash. I believe that it is really interesting to explore technology if it allows you to express ideas and emotions in a better way.

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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?

These are two different sensibilities. I think my best work comes from starting non-digitally, and then making it digital. It gives me freedom. But sometimes it's the other way around. I like to work with both, it depends on the day, the project or even my mood.

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)?

The computer is another tool for expression ... for my fine art projects I prefer non-digital but then I often upload and manipulate them digitally depending on the idea. The Internet allows me to share my work through my blog. Likewise, I look at other artist's work and keep up to date with exhibitions and lectures.

Thanks Paola!

Paola Guimerans can be found online at her website asintomatic.net, Flickr (paolaguimerans), and on her Tumblr weblog paolaguimerans.tumblr.com.

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Gabi Campanario

Posted on March 30, 2009 | Comments

Gabi Campanario is a journalist and illustrator living in Seattle, Washington. Originally from Spain, he has lived in the U.S. since 1998, more recently in Seattle, where he works for The Seattle Times.

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What are some of your favorite drawing tools?

I have not reached a point yet where I can swear by my drawing tools. I like the ones I use now but I'm always trying to discover new ones that may work better. Right now I use Micron Pigma pens for my line drawings and add color with gouache paints using a Niji waterbrush.

How do you decide on which to use on a particular drawing, project, or day?

I decide based on the type of drawing or illustration I'm creating. For my urban sketching I draw directly with the Microns. For illustrations I tend to start with a 4H pencil, which I really like because of the hard nature of the graphite. In both cases I use waterbrushes to add color.

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

I prefer gouache for its opacity and because it works better on the waxy pages of the Moleskine sketchbooks. I also use watercolors for illustrations and color pencils occasionally.

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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?

My travel set is pretty minimal so I can have it with me at all times. It consists of a small Winsor & Newton watercolor box, even though the paints inside are gouache (from tubes, also W&N brand.) I also like Prismacolor pencils but they are not handy to carry around.

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 my sketching I use the Moleskine sketchbooks. I always have the pocket size one in my jacket or coat and the regular size in my bag. I do like the panoramic format too and use it every once in a while if it fits the subject.

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

With my illustrations for the newspaper I do sometimes add color in Photoshop. It's just faster, but I prefer coloring with the waterbrushes if I have time.

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

Yes, I bought a Lamy Safari fountain pen after reading that so many people love to use it. The ink that came with it wasn't waterproof and I stopped using, but I have refilled recently with Noodler's Ink and I'm testing it again.

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

I sometimes spread the paint on my sketches with my fingers, if that counts.

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

I also use Adobe Illustrator to draw with my graphic pen and Wacom drawing tablet and then color the shapes in Photoshop.

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 toolsavailable in either space?

I definitely prefer to work non-digitally, but the computer allows you to be fast for some type of jobs. I like to color the drawings I do for my kids in Photoshop for example. My 3 year old daughter is already learning how to draw in the computer with the graphic tablet.

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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 find computers really useful when preparing an illustration. I may sketch some pieces of an illustration on paper, scan them in and assemble them in Photoshop, sizing them they way I want, then I can go back to the drawing board with a better idea of how I want to draw the final art, which will be all done manually.

Thanks Gabi!

Gabi Campanario is a very busy artist! In addition to posting regularly to his weblog, Seattle Sketcher, he also started up and runs the wonderful Urban Sketchers group weblog--a necessary addition to your daily blog readings. You can also find him on Twitter (@seattlesketcher), Flickr (baconvelocity), and Facebook. Gabi's professional portfolio can be found at gabrielcampanario.com.

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Vikki Chu

Posted on March 26, 2009 | Comments

Vikki Chu is an illustrator living in Richmond, Virginia.

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

I use a size .35 Rapidograph for most of my drawings and I love it. Graphite pencils are also great. I love ink washes over graphite. When sketching from life, I carry a refillable brush pen filled with an ink/water mix for washes. A drawing tablet and Photoshop are important for when I'm doing any digital work. I have a cute little Wacom Bamboo tablet that I often bring around with my laptop.

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

I use a Rapidograph, so the ink I use is almost always black Rapidograph ink.

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

Most of my color is done in Photoshop. I love the quickness and economy of digital color. Watercolors are also great and I have been using them more frequently. I use Winsor Newton.

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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 am currently alternating between a Moleskine and a Global Art journal (sketchbook). Those are the two main sketchbooks I use. I love the richer and more textured feel of the Global art paper, but it tends to be rougher on a Rapidograph nib. I also do a good amount of drawing on copy paper and bristol paper when I have it.

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

Yes, I use Photoshop for most of my color.

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

Yes, sometimes I pick up things by talking to artists/friends or seeing how they work. New tools and methods are fun to experiment with, but only very occasionally do they become integral to the way I work. The Rapidograph, which I first tried after seeing a friend using one, is now a tool that I really trust.

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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)?

The computer is all of those things. It's mostly up to me whether it's more helpful than it is necessary or distracting. It has been infinitely helpful in self-promotion and as a source of information.

Thanks Vikki!

Vikki Chu's illustration portfolio can be found at vikkichu.com and her weblog is at vikkichu.blogspot.com. Vikki can also be found on Flickr (vikki-chu).

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Hannah Stouffer

Posted on March 23, 2009 | Comments

Hannah Stouffer is an illustrator living in Los Angeles, California.

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

Pen and ink...

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

It just kind of depends on the mood I'm in or how much coffee I drank... deadlines kind of determine my day-to-day also... if it was up to me I'd probably play with inks and watercolors all day, on enormous paper after enormous paper... but sometimes I actually have to finish a piece, or do some computer work... so things will get a little bit more intricate or digital.

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

Uni-Ball Black Vision Exact Micro pens and stupid Gelly Rollers (love)

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

Acrylic ink for life.

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 only buy the colors I'm attracted to... full sets tend to be a waste of color...

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Is there any particular type of notebook or drawing pad you prefer? Or does any scrap of decent-sized paper work in a pinch?

God- Bristol Vellum paper to work small- usually 9 x 12" packs- and huge 140 lb. hot pressed Fabriano watercolor paper- as big as they got.

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

Nah- I hate em all.

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

Only for commercial jobs. But yes, Photoshop and Illustrator.

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

I dunno... sometimes I go off a recommendation, but I usually stick to what I know.

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

Like baby blood and tears?? All the time...

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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'm pretty 50/50- it just depends on commercial vs. fine art projects that I'm engaged in.

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)?

Hells yes. Necessary. Whether I like it or not I spend most of my time on the computer.

Thanks Hannah!

Hannah Stouffer's illustration website is located at hannahstouffer.com, her personal art site is grandarray.com, and her weblog is grandarray.blogspot.com. You can also find Hannah on Flickr (grandarray) and Twitter (grandarray). Some of Hannah's work is available for purchase on her Etsy store.

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Mattias Adolfsson

Posted on March 20, 2009 | Comments

Mattias Adolfsson is an artist living in Sweden.

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

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My main tools are fountain pens and watercolors. The fountain pen I use now is a Namiki Falcon with a fine nib. I also have a Mont Blanc Meisterstück 149 but tend to use this less and less, the nib is rather wide (I've dropped it too many times).

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

I use American Eel from Noodler's Ink, this ink is permanent yet works in fountain pens without clogging. The only drawback with this ink is that it takes some time to dry, when I first started using it I smudged a lot. Now I tend to wait a day until coloring my drawings.

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

I like the randomness of watercolors, it gives my drawings life, a drawback is that I found it hard to scan.

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 whole set, but with a rather limited palette.

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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've been using Moleskine sketchbooks, I love the paper but it's hard to scan. I'm trying to use the sketchbooks in my work but I haven't yet worked out a perfect way of reproducing the materials in the sketchbooks.

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

I use Saunders Waterford and Arches Satin 300 gr, I prefer the Saunders Waterford but again it's a bit to yellow to work great in reproductions.

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

No very seldomly, I have an A4 scanner so I often have to do some work in the computer. I use Linux as an operating system so I have to use a program called GIMP.

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

No, I'm rather conservative.

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

The most out of the ordinary is probably that I prefer not to use pencil but likes to go with the fountain pen directly. When I do commission works this is not always possible though.

Thanks Mattias!

Mattias Adolfsson can be found posting regularly at his weblog mattiasa.blogspot.com and on Twitter (@MattiasInk). His portfolio site/home page is at mattiasadolfsson.se, and he has many prints and original art pieces for sale at his Etsy shop.