The Tools Artists Use

Tomislav Tomić

Posted on March 29, 2013 | Comments

Tomislav Tomić is an artist and illustrator from Zagreb, Croatia.

Tower of Babylon, by Tomislav Tomić

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

Line work that reminds me of Renaissance engravings is the base of most of my illustrations. I usually use Rotring Isographs for line work and just sometimes I use pen and ink (when I need thicker lines). I tried engraving when I was a student but no client would wait for me to finish one nowdays. That is why I had to switch to faster tools.

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

I have lot of different sizes of Isographs, but to be honest, I use only two or three sizes (usually 0.1mm, 0.2mm and 0.4mm). I got used to these sizes and I know what to expect from them. I can get better control on line weight with these sizes.

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

For line work I use Rotring Isographs and only black Rotring drawing ink. It is waterproof and allows me to apply washes of watercolour or coloured inks over the drawing.

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

When colouring the drawing I often start with coloured inks washes over the line work. Sometimes to get stronger colours or deeper tones I add watercolour to it or even acrylics. Sometimes I scan watercolour surfaces and apply it under the line drawing and adjust it digitally.

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?

For colouring I usually use Ecoline coloured inks, Winsor & Newton watercolour and Liquitex acrylics. I don't like buying full sets of colours because I use only certain colours and that is why I buy these separately.

Illustrations from Storyworld, Tales from the Haunted House, by Tomislav Tomić

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 sketches I like to use the Moleskine sketchbook and Watercolor notebooks. I have different sizes at home and I use certain size depending on what I would like to draw. But sometimes I grab any kind of paper that I came across and make some sketches on 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 don't paint very often but when I do I like to do it with acrylics on MDF boards (Mediapan), it is kind of heavy but I don't paint large formats so it doesn't matter. It allows me almost the same conditions as paper and that is why I like to use it. I don't use canvases, but sometimes I use wood If I find a good piece of it.

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

Sometimes I adjust colours in Photoshop after I made colouring by hand. Sometimes I colour the whole piece digitally, but I always try to make the drawing part by hand.

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

I had some problems finding the paper that will allow me to make a line work illustration in ink with lot of details and also allow me to apply the coloured washes over it without harming the drawing a lot. I talked with some artists, illustrators and people that make comics. They gave me some advice and helped me, but I am still in the search for the perfect paper. So far the Arches Hot Press watercolor paper (300 g/m2) is something I use. It is a great paper but it is still not perfect for what I need.

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

Not really.

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

I never create the art digitally from the beginning, but when I make some colouring or adjustments then I use only Adobe Photoshop. To be honest, I don't know how to use any other software. I don't like working on a computer a lot.

Trick of the Tale cover illustration, by Tomislav Tomić

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 always prefer working in non-digitally way. I use computers only to save me some time and to hide mistakes if there is no time in doing it by hand.

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 a great tool for making art, but I am not really good in using it. Also it can help me to find some references and inspiration in other people's work. Also it can trap you with all the shiny things you can find on the web and steal your time.

Thanks Tomislav!

You can find Tomislav Tomić online at his portfolio website tomislavtomic.com.

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Alice Savage

Posted on March 26, 2013 | Comments

Alice Savage is an artist living in Italy under the watchful eye of her cat, Romeo.

Not a feather he fluttered, by Alice Savage

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

My favorite tool is ink, lately used with very fine dip pens, but I also like to use Rapidographs and fountain pens.

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

I like black; lately I am adventuring in colored inks, too.

About brands, it depends on the pen. With fountain pens, I like the Noodler's Black ink, because it's waterproof and a nice black. With dip pens, I have two favorites: Rohrer's Black Ink, with its more shiny finish, and FW Acrylic Artists Ink, very dark and matte.

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

Colored inks and watercolors. Sometimes I like to sketch with colored pencils.

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 a thing for sketchbooks; it's very very important for me to draw in my sketchbooks, that usually are Moleskines or similar books. For the other drawings, I have some papers I prefer depending on the tools I use; since I like to work in extremely little details usually I need to pay attention to the paper I choose.

Gold Leaf, by Alice Savage

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

I use Instagram filters when I post daily snaps of my sketchbooks or work in progress. The final drawing is never post-processed.

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

Of course! I am curious and always eager to try new things!

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

I dont think so. The only little thing I have is to use feathers to hold the nibs (and hunting for said feathers).

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?

Lately I have not worked in digital, but it has been my only creative outlet for some years. It was a space where I felt more safe; I could make mistakes without wasting paper, and it let me paint in a way that I found comfortable. I don't like to paint with real paints, but I like to do it digitally (this does not mean a massive use of effects or layers, it's more about how the digital brush feels). Traditional media meet my needs better now; it's something that has to do with the touching, smelling, with my need of a more real contact with the world.

I come from long years of agoraphobia where the virtual was my main world, and now my breathing the outside air again is reflected in my need of "real" drawing mterials. And I so hope this makes sense.

Sonata, by Alice Savage

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!

As for everything else, it has its good and bad sides, and it can hurt you if you exceed. The internet allowed me to learn so much, to explore, discover, meet. It has been a giant part of my life in the last 8 years, and a great, great thing! It goes from discovering artists that you would never have heard of in your tiny town, to talking with people who share your passion, and let's not forget the shopping! I buy all of my tools online, god bless the internet! I would still be here cursing at a cheap dip pen (and wondering why I can't draw well with it) if it wasn't for the web!

Thanks Alice!

You can find Alice Savage online at her website, on Facebook, and prints of her work can be bought in her Etsy shop.

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Short posting break

Posted on February 23, 2013 | Comments

This is just a quick note to announce I'll be taking a short break from posting up new interviews. It won't be that long of a break, but I need to let some more interviews come in and do a bit of work on the site itself.

Since bringing the site back from its deep sleep, I've posted 17 new interviews. I think that's fantastic! I'm enjoying keeping the site active again, and sticking to a somewhat steady posting schedule, but I just need a short break to catch up with some things.

In the meantime, please take a look through the interview archives to read interviews you may have missed, and join/like the new Facebook page I've set up for the site: http://www.facebook.com/TheToolsArtistsUse.

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Miguel Herranz

Posted on February 12, 2013 | Comments

Miguel Herranz is an illustrator and sketchbook artist living in Barcelona, Spain.

Sketch of Barcelona, by Miguel Herranz

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

In my everyday work I almost never work on paper. I work with a Wacom Cintiq and Photoshop on a Macintosh computer. But in my free time, I draw on location using ink and watercolor in sketchbooks of different sizes. For the linework I use fountain pens, fiber pens, ballpoint pens, and brush pens. For the color I use always watercolors.

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

I like to carry different tools with me and decide depending on the subject (fountain pens and fiber pens usually for architecture, ballpoint pens and brush pens for portraits, trees and natural-live subjects). But I have no rules.

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

I use Lamy fountain pens, UNI Pin fiber pens, Pentel brush pens, and any kind of ballpoint pens. My watercolors are Winsor & Newton and Schmincke applied with Sakura waterbrushes.

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

Almost always watercolors.

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 use a Winsor & Newton Bijou box I bought on a lucky bid on eBay (just $17!!), but I often change the colors in it. I have acid seasons, earthy seasons, shadow seasons...

Illustrations from an Emilia Romagna cookbook, by Miguel Herranz

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

Always vertical (I don't love the landscape format). I use 2 sizes: one pocket size that comes with me in every moment but swimming, and the backpack size (about 5,5 x 8,5 inch) that I use when I go drawing on purpose. I love paper not as thick as watercolor paper, but enough to put on some washes. I love Stillman & Birn, Strathmore and Hahnemuhle sketchbook.

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 use canvas to paint on.

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

I do not alter the work on the computer after scanning the drawings. I just make a few curve corrections, but I never make selective changes or adjustments.

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

I'm use to waiting for reactions and comments.

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

No. I love writing in my sketchbooks and I do not conceive them without writings and I'm often asked about that. Some people see writing as something out of the ordinary.

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

Sometimes I use Painter but I use almost always Photoshop.

Sketch of a Gaudí gate in Barcelona, by Miguel Herranz

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 do not ask my self about. I work digital for my paid jobs (illustration and storyboard) and I love it because of the precision, the productivity, the possibility of skip scanning and working on layers and the command-Z shortcut. But I'd never work digital for the work I really love, which is sketching on location in sketchbooks. I do love sketchbooks.

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 don't care about. The computer is just a tool and it can be a good tool. The main point for me is the idea, and a good idea can be rendered digitally or not. Computer possibilities are very spectacular but if there's not an idea below they are just fireworks. I do not blame the computer for this.

Thanks Miguel!

You can find Miguel Herranz on his portfolio website, on his blog freekhand, on Flickr (mherranz), on YouTube, and on issuu.

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Adam Koford

Posted on February 05, 2013 | Comments

Adam Koford is an illustrator and cartoonist living in Utah.

Little Red Riding Hood illustration, by Adam Koford

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

I used to rely almost entirely on various sizes of PITT pens by Faber-Castell, but recently I've mixed things up a bit with whatever catches my interest. There are several Zebra and Kuretake pens I really enjoy using. I'm not sure of the exact names because they're in Japanese. I also like the disposable fountain pens from COPIC, though the ink flow isn't always reliable.

As for pencils, I tend to use whatever's handy, though there's a mechanical .05 non-repro blue pencil from JetPens that I really enjoy using.

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

I mostly rely on whatever's handy. I inked a few recent comics with a flair pen, which I hadn't done in a long time, and wasn't too upset with the results. I've found that if I get too precious with my work, I don't actually get much done.

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

I love to watercolor, but generally color final illustrations in Photoshop. In the rare instance I do use watercolor, I rely on two very old (and reliable) sets of Winsor & Newton half pans.

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 prefer smaller sets when I paint. I'm not sure I'd know what to do with a full set. Long ago someone taught me to paint a pretty dynamic range without a full set, so I try to do my best with what I have.

That said, whenever I paint, I nearly always go back in with Prismacolor colored pencils or colored inks.

Laugh Out Loud Cats #2116, by Adam Koford

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 the Leuchtturm1917 grid notebook for the past two years, as both a sketchbook and final drawing surface (depending on the size of the final image before scanning).

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

Yes. I ink on paper, then color in Photoshop 90% of the 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! That's usually how I discover new tools.

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

I often rely on razor blades or a hobby knife to fix inking problems or add texture.

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

I rely almost entirely on Photoshop for coloring.

'Relative Dimensions' t-shirt design for Shirt.Woot!, by Adam Koford

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 still ink on paper because it's quickest for me. I have used a Cintiq from time to time, but still find I'm faster and can get more interesting results with ink on paper. It's really easy for me to get distracted by brush settings when I work on a Cintiq, so I don't bother.

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 think it's definitely helpful. There are lessons and inspiration to be found in even the most distracting things.

Thanks Adam!

You can find Adam Koford online at Flickr (apelad), on Twitter (@apelad), and on his weblog, Hobotopia.