We all know that the most basic things you need for colored pencil art are pencils, paper, and a sharpener. But there are other tools available, so today I’d like to share my top six colored pencil tools.
Before I get into that list, let me say that these are the tools I find most handy. They may not be quite as useful to you depending on the papers you use and how you draw.
Top Six Colored Pencil Tools
I’ve arranged the following list in order of usage. The tools I use most often are at the top of the list. If I’ve written posts about specific tools, I’ve also linked to those posts.
1. Homemade Drawing Board
I use one of my many home-made drawing boards or drawing pads for every drawing I do except for small sketches. For larger drawings, I use a lightweight, laptop drawing board made of cardboard, mat board and a precut mat.
For smaller pieces, I use the back board and cover sheet after I’ve used all the paper. I leave the cover on the empty pad, tape the drawing on the inside of the back board, and have a perfect drawing board. It’s very inexpensive and portable. I can also use the cover to protect the drawing or fold it back and hang the work in progress on the wall.
If I plan to use watercolor, watercolor pencils or another water-based media on a drawing, I tape the paper to a plastic clipboard. You can also store in-progress work by hanging it on the wall, but only after the paper has dried!
2. Low-Tack Tape
The next tool is low-tack masking tape, which you can see in the illustration above. I use masking tape on every drawing I mount to a drawing board of any kind. I prefer low-tack tape because it is easier to remove from a finished drawing. It also leaves a lot less sticky residue on the paper.
But you can use any type of masking tape. If the tape you have is too sticky, press it lightly against a material like denim before putting it on your paper. Denim makes the tape less sticky and safer to use with drawing papers.
Tape is also a great tool for lifting color.
3. Mounting Putty
I use mounting putty like an eraser. The fact is that when I want to remove color, mounting putty is my first choice. As I mentioned above, you can use masking tape (or any type of tape,) but mounting putty is much handier and less risky.
Mounting putty (shown below) is a soft, pliable substance designed to stick posters to walls. But it’s great for picking up color, too. You can form it into shapes in order to remove color from small areas, or roll it into a ball for larger areas.
The best part is that it’s self-cleaning. Knead it for a few minutes and it absorbs all the color it picks up.
And a piece lasts for a long time.
4. Click Erasers
I also like pen erasers (click erasers) for removing color.
Click erasers are pencil-like tools, but they hold an eraser refill rather than lead. You use them just like a pencil, stroking across an area of color to remove color. Erasers come in different levels of hardness, and you can get refills at most office supply shops, as well as online.
I have two click erasers, one with a slightly harder eraser than the other.
The Tombow Mono Eraser, which I’ve heard highly recommended but have never used, is pretty much the same type of tool. The Tombow Mono, however, has a much thinner eraser, so you can erase much smaller areas.
5. Drafting Brush
Drafting brushes were used by engineers back in the day when engineering drawing was all done by hand on Mylar film. Often made with horse hair in those days (usually tail or mane hair,) draftsmen removed pencil and eraser crumbs from the film without smudging the film or leaving marks.
They are just as useful for removing eraser crumbs and pigment crumbs from colored pencil work.
But you don’t need a drafting brush. Any soft-bristled paint brush serves the same purpose, and some artists use large blush brushes, which you can get in the make-up aisle of your favorite store.
6. Straight Edge
Believe it or not, a straight edge is a great tool both for making line drawings and for establishing crisp edges in a drawing in progress when you need a perfectly straight line. Especially if you’re challenged in the technical drawing area, as I am.
A straight edge is also great for drawing edges that need to be perfectly horizontal or vertical in the picture plane. I also use a straight edge to mount drawing paper to a drawing board (just to make sure it’s squared up with the drawing board.)
A good straight edge is light enough to be easily handled, but thick enough to keep your pencil from jumping over the edge. I have a 12-inch plastic rule, but a wood rule also works.
Don’t have an actual rule? Anything with a straight edge can be used if you’re careful. I’ve used index cards (which are a bit flimsy) and the backs off drawing pads if they’re clean.
My Top Six Colored Pencil Tools
They aren’t the only tools I use for drawing, but they are the tools I use most often. Remember, I listed them in order of most often used.
Will they help you? Yes.
Will they become your favorite tools? That depends on how you draw and your goals for drawing.
Want to read more posts like this? Sign up for Carrie’s free weekly newsletter and be among the first to know when she publishes new articles.