MATERIALS for Sketching & Drawing on Paper

Although my classes emphasize the use of new media tools for writing and creating visuals, I also encourage students to explore the use of physical materials for sketching and drawing, as digital tools for these activities don’t offer the same tactile feedback as a pencil against textured paper.

For those who want to try drawing by hand, here are a few materials I recommend:

Pencil Made for Drawing

Drawing pencils come in a wide variety of lead types, from soft and smudgy (indicated by a B) to hard and pointy (indicated by an H).

When you’re first starting out, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of a good HB drawing pencil, as “HB” is right in the middle of the two types. I have a full set of Faber Castell pencils (which I got for a good price from art supplies), but you can also purchase just one pencil.

You might also look for a good quality .7mm mechanical pencil. I particularly like this Tul mechanical pencil (which I first found at Safeway!)

Eraser Made for Drawing

If you’re going to draw, you’re going to do a lot of erasing, as that’s the purpose of drawing in pencil. But don’t use one of those pink rubber erasers you might have lying around for erasing writing in pencil. They’ll tear up your nice paper and leave behind bits that will interfere with the quality of the scan.

Instead, try a plastic eraser, like this $2 latex-free white eraser from Staedtler (sold on Amazon)

Paper Made for Drawing

Sketchbooks (like this one on Amazon) are cheaper, but drawing pads (like this one on DickBlick) have better paper.

Papers vary in thickness (“weight”) and texture, so you might need to experiment to see which you like best. My favorite paper for sketching is 120lb. cold-press watercolor paper, but it’s also one of the most expensive, so I usually stick to 5″ x 8″ drawing pads with paper around 90lb. in weight.

If you’re planning to scan in your drawings, aim for heavier paper that’s bright white and somewhere between smooth and lightly textured.

Scanning Options

The best way to scan your drawings is to use a flatbed scanner, like the kind that come with most printers these days. CU students can use the scanners in computer labs on campus as well as in the library.

If you don’t have a scanner but do have a smart phone, you can try using a mobile scanning app, but it’ll take you a while to find the best place to do your scans, so that the drawings are well-lit and the phone doesn’t cast a shadow on them.

A Few Scanned Sketches

Here are some of my pencil doodles scanned in using the scanner on top of my Canon MX 870 all-in-one printer: