Drawing For Dummies
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If you’re new to drawing, you’ll want to gather a few must-have supplies. But these drawing basics aren’t any old pencils, erasers, rulers, and paper. Here are the basic supplies you need to have in hand to get started drawing:

  • Three to five pencils in a variety of grades: Drawing pencils come in a wide range of grades. The grade of a pencil indicates its softness. The softness of a pencil controls the darkness of its marks. A very soft pencil makes a very dark mark because it leaves more graphite on the paper than a harder pencil. A very hard pencil leaves less graphite on the paper and therefore makes a lighter mark.

    Harder pencils are given grades from H to 9H with 9H being the hardest. Softer pencils are given grades from B to 9B with 9B being the softest. An HB pencil is right in the middle of the range between hardest and softest.

    A good range to begin with is 2H, HB, 2B, 4B, and 6B. If you only buy three, try the 2H, 2B, and 4B.

  • Erasers: A variety of erasers, each suited to different jobs, is available. Start with one rectangular vinyl eraser and one kneaded eraser. A vinyl eraser is a hard, white eraser. It’s an excellent choice when you want to erase graphite or charcoal completely. A kneaded eraser is a soft, moldable gray eraser.

    Choose a kneaded eraser when you want to lift some graphite or charcoal off your paper without disturbing the whole drawing. For example, if you need to lighten part of your drawing but don’t want to completely erase it, you can pat that part of your drawing with a kneaded eraser.

  • Ruler and plastic triangle: Get a 12- or 18-inch clear plastic ruler and a 10- or 12-inch plastic triangle with one right angle. Rulers are helpful for drawing straight lines. A clear plastic ruler is a good choice because you can see through it in case you need to make sure something is lining up with something else. You can use a plastic triangle as a guide to draw right angles of any size.

  • Paper: You need lots of paper. Buy a sketchbook with at least 50 sheets. A good size is 9 inches by 12 inches, because it’s small enough to stow in your bag for the day but large enough that you’re not limited to tiny sketches.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Jamie Combs is an adjunct professor at the Herron School of Art & Design, where she teaches several classes on drawing, painting, and design.

Brenda Hoddinott is an award-winning artist and art educator.

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