Tools of the Trade


  • SVS OG

    alt text

    Image by Tanner Garlick

    Our latest episode just dropped! It's all about the tools that we love to use as artists.

    Sometimes the question, “What tools do you use?”, gets a bad rap. However it actually is a great question. If you walk into an art store there are a plethora of different types of pens, brushes, paints, etc. Today we would like to give some clarity as to what materials we feel are essential, which are nice to have, and those we feel are not necessary. We’ll geek out over the tools we love and share advice as to what you should get, what you may want to steer clear of, and why.

    This thread is to discuss this topic. What art supplies do you guys love to use?
    To listen click here.


  • Pro

    @Jake-Parker Great episode! It's really nice to hear what you guys use 🙂
    Although your set-ups are definitely on the expensive side!

    I'm one of the apparently rare creatures who prefer a non-screen tablet (looking down at the tablet for hours hurts my neck and gives me headaches, looking at the computer screen is more ergonomic for me) and I've never had the hand-eye coordination problem, so I'm all good! Plugged into a refurbished PC computer, with 2 monitors: that's the one thing you didn't mention that'd be an essential for me, having the references or a video to play in the background on that second monitor just makes everything better! I don't have an iPad or anything like that, and not sure I'd want one even if I was offered one free... I like that all my work happens at my desk on my computer, it's my focus zone 🙂


  • SVS OG

    I’m ready for that color list! Sounds awesome. Maybe there are ones that I’m using that aren’t the best choice or new gems i didn’t think of. There are only a freakin million to choose from! M graham are the absolute best watercolors!

    Thanks for the advice for all the other tools! I love my comic gusenfund (I don’t know how to spell that). And now I know what big item to save up for next. All great advice. Just got an epson for Christmas because you guys mentioned it in other places. The difference in the color is huge! Love it.

    Stuff I use that wasn’t mentioned. A kneaded eraser is a game changer and only $1! Arches cold press 300lb watercolor paper. That’s only for the fancy stuff.

    You guys didn’t mention a backup system for your files. I know you have in other places, but I was hoping for one more mention here because I forgot what you used. I think it’s drop box.


  • Pro

    Oh Whitney you remind me! I'm looking for a good printer to make quality art prints, something that can take heavy papers like cardstocks and has good colors. I know nothing about printers though and terrified to drop several hundred dollars on something that won't print quality art prints. Any recommendations?



  • @Whitney-Simms I second the kneaded eraser! Life changer. I'm also looking to get the Copic Gasenfude. I'm glad to hear it plays will with watercolours 🙂

    My little-known tool that I didn't realise I needed until I bought some is large bull clips. I think I use these to hold anything and everything when I'm drawing or painting. 😆



  • I love microns pens, autodesk sketchbook to use with my Surfacebook2 laptop (that I love), I also love to use Sculpey firm when I'm sculpting.



  • @Jake-Parker Love this show. Boss hearing about the tools you all use to make stuff. I love using Molotow Inks/paints with their pump action pens. My favorite paint overall is Krink for the most glossiest opaque paint I've ever come across. Takes a while to dry but it hardens like an egg shell. And finally, Liquid Chrome for that mirror-like T-1000 metal finish.

    Tech wise I use a PC I built myself (with intuos 5) because my MacBook Pro exploded. I'm not using Apple macbooks again as they don't make them easy to upgrade. Defo overpriced now. Although I do love drawing on the iPad Pro. I don't think i'll get another laptop.


  • SVS OG

    @NessIllustration I think I’ve heard lee, Jake or will mention an epson p600 (or 6000?). I wanted to get one for Christmas, but I went for the all in one. The fancier epson prints on the watercolor paper and makes professional artist’s prints. From what I have gathered from other people. I think julia denos uses that one too.

    As for me, I needed a work horse to print stationary. Lots of copies for the amount of ink used. I don’t sell fancy prints yet. And i needed the scanner.

    @Nathan the Copic Gus... is awesome. Just don’t let your niece paint rocks with it. My kids know better, but stupid me left it on the counter and it was fair game to the rock painter. Amazon sells the pen. Just order it from there. It writes like the Pental pocket pen, but I like the ink better.


  • Pro

    @Whitney-Simms Wasn't the Epson the scanner? :o



  • Another wonderful podcast episode! As a newbie, it was so helpful to hear which materials you consider necessary. The traditional materials used were especially helpful as I've been also trying to dabble in watercolor. The story of Lee's mom and coming home with a slew of watercolors could have definitely been me, so thanks for the advice.


  • SVS OG

    @NessIllustration the scanner they mentioned was an epson. I have an epson t something which is a printer and scanner. I got it for $400. And it was at Costco. Who doesn’t love Costco! The epson p600 is $800. And that is only a printer. And i think the printer lee uses for fine art prints. Jake may use that too. Hope that made sense. 😜


  • SVS OG

    @NessIllustration Hi! If you’re experiencing back/neck problems when using a cintiq, an ergotron arm will certainly help. That way you can tilt the tablet just like a desktop. It is not an essential though but it will improve the whole experience.


  • Pro

    @nyrrylcadiz I did not know that! Thanks for the tip, although it seems an extravagant expense when the Intuos works perfectly for me. Intuos is my jam hahaha 🙂


  • SVS OG

    @Whitney-Simms how does the ink flow compare to the Pentel? That’s one that I use but it’s too wet sometimes, although I am getting better with my control.


  • Moderator

    I have to say I’m in love with my iPad. I have only been using it for about 6 months, and now I can’t imagine being without it. I work in Procreate, which is awesome, but I find like Will Terry said, it has it downsides for finishing illustrations (I get frustrated by the colour discrepancies). For larger more refined illustrations, I bought Astropad for my iPad so that I can work in Photoshop. I feel very lucky to have a big beautiful iMac to work on. I set my iPad up in front of my Mac and use them together.

    Great podcast!


  • SVS OG

    @NessIllustration hehe 😅 yeah, it is an added expense. Wacom offers their Flex Arm at a whopping 375 USD! 😟 That’s more than a cintiq alternative. There are the Ergotron arms that costs abot 100 USD. Still expensive though.



  • Fantastic podcast episode, as always! so interesting when it come to WHAT great artist uses! Can I ask if you can suggest a printer of your taste? THANKS!



  • I love learning about the tools artists choose to use! I agree a lot with Lee and Will about the quality of materials and how that can affect results. Once I started using better materials, such as cotton/heavier watercolor paper, it became easier to get the results that I wanted. I'm a bit of a supply enthusiast, especially when it comes to watercolor.

    As far as limiting your palette, my main watercolor palette has 28 colors, and sometimes I feel like it's too few! I never use them all at once, but the pigments have such a range of different properties, and as Lee said, they can also mix totally differently. There are just some colors you can't mix. I love Permanent Brown (PBr25) and have never been able to mix it or replicate how it mixes with other colors. I had to add a magenta and turquoise because I couldn't mix the hue or vibrancy I wanted. Viewing other people's palettes has been really interesting to me as well. It's interesting to see what they view as essential when compared to the standard/basic palette that is recommended to students.



  • Love your all's podcast. I think I've listened to every single one of Will Terry's YouTube videos while drawing, and that's how I found Jake & SVS. So thankful for you guys, it's so nice to have some folks out there who do this for a living and are happy to share what they go through - makes the illustration life a lot less lonely!



  • Hi @Jake-Parker I think someone (Lee or Will) isn't wearing headphones, and so as they listen to you talk with their computer speakers, your voice echoes back through their mic. Iv'e noticed this on the last few podcasts, hope the feedback (no pun intended) helps!


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