Drawing Lesson #1- What materials will I need?

Today, I’m going to focus  on materials, and I will be giving you a picture that you can print out to work along with me, if you choose, while I teach my techniques on drawing portraits.

photo 5

For me, when it comes to the basics, the only really necessary tools that I require for drawing are smooth bristol paper, any #2 pencil, a kneaded eraser, and a piece of tissue paper. I did roughly 100 or more drawings just this year almost exclusively using only these tools.

I want to tell you a secret that a lot of people don’t realize- you don’t need to spend a lot of money on supplies to be able to draw. Just use the basics! The picture below, I drew using only a mechanical pencil, cap erasers, paper, and a kneaded eraser (and a pretty good bit of time).


That being said, there are a lot of pencils out there that really help create more depth by adding richer darks, and lighter lights…so that can be very helpful!   When it comes to brands,  my favorites are Staedtler Lumograph pencils and Cretacolor, because they produce such a smooth and rich tone. These aren’t sold in art stores around here, so I usually settle for the General
brand that you can get at Hobby Lobby (which is almost as good). For shading, I like to use 2B the most often. I also keep 3B and 4B for darker tones, and 2H for skin tones. I also like to use the ebony layout pencil. It produces really nice darks without that annoying graphite shine.

Here’s one example of a drawing I made (The late Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A), using the ebony pencil to create the darks in the cows spots- notice the difference in tone on the cow, and Truett’s suit:


One tool that is as important for me as the pencil, is the eraser. I get out my cap erasers
(just the cheap ones, meant for children…nothing special!), and a kneaded eraser every time I start to draw. I do not draw without my erasers. They are so important for many reasons.  The kneaded eraser helps pull off gradual and subtile highlights, and the cap erasers are great for drawing light hairs or for erasing a nice, straight line. Take a look at the highlights on the image below. The lines and creases in the fingers. Those were all produced with cap erasers and kneaded eraser.


When it comes to paper, I used to just buy a sketch pad and work using that. But soon, I found that my erasing technique didn’t work well on the paper, because it would wear off as I erased, and ruined the whole picture. The paper wasn’t strong or durable enough to take the abuse. So I began using Bristol paper, which is thick (like card stock) and can be erased on without it can take a lot of abuse before it begins to wear away.

Another tool that I use for a variety of purposes is the tortillion. It is great for helping draw subtile lines or to help smooth out tiny areas. It’s not necessary, but really does come in handy.

Well, there you have it! Those are my recommendations based on my experience with drawing.

Now we are ready to begin!

In my next lessons, I will be using this adorable little baby (daughter of one of my friends) as my subject:


If you would like to follow along, get your materials ready and draw along with me!  I have provided my under-drawing (not sure if that’s really a word or not) for the picture below.  You can click the image, and it will pop up with a larger image that you can print out. I recommend using card stock, but regular copier paper will work as well!

(click image to enlarge)

That’s all till next time. Let me know your thoughts, or questions (if you have any)! 🙂


3 thoughts on “Drawing Lesson #1- What materials will I need?

  1. Jessica

    Hi Bethany, I have always loved to draw and like you I hated drawing people, especially
    portraits. After coming across your blog several years ago, I was inspired after reading your story to learn to draw portraits. I picked up a drawing book at the store and began learning and practicing. I was amazed at how learning just a few techniques made all the difference. The only problem I seem to have is sketching the beginning outline of the person’s face and features so it actually looks like the person I am drawing. I have tried to do it free handed but it never resembles the person that way. I know about using a grid but I really have no patience for that choice. The only way I can manage it is to enlarge the picture and use tracing paper to very lightly trace the outline of their face, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc. How do you get your outlines to look just like the real person? Any help or techniques would be appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bethany Post author

      Jessica, there are many different ways that you can go about drawing the outline. I plan to eventually do a tutorial on that. One method is to freehand, another is the grid… Some people use a plumb line technique, some print the picture to the size tey wish to draw, place carbon paper underneath the picture, and trace it lightly onto the paper. Some use a projector. In my opinion, a projector would probably be the best way for you to go. I understand hating the grid, because its time consuming and you have to erase all the squares. A projector will project the image clearly so that you can trace it easily and quickly. A good one that i would recommend is the artograph super prism. Its about 200-300 dollars but might be what you’re looking for. Hope this helps!


  2. Pingback: Drawing lesson #2: The eyes | Happy to be called mommy

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