In our first lesson we are going to cover the equipment found in most designers’ drawing kits. They basically cover everything you’ll need for the tutorials here. But don’t worry if you don’t have the exact things part of being a designer is adapting to circumstances as needed.

Ok let’s get started.


A good selection of pencils is a good place to start. It’s important to find one you are comfortable with, for me that’s the mechanical pencil simply because I don’t need to keep sharpening and I like light crisp lines when drawing. Others shown are a thick rough sketch pencil which can be twisted to produce more lead, the only problem with this is the lines are thick and messy so it’s best used for very quick gesture sketches; and standard pencils, these allow more shading and hardness options but require the carrying of a sharpener.


I do a lot of my sketching in pens, plus it you do your lines in pencil a neat way to finish the line work is in pen so these are an essential part of the kit. As you can see I have a variety of nib widths, this is due to using line weight within the drawings to make the designs stand out. I also use a Biro  although I often don’t use it if I’m using markers after since the ink bleeds. That’s a factor you need to consider carefully when choosing your pens, whether or not they will be used with markers. If so, then it’s important to test them out to check this doesn’t happen. With inking pens usually pigment based, or permanent, inks are a safe choice. I recommend a nib size of 0.1m and a larger one or around 0.5m or 0.7m as a good starting set.

Rubber and Sharpener

Pretty self-explanatory really. with regards to the rubber a knead-able putty rubber is best in my opinion since it doesn’t damage the paper as much and can be needed into points to rub tiny bits out.


These will be used to accents and big blocks of colour. The type that gives the smoothest finish are alcohol based. There are many makes available, my preference being Letraset’s Tria range, they include a full range of Pantone colours and 3 different nib sizes built-in (chisel, bullet and fine). Colour-wise a selection of greys is a good starting point as it will allow you to create tonal variations.

Coloured Pencils

A white and black pencil are good for adding tonal variation over the top of marker. The red pencil is good for putting down guidelines, although a pale blue is also good for this, it’s just down to personal preference.


Here are things that aren’t necessary but can provide better results.

Cutting mat and knife – useful for cutting sketches out once finished to put on another background. Always useful to have spare blades to prevent snags and tears, they’re also handy for scraping pastels for mixing and making the masks with the post-it notes.

Ruler – a steel ruler is best if using for cutting for safety. The ruler allows you to draw straight lines, if using with pens then it helps to have an inking edge to prevent bleeding underneath.

Chalk pastels – a simple set of these can be picked up for cheap, they are useful for adding shading and variation within the sketch.

Talcum powder – mixed with the pastels to allow for smooth colouring.

Cotton wool – used for applying the chalk and talcum powder mix.

Tipp-ex pen or white gouache – used for adding highlights to finished sketch.

Post-it notes – used for making masks when using the pastels to prevent them getting on areas where it’s not required.


Finally one of the most important pieces of equipment is paper, but then again this also comes down to personal preference. For me I use a textured 135g paper designed for sketching as I feel its nice to work on and gives good results, the only downside is that it soaks up ink meaning my markers run out quicker. They do make papers that are specially for markers however they often cost a lot more. At university we used layout sheets which are very thin so didn’t drain our pens but the downside to this was the ink dried quicker making it hard to blend. You could use anything, white or coloured, thick or thin, it all just depends on what you find easiest to work with.