MY FAVORITE SUPPLIES
What are your favorite supplies? This is a question I get asked very often so this blog post is probably long overdue. I am happy to share with you what I use for tangling and coloring my Zentangle inspired art.
This is a topic close to many creators’ hearts. The idea of good shopping for me involves a visit to an art supplies shop. In fact, I am not a material girl and don’t care a lot about clothes, etc. However, art supplies and stationery do spark joy and it’s been like that ever since I can remember. Growing up in Croatia (back then it was Yugoslavia), there wasn’t too much to choose from when I started school, in the early 80s. I was the happiest when my relatives would bring colorful pens and pencils from Germany. Perhaps my love for stationery stems from that period and the lack of it, but (trust me) there is an abundance, if not even a surplus of it right now in my life. I am learning to take control of what I think I need and from time to time I’m even doing good.
Before I start, I would just like to make a few statements:
- I am not working as any brand ambassador and don’t use affiliate links – what I suggest here is only what really sparks joy and what I use frequently.
- This list might change as I discover new supplies, which is probably written in the stars. 😀
- Don’t be overwhelmed – you don’t need it all! To see what the basic list is, check out this blog post or just look at the photo below (if you want to make art, the Zentangle method probably requires the least amount of supplies to start with).
- We all have different preferences, so what works for me might not be your favorite supply. Experiment, be inquisitive and open-minded, draw to find your favorites and have fun.
- While art supplies are wonderful and enrich my life and my art, it’s not what makes me an artist. To get better at any artistic skill, just practice it as often as possible, using whatever you have.
Pens and Pencils
While Sakura’s Micron 01 is recommended and mostly used for tangling, it’s not my go-to black pen. I am a lover of bold lines, so I usually use Micron PN (which stands for plastic nib). It has a wider nib (0.3-04 mm) and its plastic nib is sturdier than the felt tips on most liners. But my favorite pen, if I would need to choose just one, would probably be one of the Uni-Ball Eye pens. I mostly use ultra micro and micro size. Those pens have liquid ink (drying time is a bit slower) and a metal ball, which does not bend or get indentations. Do you feel me, heavy-handed people? 🙂
For shading, I love using Cretacolor’s Nero pencils (probably mostly the medium) and Faber-Castell’s Pitt Graphite Matt (which goes up to 14B). Both are marketed as matte pencils, and although they are not perfectly matte, they are much less shiny than regular graphite pencils. That is really important for online teaching because the glare from the bright light can be annoying on the screen. They are also really dark, comparable to black color pencils, but they are blendable and erasable. To enhance shades I often use alcohol-based markers, such as Winsor & Newton’s Promarker. I choose warm grey, and mid-dark shades, such as 3. I have a blog post dedicated to shading if you’re interested in reading more.
White Pens and Pencils
For highlighting, I prefer the General’s white charcoal pencil, which is a part of the basic Zentangle kit. Apart from that, I mostly use Caran D’Ache’s Pablo and Prismacolor’s white pencils. Those colored pencils are oil or wax-based, so they are not as scratchy as charcoal pencils. Additionally, their tip stays sharper for a longer time, so I prefer them (especially Pablo) for fine pencil lines.
If we’re talking about white pens, Sakura’s Gelly Roll is the golden standard and I love them (all sizes – 10, 08, 05). Another one that I use often is Uni’s Posca pen (especially on translucent tiles). Click here to read an extensive post about white pens and pencils if you consider yourself a geek. 😀
I love working with colors and drawing on colored backgrounds. Maybe you have read my blog post about it, which includes a video that displays the process of preparing the background. You can find it here if you’re interested in the wet-on-wet technique, that I mostly use.
My favorite supplies are liquid watercolors and inks. Ecoline is a brand that produces liquid watercolors that I mostly use. When you drop the color on wet paper, it just flows beautifully and you will achieve vibrant results. In my aforementioned blog post, I was using Diamine inks that I purchased in a form of an advent calendar. You will see how wonderfully they perform. I have some tips, too:
- Use round paper stickers to glue them on top of the bottles and add some color, so that you know which one it is.
- Some inks are dark and saturated. I like to dilute them with water in small plastic color containers. Use a plastic pipette to take a few drops of color, add a few drops of water, and keep your original ink bottles as they are.
Using colored pens to add some diversity and interest to drawings is one of my go-to strategies when I draw. That is why the color pens made it to the list of my favorite supplies.
Sakura’s Micron pens are a great choice, with a variety of waterproof colors. I mostly use the 01 and PN versions. However, they don’t offer a wide range of colors, so I use some others, too. Pitt Artist Pens by Faber-Castell (size S) is probably my favorite choice. Faber-Castell offers the same colors across all of their coloring supplies, so you will get the same color of pen, watercolor pencil, colored pencil, alcohol marker, water-based marker, etc. I recently started using Uni’s Emott pens. They come in sets of colors and I only have one, but it’s probably not my last one.
These might be the most specific choices, that depend totally on personal preferences.
I choose watercolor pencils over colored pencils, mostly because I find them easier and quicker to use. My favorite step of the Zentangle method is tangling. I have a passion mostly for creating the linework, and I use all other supplies just to enhance what I draw. Putting down some color and activating it with some water is easy and allows for quite a precise blending. I often use colors to enhance shading, so this works perfectly. That’s why watercolor pencils are among my favorite supplies. Faber-Castell’s Albrecht Dürer pencils are my favorite. Regular color pencils mostly require a lot of layering, which takes much more time. My next goal is to get better at using them. Pastel pencils are less vibrant, but I do love to use them, too. You can read my blog post dedicated specifically to pastel pencils.
A good brush is the key for any water-based supply and my favorite (pictured below) is Kuretake’s Zig Brush Pen. It does not leak water, it’s very thin and you can still use more water if you just squeeze the barrel.
Other supplies I use fairly often are water-based markers. I use them for the same reason and almost the same way as watercolor pencils. However, they are even more vibrant and really well-saturated. That’s why I sometimes first apply them to a palette and then use a water brush to apply them to paper. That gives me more control over the amount of color used. My top ones are Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens. They are the only ones among the top brands that (as far as I know) have real brush instead of felt tips, which are mostly used. Real brushes allow really precise application and they stay fine. Those felt tips tend to get blunt and dry out soon.
Before you decide whether you love a supply, and especially whether you dislike it, think about the paper that you are using. Most of the specific supplies require specific types of paper (especially alcohol markers and inks, but also pastels, water-based colors, etc.). I have a blog post dedicated to the paper so you might check it if you’re interested in this topic.
Conclusion About My Favorite Supplies
As you draw more, and especially if you dive into the vast ocean of Zentangle Inspired art (ZIA), you will probably grow your collection of art supplies. Once I became a professional (started doing this as a full-time job) I finally could start thinking about purchasing supplies as an investment, which took some of the hoarding guilt off. 😀 However, I still try to stay mindful about what I buy and call my favorite supplies.
When I need to invest in something new, I tend to hand-pick several colors before ordering a set. You can do that with most artist-quality supplies. In fact, you will probably reach out for the same favorite colors of yours over and over again (blue-teal-turquoise for me). Some of the colors in big sets might never get used. Or maybe you have a friend with some supplies that you could try before making a purchase.
So, choose mindfully, but most importantly – just draw and have fun creating with whatever you have, until you have an opportunity to buy what you think you need next.
Written by Anica Gabrovec CZT
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