The more time you spend drawing, the more random things you accumulate around the margins, whether planned or not. Discussions of these odds & ends come up during workshops, so I thought I'd offer a rundown of the drawing accessories that I keep around the studio.
1. Tombow Mono Zero. I was given this gem a few weeks ago (thanks Judie!) Due to its narrow width of 2.3mm, this tool is perfect for erasing the finest details. It erases very cleanly and separate refills can be purchased.
2. Faber-Castell Perfection Red Eraser Pencil. This came as part of a tin of pencils, but I never use it. On a sheet of scrap paper I found it did an OK job of removing pencil marks, but it stained the paper pink. Best avoided.
3. Faber-Castell Dust Free Eraser. I’m not sure how they did it, but this eraser really lives up to its name. Instead of a page covered with tiny bits of eraser shavings, everything magically clumps together and is easily removed. It's also PVC & latex free for those with allergies.
4. Pentel Hi Polymer. If you do a lot of erasing, this eraser will leave behind a lot of "crumbs" on your page. It does a good job of removing graphite. Latex free.
5. Faber-Castell Wave Eraser. This is a fine eraser that removes all traces of pencil marks. I’m not sure what purpose having an eraser that swivels in and out of a plastic sleeve serves, other than perhaps to keep it clean, but it work just fine. PVC & latex free.
6. Kneadable or Putty Rubber. My favourite type of eraser. This is where I advise buying from a known brand like Staedtler or Faber-Castell. The erasers should be soft and become pliable as you knead it with your fingers. I’ve had people show up to my classes with generic putty erasers that are rock hard and smear the graphite around rather than pick it up. Sometimes they can’t even get to the actual eraser because the packaging film has melted onto it! Some artists swear by Blu-Tack as an alternative to a putty rubber.
7. Sandpaper Block. Essential for keeping a sharp pencil tip.
8. Paper Stumps. Ideal for any controlled blending with graphite, charcoal or chalks. I don't use them much, but they're incredibly handy when needed.
9. Pencil Extender. I bought this 20 years ago and use it daily. There are other extenders that are designed to grip pencils with extra thick barrels. The orange handle of Bic disposable razor can be broken off and used as a pencil extender too.
10. Pencil Sharpeners. A must have item, a good sharpener will leave you with a crisp point and won’t chew apart your pencil. I have a simple German sharpener that I’ve been using for 7 years without any problems. The blades seem to never go dull. If you use a variety ofpencil types, you might want to consider a multi sharpener, like this gray Trio Sharpener. With crumbly charcoal & pastel pencils, it’s probably best to sharpen with an Xacto knife instead.
Bonus: Mint Tins. Many people buy these tins filled with Altoids. Regardless of what's on the label, the tin itself is the real prize! They're compact and are perfect for storing all those little things that would otherwise end up lost beneath couch cushions.
Some artists will even transform them into travelling paint boxes by sticking down watercolour pans with double sided tape, and then coating the inside of the lid with white enamel paint to serve as a mixing palette.
While none of these sidekicks are glamorous items, they do play an important role, so be sure to test what's available and buy the best you can afford.