Happy Thanksgiving! Woo hoo this is my 200th post! Thank you for stopping by dear readers. This Holiday Gift Guide compiles my top 10 categories for my favorite sketching tools with links to previous review posts and online vendors where these quality tools can be found. Naturally selecting art supplies can be rather subjective, and individual mileage might vary. Yet, I believe these basic choices are a good starting point for building your own sketching kits and putting together some fine gift sets for the artists and creative types in your holiday lists.
1. Mechanical Pencil: If I had to pick just one 0.5 mm mechanical pencil for my sketching kit, it would be the Pentel Graph 1000 for Pro Mechanical Pencil for Drafting. Perfectly balanced for drawing precise strokes and quite comfortable for drawing for extended periods. Recommended refills: Pentel Ain leads.
2. Leadholders: Convenient choice for drawing with graphite leads of different diameters and grades with a holder that does not change in length after every sharpening. While they seem to be disappearing from many conventional outlets, they can thankfully still be found through several online retailers. In the 2 mm range, I believe the Uni-ball leadholders and packs of 6 Uni graphite leads are one of the best values around. For a step up and a fairly unique choice, try the Staedtler Silver Series 2 mm Lead Holder. The larger diameter 3.15 mm clutch pencils feature greater resistance to breakage, and my favorite choices in this category are the Worther Shorty and the Lamy Scribble (shown in the photo above). The Shorty is my favorite choice for when I do quick cartoon portraits and entertainment sketches at classes and events. Recommended accessory: KUM lead pointer, and do not forget to get some 3.15 mm graphite refills for they are virtually impossible to find locally at most brick-and-mortar stores.
3. Premium Wooden Pencils: For both writers (HB) and artists (2B or 3B pencils are quite suitable for sketching), a box of Japanese premium pencils would make for a pretty original and welcomed gift. The Mitsubishi Hi-Uni and the Tombow Mono 100 pencils are the top pencil offerings of two respected Japanese manufacturers, and they are considered by many to be the very best wooden pencils in the world. I suspect they must have some secret wax ingredient in their lead formulation, for they are super smooth and fairly smudge-resistant compared to similar grade pencils from other brands. Recommended accessories: KUM sharpeners and a Pilot Foam eraser.
4. Pigment Liner Pens: For sketching with ink pens of different widths (0.1 mm, 0.25 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, 1.0 mm), I would recommend starting with a set of Sakura Pigma Sensei pens or a set of Faber Castell Pitt Artist pens. Also worth trying: the Staedtler Pigment Liners and Prismacolor Premier Illustration marker sets.
5. Waterbrushes: The Pentel Aquash waterbrush was my first exposure to this innovative and convenient watercoloring tool. They are the perfect match for a set of fine watercolor pans, crayons, or pencils. Good tool choice for sketchcrawls. Try the Niji waterbrush with a flat head and a set of Pentel Aquash waterbrushes to determine which ones suit your personal sketching style best.
6. Brush Pens: Convenient tools that allow you to sketch with ink (cartridges) anywhere with the performance of a high quality synthetic brush (usually made with nylon filaments) eliminating the need to carry a cumbersome ink bottle and regular brushes. While there are many brush pens available, I think most users would be pleased with either of the two following options for their value and performance: The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen or the Kuretake No. 13 Fountain Hair Brush Pen loaded with waterproof Platinum ink cartridges. For fancier gift options, check out these sable hair brush pens.
7. Watercolor Kits: I often carry a tin set with 15 Caran D'Ache Neocolor II watersoluble crayons or a Derwent canvas wrap loaded with 36 Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils, for they make for fairly compact and versatile watercolor kits.
8. Pencil Cases: While they are fine presents on their own right, they make even better presents if loaded with a few of the other sketching tool options listed on this post. I own several to keep different supplies organized. I like the convenience of having multiple sketching kits ready for different occasions and environments. I use the orange-grey Kokuyo NeoCritz Transformer Pencil Case to store an assortment of premium pencils (this model is particularly useful for its ability to stand upright like a pencil cup anywhere). This khaki Nomadic PE-10 Tri-Fold Pencil Case functions as my studio organizer for a variety of mechanical pencils, leadholders, and pens.
9. Sketchbooks: Always a good gift choice to encourage the recipients to continue to explore their creativity and develop their artistic skills throughout the following year. While there are many choices and styles available, perhaps a French fine art paper sketchbook might make for a pleasant surprise. In the past few months I was able to try a variety of Rhodia and Clairefontaine papers, and I was quite pleased with their quality and performance. I would recommend trying out a blank Rhodia pad for brainstorming and random doodling and the Exacompta Sketch Book for experimenting with a variety of media.
10. Gel Pens: Fun for smooth sketching on most papers and available in many bright colors. A favorite choice in my daily sketching kit remains the black Uni-ball Signo DX UM-151 Gel Ink Pen with a 0.38 mm nib, for it works well for sketching waterproof outlines that can be colored with watercolors without smearing. The new Pentel Slicci metallic gel pens would make some nice stocking stuffers or a neat little present as a set for the teenage girls in your holiday gift list.
Prompted by Lily from Jet Pens that is generously supplying a $10 gift certificate as a prize, we are going to have the very first contest giveaway at the Lung Sketching Scrolls. Inspired by the mechanics of the efficient and frequent giveaways by Brad at The Pen Addict, the rules are quite simple:
1. Leave at least one comment on this post anytime between now and December 12th Saturday night at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. At this time I will not limit the amount of entries, but I will moderate all comments to weed out spam. Feel free to link this giveaway on your blog, or share it with anyone interested in art supplies and fine stationery. If you have a blog, I would love a link back, but it is certainly not required for entry into the contest.
2. For this contest, I will pick one winner at random from the comments section of this post. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
3. The contest winner will be posted on Monday, December 14th. The winner will have until Friday 18th to email me (listed in my profile contact information) his or her name and e-mail address.
4. The winner will receive the $10 gift certificate by email.
Wow, so many entries already. Yup, contest is open to everybody with a name and a e-mail address, for the prize will be sent by e-mail and Jet Pens ships internationally. The grip on the Pentel Graph 1000 feels quite solid and comfortable on the original matte black version, for I do not like it as much in my limited edition silver and blue color mechanical pencils. I do love my leadholders for field sketching, and I prefer the 2 mm and 3.15 mm versions. Guess I should work on tutorial demos for both blogs, for I tend to post them mainly for the benefit of my elementary and middle school students in my cartoon sketching blog http://cartoonsketching.blogspot.com/
Hmm, 49 entries already and still another week left to enter the contest. Got to remember to add the DUX 3-way sharpener to my list, thanks for the suggestion che Pablo. I wasn't familiar with the Pilot H32, but after finding it in the Cult Pens website I realized that it is the ISO colour coded opaque plastic version of the Pilot S3 which is indeed a fine economy drafting pencil.