Do you want to learn how to draw? Then you’ll need the right tools for the job to start experimenting with line and form. We asked artists for their best tips and tricks for using these essential items in any drawing set, including different types of pencils, pastels and more. And, even better, each item is under $11.

Colourful pencils and graphite pencils are lined up on a sketch pad with scribbles next to them.

Graphite Pencils for Sketching

Ideal for sketching outlines and shading, graphite pencils come in different levels of hardness. This pack of drawing pencils contains options from HB to 8B (the higher the B, the softer or “blacker” the pencil, allowing for different techniques). Artist, teacher and director at Melbourne Art Class Marco Corsini suggests starting out with tonal studies of simple shapes. “Sketch a rough outline, then begin laying in your tone from darkest to lightest. Do several passes to gradually build the tone up in intensity.”

SEE ALSO: How to Draw Animals: A Step by Step Guide

Coloured Pencils for Blending

No drawing set is complete without a pack of quality coloured pencils to bring drawings to life. Get a feel for your set of choice by blending hues and, as Marco suggests, experimenting with various complementary colours (a colour wheel can help you see what works well together). Once you’ve mastered the basics, move on to technique. “Start with a light pressure and layer the colour to get the effect you want,” says graphic designer and art teacher Sharon Westin

Oil pastels are lined up on a sketch pad with some colourful swatches near them. Some charcoal sticks and scribbles are lined up to the right of the sketch pad.

Charcoal Sticks for Shadowing 

Not only is charcoal versatile as a medium due to the range of marks you can make, its limited colour palette helps you explore light and shadows – making it a cool addition to any art set. “You can put tone down quickly using the side of the stick or make a variety of sharper marks,” says Marco. Once you’re done with your monochrome masterpiece, Sharon advises using a fixative on your artwork to help avoid smudging it. 

SEE ALSO: How to Draw Mythical Creatures: A Step by Step Guide

Oil Pastels for Adding Bold Colour

Oil pastels make for bold and dramatic artwork – essentially, they’re the grown-up version of crayons (and less crumbly than soft pastels). “They’re great when you want to wind down and make colourful marks, letting your lines and your mind wander,” says Marco. But they can get a little messy, so don’t use them while wearing your Sunday best. “Keep some baby wipes handy to clean your hands, too,” says Sharon. It’s also worth bearing in mind you can only layer darker shades over lighter ones, and not vice versa.  

An eraser and metal sharpener sit side by side on the corner of a sketch pad.

SEE ALSO: How to Create a Watercolour Painting of Your House

Essential Art Set Accessories

In addition to your chosen medium, round out your drawing set with tools to manage mistakes and bring your masterpieces to life.

  • Sketch pad: There’s no sketch without paper. This visual art diary’s paper is slightly heavier, making it ideal for pencils or paint.
  • Pencil sharpener: Sharon’s top tip for keeping a sharpener ready to go? “Use a toothpick to clean it out between uses.”
  • Eraser: When you’re learning a new skill, mistakes are inevitable. An eraser is a handy addition to your drawing set to clean up edges, fix flaws and even blend shadow. “Have some spare paper handy to clean your rubber on to avoid unnecessary marks on your artwork,” says Sharon.

What to Try 

SEE ALSO: 3 Fun Projects to Try With Paint Markers