Watercolor and acrylic handmade painting by Reet Kaur

Essential Art Materials to Make Your Art Better

Aliyah Lashley November 02 2022


Whether you’re an art enthusiast or a student artist who wants to perfect your craft, one essential step is to find the materials suitable for you. Here is what you need to know to enhance your skills and elevate your art.

Coloured Pencils

Faber-Castell Polychromos are rich in colour, smudge-proof, and can be blended and layered.

Prismacolor Verithins are built up of harder wax lead that works best for delicate details.


For oil painting, both natural and synthetic brushes can work well. For fine details and glazes, red sable brushes or soft synthetic hair brushes with good spring are recommended.

Acrylic brushes are soft, can hold a lot of paint and withstand harsh acrylics as well as constant rinsing & washing.

While synthetic brushes are fine for watercolour painting, natural hair brushes can absorb more water and provide more paint control.


• Synthetic hog bristle flat and hog bristle bright are great for broad strokes on acrylic and oil paintings.

• A pointed sable round paintbrush is good for watercolour painting because it holds a lot of water.


Charcoal is great for creating fine details in drawings. There are three different forms of charcoal: willow, compressed, and charcoal pencil.


• Charcoal pencil tips break easily when using a sharpener so it’s best to sharpen them with a knife and then hone it with a sandpaper pad.

• Charcoal can get brown off the paper sometimes; so, it’s always good to keep an eraser handy.


A kneaded eraser is stretchy, mouldable, and great for adding highlights and cleaning up pencil, graphite, and charcoal drawings; though, it cannot completely erase dark spots.


• To erase small parts, lightly press down the eraser onto the area you want to erase.

• Because the eraser does not wear off, it tends to last longer than other erasers. The eraser reaches its capacity once it has collected too much dirt to remove any.

A gum eraser works well for removing media from torn areas. Through friction and crumbling, a gum eraser removes the medium while protecting the surface.

Vinyl and plastic erasers can erase practically anything; if not careful, they can also damage paper.

Blending stumps or tortillions are blending tools used to blend and soften the edges of graphite or charcoal pencil.


• You can use an old stump to apply shaved graphite to a specific area.


Depending on your needs, different textures of paper can give you different effects. Paper with a stronger texture holds more graphite and charcoal which allows you to create darker areas.


• Try out paper with your chosen utensils to get a feel for it.

• For graphite, acid-free paper prevents your drawings from turning yellow over time.

• For charcoal, toned paper is recommended.

Seins-Erlaubnis (Permission) by Aurelia Mertens

Kitchen Sponges

Kitchen sponges are great for blending colours together. You can use the edges of the sponge for painting things and creating textures such as landscapes.


• Avoid pressing too hard on the sponge because that will create paint blobs.

• For more precision, you can cut them up into different shapes and sizes.

• When painting with sponges, you can add lighter colours over darker tones to create depth.

Palette Knives

The palette knife is great at colour mixing and can be used to create thin lines or cover greater surfaces in paintings. However, you are not going to be able to paint with as much accuracy as using a regular paintbrush.


• Unlike your brush, you can paint on top of wet layers without having to worry about the paint blending.

• You can make a makeshift palette knife with metal rulers; just something small enough to create details.


Brayers are good for abstract paintings because they create texture and leave grungy marks and strokes while creating fine details in acrylic paint.


• Always push the brayer lightly, as pushing into it will cause stripes in the paint.


Stencils can be used with acrylic paint, watercolour paint, inks, texture paste, pens, and so on.


• Avoid putting too much paint onto a brush because it will seep under the stencil's edges.

• Use a dauber.

• When using the dauber, dab some paint on it, scrape some of it off until it’s practically dry, and go over the edges when you’re painting.

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