What Art Materials Do I Need For Sketch Awesome?

Materials in a Nutshell

We cover a wide variety of sketching materials across the 52 Sketch Awesome projects. However, there is a LOT of flexibility when it comes to the supplies you work with!

Remember, Sketch Awesome is not about¬†creating amazing works of art - it's about enjoying the sketching process, experimenting, playing about with different styles and subjects, and happily "failing". ūüôā¬†

So for any project, especially later on in the course, please feel free to use a different medium or set of tools to¬†those that I use in my version.¬†It would be great to see the contrast and, as a group, we all get to benefit from everyone else's experimentation! ūüôĆ

Broadly speaking, the materials I'll be using over the course of the year are as follows (I'll give more details on each below):

  • A set of regular graphite pencils
  • One or two carbon pencils
  • A couple of water-soluble graphite pencils
  • A¬†mechanical graphite pencil (not essential - just to indulge!)
  • A sanguine pencil
  • Set of fine liner pens with black waterproof ink
  • A black marker pen
  • A fountain pen (also for indulgence purposes!)
  • A white fine-liner pen
  • A small set of coloured ink pens (they don't have to be waterproof)
  • A¬†pocket set of watercolour paints
  • A small selection of gouache paints (see detailed explanation below)
  • A small set of coloured pencils

I've chosen this because they are practical and versatile when it comes to sketching.  

Unlike Draw Aweseome, we won't be using charcoal or pastel pencils but again, you are absolutely free to add those or any other medium into the mix.

Do I have to buy all these materials at once?

Unlike Draw Awesome, where we introduce mediums gradually over Modules, we'll be switching between different materials early on in the Sketch Awesome syllabus.

However, I'll let you know at the end of each project what I'll be using the week after - just in case you need/want to buy something for that.

For the FIRST TWO projects, here's what you'll need:

  • A small set of water-soluble graphite pencils
  • A small set of watercolours
  • A couple of brushes (small and medium round brush)
  • A black fine-liner pen
  • A white fine-liner pen (not essential)¬†

See below for more details for materials such as water-soluble graphite and watercolour sets.

Your Sketching Journal

This is far and away the most important item for your Sketch Awesome journey...

A big part of the Sketch Awesome philosophy is that you're creating a record, or journal, that you and future generations can look back on in years to come. A visually rich and intimate insight into who you are and your development as an artist.

We NEVER tear out pages!¬†Every page is part of your story and¬†any "failures" are what makes the story authentic and meaningful. ūüėä

So with that said, we want a journal that can stand the test of time if well looked after.

Here's what I recommend:

1. A thread-sewn or stitched journal rather than glued pages (which will tear out easily). Wire binding is hard-wearing but you can't sketch across two pages.

2. Enough pages to cover 6 months (it's not practical to get a sketchbook big enough for a year). For each week or project, we need two pages so you want a sketchbook with 52 pages or more. This covers 26 weeks/projects.

3. A heavy mixed-media paper surface. You want a weight of at least 200gsm but ideally 240gsm or more. This will hold up to light watercolour washes but also feels nice under a pencil and pen. Watercolour paper (cold pressed) can also work if you're not bothered about the feel of your pencil and pencil marks. Make sure it's acid-free paper so it doesn't degrade over time.

4. A square format, not too big and not too small. If your sketchbook is too big it becomes daunting and time-consuming to fill. Too small and it's fiddly to work in. The square format is a personal preference because it's the most flexible for different subject matter. Plus, it works well for a two-page sketch.

Here are some sketchbooks and journals that fit the bill:

Sketch Awesome Sketching Journal

The Sketch Awesome Sketching Journal

  • Hard-backed and thread-sewn
  • 270gsm mixed media paper
  • 19.5cm x 19.5cm
  • 52 pages
  • Currently only available to Sketch Awesome students during sign-up (while stock lasts)
  • Available when¬†joining Sketch Awesome¬†
Sketch Awesome Sketching Journal

Stillman & Birn Beta or Zeta (19x19cm)

  • Thread-sewn¬†(hard & softback)
  • 270gsm paper
  • 52 pages
  • Beta is cold-pressed watercolour paper but quite smooth. Zeta is smoother again
  • Widely available in North America at¬†online art stores¬†or Amazon
  • Available in UK and Europe from¬†Jacksons¬†and often Amazon
Sketch Awesome Sketching Journal

Hahnem√ľhle Watercolor Book (19.5x19.5cm)

Sketch Awesome Sketching Journal

Hand Book Paper Co. Travelogue Watercolor Journal (20x20cm)

  • Thread-sewn
  • 200gsm cold-pressed watercolour¬† paper
  • 60 pages
  • Note:¬†The paper is lighter than the others so¬†pages will buckle more with water (all will buckle somewhat though)
  • Available in North America from¬†Dick Blick
  • Available in Europe from¬†Jacksons.

Materials in Detail

If you'd like some suggestions for brands or you want to use exactly the same materials as me, here's a more detailed list...