tools of my trade...

I thought I'd post a little about what I like to use to make my illustrations...and please if you have time I'd love to hear what you like to use. I also find it helpful to have recommendations to try out new products, and ways of working. So please feel free to leave a comment with any 'must have items' or tips....and maybe even a link to your website or blog so we can all check it out!

First up is my beloved CARAN d'ACHE NEOCOLOR wax pastels. Literally my life changed when I found these. They lay down a beautiful waxy colour like no other oil pastel I've ever found. The only very small negative I have is that they are hard to draw over the top of with other colour pencils to show detail etc. I find a 'clicky' pencil is really the only thing that will do.

Then my dwindling supply of Karismacolor pencils. Why they've stopped making these I don't know. I have found nothing similar to replace them. Even the PRISMACOLOR pencils which I ordered online from the US because they were supposed to be the best replacements aren't anywhere near as good! Anyone reccommend a really good waxy colour pencil??!!!

So instead (as it's easier for me to pick the right colours etc being in the uk) I've found the CARAN d'ACHE Pablo colour pencils pretty good, and I'm slowing explanding my collection of these.

All sorts of bits of paper to add to my drawings as collage.

Some other pens and pencils I can't live without...

So. That's my stuff in a nutshell. Quite nice being geeky about pencils! I never use the computer for my artwork - not because I don't like it (hey check out marc boutavant!) but because I just personally prefer to work this way.

Love to hear from you all on your tools of choice!
S xoxo


  1. oo I love hearing about what tools illustrators use! I haven't used pastels since my foundation years. I really ought to give them another try. as for the Prismacolors...it's true. they're awful. a bunch of my classes had them on the required materials list but they're just expensive and stiff! Lately I've been using Golden acrylics for every illustration, but I was something a little more exact. might be time to try better colored pencils again. thanks for the post!!

  2. i am the same with my karismas! my parents gave me a set for my 16th birthday and I am still holding onto the ones that are no bigger than an inch! i also use derwent coloursofts, and although not as smooth as karismas, still have a nice range of colours and are maluable enough for my liking! i'd recommend :-)

    love hearing about illustrator's tools too, and your process photos are so interesting. love it!

  3. Thanks you two for the feedback!
    I'll definitely try out the derwent coloursofts....love a new colour pencil :)

  4. Hi Sarah. Thanks for posting about what materials you use. I get so excited about pencils, pens, brushes, inks and whatnot its lovely to see pictures of other peoples well loved and well worn implements! I was hoping to get round to taking a photo or two myself to show you but alas i've not gotten round to it with the craziness of christmas. I'm going through a quink blue-black ink and dip pen period in my sketchbooks at the moment as I love the freedom and unpredictability of it, but as I screen print a lot of my work I'm still trying to work out how best to do this and still get my separations spot on. I also treated myself to a set of Stabilo woodies recently, which I love, they're so chunky and nice to hold as well as being multipurpose! Not great for anything delicate but lovely all the same!

    I was also hoping to share with you a picture or two of some of my favourite childhood books, but again have been rubbish at getting things done this week so hope some amazon links will do instead - my 3 favoruites were: The winter Bear (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Bear-Picture-Lions/dp/0006608728), Otto the Bear (http://www.amazon.com/Otto-Bear-Ivan-Gantschev/dp/0316303488) and Dogger (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dogger-Shirley-Hughes/dp/1862308055/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324687851&sr=8-1) but I was also obsessed with anything by Quentin Blake, John Burnigham and Eric Carle. I don't know why I'm speaking in the passed tense as I still am!

    I'm sorry this has turned into such a long 'comment'! I just got very excited to see your books (and pencils) as I'm lucky enough to have parents who've hoarded all my books too including a lot of the same as yours. I've dusted off my R.S. Best Word Book Ever and The Usbourne Animal Picture Word Book and I'm chuffed to bits to discover them again, and for Stanley too -he looks to have the best collection of old and new books on his shelves, what exciting bedtime stores lie ahead! Merry Christmas, thanks for all the lovely posts and sorry again for waffling on so much! Emily

  5. Lovely post Sarah, thanks for sharing! I've recently discovered Lyra rembrandt-polycolour pencils, and would definitely recommend them. They're rich and waxy and work quite nicely with the carandache wax pastels you mentioned. Not sure if they're quite as good as karismas (I've never actually tried these) but have a go and see what you think!

  6. Hi Sarah,
    I enjoyed this...your Karisma colours look like mine...ie. like a box of matches.
    I very much like Faber Castell's PolyChromos...I found that on a colour by colour comparison with my Karismas the PolyChromos the Polies won about 30 percent of the time, usually on yellow/orange/pink shades.
    And every once in a while ebay wll have Karismas. I got some Pablos last week and I really am not warming to them.

    1. Avril, thank you for your reply - it is always good to hear other tips - especially when it comes to coloured pencils!
      I think I have a few of the polychromos...I'll give them a head to head trial on my tiny supply of karismas! xo


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