A (very) Useful Guide for Starving Artists
Many people believe the ability to draw well is a talent; it’s a gift you’re born with which can’t be learned. Well… it’s not! In fact, I didn’t really draw until Year 6 (and boy oh boy were the beginnings rough). Personally, it was a way to empty my head of the ideas swarming in my brain; to experiment with different styles and mediums; and to learn to express myself. In short, it helped me discover myself, my real self, at a time where I was lost amidst a toxic sea. As for improving? It was 3 years (and more to come) of trial and error and a whole load of YouTube videos. It was 3 years of looking at the minute differences between this colour and that, this shade and that, or this line and that one. Because that's all art really is: colours, shades and lines put together to make this illusionary magic trick: transferring something 3D onto something 2D while keeping its depth.
Moreover, Art has been proven to relieve stress and anxiety by 75% and improve memory as well as hand-eye coordination. But, obviously, how can you draw and gain all the amazing advantages without some good art supplies? Well my friend, you have come to exactly the right place!
The Bourgeoisie of Coloured Pencils
Prismacolor Premier Soft-Core
If you want to splurge on some high-end and incredibly soft pencils then these are the way to go. These pencils get their buttery texture through their wax- based cores and are perfect for blending and have astounding saturation on all 150 different colours. While a bit on the expensive side (£130 for 132 pencils, or just short of £1 per pencil), these are some of the best for bright lively pieces or landscapes. However, due to their soft core they can require above average sharpening effort and can be a real pain to draw details with.
Arteza and Derwent ProColour
The perfect balance between firmness and blending. Firmer, yet still adequately blendable; easier to sharpen to a fine tip; and the Derwents offer you a much smaller and thinner core - perfect for details. Both companies have great colour selection, so if you’re only willing to buy one set these are all you’ll need (2 in 1 so to say). Prices range from 50p (Arteza) to £2.10 (Derwent procolour) per pencil, and while Derwents are much better quality Arteza is great quality for its price and more suitable for beginner artists.
Again, these have a much thinner and smaller core, however they are also much firmer than the pencils above. These qualities paired together make them great for extremely detailed pieces, such as botanical art, illustrations or realism. Not to mention their vibrant 72 colour selection (going at about £1.20 per pencils if you buy them in set), which - even with a thin line- keep the same intensity of colour. Ironically, one of their downsides is also one of their greatest assets: their firmness. By being very firm they are one of the best for detail, but this also means they have subpar blending. Still, if you regularly draw detailed and intricate pieces these are made for you.
I use the 120 Premium Coloured Pencil set from Castle Art Supplies. They were gifted to me on my birthday and (just like Arteza and Derwent Procolour) also give me the softness and control for blending, shading and detailing I need for my portraits. Annoyingly, most colours are actually 1-2 shades darker than indicated, but at 40p per pencil their quantity and vibrancy easily make up for that.