Saturday, September 6, 2008

Creative Tip: Big sketchbook for little artists

A couple of years ago I gave a 11" X 14" ProArt hardbound sketchbook to my young nieces to encourage their artistic development and create a suitable permanent record of this collaborative effort. To start the learning process, I drew waterproof outlines of favorite subjects for them to color from time to time:

As their confidence and proficiency grew in handling assorted coloring materials (wax crayons, colored pencils, watercolor crayons, and watercolors), they also started drawing and creating their own version of common childhood drawing symbols for mermaids, princesses, and castles:

It might have seemed premature to supply little artists with so many tools so early, but in my experience their artistic growth can be maximized by the availability of good quality art tools, steady family support, and a handy sketchbook offering a large blank space for them to freely express their creativity. Kids' art tip: once a year gift a hardbound sketchbook to the fledgling artists in your list and encourage them to date each page or favorite drawings, for they easily become nice additions to the family library as visual records of each kids' individual artistic development as well as tools for them to track their progress and target areas for improvement.


Wan said...

Hello! I'm 13 years old, and I love to draw. I don't have the proper supplies, though, so I was wondering if you could help me find some that are great and cheap? I'm from Asia and I draw the Japanese way that's called "manga".
That's the link to one of my drawings. I have never taken any kinds of classes before, so I know it's a bit slap-dash. Sorry! I know one great brand called "Copic", but it's pretty expensive. So could you please help me? Thanks for reading!

B2-kun said...

Good start with the Manga drawing. I am also mostly self-taught. I would recommend checking out "How to Draw" books at your local library and online tutorials. Don't limit yourself to Manga style only, and try sketching from life every so often. Draw your toys, family, and favorite subjects from real life as best you can for practice, and your Manga drawings will continue to improve as you gain dexterity, control, and confidence in your strokes with your chosen sketching tools. To improve faster, you could try sketching the full figure first from head to toes as a stick figure to make sure it fits within your piece of paper, and then flesh out the Manga body and costume. I would recommend trying Japanese art supplies by Pentel (like Pentel Aquash watercolor crayons) and Pilot ( if they are available in your area. Tombow dual brush pen markers are water-based, but they are more affordable than alcohol-based Copics (just make sure you draw your outline with a waterproof pen to prevent smears before coloring). If Copic Sketch markers are available for sale as single markers locally, you could try starting with a handful of flesh colors and favorite primary colors. Yet there is no need to invest in professional grade tools too early, for you can get plenty of practice with more affordable student-grade tools first. Faber-Castell art supplies like Pitt Artist pens can make suitable waterproof sketching pens, and their Goldfaber line meant for beginners and students tend to be cheap and available at many markets worldwide. For digital practice the tools at might also prove to be an adequate starting point. You can check my other blog for further tips on art materials and list of online suppliers to get further info. Try to use whatever is available at your local stationary and art supplies stores, for it will be easier to get refills and replacements as needed. Thanks for stopping by and keep on drawing.

Wan said...

Thanks a lot!

I have been trying to sketch animals, like cats, but they always look like a cartoon. I want it to look alive, but it just looks, you know. Dead. Anyways, I have also been trying the student-grade sorts. They're alright, but they just don't have colours that are good enough or right for my pictures. They're all too bright, and they also have no acceptable flesh tones. So I always end up with a brightly coloured picture of a girl who has white skin (Her skin is white because I just don't bother looking for flesh tones in student-grade supplies anymore. Haha.).

Thanks for all your help! And I really like your drawings!

B2-kun said...

"How to Draw Animals" by Jack Hamm is a pretty good reference book