Essential art tools for beginners

24 Essential Drawing Tools for Beginners to achieve Realism

As an almost beginner artist, I know firsthand how important having the right tools can be to the quality and outcome. You can achieve great results from the bare minimum as well if you practice enough, but having the right drawing tools certainly makes it much easier to achieve the desired outcome. Whether you’re just starting out or have been creating art for years, these drawing tools will really make a difference.

In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my must-have drawing tools for realistic pencil drawing that I use in my own practice. From pencils and erasers to sketchbooks, I’ll be covering all the essentials I couldn’t live without, along with some cool drawing tools and a few “not necessary but cute” ones. So, join me as I take you through my toolkit and discover the drawing tools that will elevate your art to the next level!

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Must-Have Drawing Tools


Well, it is pretty obvious, isn’t it? But there are plenty of options out there, so which one should you get? To understand that, you need to know the Hs and Bs of pencils. They come in a variety of grades, each with its unique characteristics. The most common pencil grades are:

  • H (hard) pencils: The H pencils (such as 2H, 4H, 6H) have less graphite and more clay in the mixture, making them hard and light in shade. They are best for fine lines, detail work, sometimes highlights, etc.
  • B (black) pencils: B pencils (such as 2B, 4B, 6B) have a softer lead and are great for creating darker tones, shadows, and adding depth to a drawing.
  • HB (medium) pencils: These pencils have a medium-hard lead and are good all-purpose pencils.

It’s important to have a range of different grades for creating a realistic drawing, I would recommend getting at least 1 dark (5B or 8B), 1 medium (3B) and one light (B) pencil. Or you can get a kit and see what works for you.

I have been using Derwent and Faber Castell‘s, and I think they are the best ones I have used (till now).

Sketch Pad or paper

The type of paper you use for drawing can greatly affect the results of your drawing. When choosing the paper, consider the medium (pencil, charcoal, pen, and ink, etc.), the weight of the paper, and its texture.

As a beginner, you might be overwhelmed by sketch paper, bristol paper, drawing paper, watercolor paper, etc. So, to make it easy for you, I would suggest you to use ordinary hard white chart paper if you are looking for a cheap solution or any 200-300 GSM smooth surface paper. If you need a professional one, I recommend Strathmore’s 400 series smooth surface bristol paper.


Well pretty obvious, but erasers are used for not just fixing mistakes but also adding highlights and lightening the shade for extra effect. There are also many types of erasers which I will discuss down below but to start drawing, you can use any you find in the stationery store nearby.

The only thing important to know about which eraser you need is the medium you are using (charcoal, graphite, colors) and the surface you are working on (paper etc.).

Blending tools

There are plenty of blending tools available for graphite pencils, but these three are my favorite ones:

Blending Stumps

Made of compressed paper, and work great for smudging and blending graphite

Makeup Brushes

My personal favorites that I recommended for beginners as a drawing tool!

Drawing tools

Tissue paper

Great for large areas, I use them to blend the base layer and to make the paper smooth.

Apart from that, there are plenty of other drawing tools, including Tortillions (look like baby blending stumps but are used for very small areas), paper stumps, etc. If you are desperate you can even use your fingers, but I wouldn’t recommend that if you have sweaty hands.
If you are a beginner, I would suggest makeup brushes and not even blending stumps, as they also require some understanding of pressure techniques.

A good Sharpener

Even if you are a beginner, by now you must have known that not all sharpeners are the same. It is the length and sharpness of the blade that mostly differs in different sharpeners. A blunt sharpener can render even the best of your pencils useless by breaking or roughing its tip. And if you don’t have one, or it doesn’t give desired results, you can use a craft knife to carve up the tip as per your requirements.

Spare A4 Sheet

Graphite is very prone to smudging when you are drawing and it can leave permanent marks if you have oily or sweaty hands. So, another (not really a) drawing tool that you can use to avoid ruining your drawing is using a spare A4 sheet to rest your hand on.

I use transparent binding sheets which has a smooth surface on one side and a rough surface on the other side. So, even when I slide it on the drawing (the rough part) it doesn’t smudge the graphite.

Another thing that worked well for me was transparent sticker printing paper, so, in case you don’t find it.

Drawing tools for better results

Kneaded Eraser:

Simple cube-shaped eraser only have a corner or whole flat head options to rub. However, there are many instances when you need very specific points to smudge or erase, for which you need an eraser of that specific shape. This is exactly what kneaded eraser is for. It is a semi-solid substance that can be molded into any desired shape.

Mono-Zero Eraser

If you need an eraser so precise that it erases one point, and one point only, then it will be mono zero eraser. This can also be called as reverse pencil, as it is basically an eraser tip on a pencil shape. It is used mostly for highlighting and detailing against a dark background. It is used to draw a straight white line, white hairs, or simply to erase something with precision. 

Electric Sharpener

Being an artist, you will find yourself surrounded with hundreds of pencils, each with little yet necessary differences. Now, who’s got the time to keep them all sharpened by twisting and twisting? Not someone who’s busy in drawing. Luckily, electric sharpeners are there to save you the energy and time. Just insert the pencil and it will sharpen it in seconds. 

Electric Eraser

Rubbing by a simple eraser can leave your paper dirty, and your hands tired. Electric eraser solves both of these problems. Similar to the electric sharpener, this uses battery power and erases from the desired area with much precision and neatness. It vibrates just enough to fulfill its purpose and not damage the paper at all. So yup, It’s safe to use.

Gelly Roll pen

White pen, also called gelly roll pen, is used when you need something absolutely white, without a speck of black in it. Mostly, the light rays, and reflection in eye lens are drawn by this pen. 

Perfection Eraser (pencil eraser)

Perfection Eraser, also called pencil eraser, does exactly what both of its names suggest. It looks just like a white pencil and is used to perfect the art. Unlike the other eraser, which just erase, it only slightly lightens the dark area, and is used by the artist again and again until the perfect gradient is reached.


Indenting Stylus

There is a technique called indenting technique that is used to draw white lines, or write in white against the dark background. It works by indenting a thick sheet of paper or chart with a hard pointy surface like that of an inkless ball point tip, and then mark the whole area dark with the pencil. The pencil would not be able to darken the indented areas due to depression in the chart, and hence they will stand out as white. 

Now, there is a special drawing tool that is used to perform this technique that you better have, as devising this with an empty ball point does not feel so premium, does it? That drawing tool is called an indenting stylus, and it has specialized nibs that indent the paper just as needed. 

Mechanical Pencil

Mechanical pencil is just like other pencils, having a body and lead inside it, but with a major advantage. These pencils do not need traditional sharpening, and hence have a tip of constant width. These give a steady line and are used to draw stuff that need precision and accuracy. 

Masking Tape

Masking tape, which you know as paper tape, is used to keep the area under it neat and clean. This is used on the border of the chart, and is removed after the artwork is complete to have a clean border. 

This is also used to test something, like if you are unsure if you should draw something one way or another, then testing it by first drawing it on the tape is the way to go. 

Graphite powders

Graphite powder is a great drawing tool when it comes to shading large areas or backgrounds. It gives a very smooth result when you get to know how to blend it. I like them for my larger drawings, it saves time and energy.

While using graphite powder, it is important to choose the right paper and make sure the surface is clean. For beginners, I would suggest experimenting on black paper first before applying it to an actual drawing, or maybe go ahead and learn.

In the market, I have only seen graphite powders in one shade. Although you don’t always need many shades as a beginner but when you get used to it, it is a really good drawing tool and makes your work really quick for shading large areas or backgrounds. So, it is a good idea to have multiple shades of graphite (should I launch mine?), so here is a DIY tutorial video to help you make them at home by using graphite sticks and sandpaper.


A simple scale, used for drawing straight lines and also to ensure the right length of lines. 

Fixative Spray

A fixative spray is sprayed on the finished artwork to “fix” it. It prevents smudging, dust particle attachment and keeps the artwork from giving an olden look. It comes in different forms that give the artwork different visual textures like gloss or matte. 

Drawing tools for “why not”?


You learned the use of different types of erasers. One thing that all have in common is that they all “clean”. But in that process of cleaning, they themselves get dirty. Now you can either shout “You have become the very thing you swore to destroy” or just use a sandpaper to remove their dirty part, and get them afresh to use again. Sandpaper acts as a sharpener, that cleans the eraser, which in turn, prevents smearing on paper.


Proportional Divider

A proportional divider is a great drawing tool to scale your reference picture or object to your drawing page. It consists of two sticks that are attached at a changeable point. One side of the sticks, let’s say, the wider side is placed at the object, and then the smaller side is placed at the paper and a line is drawn to have accurate measurements. 

It is also used to ensure same size of mirror images, like keeping same proportion on both sides of the face. 

Stand to hold your phone for references

While drawing, our best companion is our phone, to whom we turn whenever we have any difficulty or questions. And since we need to interact with it so many times, it must be at an easily viewable place. This is ensured by a mobile stand that firmly holds the mobile and can be adjusted as per the desired height. It saves us the energy of picking up the mobile again and again, or placing it against uneven surfaces. 

Thick Retractable eraser

This eraser looks, and even performs the same function, like mono zero eraser except that it does it thicker. Like mono zero eraser is used to draw a white hair against a black background, it is used to draw a blur tuft of hairs. Likewise, this has less precision, but that is intentional, as it aids it in fulfilling its purpose better.  

Pencil Extender

Just like everything else, pencils, too, ends. But instead of growing old, they grow short, and having a good grip on those short little pencils is quite hard. This is where pencil extender comes in handy. You can place your short pencil in the extender and acts as the body of the pencil, making it feel like a new, long pencil. 

Tool Organizer

After getting all the above-mentioned drawing tools, it would be really annoying to find the specific ones when needed, if not arranged properly. To arrange your drawing tools in a proper setup, you can buy an organizer. It has different section where you can place your tools systematically as per your requirements or frequency of use. This will help you find your required tool on the spot, and will save you a lot of time. 

I currently have this one, I put pencils in the drawer, blending tools in the second and other tools in the third. And some random supplies on the top, just to give it a look

But I like this one as well. If I found this first, I would probably get this one.

Now that you have a detailed introduction and understanding of what drawing tools you need, and why you need them on your Artventure, the only thing left to do is to get them to your table. Having all the drawing tools makes you will feel confident like a fully geared soldier in a battlefield. Now be that fully geared artist, and start drawing your art piece with full devotion with these 15 easy-to-draw drawing ideas for beginners to start their journey!