• Nienke Vletter

These are the 7 best art materials for beginners

I often get asked: “I would love to start drawing or get better at it. Which materials should I buy?". Is this something you've been wondering about too? Or are you looking for a gift for someone who loves to draw? To make both our lives easier, I made you a list! Because who doesn't love that? You'll find the list in this blog.

Pencil, paper, done!

The short answer to the question "What do I need to start drawing?" is very simple by the way. Pencil and paper. Do you want to improve your drawing skills, but are you procrastinating because 'you don't have the right materials'? That's such a shame! (and maybe it's an excuse from your inner perfectionist…?). Grab any random pencil, a cheap sketchbook or printer paper et voilà: you're ready to start! You don't get better in drawing by using the right pen, you get better by DOING IT.

But all jokes aside, I get the question. You don' want to spent a fortune on the most expensive materials, but you do want good quality markers and paint that work well on paper. That's why I made this list of nice materials to get you going.


Are you more advanced in drawing or are you looking for tips on materials to expand your collection? Read all about my favorite materials in this other blog post!


My advice on the ‘I seriously want to draw’ starterskit:

1. Pencil

This can be any HB pencil. In The Netherlands we have the store HEMA, which is my BFF for all cheap art and office supplies. But any dollar store pencil will do. Are you looking for a little more quality? You might like pencils sets like the ones from Bruynzeel or Koh-i-Noor, with a combination of HB- and B pencils. What's up with those B’s? The higher the number, the softer the pencil.

2. Fineliners

Perfect to draw with and also a smart choice if you want to start handlettering. One of the most well known fineliners brands (and definitely recommended) is Micron. A little cheaper, but just as good in my opinion are the fineliners by Edding or Uni-ball. I often use a combination of thinner (like 0.1 or 0.3) and thicker fineliners (like 0.5 or 0.8). Therefore buying a set containing different options is a smart choice.


3. Brushpens Is this your first go at brushpens? Then there are 2 brands I recommend. First the Edding 1340. Nice colors, a firm tip and you can use them for brushlettering, illustration or even create a watercolor effect when you combine them with water!


If you want to start small, go with the Pentel Touch brushpen. This is still one of my favorites and perfect for working in your bulletjournal for example.


A bonus tip: an absolute hack is the marker set by Crayola. Originally meant for kids, but with the triangular shaped tip you can also use them for brushlettering! Even better: you get 50 colors for just 17,95 euro. That way when your little niece, your son or the kids next door want to play with your markers, it doesn't hurt as much (I'd rather give them my Crayola then my best brushpens ;-).


4. Watercolor

The first real watercolor set that I bought (after a 2 euro set from the arts- and craft store) was a set of Koi Watercolors by Sakura. This aquarelle paint has a really nice price to quality ratio and comes with a waterbrush. Perfect for coloring on the go!


Do you have a little more to spent? Then I'd recommend going for the Winsor&Newton Cotman set. This is beautiful watercolor paint with high quality pigments. The set of 12 also comes with a waterbrush or small brush.


Other fun sets are those by Prima. You've got your base colors ('the classics'), but also other sets that just look like little boxes of candy (like 'pastel' or 'tropical').


5. Gel pens

Maybe you've used these back in high school, to decorate your homework planner. Now they're totally back again: gel pens! You can use them for handlettering, coloring, bullet journaling or on black paper, where they just pop off the page! I love working with Gelly Rolls by Sakura and Uni-ball Signo. Don't forget to buy a white gel pen: it's perfect for details, highlights and even convenient for making small corrections.

6. Colored pencils

Another material that comes in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. I absolutely love colored pencils, you'll find a few reviews here on my blog. If you're a beginner looking for good quality, I suggest the colored pencils by Winsor&Newton. Do you want more colors for a gentle prince? Go check out the pencils by Arteza.


7. Sketchbook Are you trying handlettering for the first time? A bulletjournal (with dot gridded paper) will help you draw straight lines and letters. Most arts- and craft stores or office supplies stores will sell these nowadays. Do you prefer better quality paper? The German brand Leuchtturm is a good one for this.


Are you mostly interested in drawing? Then a 'normal' sketchbook is a better choice. The pitfall of buying an expensive sketchbook might be you want to keep it 'nice'. While the whole idea behind a sketchbook is the fact that you start practicing in it! Otherwise they would've called it a ‘make-perfect-work-book’ ;-) For this reason I'm a fan of the cheap (but quality paper) sketch cahiers by Gersteacker or Seawhite. Read all about these in my last blog.

Do you prefer a sketchbook with more pages and a hard cover? A great start are the ones by Art Creations, which have good paper and are very affordable. A ‘step up’ are the sketchbooks by Leuchtturm.



Well, I could come up with a lot more art supplies to buy, but I think these 7 will make a good start for you. Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments!


Are you thinking: ‘Nienke, give me more!' right now? You can read more in the blog post about my 9 favorite art materials.


PS The links in this blog are mostly from Dutch stores. I will update this blog with links to Amazon soon.


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