View Full Version : Newbie needs help

11-20-2015, 06:46 PM
Hello sketching enthusiasts,

i consider myself very much a newbie at sketching and as I've finished using my loose sheets of drawing paper and am close to finishing one of my drawing pads (and have only 11 sheets in the other drawing pad), I am starting to think about what media to choose once I get into my smaller sketchbook.

I know one of my favorite subjects to sketch are landscapes (I do still life as well in the evenings), and coming from a watercolor background I am used to trying to fill in the entire area around the main subject I am sketching and not have a lot of white showing. This said, in sketchbooks, I do like working on both sides of the page if the paper permits it.

Regarding different media, I have tried watercolor, colored pencils and watercolor pencils, graphite, pen and ink, and oil pastels. Out of all of those, I would say graphite is my least favorite and oil pastels appeal to me in that they don't need sharpening in the field. In pen and ink I prefer using Pitt Artist Pens for sketches where I do not need to fill in an area and for sketches that contain leaves. Current favorite is colored (and watercolor) pencils and I would not mind getting back to using watercolor in sketchbooks. Though with watercolor it's been a while since I worked with this medium and previous times when I've used it I always had more than 10 colors on a palette, so would definitely be a newbie at watercolor sketching. That said, with watercolor, it's definitely something I would consider if I find a good sketchbook and decently priced, decent-quality pan paints.

So, given that I've only sketching about 5-6 years ago and don't have a lot of practice with it, especially with how different media work in sketchbooks, I need your help. Out of the different media I've worked with, which ones would you say would lend themselves better to landscapes?

Thank you. Your replies, thoughts, suggestions, questions, and help are very much appreciated.

11-20-2015, 07:05 PM
Out in the field, pen works good, along with watercolor if you need to make a color note. I like Van Gogh watercolors. You can make your own pan paints any size you want using just about anything you want to hold the paint. There are lots of threads around here about making your own kit. You can also put together your own paper pad of the type of paper you like. It's more fun this way, or I think so. Others will have more ideas. Good luck!

Here's a youtuber who made her own https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcS-6Mk7rJo

11-20-2015, 08:19 PM
Nickel, thank you. The route of using both pen and watercolor out in the field is a route I've been considering going when I get to that sketchbook. Thank you for mentioning Van Gogh watercolors as I am considering using their pan sets. The youtuber in the video you linked looks like he/she made some really cool sketchbooks. I'll check that video out a bit later.

11-21-2015, 03:53 AM
I use pen and wash to sketch. Somehow using my Lamy pen direct (ok maybe some light pencil lines) somehow stops me fiddling around. I use a small watercolour palette to colour my sketches. Here are some I did on a trip to Italy. (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=499583)


11-21-2015, 02:06 PM
Here's a watercolor brush you might like. I have one and it's handy because the water is in the brush itself. You only need a paper towel or something like that to clean your brush. No need really for extra water when sketching. I hope you will enjoy your new watercolor set. I bought a medium size. http://www.pentel.com/store/aquash-brush

11-21-2015, 03:41 PM
I use all of them in my sketchbooks and more!

Some pages are very quick and sketchy, others much more complete.

Don't limit yourself. Do get a sketchbook with heavy quality paper. It means you can use any medium at all and work both sides of the paper.

You can see what i mean here http://sitekreator.com/viviensketches/main_page.html

11-21-2015, 04:28 PM
If you don't want to buy a watercolor sketch book, you can make your own with watercolor paper. Then you can use wet media. I've found hot press WC paper to be suitable for colored pencils and watercolor pencil as well as ink and WC. There are many YouTube videos on creating your own book. Or just have a watercolor paper block to work on. I second the suggestion for a water brush where the water is in the handle. I love mine.

11-22-2015, 10:01 PM
Nickel, vhere, and Debby, thank you.

Nickel, I've been looking at a waterbrush like and might go for it.

vhere and Debby, I'm thinking that if I'll buy a sketch book, I'll probably get the Stillman and Birn Alpha sketch book as it would allow me to light washes, colored pencils, and pen and ink work. vhere, I think you are right in that I should not limit myself.

To all, I am considering continuing to use colored pencils (and later watercolor pencils) in my sketchbook. Just need to decide on which sketchbook (current one is Strathmore Drawing 24 sheet pad).

11-23-2015, 03:12 PM
If you can, go for the S&B Alpha. You won't be disappointed. I am not affiliated with them in any way, I just love using the S&B family of sketchbooks.

11-23-2015, 05:26 PM
Debby, thank you. S&B Alpha is the sketchbook I am leaning toward.

11-23-2015, 06:17 PM
If you can, go for the S&B Alpha. You won't be disappointed. I am not affiliated with them in any way, I just love using the S&B family of sketchbooks.

Totally agree. Lovely paper that you can use anything on

Don't forget to mix media.

11-24-2015, 04:46 PM
vhere, thank you. I've decided with the sketchbook to get the S&B Alpha. I'll try to mix media in the new sketchbook as much as I can (I've 92 student-grade bordering on artist-grade (watercolor and colored) pencils and between 25 and 30 artist-grade colored pencils to play with that part of me is leaning toward using also).

12-02-2015, 06:09 PM
Decided to heed my dad's advice on improving my drawing skills (which are not all that great due to the fact that I've been "trained" in watercolor and watercolor pencils before being "trained" in actual drawing skills. So, I got my oldish Pentalic Sketchbook and Pitt Artist Brush Pens and will continue using those until I finish the Pentalic Sketchbook or my brush pens dry up. Will post the recent sketches I did with the brush pens soon.

12-02-2015, 06:27 PM
Drawing and good observation underpin everything so yes do practice those.

12-02-2015, 07:11 PM
vhere, thank you. That's the plan for now, though with my Shades of Gray set it may be hard to not miss the colors.

12-04-2015, 03:18 PM
Pitt Artist Brush Pens rock for sketching. I had a set of 48 that I loved but left behind in Arkansas, now there's 60 of them. Tombows are good too.

Don't feel bad about preferring other media to graphite. It's possible to sketch with oil pastels or colored pencils or watersoluble mediums. Changing up what you sketch with can give interest when you sketch the same subjects again and again. Drawing skills can be improved with a few good books like the Jack Hamm drawing books from Dover or any good drawing and sketching book from North Light, but most of all by sketching a lot.

I got some cheap sketchbooks as a gift from a friend and have been using up pages on pages with Tombow pens (not lightfast) and that's improved my sketching a lot. Work loose and don't worry about getting it perfect on the first go.

ONe thing that helped me a lot was setting a timer, my microwave works for it. Set yourelf three minutes or five minutes to draw something and stop when it goes off, then reset and repeat. You will get more experience in the same half hour of practice and repeated attempts wiht the same object can and will solve a lot of proportion problems - you're looking at it again every time. You see the mistake on the previou one and fix that, then see something else about it, a dozen times later they come out so good they surprise you. All because of working fast!

That's also good practice for outdoor sketching because once you've used the timer a few times it teaches your body a habit of not fussing, not noodling around getting it perfect. Polishing and detailing can come last after the main proportions are right and any mistake you didn't put an hour's heartfelt work into detailing, just a couple of minutes scribble!

I'd also suggest some form of watersoluble pencil or crayon because that is so great a short cut.

12-04-2015, 03:50 PM
Robert, thank you. I think I'll try to set watercolor pencils aside (except for possibly doing outdoor sketching with them) and continue using my Pentalic sketchbook and ballpoint pens (since I found out Wednesday night Pitt Artist pens show through the other side of the page when working on both sides of the sheet) and get back to using watercolor pencils when I'm better at doing gesture sketches and drawings.