Top 11 Art Tools And Materials for Drawing and Painting in Your Art Journal

ceramic palette for acrylic paint

Do you sometimes wonder what art tools you really need to draw and paint in your art journal?

I’m going to share 11 top art tools to use, but don’t rush and think you must get all of these. Check each one out and choose the ones you need for your unique art.

Art tools and materials for drawing and painting

Here are the best art tools and materials for drawing and painting.

1. Graphite pencils

2. Brushes

3. Paint

4. Kneaded eraser

5. Painting or drawing paper pads

6. Painting knife or a palette knife

7. Painting palette

8. Masking tape

9. Sponges

10. Stencils

11. Brayer

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1. Graphite pencils

A pencil is inevitable if you want to draw anything, right? I know, there are so many.

If you need detailed information about pencils, here’s a great article about pencils with fun historical facts as well.

Here’s a graph of pencil marks considering their hardness/softness and lightness/darkness.

a graph with different pencil pressures
Original source: Untitledmind72 at English Wikipedia / Public domain

When I draw faces or sketch something else, I just use a HB pencil or a mechanical pencil in my stash.

You don’t need to overthink this. If you want more info and different kinds of pencils, you do your research and experiment.

However, if you don’t care about the nitty gritty details (like me), just draw with the one that feels good in your hand and is easy to erase (if that’s important to you).

2. Brushes

If you want to paint, brushes are inevitable art tools as well.

Let me introduce you to a few basic brushes you might need for your art journal paintings.

For painting with acrylic paint, I usually use flat brushes in different sizes.

However, with watercolor, I mostly use round brushes in different sizes as well.

You can use flat brushes with watercolor, too. Especially if you want to cover bigger areas on your page. But I just love big round brushes for watercolor. They hold enough water and paint for numerous strokes.

Check the image below for easier reference when it comes to watercolor brushes.

art tools infographic for watercolor brushes

One brush that I find extremely useful and practical is the water brush. It’s an amazing art tool because it has its own water container. So, whenever you need more water, just squeeze the brush and that’s it. They come in different sizes, mostly in sets with S, M, and L sizes.

3. Paint

This one goes without saying, right?

You can paint with acrylic paint, watercolors, oil paints, gouache, etc.

I mostly use acrylic paint and watercolors. They are completely different but both have positive sides to them that make you use them over and over again.

acrylic paint and a brush

If you’re just starting out, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on professional paints. Buy student grade paints now, practice and develop your skills, and then invest in something more expensive and of greater quality. This way, you’ll feel more confident when you start using more artist grade paints.

And even more, when starting with cheaper art tools and materials, you don’t feel the pressure of making everything perfect and lose the fear of ruining expensive supplies.

4. Kneaded eraser

This eraser is a great art tool for anyone wanting to get into drawing.

pencil and kneaded eraser on the table

A kneaded eraser is something like a very sturdy gum that you can shape anyway you like to erase even the smallest of details.

One of the best advantages of this eraser is that it leaves no erasing crumbs. How amazing is that?

When I sketch a face, for example, and don’t want the pencil to be visible under watercolor, I just use this eraser, form it into a roller and roll it all over my drawing to lighten the pencil marks.

5. Painting/drawing paper pads (or an art journal)

I use both. I buy paper pads or big sheets of watercolor paper and I cut it in sizes I want. Making an art journal with these paper pads is another idea, to have them at one place.

Also, if you want to draw and paint separately, for framing or scanning, you can use paper pads.

There are different kinds of paper you can use, depending on what you want to do on it.

The more wet media you want to use, the thicker paper you need. You can choose from mixed media paper, watercolor paper, sketching paper, craft paper, and so many others.

As I said, I mostly use watercolor or mixed media paper because I use a lot of paint and other art supplies that just don’t go well on thin, plain paper.

6. Painting knife or a palette knife

These two are different but can also be used for same purposes.

painting knives as art tools
Painting knives I use

A palette knife is used to mix paint on the palette, whereas a painting knife is used for applying acrylic paint on paper or canvas. This way, you create texture and can add interesting details like lines, or small chunks of color.

I have a set of painting knives that I mostly use for applying acrylic paint, texture paste or using them as art tools for mixing my paint as well.

If you don’t have these but want similar results, you can use a small piece of thick cardboard, an old credit or library card.

7. Painting palette

Before you run off and buy a specific painting palette, let me say that you can use anything to serve as your palette. I’ve been using ceramic plates, jar caps, plastic palettes (like we did in school), cardboard pieces, pieces of glass or even tiles.

Use anything that has enough space for you to put all the colors you’ll use in one project. Also, count in the space for mixing colors.

Sometimes I advise cleaning your palettes, but in the end, it’s much more work in it than when you just leave the paint to dry. At least for me, because acrylic paint dries quickly and it’s hard to clean easily. And what is more, when it gets dry, you can put more paint on top without fearing that you’ll pick up the paint underneath.

So, my palettes are now very messy, colorful and I rarely clean them.

ceramic palette for acrylic paint
My wonderfully messy ceramic paint palette

8. Masking tape

This tape is not meant to stick forever when you glue it down. And that’s why it’s perfect.

You can use it to protect (isolate) a certain area on your painting paper. This way, create frames around your painting which look amazing, especially in art journals.

Masking tape works great with watercolor when you frame your painting with it. This just looks stunning.

Also, you can use masking tape as a great art tool to isolate some areas, for example, for journaling. First, put some masking tape on the paper, paint around it, and when the paint is dry, take it off. You’ll end up with untouched white space to journal on.

9. Sponges

You can buy painting sponges already fixed on some kind of a handle for easier use. But I love using kitchen sponges for applying acrylic paint.

They are cheap and all of us have them in our homes.

I mostly use it for dabbing acrylic paint onto the paper, but a neat idea is to cut the sponge in certain shapes and use them as stamps. In this case, don’t press the sponge too hard, you’ll just get a big blob of paint without any shape at all.

dabbing acrylic paint with a sponge art tool

10. Stencils

We all love stencils. They are versatile, come in a gazillion designs and help us add something special to our art.

When you don’t know what to do, turn to your stencils. You can use them with acrylic paint, watercolor, inks, texture paste, pens, embossing ink, and so on.

I mostly use them for making backgrounds together with texture paste and/or acrylic paint.

using stencil and a painting knife as art tools

If you want to buy a few stencils, perhaps think about getting more general ones like abstract shapes, letters, or flowers. Then you’ll have a stencil you can reuse over and over again, every time with a different and unique approach.

Why not have even more fun and make your own stencils? Make your own art tools you can reuse as many times as you want. How to do this?

First, you can download my free stencil templates you see in the photo below. Print them on a transparency, cut the shapes out, and there you go. A brand new stencil for you to use.

11. Brayer

And the last, but not the least, the magnificent brayer. Oh, how I love this art tool.

First of all, it’s an amazing tool to work with. If you love seeing how brushes leave marks and how the paint flows on the paper, you’ll enjoy seeing the brayer in action.

It’s basically a roller for painting and it comes in various sizes.

painting art journal page with a brayer

What I love the most about it is the texture it creates with paint. The brayer leaves grungy marks and strokes which I really, really love. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can use it to cover the whole page or a paper with even strokes.

There’s only one thing that bugs me with a brayer, and that’s the cleaning part. If you’ve ever talked to me, you’d hear me say that I’m lazy when it comes to cleaning my art tools. And the brayer is not helping at all.

It’s sometimes difficult to clean if you don’t do it right away. I mean, right away. I often forget that and end up with dried paint on it. But still, that’s not that big of a deal. The more mess, the more fun.

Final tips about art tools and materials

What I want you to remember from this article is that you don’t have to have all the art tools out there to make amazing art.

Try the ones you already have, get one or two new ones to try out and see what feels right in your hand.

If you have none of these tools, than I’d suggest getting some paint, paper and brushes (I’m sure you have a pencil). You’ll use these three the most if you’re into art journaling.

You can always upgrade, but take it slow at the beginning and don’t overwhelm yourself with a bunch of supplies that’ll just collect dust.

Finally, choose the ones that really work for you, that you feel comfortable using now, or the ones that you’re the most curious about.

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art tools for drawing and painting

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