A guide to pencils and drawing

Traditional Coloured Pencils

It has been a long time since coloured pencils were purely for children. Today there are fully lightfast, intensely pigmented colouring pencils designed for professional artists and illustrators. The difference between various ranges is the differing consistencies and textures of the leads, as well as colour range and availability of sets. Some coloured pencils deposit more of a waxy sheen and these pencils may be a little more difficult to layer, but they provide a rich lustrous finish when burnished. Others have a much more matt finish and are better suited to colour mixing and layering. Student coloured pencils tend to have a weaker pigment concentration, but offer high quality pencils at an economical price.

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Coloured Pencils without the waxy sheen

Caran d’Ache Luminance

Luminance pencils are award winning, intensely saturated coloured pencils for fine artists and illustrators. Smooth, seemingly unbreakable leads even with excessive pressure. The lack of waxy build-up makes layering colours easy. The full range of Luminance has the highest light fastness ratings. There are sets of 16, 38 and 76 available as well as individuals – the full colour range consists of 76 colours. Expensive but a huge investment!

Faber Castell Polychromos Pencils

Polychromos pencils are a very popular range of non water soluble pencils. They have a medium soft consistency which is suited to artists who like to find a middle ground between having full control over the drawing media, and being able to create some textures and blends without the marks being too ‘smudgeable’ or messy. They have a very good pigment concentration, and colours appear vivid. The colour is deposited easily on to paper without any waxy bloom, making them very easy to layer and also very easy to burnish.

Cretacolor Karmina Pencils

Karmina pencils are a similar consistency to Luminance and are a little harder than the Derwent Coloursoft. These also possess high pigment saturation, and layer and blend exceptionally well. There are 35 colours in the range as well as 3 assorted sets.

Derwent Artists Coloured Pencils and Derwent Coloursoft Pencils – which are the best?

Derwent Artists Coloured Pencils are available only in sets. They layer very well thanks to the low wax content. They possess a wide core which enables you to make broad strokes of colour – they also sharpen well to a fine point for more detailed and finer marks. The pencil is hard but with good pigment concentration. The texture is more akin to a graphite pencil than a coloured pencil. A greater degree of shine can be brought out of your pencil marks by burnishing them with a paper stump or tortillion.

Derwent Coloursoft Pencils are reputed to be the softest coloured pencil available, which means that colour can be deposited effortlessly. The result on its appearance is that colours appear more luminous and unlaboured. Despite the softness of their consistency, Coloursoft pencils still sharpen to a very fine point. Their softness maximises the ability to both blend and burnish colour. Derwent Coloursoft pencils are capable of a greater variety of marks and textures. If you require a range of coloured pencils for controlled technical colouring/rendering, then we suggest that the Artists range may be better suited to your needs.

Derwent Studio Pencils

Derwent Studio Pencils are similar to the Derwent Artists Coloured Pencil range, but are even better suited to technical drawing rendering, for example the shading of architectural drawings, or botanical illustration, or graphic design – basically any kind of shading where control and tightness is key, rather than texture or expression. The leads of these pencils are relatively thin to allow for very fine lines and accuracy. The wooden barrel is hexagonal and not round which makes it easier to get a firmer grip of.

Coloured Sketching Pencils

Conte Sketching Pencils – Black Pastel, White, Sanguine, Sepia

These are very useful sketching pencils for expressive life drawing, and other monotone drawings. They are traditional hues that can easily be blended with one another. The Sanguine hue is a rich, terracotta colour and is made with a transparent pigment, so marks allow the texture of the paper to show in order to get the best from your art materials. Mix the Sanguine with the white pencil and you will find a sensitive flesh-like hue. The sepia pencil is a darker pencil akin to burnt umber, and is ideal for rough sketches both indoors and outdoors. The white pencil is perfect for use on dark paper, or as a means of lightening the other pencils in the range and blending.

Cretacolor Sepia Leads

A traditional natural earth brown that can be placed in a lead holder, and used to create traditional looking and expressive line drawings.

Student Coloured Pencils

Derwent Academy Coloured Pencils are the lowest grade range from Derwent and are designed with beginners and students in mind. The range comprises of 36 colours which blend well. The leads are break resistant and the barrels perfectly round, which helps with making interesting marks with the pencil as it can be rolled between your fingers very easily. Academy pencils are only available in sets which come in 12s, 24s and 36s.

Staedtler Ergosoft

Staedtler Ergosoft pencils have a triangular barrel which provides a good grip and is comfortable to hold. There are 2 sets available – 12 and 24 – which when open stand up in an easel-style case, making it very quick and easy to retrieve the pencil/s you are looking for while you are working. The pencils are considered student grade but they are very well made and good quality for the price. They have strong leads with a special costing that makes them up to 30% more break resistant. The colour is deposited easily and some layering and blending is achievable.

Water-soluble coloured pencils

All about watercolour pencils on the Jackson's Art Blog

Water-soluble coloured pencils can be used in a variety of ways:

  • To add details to a traditional watercolour painting
  • Dry, just like a regular coloured pencil
  • Dry just like a regular coloured pencil, and then blended with a clean wet brush, this will also make colours appear more saturated
  • Like a watercolour pan; a wet brush can lift colour from the lead of a watercolour pencil and then be painted on to paper just like traditional watercolour
  • The pencil can be dipped into water and then drawn on in its wet state, creating intensely saturated pencil marks
  • A combination of all of the above!

They are an asset to any artist’s paintbrush, and because of developments, need not only be a drawing material of hobbyists or children, as many watercolour pencils on the market are fully lightfast and can be used to create finished works of art, and not just preparatory sketches. At Jackson’s Art Supplies we sell a wide variety of different water-soluble drawing media, and below is a guide.

Woodless water-soluble drawing materials

The advantage of the woodless water-soluble drawing materials available is that wastage is minimised. The woodless pencils that we sell perfectly demonstrate this; pencil shavings from these can be diluted in water in order to make paint for watercolour washes or stains.

Professional Grade Water-soluble Crayons:

Caran d'Ache Neoart Wax Crayons

Cretacolor Aquastic

These 2 ranges are comparable in appearance and quality. They are both described as being ‘water-soluble wax pastels’ and are professional artist quality. They possess optimum lightfastness and pigment concentration levels. Caran d’Ache also manufacture the student grade ‘Neocolor II’ pastels which we also sell. The Neoarts are harder than these, and without a sharp point to one end, they do take a little getting used to handling. There are 60 colours in the range of Neoart and 80 in the range of Aquastics (these are not available individually but do come in sets of 10, 20, 40 or 80). These crayons are versatile and can be used on a multitude of surfaces, with watercolour, encaustic, and sgraffito on paper, cardboard, canvas, wood, leather, glass, or mirror. Because they are wax based they will melt if heated up (say if they are left exposed to direct sunlight in summer) – if this happens simply leave them to dry and use the hardened pool as if you would a pan of watercolour. No waste!

Student Grade Water-soluble Crayons: Neocolor II from Caran d’Ache

This range of water-soluble crayons are student grade and do not possess the same levels of saturation and lightfastness, however they do have a more extensive range of colours (123) and work well with Neoart and Aquastics – they are blendable with one another. They are a little softer and break down with water more easily, and are shaped with a point, much like a regular Crayola crayon. Sets of these crayons are also available. Colours can be layered with ease, creating a sense of depth in your work. Neocolor II crayons are softer than coloured pencils yet denser than children's wax crayons, and extremely responsive to a wet brush. Wet and dry techniques can be combined in the same drawing. Because of their opacity, light colours are able to cover dark colours and vice-versa. Neocolor II crayons are ideal for trying the sgraffito technique – i.e., etching into colour to create an ‘engraving’ in the wax. Colours can also be blended when dry with a finger. Crayons measure 105 mm in length and 10 mm in diameter (4-1/8" × 5/16")."

Woodless Water-soluble Pencils: Derwent Aquatone and Cretacolor Aqua Monolith

Water-soluble pencils are harder and less waxy in feel than crayons. They are better suited to detail work. Aquatone have a paper wrapping and the Aqua Monolith have a very thin lacquer coating, which stops your hands getting too dirty while working. Because the pencils are wood-free, it is very easy to achieve both very fine lines and broad strokes of colour as you can use the pencil on its side to achieve a wide mark. Aqua Monolith has a range of 72 colours and Aquatone has 24 colours. They are a little harder in consistency than the professional grade watercolour pencils such as Faber Castell Albrecht Durer or Caran d’Ache Supracolor, but they do blend just as well with good pigment saturation.

Highest Quality Wood Coated Watercolour Pencils – Caran d’Ache Supracolor and Faber Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils

For the highest quality, wood coated, professional artist quality watercolour pencil, we recommend either the Caran d’Ache Supracolor range or the Faber Castell Albrecht Durer range. You will find the consistency of the lead to be slightly soft and creamy when applying the pencil to paper. This consistency maximises blending possibilities. Supracolor pencils have 120 colours in their range, and are popular among fine artists, illustrators and graphic artists, as well as tutors in art colleges. This is also true of the Albrecht Durer range which consists of 127 fully lightfast shades. Supracolor is fully water-soluble however the Albrecht Durer pencils are not re-wettable once the wet colour has dried on to the surface of your paper – for this reason many watercolour artists will use Albrecht Durer pencils to add fine detail and highlights at the final stages of creating a watercolour painting. Both pencils possess a hexagonal cedar wood coating for maximum control and comfort. Additionally, you will find that the leads in both of these ranges are highly resistant to breaking, meaning that wastage is kept to a minimum.

Derwent Water-soluble Pencil Ranges – Derwent Watercolour Pencils, Derwent Metallic Pencils, Derwent Inktense Pencils and Derwent Academy Watercolour Pencils

The Derwent Watercolour Pencils range is Derwent’s ‘Artist’ quality watercolour pencil range, however the consistency of the leads is slightly harder than the Supracolor and the Faber Castell Albrecht Durer and as a result the pencils do not blend as easily. There are 72 colours in the range, the majority of which are fully lightfast. They are very good quality pencils which will serve you well, but in our view do not rival the highest quality watercolour pencils on the market.

The Derwent Inktense Pencils Range consists of 71 intensely saturated colours, which behave more like ink than watercolour when the pencils are used with water. Just like other wood coated watercolour pencils they can be used wet or dry in a number of ways, but they dry waterproof, so once they have dried they cannot be reactivated with water. Derwent Inktense pencils can be used on a variety of supports, and are particularly effective as a silk painting medium. To accompany the pencils Derwent also offer the versatile Inktense blocks, which look like Hard Pastel blocks. The Inktense colours can be applied in broad expressive strokes, layered and worked into. The Inktense blocks offer even greater choice when it comes to mark making with these saturated colours.

The Derwent Metallic Pencils range consists of 12 colours which work best dry on dark supports. If a wet brush is dragged over the applied dry colour the colour strength reduces, but what is left is a beautiful subtle iridescent sparkle across your paper. If you wish to use water with the metallic pencils and minimise the loss of colour strength our suggestion is to use the pencils on white or light paper. Derwent Metallic Pencils can be bought individually or in sets of 6 or 12.

The Derwent Academy Watercolour Pencils range is the college/student grade watercolour pencil range. It has a lesser pigment saturation, and is designed as a good range to start experimenting in. Watercolour pencils are a great way of learning to draw and paint in one foul swoop!

Pastel Pencils

Pastel Pencils are a popular medium in their own right as well as being used to add intricate, controlled detail to conventional soft pastel paintings. Pastel pencils are water-soluble so colour can be blended to appear flatter, and less chalky and textured than when applied dry. Pastel Pencils have the advantage of being wood cased so that you do not get dusty fingers, which helps to avoid smudging and marking work inadvertently. Colours can be blended with one another by layering and using a colour shaper, brush or your finger. The pastel pencils available at Jackson’s Art Supplies are all relatively comparable in terms of quality, although there are differences in colour range and consistency – for example, the Pitt Pastel pencils from Faber Castell are thought to be a little harder than the others. Different consistencies suit different artists – here’s a guide to each range available at Jackson’s Art Supplies.

The Softest, Most Powdery Pencils for maximum colour saturation and expressive marks:

Caran d’Ache Pastel Pencils

Caran d’Ache seeks the advice of practicing professional artists in order to manufacture the highest possible quality art materials, and these pastel pencils are highly regarded and incredibly popular. There are 84 colours in the range. The texture of these pastel pencils is soft and powdery thanks to ultra-fine pigments being used, lending them to effective blending and good colour dispersion. Colours appear bold and saturated, and can easily be ‘knocked back’ with a blender or colour shaper.

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils are a little harder than the Caran d’Ache pastel pencils, but are soft enough to be incredibly versatile and popular among professional artists. The colours in the range are very strong with good covering power. Their saturation makes it easy to put down intricate lines that still show the colour strength of these pencils. Lightfast ness ratings are excellent across the whole range. Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils are particularly well suited to working with water. Sets are available as well as 60 individual colours.

Derwent Pastel Pencils

Another soft consistency pastel pencil which is powdery and with the ability to create expressive and bold marks. 72 lightfast, blendable colours in the range.

Slightly harder consistency pastel pencils for maximum control and fine lines:

Conte Pastel Pencils

Conte pastel pencils should not be confused with Conte crayons; these are pastel pencils that offer an effective tool for adding fine lines to a soft pastel painting. They have a slightly harder consistency than conventional soft pastels. Conte pastels are not designed to be layered or blended one another – they are best used as pure individual colour. If colours need to be blended then a hatching technique is suggested for the best results, as this will avoid any dulling in your colours.

Conte Sketching Pencils – Black Pastel, White, Sanguine, Sepia

These are very useful sketching pencils for expressive life drawing, and other monotone drawings. They are traditional hues that can easily be blended with one another. The Sanguine hue is a rich, terracotta colour and is made with a transparent pigment, so marks allow the texture of the paper to show in order to get the best from your art materials. Mix the Sanguine with the white pencil and you will find a sensitive flesh-like hue. The sepia pencil is a darker pencil akin to burnt umber, and is ideal for rough sketches both indoors and outdoors. The white pencil is perfect for use on dark paper, or as a means of lightening the other pencils in the range and blending.

Faber Castell Pitt Pastel Pencils

The Pitt Pastel Pencil range consists of 60 shades. They are a little harder than the Caran d’Ache pastel pencils and so some artists find them difficult to use, but they are still blendable as well as being useful for hatching and detail. The leads are compacted in order to achieve the highest pigment saturation.


Graphite pencils can be used for writing, artistic and technical drawing. Light graphite pencil markings can be removed with an eraser. Graphite pencils are usually encased in a wooden cylinder but also can be held in a plastic or metal mechanical/clutch pencil. This protective casing prevents the delicate core from breaking or from marking the artist’s hand during use. The ‘hardness’ of a graphite lead is measured using the HB scale. The letter ‘H’ denotes a hard pencil and the letter ‘B’ indicates the ‘blackness’ pencil’s mark. A combination of letters such as ‘HB’ is used to show that a pencil is both hard and black.


Charcoal is most often used for quickly sketching and is especially suitable for life drawing sessions. It is chosen by so many artists because of the immediate response to the artists hand where the marks can be very bold and heavy or can be blended into soft and subtle shading. Willow charcoal breaks easily, especially the thinner sizes. But that’s okay as you will usually want to break the sticks into smaller pieces when you start drawing, as they will be easier to use.

Charcoal Pencils

Charcoal pencils are the perfect tool for an artist who desires the traditional effect of a charcoal stick without the associated messy dust. Charcoal pencils are charcoal leads encased in a layer of wood which not only protects the charcoal from snapping, but also guards the fingers from charcoal marks.


Tinted Charcoal

Few materials produce such a wide variety of creative effects, from rich, deep tones to a translucent-like mist. Mixing natural charcoal particles with a small amount of colour pigment and the finest clays extends the creative possibilities even further. They are ideal for covering large areas quickly and smoothly. Unwanted colour can be lifted out quickly with a kneadable putty eraser or plastic eraser, while the pencil s natural water solubility creates delicate wash effects. And because this unique medium is wood-cased, it is clean and pleasant to use.

Tinted Graphite

If you’d like to introduce some colour to your graphite drawings, tinted graphite does it all! Used dry, tinted graphite pencils provide just a hint of colour but adding water literally transforms the tint into rich, vibrant colour. Derwent manufacture Graphitint pencils and also Graphite XL sticks - pure tinted grapite that is water-soluble.

Water-soluble Graphite

Dip your watersoluble graphite pencil in water and then apply marks to your drawing in order to get deep, dark, bold marks. If you need to blend edges of existing marks use a wet brush or your finger to move the graphite around in order to blend. You can achieve gentle marks by using a wet brush to extract the graphite from your pencil or stick and then paint with the watersoluble graphite, almost as if you were working with watercolour.

Drawing Sets

Mixed sets contain a variety of drawing pencils from graphite pencils to coloured pencils.

The Conté sketching sets contain soft pencils made of natural pigments along with selections of drawing materials. The Derwent collections feature charcoal, coloured pencils or graphite pencils, with complementary drawing accessories, encased in metal tins or luxurious wooden boxes. Staedtler pencil sets are perfect for school, art or office uses. Cretacolor pencils come in graphite, charcoal, sanguine and white and their mixed sets are supplemented by additional drawing accessories, such as erasers and sharpeners. The Faber Castell Red Range includes pencils (insoluble and soluble) and drawing pens suitable for children.

Clutch Pencils

Clutch pencils are barrels made of wood or plastic which can hold sticks of lead. The diameter of the lead that can be accommodated will vary according to brand. Clutch pencils are often favoured by those who create technical drawings as it is easy to sharpen the lead (with the use of a snading block or a piece of sand or glass paper). As the lead is used up you can push the remaining lead further down the barrel with the use of the button at the end of the pencil. It is a good tool for artists who like to work only with the tip of the pencil. If you are an artist who likes to use the side of the lead to get broader marks a regular pencil may be better suited to your needs.


The drawing pencils we know today are made of graphite which became popular as a material for drawing towards the end of the 16th century. Before then drawings were made using a variety of metal sticks. Many of the lovely drawings of the Renaissance period were done using these ‘metal points’. Lead point was the easiest of metals for the artist to use because it didn’t require the paper to be coated with a slightly toothy surface like silver point did. The drawback is that lead is a very soft metal which blunts very easily so the point must be re-shaped often. It was often alloyed with tin to make it harder and reduce the need for constant re-shaping.

Today we still talk about the core of a graphite pencil or coloured pencil as a ‘lead’. We also sell graphite sticks, thin and also 2mm, that are called ‘leads’ and the holder for the loose leads is called a ‘clutch pencil’ or ‘lead holder’. Some sizes of the clutch lead holders work well with silver rods.

An abrasive surface is used to allow the metal to leave a trail of itself. Metal points drawings are difficult to erase but they also do not easily smear. It is best suited to a delicate style of line drawing, a sensitive hand and a confidence that doesn’t use erasure. You can use the end of the metal as a rounded tip or you can sharpen it on a sharpening stone, with sandpaper or using metal cutters. Realise that a very sharp point will leave indents in the drawing surface.

At Jackson’s Art Supplies we stock a variety of traditional metal point materials:

Lead Point Stylus

This stick of solid lead is quite heavy for its size. It comes wrapped in tape.

Because it is the softest metal it makes the darkest grey line of the metal points.

Will make a mark on any paper.

Lead-Tin Point Stylus

This solid stick of lead-tin alloy is nearly as heavy as the lead point. It comes wrapped in tape.

Because the lead is alloyed with tin it is a bit harder so it blunts less quickly and it makes a slightly lighter coloured grey line than the lead stylus.

Will make a mark on any paper.

Silver Point

These 100% silver rods and wires need to be held in a clutch holder which is purchased separately or they come in a ‘pencil’ that is a wood body with a silver wire glued in the tip.

The thin wires fit the wire holder (a type of pin vise) and the 2mm rods fit any of our 2mm clutch lead holders.

The silver marks of the drawing will tarnish over months or years and become a darker, more brown colour, this is one of the effects desired by artists.

The silver is the hardest metal and requires a smooth yet somewhat toothy surface that can be achieved by preparing your surface with gesso primer, Golden Silverpoint Ground, or by using a toothy pastel paper such as Mi Teintes Touch paper and card or Clairefontaine Pastelmat papers. When testing – the 2mm silver rod was found similar to a 3H pencil hardness.

Gold Point

This 9ct gold wire fits the wire holder (see above).

The gold is softer than silver but still works best on a coated ground the same as silverpoint does. The colour is a warm grey to a golden colour, with a golden sheen.

The gold does not tarnish so the drawing colour will not change.

Silverpoint Ground

Many artists enjoy drawing on a surface of illustration board coated with silverpoint ground. The thickness of the board means the moisture from applying the ground will not curl the paper.

As Golden say:
“Designed for the achievement of fine, detailed lines, Silverpoint / Drawing Ground is permanent, lightfast and more flexible over time than traditional preparations. Formulated to meet the unique needs of metal point artists, Golden Silverpoint / Drawing Ground offers a metal receptive ground, applicable to a range of drawing supports. Developed for easy application, the ground has a very fluid consistency that will level as it dries. A Single coat of Silverpoint / Drawing Ground provides a smooth, durable surface, ideal for mark making with a silverpoint stylus or other metal, such as brass, gold, copper, or even a steel paperclip.

Silverpoint, or metal point, drawing as an art form has changed little over the centuries of its distinguished history. The artist working in silverpoint today has an intimate connection to the work of such revered artists as da Vinci and Rembrandt, as well as more recently, Picasso and Joseph Stella. As tiny particles of metal are left behind on a slightly abrasive ground, metal point drawing offers the ability to achieve lasting, exquisitely detailed lines that won’t smudge. If different types of metal are used within a piece, over time oxidation of the different metals will impart subtle shifts in the tonality of the lines.”

Drawing Mediums

Drawing Mediums alter the appearance of your drawing.

Zest It Pencil Blend

Ideal for blending coloured pencils and laying down colour on the paper, only a small amount is needed. Use with a brush, tortillion or paper stump. Pencil Blend leaves no residue and allows the blending of coloured pencils, pastels, oil pastels and wax for under-painting the subject and the finished result.

Drawing Surfaces

Drawing Paper

Cartridge paper is so called because it was originally used for making paper cartridges for firearms. Today artists use it primarily for drawing and printmaking. Cartridge paper tends to be very smooth or with a very light uniform grain. The finest cartridge papers are acid free and made of cotton, for the same reasons as the watercolour paper – this is the most durable paper making materials and the lack of acid content makes the paper age and light resistant. Here’s a guide to our loose cartridge sheets in order of approximate quality.

Stonehenge – Stonehenge is a superior catridge paper from the US. It is available in loose sheets as well as in a 50”x10 yard roll. It is relatively heavyweight for a cartridge paper at 250gsm, and is very resilient and reworkable. Stonehenge has been developed to replicate the characteristics of vellum. It has a slightly mottled surface and is almost silky to the touch. Like Saunders Waterford, Stonehenge is buffered with Calcium Carbonate to prevent discolouration and deterioration. A firm staff favourite.

Schoellershammer 4G Heavyweight Cartridge Paper - 250gsm, smooth to the touch and a creamy natural white colour. Schoellershammer is sufficiently durable to withstand light applications of fluid colour e.g. printmaking inks and drawing inks. The choice of many illustrators.

Fabriano Accademia – Lignin and acid free, made with treated cellulose. FSC Certified. Internally and externally sized, very durable and hardwearing. Suitable for use with pencil, charcoal, pastel, coloured pencil and ink. 200gsm. Available in value packs well suited to art classes as well as large rolls that can be cut to size.

Canson Off White Cartridge Paper – 100gsm and available in an A1 pack of 250 sheets. Less than half the weight of our heaviest cartridge papers and well suited to life drawing classes. An ideal surface on which to apply graphite, charcoal and coloured crayons.

Lower cost cartridge sheet packs of paper – we also sell light, very affordable packs of Snowdon and Norfolk paper, which are perfect for experiments, quick work and idea development.

Drawing Pads

Drawing is a vital part of the creative process for many artists, designers and craftspeople. Within this category you will find a range of different pads of paper that cater for a wide range of needs.

Bright White, Smooth paper pads – for crisp lines and colour, well suited to detailed work, illustration and graphic design

A crisp white, very smooth surface lends itself well to design work because it will replicate the printer paper that may be used in reproducing work. The quality of this paper does not alter the effects created by the materials applied to it, other than to show their qualities at their very best. The high white colour of such pristine smooth pads such as Bristol board pads (made by Canson, Winsor and Newton and Daler Rowney) will maximise the luminosity of the colours applied to it. Marker pads such as the ones manufactured by Daler Rowney and Crescent are designed primarily for marker and felt pen drawings – the surface is completely bleedproof, thus maintaining clean edges and good quality of line. Bright white, smooth drawing pads can be used for work in most drawing materials, including graphite, charcoal, pen and ink, technical pen, airbrush and light washes of watercolour.

For those looking for a bright white, smooth paper pad we recommend:

Canson Bristol Pad, 250gsm (heavy so good erasability), available in A4 and A3, 20 sheets of extra smooth white paper

Winsor and Newton Bristol Board Pad

Daler Rowney Bristol Board Pad, 250gsm, available in A4 and A3

Daler Rowney Lyndhurst High White and Smooth Paper Pad, 135gsm

Daler Rowney Marker Pad, 70gsm, available in A4, A3 and A2 sizes

Letraset Marker pad – 70gsm, bleedproof and ideal for lots of illustration techniques including Manga. 50 sheet pads available in A4, A3 and A2 sizes.

Montana Sketchbooks (the paper in these have been coated to minimise absorption of ink and show colours at their brightest. The coating also reduced drying time), 120gsm, available in A4 portrait and landscape format in A4 and A5.

Schoellershammer Marker Pad, 75gsm, available in A4, A3 and A2 sizes. These smooth, high white colour pads have a bleedproof coating, which means that even the heaviest marker pen marks will not show through to the other side. The high white will maximise the luminosity of the colours that you are using. The quality of the paper is also conducive to minimising the drying time of ink.

Crescent Maker Art Board – bleedproof, brilliant colour, hardwearing so can take lots of erasing without damage. Also recommended for airbrushing. The Graffiti maker board is particularly well suited to spraying as well as marker pen work.

Layout and Tracing Pads for Design work – Semi-transparent, bleedproof and favoured by designers and illustrators

Daler Rowney Layout Pads – 45gsm, available in A4, A3 and A2

  • Crisp, lightweight illustration paper suitable for pencil, pen and ink. Good practice paper for marker and calligraphy artists.

Letraset Layout Pads

  • 60gsm, available in A4, A3 and A2 sizes. The paper is bleed resistant, and semi-transparent which is very useful in the intermediate stages of the design process.

Daler Rowney Tracing Pads

  • Available in 60gsm or 90gsm, A4, A3 or A2 sizes. Superb eras ability with both erasers and blades. Perfect to be drawn on with pencil, drawing pens and inks.
Drawing Pads with texture and characteristics that will influence the look of your drawing.

There are a number of pads that may be better suited to fine artists as the texture or tooth of the paper will influence the overall look of the work made on the paper. This is likely to suit the needs of fine artists or those who are not intending on reproducing their work. It also suits some fine artists because the unfamiliarity of a unique and characterful surface on which to work can lend itself well to a higher degree of experimentation during the creative process.

Khadi Paperback Pads – these pads are made with the famous Khadi handmade paper; a 100% cotton rag paper which is particularly absorbent and textured. A recommended surface for those who create bold drawings, and enjoy working with materials that possess qualities that play a prominent role in the overall look of your work.

Hahnemuehle Sumi-e Japanese Ink Paper Pads, 80gsm, available in 30cmx 40cm and 24cm x 32cm. This paper is very unique to Far Eastern painting traditions. It is very absorbent and semi transparent, and feels very soft as a result of the lack of sizing. It’s surface is dappled with undulations in the opacity of the paper which makes it very pleasing to the eye. It is best suited to free style ink and watercolour painting as indicated by the cover design. Sumi-e is the name of traditional the Japanese approach to free style ink painting, which usually is highly impressionistic with minimal marks to describe the subject. It derives from Chinese Calligraphy, which dates back as far as the 5th Century B.C.

Coloured Paper Drawing Pads

Daler Rowney Canson Assorted Coloured Pads and Clairefontaine’s Maya Coloured Drawing Paper Pad are our choices for coloured drawing paper pads. Both contain artist’s quality paper in a range of brilliant, matte colours. Both could be used as a scrapbook might be used, but the paper is of a far superior quality to sugar paper. The pads are best used for drawing, or for other creative applications such as collage or paper sculpture. Daler Rowney Canson Assorted colour paper pads are 150gsm and heavy enough to cut, curve, crease, and emboss: in other words, an ideal material to use when making greeting cards. The Daler Rowney Canson pads have 8 different colours and 30 sheets in each pad, and are available in A4 and A3 sizes. The Clairefontaine Maya Coloured Drawing Pads are only available in A4 size and contain 10 colours, 2 sheets of each.

Drawing Pads as a visual journal – a record of your creative journey

The most common use for a drawing pads is to record ideas, preparatory sketches, quick observational drawings that may develop into ideas for other works of art. A good sketchbook for such use is likely to have paper with a bit of weight (100gsm or more). Drawing pads that are intended to be taken to classes, to the studio, or with your wherever will ideally have a hard cover to help protect the work within. They may also have a spiral binding to help the book stay open when working. They are listed in order of weight with the lightest first.

Daler Rowney Case Bound Pad, 100 gsm, 110 sheets, available in the following sizes: 6”x4”, 8.5”x5.5”, 8.5”x11”, 14”x11”. Natural white and medium grain paper ideal for dry applications of drawing media.

Daler Rowney Black Cover Spiral Bound Hard back pad, 160gsm, 80 sheets in each pad in the following sizes: 5.5”x8.5” and 8.5”x11

Daler Rowney Graduate Sketchbooks, 140gsm, A5, A4 and A3 sizes, with a soft glossy cover and 20 sheets in each pad

Daler Rowney Red and Yellow Spiral Drawing Pads, 150gsm – These pads are very popular among students. The paper is heavy enough for repeated erasing. The paper is a natural white. Perfect for observational drawing, e.g. at life drawing classes.

Daler Rowney Ebony Hardback and Hardback Spiral pads, 150gsm – 160gsm – acid free, 50-60 sheet of off white paper. These pads are also available with a special limited edition Union Jack cover.

Fabriano Venezia Hardback Sketchbook – these beautiful hardback pads bind 200gsm Accademia 100% cotton, natural white paper into a patterned cover, inspired by the mosaics found in the San Marco area of Venice. The paper is heavy enough to take both wet and dry media, including ink, graphite, charcoal, coloured pencils, watercolour and pastel. Each book contains 48 pages and comes in 3 sizes: 4”x6”, 6”x9” and 9”x12”.

Gnu Hardback Sketchbooks – These pretty hardback sketchbooks come in an array of brightly coloured covers with contrasting binding as well as a ribbon marker sewn into the sketchbook. They are perfect art journals to take out and about with you in order to jot down ideas and make quick sketches in to. The paper is 100gsm, and there are 192 pages in each book. The paper is FSC certified and ivory in colour. There is a useful pocket fitted into the back cover to store loose items. Gnu sketchbooks are available in A5 and A6 sizes.

Jackson’s Cloth Casebound Cartridge Pads – these pads hold 140gsm paper which is best suited to drawing in dry media. They are very sturdy with a high quality cover that will protect your drawings within. These pads are considered to be excellent value for money and are available in a large range of square and rectangular sizes.

Moleskine Sketchbooks and Watercolour Albums – Moleskine are world renowned for their high quality diaries, sketchbooks and notepads, and Jackson’s is proud to stock this famous brand. The sketchbooks hold 250gsm paper which would make it heavy enough for light applications of wet media as well as good erasability of all dry media. Sketchbooks are fitted with a ribbon marker and elastic enclosure and are available in 2 sizes: 13cm x 21xm with 104 pages and 9cmx 14cm with 80 pages. The watercolour album is available in A4 size and holds 60 x 200gsm, 25% cotton not surface watercolour paper. It too has an elastic enclosure. In addition to this we also sell plain, squared and ruled notebooks.

Montana Notebooks – plain and squared paper available in A6 size, 80g – these note and sketchbooks are the perfect location to develop ideas and record observations. They have a ribbon marker and an elastic enclosure, as well as a very useful pocket in the back of the book for storing loose items such as business cards, photos, cut-outs and stencils.

Winsor and Newton Spiral Cartridge Pads, 96gsm – The paper is lightweight and has a subtle texture on its surface and the pads contain 50 sheets. Because the paper is thin we would suggest only using these pads for sketches and drawings in dry media. The pads are bound on the short side and are available in A6, A5, A4 and A3.

Winsor and Newton Spiral Cartridge Pads, 150gsm – There are 2 varieties of pads in this weight of paper – one with a medium texture and the other amooth. The heavier weight can take light applications of watercolour and ink. There are 25 sheets in each pad. They are available in A2, A3, A4, A5 and A6 sizes.

Drawing Pads with versatile, high quality paper ideal for ’final’ or exhibition standard work

There are a number of pads that are gummed in a soft cover pad and are not suitable for use as a journal, as the work inside would be susceptible to damage if transported around. However the paper is of a high quality and is excellent for drawings intended for presentation or exhibition, as well as silk screen relief and etching prints. The heavier weights of paper (150gsm and heavier) are perfectly able to hold light washes in ink and watercolour.

Daler Rowney Fine Grain, available in 120gsm or 160gsm, in A5, A4, A3 and A2 sizes

Daler Rowney Fine Grain Heavyweight 200gsm, available in A5, A4, A3 and A2

  • These 2 ranges have a fine grain which is lovely to draw on in wax crayon, pastel, graphite and charcoal. The grain allows the colour of coloured pencils and colour crayons to appear at their most luminous. The heavier weight paper is also great for very light applications of watercolour and printmaking.

Daler Rowney Heavyweight Cartridge Paper Pad – 220gsm, available in A5, A4, A3 and A2

  • A very smooth heavy weight paper that is a natural white, ideal for all drawing processes.

Hahnemuhle Nostalgie Sketchbooks contain 190gsm weight paper, natural white with a slight texture. The paper is acid free and an ideal surface for all dry media as well as light applications of watercolour, gouache and ink.

Stonehenge pads, 250gsm, 15 sheets per pad in the following sizes: 18”x 24”, 11” x 14”, 9” x 12”, 8” x 8”, 5” x 7”. The paper is manufactured to resemble vellum, a rich, textured surface, and its weight allows the paper to take washes of watercolour gouache and ink with minimal cockling. It is also a highly satisfying surface on which to apply dry drawing media. The paper is 100% cotton and non-yellowing. Stonehenge is highly recommended by our staff.

Winsor and Newton Cartridge Gummed pads, available in 130gsm and 220gsm, and in sizes A5, A4, A3 and A2 (all sizes are available in all weights). These pads are simple gummed pads with a glossy paper cover and a rigid board backing. The lighter pads are better suited to dry media and the heavier pads are able to take light applications of wet media as well as dry, without cockling. Pads contain 25 sheets in each.

Lightweight, economical paper for experiments, fast work, sketches

The following drawing pads contain paper that is lighter that 100gsm, and is highly affordable. Such pads are perfect for observational drawings, quick idea development. The sort of paper you will not feel intimidated by, and won’t worry about making mistakes on! These pads have a greater number of pages in them, which also encourages you to keep on using as many pages as you need to get your drawing how you want it.

Daler Rowney Arteco Jumbo Sketching Pads – 120 sheets of 95gsm paper in A4 and A3 sizes

Jackson’s Soft Cover pads – these pads are staple bound with a black soft cover. They contain 40 pages of 140gsm weight paper. They are ideal for short art courses or projects and are available both landscape and portrait bound. Available in A5, A4 and A3 sizes.

Drawing Pads for the Environmentally Conscious

The Fabriano Eco Pads are made of 100% recycled cellulose paper. They are acid free, but not 100% cotton. They are made in Italy with Hydro or water power, i.e. the energy derived from falling water. The manufacture of these Eco pads allows to save 15 trees for every ton of paper produced. Eco paper pads are available in 120gsm or 200gsm, each weight paper is available in both an A4 and A3 sized pad.

Hahnemuehle Sugar Cane Multi Media Block, 280gsm, 20 sheets per pad, available in the following sizes: 24cmx32cm, 30cmx40cm, 36cm x48cm, 42cmx 56cm. The production of these sugar cane multi-media blocks is powered by renewable energy, and the paper itself is made from the materials extracted from sugar cane production waste as well as recycled cotton fibres. The paper is substantially heavy at 280gsm and is strong enough to withstand wet and dry media.

Jackson’s Eco Hardback Recycled Pads – Our handmade 100% cotton Eco paper is very absorbent and is full of character. It does not have as much sizing as some other watercolour papers, but to many artists this lends an interesting dynamic to the paper as a surface for watercolour and gouache painting, as well as drawing in other wet and dry media. The Eco paper pads come in an A4 casebound pad which holds 92 pages, and a spiral bound pad which holds 50 pages. The paper is 130gsm weight.

Drawing Grounds

Acrylic Ground for Pastel

Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels is a 100% acrylic medium designed to prepare surfaces for the application of pastels, charcoal and other art media where a coarse tooth is desired. It contains finely ground sand (silica) in a pure acrylic emulsion.
Acrylic Ground for Pastels can be applied to paper, canvas, wood or any primed support. This allows almost limitless applications for media typically confined to standard papers.


Due to the weight of the solids in Acrylic Ground for Pastels, it is produced very thick, and does not come ready to brush-apply. Thin 20-40% with water to desired consistency.


Apply with brush, paint-roller, spray equipment, squeegee or palette knife.Mix up only as much as is needed for one day's work, as the solids will settle rapidly and be extremely difficult to mix back into suspension.

Acrylic Ground for Silver Point

Golden Silverpoint / Drawing Ground is a liquid acrylic used for the preparation of supports for drawing media. The ground is designed for the achievement of fine detailed lines on a permanent, lightfast, flexible ground. Silverpoint / Drawing Ground is ideal for use with metal styli or other drawing tools. It is formulated with 100% acrylic polymer emulsion, a low viscosity fluid that contains high levels of titanium dioxide and prepares surfaces to readily accept marks from a metal stylus.

Golden Silverpoint / Drawing Ground is designed for thin applications only. When applied too thickly the film may crack upon curing. A single thin coat is typically sufficient.

It can be brush or spray applied to paper, primed canvas, wood or any surface that will accept a water-based coating. The most common substrate for metal point drawing is heavy weight hot pressed watercolor paper.

Note: Because lower weight papers are susceptible to buckling from the moisture in the Silverpoint / Drawing Ground, some artists may find taping the edges down will help prevent extensive warping.

Drawing Tools

A definition of drawing might be to form an image predominantly using lines. Drawings can be made using ink, graphite, charcoal or wax crayons. Some artists combine media to create drawings, and we have whole books dedicated to the subject of mixed media. Drawing can be a crucial way for an artist to record what he or she has seen. It can also be a good way to develop an idea. Many artists begin 3-dimensional artwork or 2 dimensional artwork in other media by formalising the initial idea in a drawing. Therefore, time dedicated to drawing is never time wasted, and investment in the right materials equips the artist with the best tools for a successful drawing. Not all the art accessories in this category will be suitable for all kinds of drawing media, and we have tried to specify where this is the case. Here is a brief overview of the kinds of materials you will see in this section.


Erasers remove graphite and charcoal, as well as coloured crayon marks. An eraser is as valuable as the drawing implement in creating forms within a drawing – it can help establish the negative spaces within a composition. Putty erasers are malleable and can be moulded so that very small areas can be erased – their softness is sympathetic to soft paper surfaces and you are less likely to damage paper with a soft eraser. Plastic erasers are a little more rigid, and they cannot be moulded into different shapes. They are less likely to smudge marks than a putty eraser when used lightly.Jackson’s also offers a couple of electric erasers that help you remove drawing marks with remarkable ease.

Blenders/Burnishers/Colour Shapers

Particularly useful for artists working in coloured pencil, pastel pencil or even charcoal and pastels, these tools tend to be used once colour has been applied to the drawing surface. Blenders will blend colours together, and paper stumps and tortillions can also do this to an extent. Derwent offer a burnishing pencil – it is a regular pencil with a wax lead which you can use to apply a very thin layer of sheen to an area or whole of a drawing. Colour shapers can be used to blend colours, and they can also burnish if one uses it to push deposited colour further into paper…this closes the gaps between the deposited pigment particles and allows it to appear more saturated and brilliant.


A sharp point to a pencil is vital for crisp, fresh vibrant lines and marks. Our extensive variety of choice allows you to decide between a simple sharpener, one that collects the sharpenings, or one that is battery operated making it a 100% effortless task. Or, you might choose to buy a craft knife or sandpaper block instead! For very soft pastel pencils we also sell special pastel pencil sharpeners by Derwent and Stabilo.

Pencil Cases

There are a number of options of how you might choose to store your pencils. A pencil wrap allows one to carry a large number of pencils with no real extra weight added, and rolls to a very compact and practical cylinder, and we sell both economy unbranded pencil wraps as well as a few by Derwent. We also sell pencil tins and zip up pencil cases as alternative methods of pencil storage. Derwent’s Carry All Pencil storage allows very well equipped pencil artists to carry up to 132 pencils in a very practical, specially designed shoulder bag.

Other drawing art accessories

Other drawing art accessories on offer include telescopic tubes which are ideal for taking large life drawings home from class, and pencil extenders and grippers which help with holding drawing media even if you’ve sharpened or used most of it away, allowing you to get the most out of your drawing materials.