Comic art is an exciting medium that tells a story through a series of images and text. Since the 20th century, it has risen in popularity all around the world, from comic strips and superhero comics in the United States to manga culture in Japan. Its use of sequential panels allows for a range of creative narratives and expressions.
Although some artists have transitioned to digital media, many cartoonists, like award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden, continue to tell stories through pen and paper. Want to start drawing your own comics? Then make sure you have some of these essential art supplies to help you get started.
Want to start drawing cartoons? Then make sure you have these art supplies!
Like other traditional art forms, comics also begins with a sketching phase, so it’s important to find the right drawing utensil for your process. While some cartoonists prefer a wooden pencil with a softer lead that will help them draw quickly, others may prefer the control of a mechanical pencil. Another popular option is a non-photo blue pencil, which creates marks that will not be detected by a Graphic Arts Camera or scanner.
Blackwing Palomino Pencils (Set of 12)
Pentel Graph Gear 500 Pencil (0.5 Lead)
Staedtler Non-Photo Pencil
The most popular paper for cartoonists is Bristol paper. This is available in two different surfaces: smooth or vellum. The smooth surface is popular with pen and ink media as it allows the ink to glide across the paper with ease. On the other hand, the vellum surface can be used with a wider range of dry media and will give the pencil or pen a bit more grip to work with.
Strathmore 300 Series Smooth Bristol Paper (9″ x 12″)
Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Vellum Paper (11″ x 14″)
Rulers and Compasses
Another vital tool every cartoonist should have on their drawing desk is a dependable ruler. This will help you measure panels and draw even lines. Likewise, a compass or protractor is a great utensil to aid you with sketching circles.
Blick Stainless Steel Ruler (12″—24″)
Alvin Bow Compass
Pen and Ink
Once you’ve sketched, measured, and drafted your comic it’s time to go over it in ink. This can be done in a variety of ways, so it may take some experimenting to find what works best for your style and story. Some of the most common inking tools that cartoonists use are dip pens or brushes, which are used with India ink, refillable brush pens, technical fine-nib pens, and fountain pens.
Speedball Cartooning Pen and Nib Project Set
Speedball Super Black Waterproof India Ink (2 oz)
Kuretake Brush Pen
Sakura Manga Comic Pro Set – Sketching & Ink Set, Set of 8
Pilot Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen
Need a little more help before you get started? Then pick up some art books!
Need some extra help before you start drawing? Not to worry! There are a variety of how-to-draw books that will guide you through the ins and outs of making comics.
Making Comics by Lynda Barry
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud