Tools of the Trade


I get asked a lot about the tools I used for design and illustration, so I thought I'd dedicate a post just to the tools I use the most. It's taken me years to really try everything and settle on what I love and use most, so I hope this list helps!

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This is the pencil I use when I'm drafting ideas and don't want to leave a heavy mark. This pencil is by far my favorite drafting's perfectly weighted and because it's a hard pencil, it doesn't use a lot of lead and so it lasts a long time! 

2) Staedtler 2b Pencils

These are my favorite pencils by far! Staedtler is a wonderful brand, and the 2b is what I use for drawing my final art's soft but can still sharpen up really well. I have the most control with these! 

3) Colerase Pencils

I use these pencils also for sketching, if I plan on using a darker line overtop as I work out a piece. I only use the Indigo and the Terra Cotts colors, as they offer a cool or warm tone to a drawing that for whatever reason is really easy on my eye and helps me to work things out as I'm sketching. They have an eraser on the end, which is nice, although do note they don't erase as easily as a soft graphite pencil, as they are harder and waxier. But the eraser is nice. 

4) Pentel Mechanical Pencil

My drawing is mostly very loose, but when I need a more fine edge or smaller detail, I will use this pencil. The .3 is a good contrast to my use of 2b pencils. 

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1) Caran D'ache 120 piece Colored Pencil Set

I've watched the USA get more and more access to this amazing brand of pencils. My father worked in Switzerland for several years, and his first year there, he picked me up some of these colored pencils...from the grocery store of all places, and mailed them to me a s gift. I was IN LOVE! Best colored pencils I've ever used, hands down. I love soft colored pencils, and these ones are water soluble, so if you paint as well, they can be washed like a watercolor if you wish. The vibrancy and saturation of color is unparalleled in my book. Worth every penny. They are getting easier to find, and now you can get them on Amazon! 

2) Caran D'ache 30 Peice Pencil Set

If you aren't ready to try the full set (watch for amazing sales on amazon can get a steal!) this small set is a really great place to start and try them out! Caran D'ache makes other really lovely colored pencils...the supracolor just fits my style and work the best. 

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1) Walnut Ink

Is it bad to say I almost didn't share this product with you? It's one of my secret weapons in inking/drawing. This is a sepia ink, but it's watered down a bit...I don't even know how what the formula is but I don't care because it's so lovely. This offers much more breathe in the line work than a regular sepia ink. It is not water proof, so any watercolor work will get a bleed. But it's the most delicate and refined ink that I use, and it's a signature of my work. 

2) Black India Ink

This is a gold standard of drawing inks, you can't go wrong! I've used these for the longest time. Tried and true.

3) Japanese Pentel Fude Brush Pen

I use these pens for calligraphy, or gesture drawing, and they are lovely. This one is my favorite, and I've tried a lot! It is more like a brush, so the tip is going to give variation unlike a manufactured tip. Do look at the instructions for how to open/use it at first. It's in Japanese, so make sure to take a look before trying to use it. 

4) Copic Multiliner Pen, .5

These pens I use for more technical work, as they have a very nice predictable and trustworthy edge. These are easy to find and easy to refill. 

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When it comes to paint, I use different brands based on the color I like better. The Dr. Ph Martins I use as a stain, the M. Graham tends to be a bit more saturated for me, and the Holbein is dense. I use Gouache like a watercolor, but layer it up when I need it thicker. 

2) Holbein Gouache Paint

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1) Connoisseur Round Brushes

I have a lot of different watercolor brushes, but these are my go-to for most of my work. This brand in general is one I can always trust. The hairs never seem to separate and keep a really good point.

I use sizes 45, 6 and an 8 the most. 

2) Connoisseur Kolinsky Brushes

I love the Connoisseur Sable brushes. They hold paint really well, and have the sable texture that I love. The handle is plastic and so it holds up to wear and tear so nicely! 


1) Arches 140 lb cold press watercolor paper

As a professional artist, finding the right paper is a long process. I've landed on this one as the one that I use for all my final art work, and it's just beautiful. I save my sketching for the less expensive paper. 

When I'm working on Children's books or larger pieces, I will use this 22x30 paper and cut it down to size asa need. 

2) Canson Watercolor Cold Press watercolor Pad

This is the paper that I use when I'm sketching out my ideas, or if I don't need a heavier, more textured paper for what I'm working on. It's lighter weight, and the price makes for guilt free art making. 

2) Moleskin Sketchbooks

I've been using moleskin cahiers since they started their business 20 years ago, and if I remember correctly these were the first sketchbooks to come out. They come in packs of 3, are in my opinion the best price for the quality. They are easy to travel with, carry in your purse...the size is 7.5x10" which isn't too big or too small.  The lay-flat factor alone sells it. The paper is just the right thickness for me, and I love the little pocket in the back for keeping little bit of inspiration.

4) Vellum Paper

I use vellum paper like most people use sketch paper. I use vellum because my process of art keeps line work and paint separate and so I need to be able to keep the line work on a translucent layer. This vellum paper is the best I've found. 

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1) Light box

I don't know what I would do without this. I use it so much it just stays on my art table 24/7. It's 12x17" in size, sturdy and not too thick so it's not a burden to just draw on top of even when the light's not on. Mine is covered in paint and ink and it's become part of my table:) 



2) Cintiq 22 HD

I used a wacom tablet for years, but once I used the wacom cintiq, I realized I could work so much faster and more precisely because it's just like drawing on a tablet. With a swivel and rotating base, you can really use it like an art board. This is the foundation to the digital work that I do. 

3)EPSON XL 10000 Scanner

Also a daily tool that I use. Because I enter all my artwork into the computer to create the final piece, this scanner is worth every penny. It's the only scanner I know of that is big enough without getting in the astronomical price range. It's exceptional, and EPSON brand is the best there is. 

3) Epson P800

I have used the Epson Large Format Printer for the past 10 years, and it's changed its name at least 3 times already. I'm currently using the Epson 3880 which is discontinued, but when I replace it, it will be with this printer, which is basically the updated version. I used this for printing fine art prints in my shop as well as printing out art work while I'm working on book art and textile work. From my 10 years of experience, this printer really has no competition. 

4) 27" I MAC

I have a 27" screen and at first it seemed crazy. But when you are working with artwork, it'a must! '

5) Photoshop

Photoshop is subscription based now, and that's been nice to not have to worry about updates, etc. 

I only use photoshop, and don't use illustrator unless I absolutely have to. 

6) Beats Wireless Headphones

It might seem silly to include these in my art tools, but my world changed when I chose to wear these while I work. As a busy mom of 4 kids, I found that to get into "art mode" I needed to zone out and music triggers me to get there.  And added benefit: even when no music is playing these partially block sound, and they are wireless so moving around the studio is effortless. And they are so comfy on my ears! Honestly, 90% of my focus comes from these babies.