11 Art Supplies Artists CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT

Many people with a passion to be an artist are often overwhelmed by the huge variety and options of art supplies out there.

For many of these, the best pick is to go for the supplies the professionals use.

That’s a good starting point and I have compiled a list of some essential art supplies that professional artists commonly use and recommend.

1. Good-Quality Pencils

This one is a no brainer

Everyone in their life, artist or hobbyist, has started with a pencil.

If you are someone who uses graphite pencils regularly you might be aware that not all brands offer the same quality.

This means to create smooth and fine pieces of art you need to have some high-quality pencils.

The main two brands I would recommend are Derwent and Staedtler:

You can check out my article on the best pencils for drawing and shading for some more insight.

If you find the time to read my above article you might notice I also labeled the Palomino Blackwing as one of the greatest pencils ever made.

However, the reason I didn’t list it here is that it’s not the main go-to pencil for every artist. The most common ones used and recommended by professionals are Derwent and Staedtler Mars.

Both the pencil brands offer great consistency, smooth lines, and no scratching;

Smooth, flowing lines
No scratching
Minimal smudging
Wide range of grading (12B to 10H)

The only main issue I saw was a very few people on Amazon commenting that the pencils were hard to erase.

However, other professionals who have also reviewed these brands didn’t have any complaints.

2. Erasers

As humans, we make mistakes, more often than not…

But that’s okay! Because we can usually undo them with the right set of tools.

The erasers I suggest for the best quality and great value for money is the Prismacolor Premier Eraser Set of 3

prismacolor premier eraser set of 3

For only $3 on Amazon, the set includes a kneaded rubber, art gum, and a plastic eraser.

  • Kneaded rubber – this is a moldable rubber that can also be used to make highlights and rub some tight edges in your drawings without accidentally erasing other parts of your drawing.
  • Art gum – the art gum eraser is designed to easily erase dry media and absorb graphite.
  • Plastic eraser – this is better than a rubber eraser as it erases pencil marks more effectively and doesn’t smear as much.

The Prismacolor Premier Eraser set is a must-have for every artist.

3. Sketchbooks

Bundle of sketchbooks lying on top of each other

Good supplies won’t do much without a good drawing surface

Having the right sketchbook is crucial for better drawings and a good finish

If this is your first time buying a professional sketchbook you may not notice many differences

However, as you progress you will start to notice a difference between certain textures and the effect they have on your artistic ability.

You will also start to get an idea of which one suits your artistic expression as well.

These are the best Sketchbooks used by Artists

  • Strathmore Series
  • Pentalic Wirebound Sketchbook
  • Canson Series
best sketchbooks recommended by artists including Canson, Pentalic, and Strathmore series

Don’t let the word “series” confuse you.

I used the word series as they have numerous options for sketchbooks specified for different mediums.

The links for the Canson and Strathmore series below will take you to a broad selection of sketchbooks on Amazon

You can choose the one you want accordingly.

However, the Pentalic Wirebound Sketchbook is a must-have for artists on the go.

It has a durable hardcover and its size is perfect to be carried around in your hand.

Pentalic Wirebound Sketchbook

Easy to tear pagesExpensive compared to other brands
Perfect for dry medium 
Durable hardcover 
Double wire-bound 

The main disadvantage to this great sketchbook is its price.

It’s quite expensive especially compared to other professional sketchbooks.

You can buy it for $14.39 on Amazon.

Canson Sketchbook Series

Sturdy, good quality paperPaper might cause graphite smudging
Fine textureWet medium might bleed through, though this is rare
Allows for good blendingPaper is prone to accidental tearing
Erases well 

You can check out the Canson series sketchbooks from Amazon and choose the one most suitable for your medium and one that fits your budget.

Strathmore Sketchbook Series

Extremely high-qualityNot best for watercolor
Most commonly used sketchbookNew versions have poorer paper quality
Trusted by professionalsBit expensive compared to Canson

You can check out the Strathmore series sketchbooks from Amazon and choose the one most suitable for your medium and one that fits your budget.

4. Markers

Markers recommended by professional artists

If you like binge-watching big YouTube artists such as Jazza and SuperRaeDizzle you’ll know how much they love markers.

Markers are great for filling in art because of their contrasting color and their variety of hues.

There are 2 types of Artist Markers

  • Alcohol-Based – these are made with a combination of pigment and alcohol. They dry quickly and are permanent, meaning they won’t smudge. However, these markers do have an odor to them.
  • Water-Based – these are made with a combination of water and glycerin. They take some time to dry up and will bleed if water touches them. However, they do not leave behind the odor which alcohol-based markers do.

These markers are the biggest brands out there and every artist’s favorite:

  • Copic Markers
  • Prismacolor 3620 Premier Double-Ended Art Markers

The great thing about these famous marker brands is that they come in sets of 12, 24, 36, and even 72 colors.

Both Markers are alcohol-based.

Copic Markers

Best marker brandExpensive
Refillable markers and replaceable nibs 
Double-ended tip, brush tip, and chisel tip 

You can buy the 12 Copic markers set on Amazon for $66

Prismacolor Premier Marker

Double-ended tip, fine tip, and chisel tipNon-refillable
Rich saturationDo not have a brush tip
Cheaper compared to other brands 

You can buy yourself the Prismacolor double-ended markers on Amazon for $23.21.

5. Good-quality paints

Paints recommended by professional Artists
Paints recommended by professional Artists

Painting is everyone’s favorite past time

At the beginner stage, cheap, low-quality poster paints tend to get the job done for most hobbyists.

However, as you progress you might find yourself wanting newer, richer paints.

There are 3 types of paint most commonly used by industry artists:

  • Acrylic Paints
  • Watercolor
  • Oil Paints

For the best quality acrylic paints people use:

These paints are high-quality, consistent, and rich in contrast and color.

For watercolor many artists tend to go with:

Both sets are professional-grade, high-quality, and great for mixed media.

For oil painting the most popular are:

Both the oil color brands have a consistent gloss, a smooth buttery finish, and a high level of pigmentation making them rich in color.

6. Paintbrushes

professional art brushes dipped in paint
Paintbrushes recommended by professional Artists

Many artists, beginner or professional, go crazy over the vast amounts and variety of brushes out there.

However, most professionals just use a good set of brushes for painting.

If you are planning on buying paint along with these brushes it’s important to note that some painting sets might come with their own brushes like the Winsor and Newton Watercolor set.

The most commonly used brushes are:

The above two brush sets come in packs of 4, 5, and 7 brushes enough for the majority of your artworks

A good paintbrush comes down to its quality of bristles, which includes its paint-spreading capability and durability.

However, I’ve noticed as long as you’re skilled at painting any brush can get the job done.

7. Canvases

Abstract painting on high quality canvas
Canvases recommended by professional artists

You need a good-quality canvas to make your paints “pop”.

That’s is hip-hop for good contrast.

The best kind of canvases are the ones that are durable, lasting a long time hanging on walls, are flexible, have good wood and high-quality fabric to make your colors appear vibrant and consistent.

The ones I’ve seen most people recommend are:

Both the canvases are excellent for painting.

U.S. Art Supply Cotton Canvas

U.S. Art Supply cotton canvases
Heavy-weightNot great for watercolors
Triple-primed surfaceThin surface
Great for mixed media 
Many different sizes available 

The main issue most people have with this canvas is the fact that it’s thin with many saying it was like “painting on cardboard.”

You can buy the U.S Art Supply Canvas in bulk on Amazon.

Darice Stretched Canvas

Darice Stretched canvas
Double-primed surfaceQuality issues regarding staple tearing
Strecther keys 
11 different sizes available 

You can buy the Darice Stretched canvas in bulk on Amazon.

8. Colored Pencils

multicolored pencils lined up in a circle
Color pencils recommended by professional artists
Finding the best-colored pencils might be easy.

The best color pencils have higher pigmentation making the colors rich and blend together easily.

The best color pencils are:

Both the pencil brands are:

  • Break-resistant
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Vibrant, rich in color
  • Smooth and consistent
  • Soft lead
  • Available in a range of sets (24, 48, 72, 132)

You can check out the Prismacolor premier colored pencils 48 pack for $37.49:

 And the Faber-Castell Classic Colored Pencils 48 pack tin set for $27.61 on Amazon:

9. Sharpener

Pencil sharpeners recommended by professional artists

A great sharpener is crucial for better drawings and coloring

It may seem insignificant but having a good sharpener can give you full control over the precision of your pencil by sharpening to a full point.

Most professional artists specializing in fine arts prefer to use knives or a sharpening block to sharpen their pencils.

If you are looking for a tool made specifically for sharpening you need a sharpener

These 2 are the best sharpeners in the industry:

Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener:

Derwent Super Point Manual Sharpener:

Both the sharpeners are of high quality and made by well-trusted and established brands.

Both of them will give your pencils a sharp point perfect for blending together color pencils and fine sketching.

10. Blending stump/Tortillon

Blending stumps recommended by professional artists (image source)

A blending stump or tortillon is a compressed piece of cylindrical paper with a point at the end.

This is a must-have for artists into sketching and drawing.

It is best to create realistic shades and add value to your shading.

Most artists use any type of blending stump as there isn’t much difference in quality regarding different brands.

These are the 2 I’ve seen most commonly used:

Pro Art Blending Paper Stumps:

Derwent Paper Stump Blisters:

Both will get the job done and give you smooth, consistent shading.

11. Display Drawing Tablet

Display drawing tablets recommended by artists

This one is for digital artists

Digital art is on the rise, according to 360ResearchReports, Digital Art Board Market Size is Expected to Reach USD 460.1 million by 2026, from USD 279.4 million in 2021, at a CAGR of 8.7%.

There are 2 types of drawing tablets that are used for painting digitally:

  • Display Tablets – these are tablets with a screen on them and don’t necessarily require a computer to be plugged in with.
  • Non-display Tablets – these tablets do not have a screen built-in with them. These are connected to your computer and as you draw on the tablet, the lines appear on the computer screen. This requires good hand-to-eye coordination.

Even though non-display tablets are great for beginners to excel in digital art many digital artists recommend you buy yourself a display drawing tablet.

These artists also use industry-standard software to create their artworks which are also an important part of drawing digitally

These are the best display tablets:

Wacom Cintiq 22

IPad Pro

Huion Kamvas Pro 24

Display drawing tablets recommended by professional digital artists

Even though I can guarantee you these are the best tablets the main downside for these are the prices.

These tablets are expensive ranging from $700 to over $1000.

However, there is another professional-grade display drawing tablet, the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 which is available on Amazon for $249 though these are rarely available.

If you are a beginner on a budget you might want to take a look at my best picks on drawing tablets for beginners (these will be non-display tablets).

You can also check my buying guide on buying your first drawing tablet.


It is advised to learn from the best and having knowledge of what materials the best artists use will give you a good head start in your journey on becoming a better artist.

The purpose to list all these items was to familiarize yourself with all the art supplies that professionals in this industry use.

This article should give you a clear idea of what tools to buy and why.

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