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  • Writer's pictureHannah Ghafary

Art Supplies You Never Knew You Needed Until Now

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

Student and Artist, Karsan Haval, using a 3-D pen.

I’ll start this post by saying that I have always been a proponent of doing things “the old-fashioned way” when it comes to art. In my opinion, one of the most beautiful things about art is that it is one of the few remaining crafts done by hand through practices which have remained the same over thousands of years. But, modern advancements and technology have provided us with so many luxuries and gadgets that have the ability to make the hours of toiling over our artwork just a little bit easier.

I fell in a deep, dark hole of the internet when writing this blog, as I researched and daydreamed of all the art supplies a girl could ever want. Fair warning: Most of these supplies in this list are not your typical art tools; they are made for an artist who is looking to upgrade from the basics and simplify their work process. Over the years, I’ve used the majority of these tools in art school or my own personal art ventures, so I can attest with confidence they are worth your while. Whether you’re shopping for a gift for your artistic friend or you’re just looking to treat yourself, I’ve compiled a list of supplies that are sure to have you piling your Amazon cart full to the brim.

Electric Eraser

This eraser is a relatively simple item to put on your wish list this year, but it is a must-have. For artists who love drawing, this tool will allow you to seamlessly wipe away pigment and revive those whitest whites of your paper. It is indescribably helpful when working in charcoal, and it will wipe away those deep-seated grays that seem to have absorbed into your paper forever. I personally find it particularly useful for adding final touches of bright white such as highlights and reflections. The electric eraser also caters well to colored pencils, which don’t wipe off your paper as easily as graphite pencil when working with a standard eraser. I recommend inserting a fresh eraser tip into the electric eraser when working between charcoal and colored pencil, because more wax-based pigments in colored pencils can hold onto the eraser and transfer over to other projects.

Anti Gravity Paint Palette

This is not a tool I have personally tried myself, but, after reading the reviews, I am convinced I need an anti-gravity paint palette in my life. With the capacity to hold up to 12 ounces’ worth of paint, the anti-gravity palette was seemingly marketed more towards those looking to paint the walls of their home. However, reviews appeared to suggest it was better-suited for the artist, as small brushes can better maneuver scooping paint off of the palette than a large roller brush. However, the palette does such a great job holding the paint in place, it’s best to mix the colors on another surface before transferring them to this palette, which could be an inconvenience if you especially don’t enjoy using pigments straight from the tube.

To me, the seemingly best feature of this palette is the fact that you can pour many different colors into it and they won’t run and spill together. Because the paints will stay where you put them, you can make the most of the space in the palette and fill it up without having to worry about ending up with a muddy mess of colors. The anti-gravity paint palette is the perfect gift for the messy painter, especially if they don’t have access to a mess-friendly studio or workspace.

Adjustable Circle Ruler

In any basic set of art supplies, rulers are a given. But, when it comes to making a clean and precise circle, I have been known to use anything from mugs to bowls to plates when I’m in a crunch. The circle ruler is a seemingly basic item, but it is a must for any drawing project. In my experience, this tool is less prone to mess-ups than a compass and it won’t poke a hole in your nice drawing paper either. It’s as versatile as a compass in terms of adjusting size, and it can be used on everything from paper to fabric.

Tracing Lightbox

Although it is important to get into the practice of drawing from observation, the tracing lightbox is an invaluable tool for artists who are looking for a faster turnaround time. Tracing an image can make all the difference when working on subjects such as portraiture, where the slightest details in a face can make or break the resemblance of a person. Simply place your paper on the Lightbox (tape it in place for best results, or buy a model that allows you to fasten it in place), turn on the light, and trace the image you see for flawless recreation. I recommend Amazon’s Choice, the Tikteck A4 model, which is ultra-thin and portable. Best of all, it’s adjustable brightness means that it’s suitable for working with thin and thick paper alike (even 140 lb watercolor paper).

3D Printer Pen

3-D Printer Pens are a relatively new technology working their way into classrooms and studios everywhere. Upon doing some research, I found that there are many different kinds of 3-D printer pens that cater to many different purposes. If you’re a beginner, the Leo Evo 3D Doodler Pen is one with great reviews. Marketed to children and adults alike, this pen offers a wide variety of uses that may be a great starting point. It offers temperature adjustments, variable speed, a variety of color filaments, and an LCD display. The downside of this model is that it’s very large and bulky. If you’re looking for a more modernized and portable device, the Lix Pen UV may be for you. Catering to professional use, this pen can create in not only a variety of color filaments, but wood and metal-based plastic filaments as well. It is less prone to clogging and fairly affordable at a price of $99. The best part of the Lix Pen UV is that it is quiet, small, and can be recharged with a USB port, which makes it incredibly portable. This tool is so ground-breaking and mesmerizing, I had to include a video of it in action so you could see its amazing capabilities (see above). If you are considering investing in this cutting-edge gadget, I would recommend doing some research on this market to find a pen with the features that best cater to your specific needs.

Water Drawing Zen Board

The Buddha Board (available through Amazon)

This art tool is perhaps less practical for everyday use, but it is a fun and unique gift for any creative mind. I first stumbled upon one of these in a small shop in Asheville, North Carolina, and I was immediately obsessed. The Water Drawing Board is based on the Zen idea of living in the moment. Like a Tibetan Buddhist Monk creating a mandala out of sand, the Zen Board encourages finding the beauty in creating something wonderful and then letting it go. Using only water, you can create silky, dark strokes on the Zen Board that fade away in only a few minutes. It’s great for anything from practicing brush strokes or writing your negative thoughts and watching them fade away. A mess-free painting method, the Zen Board is the perfect accessory for any space. This particular Buddha Board includes a bamboo brush and has a built-in compartment to add water inside the stand without worrying about a separate spill-prone container, unlike other similar products.

Art projector

World-renowned artist, Audrey Kawasaki, prepping to trace an image onto a wall using a projector for a commission mural.

While this item is somewhat similar to the Tracing Lightbox, I decided to include it in this list because of the other uses it can offer. This projector is less portable than the lightbox, but it caters perfectly to large projects. Unlike the lightbox, there is no limit to the thickness with which you can trace. You can trace onto wood, a large canvas, or even trace a mural onto a wall. There a variety of prices and sizes available for projectors, but if you’re looking for one that has a high resolution projection and is compatible with a smart phone, I think this one has a lot of great features for its price.

Table Top Photography Studio

The Table Top Photography Studio is an invaluable tool for artists looking to share their work on their website or other social media platforms. I’ve worked with a variety of different cameras and backdrops through the years, and I have learned that successfully photographing your artwork is no easy feat. Colors and textures are difficult to truly capture in a way that does the real artwork justice without heavy touch-ups and editing in Photoshop. A Table Top Studio such as this one will provide you with the tools to capture your artwork in a professional way.

This Table Top Photography Studio includes a mini tripod for your cell phone, various backdrops to photograph on, and LED lights for the best exposure that will rid you of that unpleasant, yellow-tone lighting. When purchasing this, be wary of the typical dimensions of your work, as this studio is called table-top for a reason. It comes in two sizes (16-inch and 20-inch), but it is best suited to small pieces.

Graffiti Sketchbook 

This is a gift that may not cater to every artist out there, but, as someone who has a little bit of experience with street art, I think this sketchbook is a unique and useful gift. When drafting the bright colors and edgy fonts of graffiti designs in your sketchbook, it is often difficult to visualize how that will translate to an outdoor, urban setting. The metropolitan scenes depicted in the pages of this sketchbook will allow your imagination to run wild and get you feeling truly inspired for your next throw-up.

Scribble Pen

The Scribble Pen stylus is a new technology that is available for pre-order now. There are two types of Scribble Pens: The Scribble ink pen, which can actually be used to write on tangible paper surfaces, and the Scribble stylus pen, which is made to work on smartphones, tablets and Androids. Both models of the Scribble Pen offer the option to connect the pen to a device and save the color you scanned. Featured on Mashable and the Huffington Post, this innovative tool boasts the ability to create up to 16 MILLION colors. Scribble Pen claims that their pens can last up to seven hours on a single charge. But, to me, the most revolutionary part of this one-of-a-kind invention, is the color picking feature. Simply by touching the RGB color sensor at the top of the pen to any colored object, the ink pen mixes the color you are looking to recreate using a smart ink cartridge like the world’s smallest printer. This is incredibly useful because identifying colors accurately in a real-life setting can be extremely difficult. Color Theory shows us that things like light or other nearby colors can skew our perception of a color that we are looking at. From the delicate shade of a reflection on an apple in a still life to a deceivingly white shade of the walls of a room, being able to precisely identify colors we are seeing can make all the difference in creating life-like pieces.

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