Font Size
Return to Previous Page

Drawing Materials

Materials available to the artist have changed over time, as older ones were depleted or lost favor, new ones were introduced—often with more desirable optical or working properties. Exceptional activity in the manufacture and trade of readymade artists’ materials took place in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some of these, such as crayon, graphite pencil, chalk, and pastel, contain similar ingredients and can be extremely difficult to distinguish from each other in a work of art, particularly if present in scant amounts or heavily layered and reworked. Materials are often used in combination. Charcoal and graphite, for instance, often are only faintly evident as preliminary sketches beneath a variety of other drawing materials. Transparent and opaque watercolor are frequently used in the same painting and also combined with other mediums.

Drawing materials can be divided into dry and wet mediums. Dry materials generally are applied directly to the paper in stick form, and can be manipulated further by smudging with a finger or eraser, while wet materials require a brush, pen or possibly airbrush for application. The physical properties of each dictate its handling qualities. Charcoal, for example, lends itself to broad strokes rather than the fine detail possible with pen and ink. The texture and character of the paper also contributes essential qualities to the appearance of the finished drawing and are chosen to be sympathetic with an artist’s preferred drawing materials and mode of expression.

Chalk & Pastel
Graphite Charcoal Crayon  Chalk & Pastel
Opaque Watercolor
Pen & Ink
Mixed Materials
Watercolor Opaque
Pen & Ink Mixed Materials

Return to Previous Page