I know, I know, it’s supposed to be three items, but for the sake of depth it’s four this time. This is going to assume you have a lifetime supply of paper, make: unknown. My first choice is a loaded GraphGear800 from Pentel, it’s the only thing that’s gonna survive this island and give me everything I need to pencil a masterpiece that will take my mind off a lifetime of solitude. Second, I want a White Pearl eraser, this will be clutch, trust me. Third, I want a Pentel Sharp P205 loaded with non-photo blue lead, this is essential for layouts. Finally, I want a pen I don’t even have right now, but I can choose anything right, I want a Bic Z4, the most versatile pen I’ve come across, it’s a beast, it can do anything.
Sakura Pigma Microns are some of the finest illustrating pens ever made. The ink flows perfectly and the metal tips are sturdy and precise. Some of the highest paid Illustrators in the world use Microns. I highly recommend them for any type of detailed work…wait for it…BUT, there is not a lot of ink in that formidably-sized barrel. The ink starts to run low just as you’ve acquainted yourself with them fully, once low, the brilliant metal tips drag and spit like any other pen. So, use these if you have the money to replace them on the regular, I would say once every week or two under moderate usage. I keep some of these with me, but I’m hesitant to use them at times, knowing their ink lifetime is limited.
I really can’t express just how much a simple set of grey Faber-Castell Pitt Pens can add to your work. It will add depth to your black and white drawings, and when pieces containing it are scanned, they can be color-shifted and maintain your hand drawn gradient. The packs contain “Cold Greys” and “Warm Greys,” which I usually alternate between judging by whether an object is inanimate or not. You can get them in “Brush” or “Soft Brush,” don’t get Soft Brush unless you have an exceptionally steady hand.
Take this sketch for example. It really only has one color (red), but the greys add enough depth to make it feel more “alive.”
For most of my erasing I use a Paper Mate White Pearl eraser, but before I go full-in on erasing the graphite lead from beneath my pen marks, I use the Pentel Clic Eraser to go over all the most important areas.
The Clic Eraser is very delicate with the page, made out of a soft plastic, perfect for clearing all of the pencil marks on faces, hands, and any other intricately detailed part of your art.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to hold the edges of your paper when you erase, crumpling the page is a struggle that is real, and has caused many a casualty in my line of work. I can’t stress enough to only use white plastic erasers and never pink, the degradation of the medium itself is ten times worse with a pink eraser.
I spent years using the trusty Pentel Sharp P207, but a couple of years ago, my favorite mechanical pencil became the Pentel GraphGear 800. The 800 has everything the P207 has, plus a more solidly mounted eraser, a raised grip where your fingers touch, and a sturdy, all-metal, tip that can withstand almost anything. I’ve used all of my GraphGear 800s until the names have rubbed off. You cannot go wrong with this pencil, I’ve spent so much time with the GraphGear 800 that we’re legally married in Kentucky.
The Pentel Sharp P207 is one of the finest mechanical pencils ever made. It’s weight is perfect, the grip is optimal, the clip is removable (which I usually do), and it’s so rugged you can use it to get a rock out of your tire tread and go back to drawing without skipping a beat. With that being said, it has one fatal flaw: The eraser. I’ve been using this pencil for years and would rank it probably my second favorite mechanical pencil of all time, but it has a design flaw that’s never been fixed in its long life time. The metal sheath that holds the eraser in is too thin, causing the eraser to sink back into the pencil every time you use it. Granted: You probably should be using a plastic or gum eraser anyway, but there are always points where you can save time by not switching from the pencil in your hand. As the eraser recesses, the metal sheath is exposed, if you’re not careful, it can actually gouge and tear your paper.
So, it works perfectly until every twentieth line when you have to erase something tiny. I would give Pentel more of a break if they had improved it once in all this time, but, as it stands, I have a new favorite, which I will reveal in a future post. You could do much worse than the P207 (I still keep one with me as a backup), just be careful, and practice safe-erasing.
I’m a big fan of the Pilot Precise V5 and I picked up a few of these Vison Needles thinking that Uni-Ball might be able to take a similar setup to the V5 and offer some improvements. It’s not without question that one of my favorites will get dethroned, it generally happens every 5 years or so. Uni-Ball’s Vision Needle has a perfect size, fits great in one’s hand, and has a nice 0.7mm rollerball tip that glides fairly effortlessly, the feel on paper is similar to some of the better 0.5 or 0.7 mm rollerball pens out there: Unfortunately, the Vision Needle has an ink problem. The “waterproof,” “fade-proof” ink boasted by Uni-ball takes longer than usual to dry, still managing to smudge after a full 5 minutes of drying. The ink also tends to run and “spit” while writing or drawing, I try to elevate my hand off of the paper as much as the next guy, but there are still limits to how much active smudging I will take in a sitting. I’m afraid the running and smudging ink is enough to keep me from considering this pen one of “the greats.” Though the price was extremely reasonable, I will not be buying any more after this pack runs out.