16 essential art tools for artists

The right art tools can give you the freedom to bring your artistic vision to life. Here's 16 items every artist should own.

If you're getting ready to set up your own workspace, there's a selection of art tools you'll need to get started. Whether you want to create a new piece with your best pencils, or simply work on your painting techniques, these tools will set you in good stead.

01. Pencils

Art tools: pencils

Derwent pencils are great for sketching

Wooden and mechanical, Staedtler, Derwent and Pentel, pencils are an essential art tool for creatives. Find a brand you like working with and make sure you have always have a quality and varied selection close at hand.

02. Erasers

Like pencils, no artists workstation would be complete with an eraser. This malleable putty will remove graphite from most surfaces – an essential art tool if ever we saw one!

03. Pens

If you prefer to work with pens, make sure you have a varied selection of the brand you like working with close by. There are thousands of pen brands to choose from, Faber-Castell, for example, have a lovely selection.

04. Paper and hardback sketchbooks

Art tools: Sketchbooks

Daler-Rowney does a great selection of sketchbooks

Whether you're working on a piece for your design portfolio or a new logo design, a sketchbook is an art tool. If you're the hunt for a new one, we've got a great selection sketchbooks for creatives, one of which is sure to meet your requirements.

05. Watercolour paper

"I use Langton satin-smooth hot pressed for most of my work," says artist Dave Kendall. "Although any smooth watercolour paper can be used."

06. Masonite

Many artists prefer to paint on masonite boards. These can easily be purchased and cut to size from timber or hardware merchants.

07. Canvas

Art tools: Canvas

With time and experience you will be able to create your own canvas boards

The starting point of your next masterpiece, right? Canvas boards can be bought ready or custom made from most art shops. With time and experience you will be able to create your own.

08. Mahl Stick

A Mahl (or painter's) stick is a stick with a soft leather or padded head, used by painters to support the hand that holds the brush. These are widely available from art shops, or you can follow the video above and make your own.

09. Acrylics

Versatile, vibrant and affordable, acrylics can be painted on anything. "Liquitex and Finity from Winsor and Newton are the makes I use the most," Kendall comments.

10. Oils

If you want to get started or prefer painting with oils, there's a wide range available from traditional to fast-drying and water mixable.

11. Watercolour

Watercolor is a versatile and flexible medium that can yield a variety of results. They come in tubes and as dry cake versions.

12. Inks

Art tools: Inks

Inks are great for adding brilliant colour

Inks are a top art tool to have as part of your collection. Great for adding brilliant colour, and useful for glazing if dramatic colour is needed.

13. Easels

There are many types of easel available. Your choice should be based on how much room and money you have to spend.

14. Palettes

Art tools: Palette

Tiles, plates, stay wet palettes for acrylics from Winsor & Newton and Daler-Rowney and traditional wood palettes for oils.

15. Brushes

Choosing the paint brushes for your next project isn't always an easy decision. After all, different effects require different tools so it can be difficult to know which to use. If you're struggling with which paint brush to use, the best thing to do is to try the various shapes. Remember, it takes time to become familiar with the various shapes. Practice makes perfect.

16. Varnishes

To preserve your oil paintings, you'll require a final picture varnish. Gloss and matte are available from various providers for this purpose.

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Art