6 Must-Have Tools & Supplies for Urban Sketching

One of the best things about drawing is that it has a low barrier to entry — all you need is a pencil and paper, and you too can start making art.

While that’s the bare minimum you need, some tools and supplies experience of drawing more enriching and fun. This is especially true when it comes to urban sketching. Having the right paper and pen will go a long way in making your on-location drawing fun and rewarding.

Urban Sketching Supplies

These are 6 must-have tools and supplies to bring with you for urban sketching

1. Portable sketchbook or drawing pad

The right sketchbook (or drawing pad, if you prefer) is one of the most important supplies for urban sketching. You’ll want to find a book with paper that you enjoy drawing on and can handle the type of media you plan to use. 

Because you’ll toting the thing around, make sure that you get something that’ll easily fit in your bag and hands as you sit on a park bench or in a cafe. 

2. Mechanical pencil and eraser

When you’re just starting out in urban sketching, a pencil will help you get used to drawing the buildings, people and more. Make sure you take a mechanical pencil with you, however — a conventional wooden pencil will probably need resharpened, and that’s too messy when you’re on the road. Mechanical pencils come in a variety of weights; if you’ve got a smaller-format sketchbook, go for a lead that’s .3 mm or .5 mm. 

You’ll also want to have a good eraser with you. I like white erasers because they typically keep your paper cleaner. You can learn more about different types of erasers and find your favorite.

3. Pens in a variety of sizes

Pens are my favorite urban sketching tool because of their versatility. They’re available in a variety to tip sizes that allow you to achieve super fine details or bold lines. It’s best to have at least a few pens in your arsenal that include an array of tips. You can alternate them in your drawing to add visual interest. For a place to start, grab a thin, medium and thick tip for your bag. 

Another type of pen to try is a brush pen. It has a softer tip that’s shaped like a paintbrush. It’s tidier than using a conventional brush and ink but still can give you effect of script.

4. Binder clips and small backing board

When you’re out of your studio, organization and functionality are key. Binder clips are a surprisingly helpful tool for keeping your pages from flying away or clipping a pen to your sketchbook. A small backing board (made of plastic) will give you a solid surface to draw on if you find you’re without a table. 

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