Lesson 0: Getting Started
Pens - Fineliners, size 0.5
At its core, Drawabox consists of seven lessons. There have been others, but when you think Drawabox, you're thinking of lessons 1-7. While the other lessons have had other recommended tools ranging from Pierre Noire Conté à Paris pencils to digital media, the core seven lessons should be done with ink.
Specifically, a style of pen known as "fineliners". In some places they're also known as "felt tips" or "technical pens" but these can also refer to different kinds of tools, so make sure you compare them to the image above, and the different brands mentioned here. Basically, as you can see in the image above, their tips have metal barrels with a felt nib.
I'm not here to try and teach you how to draw with ink. Thank goodness for that, as I'm a digital artist myself. I have chosen these kinds of pens however because they complement the lesson material and the concepts being covered, and more than anything, they help encourage the kinds of habits and respect for your linework that goes hand in hand with everything else I am trying to teach. I explain this in greater detail in this article, "Why Ink?".
They do that by producing a rich, dark line regardless of how much pressure you apply - their only dimension of variance is in the weight of the stroke. The 0.5 size for most brands is ideal, as it allows for a great range of weights. I do not want you to use different pens in the same drawing - don't go drawing in a 0.3 and then going over it with a 0.5 or anything like that. Ideally if you can, pick up the 0.5's in bulk.
If you can't find a 0.5 specifically, anything from 0.4 to 0.6 will do, but I wouldn't go outside that range if you can help it.
Aside from that, the brands I've used include Staedtler Pigment Liners and Faber Castell PITT Artist Pens (their sizing is different, F is the equivalent to 0.5), but you're not limited to these. There are many other brands, ranging from Copic Multiliners to Sakura Microns and hell, even Sharpies (the Sharpie Ultrafines and the Sharpie Pens) will do.
Just make sure that when you're drawing with these, that you're not applying too much pressure. Students have a tendency of damaging their pen tips this way, which reduces the flow of ink and forces one to draw with the pen held at a higher angle to achieve the same rich marks. Most think that their pens have just died, but these things can actually last for a good while, even with all the drawing that we do for these lessons.
That said, do expect to end up buying quite a few if you're in it for the long haul, from lesson 1 to 7. Pens can get a little pricey, so find a brand with a price point and quality balance that works for you.
Note: In an effort to help students access more reasonably priced fineliners, we do periodically import and sell them ourselves. They're not always in stock, but they're roughly comparable in our experience to Staedtler Pigment Liners (my pen of choice), and in our testing, one has lasted us through all of Lesson 1 and halfway through the box challenge before showing any signs of wear. We sell them in packs of 10 for $17.50, and you can learn more about them here.
Drawabox's focus on ink and paper is specifically because it reinforces the concepts we're teaching, and makes our lessons more effective. But some people ask, "well what if my goal is to work digitally? or with oil paint? or with nothing but glitter?" Well, the answer is that the use of a tool is a skill in and of itself, which we can learn more effectively through the use of courses that target those areas.
Here are a few from our sponsor, New Masters Academy, that might be of interest:
This one's really a big overview of many different traditional tools and mediums - from graphite, to charcoal, to markers and more.
Even though Drawabox has you use ink, that doesn't mean we teach you much about its use. Miles Yoshida demonstrates the wide variety of tools that fall under the "ink" category (as well as some that can be used wonderfully alongside it), and will introduce you to a whole new world of creativity.
Personally, as I am strictly a digital artist myself, Adobe Photoshop is my tool of choice. It's not the only tool out there (with Clip Studio, Krita, and others gaining steam), but it's still holding firm to the title of "industry standard". In this course, Chris Legaspi explores every corner of Photoshop, from sketching and painting from scratch, to retouching photos, and more.
Sign up to New Masters Academy with the coupon code DRAWABOX22 — you'll get a full 35% off your first billing cycle.
All I ask is that you don't draw on lined paper... or like, napkins. In fact, above all else, I highly recommend using regular printer paper. It's a great size (A4, 8.5"x11") and will allow plenty of room to think through spatial problems (as you get smaller and more cramped, this can become a problem), it's not going to fold back over while you're drawing like a sketchbook might, and it's not going to leave you feeling afraid of ruining a sketchbook.
If you insist on using something fancier, try not to go too small, and if it's a sketchbook, ringed is better as it lets you fold the pages back and get them out of the way.
Also, another thing to keep in mind is that you should not be using ink on paper made for graphite or charcoal. Paper more similar to printer paper (which, again, is the ideal choice for these exercises) is great, but anything rougher and with more tooth to it will drain your pens' ink more quickly.
Certain lessons and exercises will require other tools as well, ranging from simple rulers (generally you can use any sort of straight edge) to ellipse guides and french curves in lessons 6 and 7.
Ellipse guides/templates come in sets and can get expensive, but you can usually shop around online and find them for cheaper on places like eBay. They are extremely useful, however I wouldn't recommend buying them until you've actually reached those lessons. Once you do, they are a sound investment.
There are also "master ellipse templates" which are essentially a single ellipse guide featuring ellipses of several different degrees, but limited to a few smaller sizes. These are generally adequate for Lessons 6 and 7, and are way cheaper. You'll find one listed in the recommendations page.
Beginner's shopping list
If you're planning on going to the store (or hopping onto the internet to do some online shopping) specifically for supplies to jump into this course, here's a quick list of things you'll want to pick up. Some are required, others can be improvised with other things you'll probably have at home. You can think of this as a summary of what's explained above.
0.5mm Fineliners, highly recommended, and required if you're submitting for official (paid) critique. If you for whatever reason can't get your hands on them immediately, don't worry - you have time. You can use a ballpoint pen for Lesson 1 and the 250 Box Challenge, but it is best that you use a fineliner as soon as you can, and that you have one before starting Lesson 2. If you can't find a 0.5mm specifically, try and stay within the range of 0.4-0.6.
A4 (8.5"x11") Printer Paper, highly recommended. This really is the best option for paper. Do not use sketch paper or other paper intended for dry media. It will drain your pens and hinder you as you draw.
Ruler. Any straight edge will do, but you'll want something the length of your page that allows you to draw precise, straight lines for the parts of exercises that require it.
Coloured Pens. This isn't necessary, and when they come up in the lessons all that matters is that you've got something to draw with that is easily distinguishable from your main fineliner/pen. It's primarily for the purposes of analyzing our work after the fact so we can identify where we need to focus our efforts as we continue forwards.