Miscellaneous Tools

 

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Over a period time working on various projects you will accumulate several tools to use as an artist. I have some basic essentials listed here and will be updating regularly as new tools become available to make your inspirations more rewarding and productive. If you come across or possibly invented a new tool to improve our skills tell me about it so I can spread the word.

Click on images or links for more information or to purchase from various vendor sources. Some of the tools you will need to eventually acquire are:

Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Personal Safety


First and foremost protecting yourself from the dangers of working as an artist is your most important consideration. The most vulnerable areas for every artist to safeguard are the hands from absorption of harmful dyes and the respiratory system from vapors and pigment particulates. If you are unfamiliar with the hazards of working with certain paints you should contemplate reading Artist Beware by Michael McCann, Ph.D. . It is always a good idea be informed about the materials you are working on. Want a quick in depth online reference try the Princeton Art Safety Training Guide for known hazards of pigments, resin sand solvents.

Since they are mostly used for color grinding and use with pastel for hand protection the two most commonly used by painters are latex / nitrile gloves and liquid barriers such as BlueMagic 5215 Invisible Glove Protective Hand Coating .

Gloves, Dusk and Vapor masks

Latex Powdered Disposable Gloves
Latex Powdered
Disposable Gloves
superb tactile sensitivity
treated with powder
 Nitrile Powder-Free Disposable Gloves
Nitrile Powder-Free
Disposable Gloves
for working with solvents
allergen free
Duramask Non-Toxic Particle Mask

Duramask Non-Toxic

Particle Mask

3M Easi-Air Paint Spray Respirator Assembly3M Easi-Air Paint Spray

Respirator Assembly

Note: Another concern is not only for yourself but others who may enter your studio such as young children, friends, clients and family whom already have respiratory system ailments. If you are planning to use materials that are know toxins, you may consider investing in a ventilation system designed to remove them from your studio.  

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Safety | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Lighting


If you work in a studio “indoor” environment and in color you will soon come to realize the importance of proper lighting. There are some but, not many artists who find the privilege to work during day hours in a  room with enough widows to provide adequate light .  The Color Rendering Index or CRI  rates light sources on a scale of 0 to 100, where natural daylight has a specified  CRI of 100. Normally  unnatural lighting will create change in the appearance of colors you are painting due to failure of the light source to accurately represent colors. The only means to determine color accuracy is to see a color as it is exposed to a natural daylight environment.

Fluorescent light emit the green, yellow, and orange array of light which will deceive you into producing more of a bluish or pink tint appearance in most of your painting colors. Directly under a incandescent light bulb, everything will appear to have a yellowish tint which will change the appearance of any other colors of your subject. Unnaturally, reds will look orange and blues will look green. This is particularly important with figure painting and portraits.  One way to tell if you are mixing your color incorrectly due to indoor lighting,  would be to look at your hand in the area in which you are painting. If it appears reddish or yellow, you are missing  the compass of  light necessary to mix your colors properly. You will definitely see the differences in the color of a painting that has been rendered under inferior artificial light once it is viewed in daylight. 

One way painting under indoor studio lighting that color definition can be balanced is with the use of  “Full Spectrum” lighting.  Also referred to as “Day Lite” or “True Color”,  there are many manufacturer retailing  lighting specifically for use in  studio applications.  ELightBulbs – has Color Temperature Selector page which  is an excellent visualization to show how various color lighting temperatures effect overall color range in different rooms. If you can see the difference in the room it will also show in your work.

 Lumen Light

Natural Full Spectrum Lighting  – A Guide for Simulating Natural Light

Top Bulb

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Safety | Lighting |  Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Tonal and Color Charts


Another tool to assist you with mixing and matching color is the color chart and/or a gray scale tonal value finder. There are various designs developed by artists, designers and web developers. Try to find one to use that was designed by an artist for artists as seen below since they best fit your application.

Magic Palette Color Matching Guide

Magic Palette Color Matching Guide

Magic Palette Artist’s Color Selector and Mixing Guide

Magic Palette Artist’s Color Selector and Mixing Guide

The Color Wheel Company Gray Scale and Value Finder gray scale and value finder

The Color Wheel Company Gray Scale and Value Finder gray scale and value finder

These three excellent mixing reference guides provide assistance in exceptional detail by providing you the actual ratio of colors required to obtain your desired hue and value.

1,500 Color Mixing Recipes for Oil, Acrylic & Watercolor1,500 Color Mixing Recipes for Oil, Acrylic & Watercolor: Achieve precise color when painting landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and more- by William F Powell

Color Mixing Recipes for PortraitsColor Mixing Recipes for Portraits: More than 500 Color Combinations for Skin, Eyes, Lips & Hair Spiral-bound – by William F Powell

Color Mixing Recipes for Oil & Acrylic: Color Mixing Recipes for Oil & Acrylic: Mixing recipes for more than 450 color combinations Hardcover – by William F Powell

 

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Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Measurement and Templates


You will find many instances where measurement and drawing templates will become useful in even unusual natural applications.

 

C-Thru Grid Ruler
C-Thru Grid Ruler

C-Thru Set of French Curves

C-Thru Set of French Curves

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Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Pencil Sharpeners


  Two Hole Hand-Held Pencil Sharpener with a canister to collect shavings or a field sharpener like the one pictured are my preferred choice with art drawing materials because the electric one are to rough on the softer leads causing them to crack easily and wastes pencil life.The reason for using a sharpener with two holes is that one hole is for standard size pencils and the other is for sharpening large size pencils of charcoal, pastels, and colored pencils.

kum wedge sharpenerKum Wedge Sharpener

 

Sandpaper Block Sandpaper Block

Sandpaper is the simple way to keep a point on difficult-to-sharpen drawing pencils, charcoal, pastels, or crayons.

Personally,  I have found that beautician’s emery boards that you can find in drug or dollar stores work fine.  Sandpaper is used to make super points for fine detail and as a side benefit creates dust you should save with graphite and pastels for toning.

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Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Erasers


The major types of erasers include: Kneaded , Gum  and Pink Rubber as well as, White Vinyl and Rubber Eraser  Pencils used to remove fine lines.  Another new found eraser material Blu Tack Putty  works as a kneaded eraser and is exceptional at removing graphite.

Sakura SE2000

Sakura Cordless Electric Eraser  and the Ohuhu Electric Eraser at right are used the same as pencil easers to remove fine lines.

 

Ohuhu Electric Eraser Kit

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Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Masking


Tapes

Specialty Painters Tape (blue) and Artist Tape (white) are specifically designed to be used for masking and temporary attaching paper art to drawing panels. They use a pH neutral ‘low tack’ gum which allows the tape to be removed with out damaging the surface it has been applied to. Drafting Tape is another preferred alternative that works well with masks and tracing paper. 3M Scotch-Blue Painter's Tape 1 1/2 in. x 60 yd. roll delicate surfaces

3M Scotch-Blue Painter’s Tape 1 1/2 in. x 60 yd. roll delicate surfaces

Pro Tapes White Artist's Tape 1 in. x 60 yd. roll

Pro Tapes White Artist’s Tape 1 in. x 60 yd. roll

Shields & Films 

Alvin Erasing Shield
Eraser Shield

Grafix Clear Acetate Sheets

Acetate

Grafix Dura-Lar Clear Adhesive-Backed Film

Dura-Lar Clear Adhesive-Backed Film

For making your own masks that are cut with an X-acto Knife

 

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  Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking | Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Stretching Tools


Consider using the “Bromley Paper Stretcher” or the Otto Stretcher  for stretching and holding your watercolor paper. For stretching canvas convenient tools like canvas pliers and an upholstery hammer to drive brass tacks are used.

Fredrix Canvas Pliers
Canvas Stretching Pliers

Stanley 54-304 5-Ounce Magnetic Tack Hammer

Magnetic Tack Hammer

CANVALOK KLIKstretch 2-Plier Canvas Stretching SystemCANVALOK KLIKstretch 2-Plier Canvas Stretching System

Here’s a great tool for stretching canvas. Once in position on either end of a canvas the clamps hold the tension in place until the canvas is tacked or stapled. A bit pricey but a worthy investment.  

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Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Brush Accessories


Brush cleaners – these are usually safety containers designed to contain flammables and corrosives. Some are designed with coil holders to suspend the handle of the brush only exposing the brittles to the solvent as well as screens on the bottom to isolate settled paint/pigment solids.

Jack Richeson The Ultimate Brush Washer brush washer

Jack Richeson The Ultimate Brush Washer brush washer

Loew Cornell Round Brush Tub

Loew Cornell Round Brush Tub

 

Aluminum Brush Washer

Aluminum Brush Washer

 

Palettes 

Grinding Palette – for those who want to grind their own medium the best item to use for this task is a plain white smooth  floor tile or a  piece of glass painted white or grey on the under side such as the glass rectangular palette to the right.

Amaco Paragona Glass Artist Palette

Glass Artist Palette

There are several different types of palettes to use depending on the medium you are working with. The classic lightweight birch or beech wood palette is the choice for many experienced artists. My personal choice for the studio palette is made of glass or porcelain for smaller work and water based mediums but there are also some good ones made of Acrylic Plastic. For large pieces (particularly oils) nothing beats a sheet of 18″ x 18″ glass  or smooth porcelain tile to grind your paint on,  later transferred to a oval or kidney shaped beech wood palette that has been hand rubbed with linseed oil before painting.

Where your first consideration should be clean up, major considerations should also be taken towards conserving paint and comfort in regards to your individual painting style. Generally palettes that are left at a work station such the ones used below are for working smaller pieces of art. When moving around on larger paintings you will what to carry your colors with you using the classic style hand held palette.

The covered paint saver palettes below are a great means to stretch the life of your colors in between layers of paint by sealing them off  from the atmosphere.

Blick Covered Palette

Blick Covered Palette

Loew Cornell 2 in 1 Paint Saver Palette paint saver palette

Loew Cornell, Paint Saver Palette

Masterson Sta-Wet Palette Seal

Masterson Sta-Wet Palette Seal

Color Wheel Palettes are great for setting up your color in graduations according the colors used in your painting such as portraits or a minimum palette painting.

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Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Easels & Drawing Tables


Easels are designed based primarily on your the size of the work and/or medium . French Easels – also sometimes
mistakenly called Field Easels,  began their use with ‘Plein Air’ and Pastel painters as well as traveling artists in need of a portable devise to hold their painting support. They easily set up and fold down to carry to any location. Some of these easels are designed to tilt foreword to allow pigment particles to fall free from the painting for working with pastels.

Jack Richeson Elm Wood Weston Full French Easel unfinished Elm wood Weston Full French Easel

French Easel

There are also affordable versions known as Table Easels for portable use.  Watercolor or Convertible Easels– where designed to allow an artist to work on a painting while in the horizontal position (that is the painting.. not the artist). The advantages are a reduction of runs from heavily watered down washes. Most can also be used in the upright position as well as tilt forward. Studio Easels – are for use in the studio a vary considerably in size and design from very large H frame designs to those that save space by mounting on a wall.

Best Elegant H-Frame Oak Easel

Best Elegant H-Frame Oak Easel

The Windmill Studio Easel is a terrific new advancement which promotes total access to every part of the canvas surface allowing it to turn 360deg and tilted horizontally from -2° to 90° to accommodate virtually any medium.

Studio Designs 10053 Vision Craft Station in Silver / Blue GlassStudio Designs 10053 Vision Craft Station in Silver / Blue Glass Drawing tables where originally designed for the draftsman however they have become very popular among artists. Due to their popularity new designs have been developed to cater specifically to the needs of artists who frequently work with dry mediums such as graphite, charcoal, colored pencil, silverpoint, etc. The glass top table to the left also works well with florescent lamps installed under it for where tracing applications are used such as architectural drawings between floors or cartoon character animation.

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Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Mahl’s 


Important tools for supporting your arms and hands to keep them off your work are the Drawing Mahl Bridge the Grifhold 99 Mahl Stick or the  Classic Wood Mahl Stick. A clean canvas is essential to creating an appreciable drawing. A drawing bridge is used as a hand rest to prevent you from resting your hand on the paper. A mahl stick is mostly used when painting to help the artist maintain a steady hand without touching the canvas. It is also effective when drawing when working in the upright position on an easel.  These can be easily made if you prefer not to buy one. I do not recommended using a piece of paper or acetate to rest your hand on. While moving the paper around your work you might defeat the purpose you were using it for in the first place.


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Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Drier and/or Heaters

Many watercolor applications require the use of a hair drier to quickly dry the paint in between layers. Be sure to dedicate the one you intend to use for paint use only to avoid possible contamination. Hot air guns like the one below have multiple uses such as drying or burnishing encaustic. Caution must be taken with though since these guns get hot enough and are frequently used to yes, even strip paint.

R&F Handmade Paints Variable Temperature Heat Gun

R&F Handmade Paints

Variable Temp Heat Gun

R&F Hot Air Gun

Use this hot air gun for a wide range of projects. A durable and versatile tool, it can be used with a variety of mediums. The R&F Hot Air Gun features two fan speeds and a variable temperature setting for versatility from quick drying watercolors between layers to heating the painting surface. Because of these features, this hot air gun is particularly good for use with encaustic paints.


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Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Drying Racks

In between different steps of your painting process, you will need a safe place to place your work to dry. These racks come in a large variety of sizes to handle 10″ x 12″ to 30″ x 40″ sheets. Of course, the price varies considerably too.

American Educational Products A-C1163 Spring Loaded Wall Mounted Drying Rack

American Educational Products A-C1160 Robo

Wall Mounted Drying Rack, 15 Shelf, 7″ Height, 21″ Wide, 33″ Length

This space saving 15-Shelf Wall Rack mounts easily to a wall. Epoxy coated metal spring loaded shelves allow paintings to dry flat, with enough room in between each shelf so that artwork is not compromised. Assembly is required. Mounting hardware not included.

School Specialty Mobile Steel Drying Rack - 26 1/2 x 27 x 43 inches School Specialty Mobile Steel Drying Rack – 26 1/2 x 27 x 43 inches

Mobile drying rack is a portable rack for storing arts and crafts materials while the paint or glue is drying.

Product features:

  • Steel with baked enamel finish for strength and resistance to rust
  • Forty 18 x 24″ flip-up racks with bumpers/spacers for supporting posters
  • 6 x 8″ grid spacing for supporting smaller papers and boards
  • Ball bearing swivel wheel casters for portability

 

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Safety | Lighting | Tonal and Color Charts | Measure and Templates | Pencil Sharpeners | Erasers | Masking  Stretching ToolsBrush Accessories | Easels & Drawing Tables  | Mahl’sDriers and Heaters | Drying Racks | Matting

Matting and Framing

If you have a large amount of original drawings  to sell or show presenting them matted and protected in polypropylene protectors provides safe storage and visibility. Should you decide on matting and/or framing your own work, you should shop around for a good mat cutting tool. There are several designs and sizes available to suit your needs. Depending on the size and amount of mats you will be producing,  will determine Which Mat Cutter is Right For You?

 

Logan 650 Framer's Edge Mat Cutter Logan 650 Framer’s Edge Mat Cutter

Logan’s Model 650 Mat Cutter is designed for professional artists and framers who want a cost effective yet completely versatile mat cutter. The single pull style cutting head provides both bevel and straight cutting heads all in one, and contains lifetime-guaranteed Delrin® bearings. The high-tech Teflon-coated cutting bar needs no lubrication, and the bottom is serrated so mats won’t slip. The parallel mat guide slides smoothly in aluminum channels and enables quick, accurate border measurements up to 5¼” (13.33 cm). A 27″ squaring arm and other features make this a state-of-the-art machine. Logan’s Model 650 measures 45¼” long and weighs 27 lb. The base is made of ¾” (19 mm) composite board, surfaced with durable, easy-to-clean laminate. Model 650 includes production stops, 10 extra blades, dual straight and bevel cutting heads, and a fully illustrated mat cutting manual. Uses #269 blades. Comes with a free instructional DVD.

 

 

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