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Drawing Supplies I Use in My Videos

Drawing Supplies I Use in My Videos

Stan Prokopenko here with another episode
of Proko. Since I started making these videos the most commonly asked question has been, “what kind of pencil do you use”. I think it’s time to make a video about it. I do have a specific pencil and a specific
way of sharpening it. I do this because that’s the way I was trained
at the Watts Atelier. I’ll start by showing you how to sharpen a
charcoal pencil and then go over all the other supplies that I use in my videos. I like to use the Conte 1710 B as my go-to
pencil. Its the one with the gold ring on the back
tip. But, I also like to use the primo 59B and
wolff’s carbon 6B.. And there’s a bunch of other options out there. They’re all slightly different, and the best
way to see the difference is to just try them out. They’re not very expensive. The primo and wolff’s carbon feel a bit more
like drafting pencils compared to the Conte and so I use them more for linear work. And the Conte is thicker and softer, so it’s
easier to be tonal and more painterly with I’m right handed, so I control the blade with
my right hand and hold the pencil in my left hand, like this. The first thing I’m going to do is expose
about an inch of the charcoal removing the wood. Push the razor forward with the left thumb
and control the position and angle of the blade with the right hand. Take off thin pieces of the wood and rotate
the pencil. Make sure not to go to deep. If you try to take off all the wood at the
same time, you risk cutting into the charcoal. Keep rotating until all the wood is off and
there is a smooth taper from the wood to the charcoal. Sometimes there will be a layer of glue still
on the charcoal. Chip away at it to remove all the glue. Now let’s focus on getting the charcoal to
the right shape. Right now, the charcoal has these sharp corners
towards the top. What we want is a smooth taper to the point. If you have any rough edges or sharp corners
on the side, the pencil won’t work properly. We want a smooth taper so that we can use
the side to shade smooth tones. I like to use sandpaper to soften the sides. One of these that you can get at most art
stores works fine and fits in a pencil box. I prefer to use these larger blocks from Home
Depot because you can clean and reuse them. Medium grit sandpaper works best. I use a forward and back or side to side motion
while constantly rotating the pencil. *BEEP when you first start sharpening the pencil
this way. You’ll probably break a bunch of them. That’s ok. Don’t let it get to you. Take a deep breath and try again. It becomes much easier over time. You can actually get quite fast at it.. Ok, Let’s try that again. Aaand DONT FORGET! wipe off the excess powder. When I come by to help one of my students
and they give me a pencil with excess powder on it, i BREAK *BEEP no I don’t actually do that… but don’t forget
to wipe! It get’s all over the paper and then you can’t
erase it.. So there you have it. Now let’s take a look at all the other supplies. First, the paper. I use smooth newsprint when I do studies because
it’s cheap and allows you to shade very smooth tones. It’s important that you buy the ‘smooth’
newsprint and not the rough. Nothing wrong with the rough, it’s just that
the smooth gets better details. The rough has some texture that breaks up
the details a bit. Before you start the drawing, make sure you’re
drawing on a thick stack of newsprint. This provides some cushion and get’s smoother
tones when you’re shading. If you’re getting towards the back of the
pad, some of the texture from the cardboard will begin to show through. So, constantly rotate the paper and make sure you’re working on the top sheet. I do want to point out that newsprint is NOT
archival. It will wrinkle and yellow over time if exposed
to heat, light, moisture, and oxygen. which is pretty much everything.. So, I use it only for practice in school,
when I do studies and film these tutorials. When I want to do a charcoal drawing that lasts,
I use watercolor paper and i’ll usually choose the ones that are soft and cushiony. Or I’ll use bristol paper with graphite pencils. I’m always trying out new paper and I encourage
you to do the same. To erase, I like a kneaded eraser because
I can shape it to erase large areas, or small details. It also doesn’t fall apart while you’re erasing
and you can knead it to clean it up a bit. You’ll need either a clipboard, a piece of
wood, or foam board with clips to hold your paper. Put the pad towards your knees, and lean it
against a table or the back of a chair. Hold the pencil like a paint brush, sit up
straight, move from the shoulder, and you’re ready to begin. Make sure to check out my Portrait drawing
fundamentals DVD which includes 16 mini lessons from my YouTube channel and 2 real time demonstration
of how I draw a portrait from start to finish at about an hour and half each. Check it out at

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100 thoughts on “Drawing Supplies I Use in My Videos

  1. my charcoal pencil is so frustrating!its texture feels like an actual charcoal but every time I touch it,it just crumbles.gosh dang thiiss!

  2. You know, I have to ask Proko: What the hell is the difference anyway between Soft, Medium, and Hard charcoal pencils? I went full-on Mythbusters on all of my charcoal pencils(I have 5 different brands, 3 softness values from each.) and found out that under essentially laboratory conditions they all produced the exact same tone with the same number of strokes. Meanwhile, I can take my 2B, 4B, and 6B graphite pencils, run the same gauntlet, and find that the 4B is nearly twice as dark as 2B, and 6B is like night and day on new paper.

    If anyone is interested, I tested using the following method:
    –15 brand new pencils, 3 levels of hardness from each of the following brands:
    -Caran D`Ache
    -Art Alternatives woodless pencils
    -Faber Castell
    Using the following papers:
    -300gsm Hot Press aquarelle paper
    -80gsm drawing paper
    -60gsm 'vellum' sketching paper
    -Standard copy paper
    -Smooth Newsprint paper
    –Each pencil was measured and weighed: All were the same length ±100mil, and all pencils found to weigh the same(Variance was less than 1 gram.) with the exception of the Art Alternative pencils which weighed twice as much as the wood shelled pencils.
    –Each pencil was carefully sharpened to have exactly 1 inch of charcoal core showing, the exception being the Art Alternatives pencils.
    –Each pencil was fixed to a sled 1/2 way up the length of the pencil at an angle of 30 degrees from the paper, verified both by direct measurement and mathematically checking.
    –On each pencil was affixed an exact amount of weight for balance, so that the tip exerted exactly 5 grams of pressure on the writing surface.
    –The sled was moved perpendicularly to the length of the pencil for 4 inches, to complete one half-stroke. This was repeated with all 15 pencils.
    –On a different section of paper, the sled again was moved perpendicularly to the length of the pencil for 4 inches, and then back, to complete one full stroke. This was repeated with all 15 pencils.

  3. Thanks Proko, the movements of my hand got incredibly smoother and more spontaneous after sharpening the charcoal the way you do.
    Drawing like that is so easier and satisfying!

  4. Hello I went shopping online for a conte and everywhere that sells them the 1710 says it's a combo of graphite and clay is that the right one, I'm confused since you're saying it's charcoal not seeing the 1710 in charcoal?

  5. What do you think about those 'lead pencil holder' with the thick leads by cretacolor? You can slide the lead out to expose and sand. just curious. Love the videos! I have learned so much from watching. Thanks!

  6. I really want to buy lot of art supplies but sadly i lived in indonesia it's so hard to find some art supplies here… and i'm just 17 yo lived with my parents and they said if im still young enough to buy something online

  7. Huh, i had a razor blade stashed in my mystery box with the explicit intention of one day use it to kill myself who would've thought it could come in handy for artsy purposes?. Life is like a box of chocolates indeed.

    (Disclaimer: i am not suicidal nor suffer from any mental illness, the commentary was meant as a joke so please refrain from telling me to get help or anything else, thank you very much)

  8. Rather than wooden pencils, could you just use leads in a lead holder, let the lead protrude an inch, and then shape it with sand paper or sponge as shown in the video?

  9. Great channel! Thanks for all your videos, I really improved my figure drawing skills watching them! The charcoal that you suggest is great.

  10. Dammit. Im too afraid to try and sharpen the pencil that way because I cant afford art supplies.

    So I have to make do with what I have (which are some really cheap art supplies) so you wont see me sharpening the pencil this way any time soon lol

  11. Do all of your videos have background music/effects? I find it distracting and unnecessary. Otherwise very informative. A remix without the music would be a great idea!

  12. My art teacher taught me how to sharpen my sketching pencils and he used a snap-off knife. I can’t seem to do it any other way (except a sharpener lol).

  13. I recommend watching this drawing basics playlist from the last to first video 😀 it's easier to maintain attention that way 🙂

  14. Наверняка же есть уроки и на русском? Подскажите, пожалуйста, это так? Я слышу акцент.)

  15. @2:47 The struggle is real. I must have destroyed 20+ pencils whilst trying to learn this method. I was being too forceful to begin with, which I blame on years of just quickly jamming a pencil in a sharpener. If you're struggling like I did; it helps to think about it as more of a craft. Kind of like carving out a wooden kitchen utensil perhaps. Reframe it in your mind, be patient and delicately take off small shavings of wood at a time, without bearing down too hard with the blade. Craft it to a nice point. I realised there's quite an art to refining your artistic tools!

  16. Regarding the pencil sharpening problem: The breaking occurs not when you apply too much force, but when you sharpen in the wrong direction. Try to push in a slightly curved way so that you end up sliding parallel to the lead. It is a lot easier to do it right if you use a scalpell or a cutting knive. Also I recently found this tool here:
    I am not trying to advertise it, it is rather expensive also. But if you hurt yourself a lot of times and keep breaking pens with a razor blade, give it a try. Its really easy to work with.

  17. Have you had an injury – perhaps on the right side of your body? In your "meditative" pose you seem to lean left… Asking for a friend…

    From me: thanks for all of the tutorials and tips. Well thought out, entertaining, and most importantly – helpful and informative.

  18. They say materials don't matter if you don't have the basic skills, they're partially right. But it doesn't mean you should make 9B grade shadows with a 9H pencil.

  19. The one thing I didn't hear was WHY expose so much of the pencil and weaken it without the wood covering? Sorry, this is probably a really stupid question. It just isn't obvious to me why to do it P.

  20. After patiently observing you sharpening that charcoal and then only to see it break, I needed 2 weeks of meditation, 2 weeks of anger management , 2 weeks of psychotherapy and finally 2 weeks of life counselling. I finally recovered I'm back now hoping to move forward with more of your outstanding videos.

  21. Where do you recommend getting the Conte 2B pencils from? I cant seem to find them anywhere outside of amazon which is either an overpriced single pencil, or a full 12-pack

  22. I used a HD n°2 pencil. I also used my notebook to make the smooth edges, it didn't worked perfectly but i'm poor so…

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