My Most Recommend Tools for the Growing Cartoonist (and exactly what I use myself!)

I always get asked about the tools I use to create my art, and what supplies I recommend for young artists, so I made this resource so everyone could see what they are. Note: I receive a tiny commission if you purchase through these links at no extra cost to you. It's a small way to help me continue to teach kids around the world. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Staedtler Mechanical Pencil Night Blue Series, 0.7mm (925 35-07)

I don't think pencils really matter. I've made great art with all sorts of pencils, cheap ones I find on the classroom floor, or pencils from fancy graphite drawing sets.

But still, this one is my favorite. I love the feel, not too light, not too heavy. Plus it feels durable with a premium look and feel, while not being expensive.

Staedtler Mars Micro Carbon pencil 0.7mm lead refill 2B

These leads pair great with the pencil on the left.

Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil, 2mm. 780BK (3-PACK)

I'm obsessed with this pencil! I've never drawn with lead this thick, and boy have I been missing out! Perfect for light sketching, quick lines, and getting a rough draft down on the paper. I can't recommend it enough for young artists who are already used to drawing lightly and loosely. If you're still gripping a little too tight and not yet able to sketch light and loose then I'd hold off on this and stick to a thinner lead.

June Gold 108 Pieces, 2.0 mm 4B Lead Refills, 90 mm Length, Extra Bold Thickness, Break Resistant Lead/GraphiteStaedtler Mars Micro Carbon pencil 0.7mm lead refill 2B

In case you're wondering, "B" refers to the softness of the graphite. 4B produces a bold, dark line that's great for drawing. The higher the number before the B, the softer the graphite, and the darker and richer the lines it produces. Of course, it's all about personal preference. I've been enjoying using 4B lately!

Overall, these lead refills are a great value for anyone who draws regularly.


Artist Blending Stump and Tortillion Art Blenders

This is perfect for achieving smooth and precise shading effects in pencil drawings but not necessary. A Q-tip can also be used effectively as an alternative tool for blending and shading.

Faber-Castell LARGE Pencil Eraser

This eraser is a great choice as it leaves behind minimal mess compared to many other erasers.


Faber-Castell Creative Studio Graphite Sketch Pencil Set – 6 Graphite Pencils (2H, HB, B, 2B, 4B, 6B)

A simple sketch set like this is the ultimate gift for your young artist ,especially if they want to improve at shading. 

The higher the H-number, the harder the lead, and harder you have to push on the paper. On the other hand, the higher the B numbers, the softer the lead is, which means you don't have to apply as much pressure. They easily make darker lines and darker value.

Personally, I love the darker leads (4B and up), but 2H can be useful at times too. It's fun to let kids experiment with the different types and choose their favorite.

Pens, Markers, & Brushes

Pentel Arts Portable Pocket Brush Pen (Medium Point)

I'm obsessed with this brush pen. It's the standard professional brush pen that cartoon and comic artists around the world use as their go-to inking tool. It's not for beginning artists though. It takes some hand-eye coordination and practice to get better at using. But it's so versatile, makes beautiful lines, and is fun to play with.

Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Refills, Black Ink / Value Set of 12

The pen on the left is refillable so get these refill cartridges to that when the pen runs dry, you can just screw the top off, and replace the cartridge. It's super easy. And affordable.

uni Posca Paint Marker Pen, Medium Point, Set of 7 Natural Color

These are acrylic paint pens that are so much fun to use. They can be used on more than just paper-paint rocks, wood, glass, clothing, etc. But they are as easy to control as a marker. I love using these, and the colors are just beautiful!

Tombow 62038 Fudenosuke Brush Pen, 2-Pack. Soft and Hard Tip Fudenosuke Brush Pens for Calligraphy and Art Drawings

These are great entry pens for students who are new to drawing with brush pens, beginner artists, or younger students. It's a more firm brush pen, so it doesn't require as much skilled hand-eye coordination, but still ised by pro artists all around the world (including myself). It makes a great even line, but you can still vary the line weight (thickness) when you want by intentionally applying more pressure. I can't recommend this one enough! Affordable too.

Copic Markers, 72-Marker Set, Professional Alcohol-Based Blending Markers

Only buy these if your artist is serious about art because these are a serious investment. But there are no better markers in the world. PLUS they are refillable. You can buy refillable cartridges online, and use these markers for years and years. These are the finest quality--the best most vibrant ink that never bleeds, perfect control, excellent brush tips, and by far the best blending. Sometimes you can catch them on sale for an incredible deal. Right now, as of November 10, 2022, they are half off on Amazon. 

48-Marker Set of Ohuhu Markers--Alcohol-Based Blending Markers

These are the budget-friendly alternative to the more costly Copic markers. These are still a great option, and your child can make great art with these. They are a world ahead of typical markers like Crayola. They blend well and have a variety of beautiful colors.

Posca Acrylic Paint Marker, Extra Fine, White

The fine point of this acrylic paint marker provides you with the precision you need to make your mark on any surface. The extra-fine point is perfect for tight lines and intricate detailing. This white marker is great for highlights.

Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pens - Fine Point Ink Pen for Journaling, Art, or Drawing - Classic White Ink - Assorted Point Sizes - 6 Pack

Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pens are a bright, opaque white ink that flows creamy smooth onto paper. They don't bleed through paper and make a lasting mark. It's another product that's perfect for highlights.

Sakura Pigma Micron Fineliner Pens - Archival Black Ink Pens - Pens for Writing, Drawing, or Journaling - Assorted Point Sizes - 6 Pack

Sakura Pigma Micron Fineliner Pens are a great choice for drawing. The pens come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, and multiliners are easy to control. These are very common and are used by kids and professionals alike.

Drawing Paper

Pocket Sized Sketch Book Moleskine Art Sketch Album, 72 Pages

I love my Moleskin notebooks. They are small enough to fit in my pocket and I can take them anywhere. These are great for small drawings, sketches, notes, etc. 

Best Paper for Alcohol Blending Markers X-Press IT Blending Card Paper 25 Sheets

Hands down, this is the best paper for alcohol-markers (either the Copics or the Ohuhus but it's more costly, at almost $1 per piece of paper. The blending just works so well on these, and you can layer as many layers of ink as you want. I use it all the time.

Inking Paper

This is Bristol Paper which is perfect for pencil, markers, colored pencil, and especially inking. I use it all the time since I love my brush pens so much 

Loose Paper for Alcohol Markers (Awesome Deal!)

250 sheets for less than $10 USD! This is actually nice printing copy paper/card stock, but works surprisingly well for alcohol-based markers. It's definitely the most affordable blending paper and definitely works better than a regular sketch pad. You can blend well and it doesn't bleed too badly. If your child can keep up with loose drawing paper, this is a great option. I use these all the time.

Strathmore 350-9 300 Series Sketch Pad, 9x12, White, 100 Sheets

Quality, affordable paper for sketching, drawing, and coloring. The classic go-to paper.

Strathmore Marker Paper Pad 9"X12"-50lb Smooth 24 Sheets

This is my second-favorite paper for alcohol-markers, and it's more affordable than the x-Press IT Blending Card Paper. This Strathmroe paper still works great and blends with alcohol markers beautifully. 

HP Printer Paper | 8.5 x 11 Paper

The cheapest paper I use, perfect for practice and sketches because it's so easily replaceable. It encourages making mistakes which is essential for growth! It's what I use in all my live teaching classes.

Digital Tools

2021 Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro (Wi‑Fi, 128GB)

This is what I do all of my digital art on. It is an investment, but is easy to use and is an incredible professional powerhouse of a machine for creating digital art. I use the app Procreate which is only $9.99 in the App Store. Other digital drawing programs like Ibis or Adobe Fresco/Sketch may work too. I haven't used all of them, so to make sure your child gets the full experience from my class, you would need to make sure their app has the ability to import a photo, create multiple layers, lower opacity of a layer, and use different digital brushes. 

Apple Pencil

This works incredible well with the iPad Pro. It's pressure sensitive just like a real brush, which is how I create those thin and thick lines (variation in line weight) to make my characters look the way they do. It's also more responsive than a typical stylus.


Artsy Watercolor Paint Set

This one has some cool waterbrush pens. You just fill these pens with water and squeeze to get the water into the brush. You don't need an extra cup of water and don't have to worry about spills. Kids also love the wide assortment of colors.

Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour

This one comes with a conventional brush. There aren't many colors because you have to mix the colors to get the color you desire (which is what artists should eventually learn anyways).

Colorations Best Value Watercolor Paint Set

The ones above are nicer sets, so if your child might not ever use watercolor again, you might be better off just purchasing a more cost-effective set like this or another cheaper one from your local craft store.

Strathmore Paper 300 Series Watercolor Class Pack

I do recommend watercolor paper because otherwise the paper will curl and tear when water is added. Paper like this works great.

Basic 48-Color Set

This watercolor paint set is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a high-quality product at an affordable price. With 36 vibrant colors to choose from, you'll have everything you need to bring your artistic visions to life.

Princeton Real Value, Series 9100, Paint Brush Set

This paintbrush set is a great option for beginners and artists on a budget. These brushes are versatile, as the can be used for acrylic, watercolor, and oil painting.


Most of what I've learned about art has come from books. Here are my favorites!

How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way

Written by the legendary comics maker Stan Lee, this book is often found in many pro illustrators' libraries. Superhero and Marvel fans will especially love this book. It is a must-have classic for anyone who loves comics.

Cartoon Animation with Preston Blair, Revised Edition

This one is a classic for illustrators and animators. Want to draw in that classic Disney style? This book will show you how. It's a little more advanced than a simple step-by-step instructional book.

How to Draw Manga: Basics and Beyond!

If your child wants to learn anime and manga drawing, this is a must-have. I've learned a lot from this one. For beginners and advanced students.

How to Draw Cute Stuff: Draw Anything and Everything in the Cutest Style Ever! (Volume 1)

Want to draw cute stuff? This is an awesome book for beginners and advanced artists. Basics, fundamentals, and advanced concepts.

Fundamentals of Character Design: How to Create Engaging Characters for Illustration, Animation & Visual Development

My favorite book for character design. Awesome visuals, great instructions and explanations, and lots of inspiration. I learned a lot from this! For more experienced young artists.

Fundamentals of Creature Design: How to Create Successful Concepts Using Functionality, Anatomy, Color, Shape & Scale

For more experienced artists who are into drawing creepy creatures. This book is EPIC. I learned a lot from it. Full of fundamentals for beginning creature designers, advanced concepts, and lots of inspiring art.

Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals

Ed Emberley taught me to be an artist as a child. So much nostalgia! This is what got me drawing as a young child. It's for beginner artists. Using simple shapes to make a ton of cute creatures and characters.