Here’s the Situation:
You are going to a deserted island.
You can take with you only, A. the clothes you’re wearing, B. a package of chips, and C. five drawing tools and a sketchbook.
Here’s the Question:
What drawing tools will you take?
(Actually, the real question is what kind of chips are you taking. Lay’s Original, I hope. It’s the only kind worth eating.)
The good news is, you don’t have to decide alone. I’ve put together this list of my top five must-have drawing tools, the ones I think could get me through any emergency, be it a worldwide graphite shortage or this desert island stay. (Because when you’re stuck on a desert island with no food, water, or shelter, you will definitely be wasting a lot of time on pencil drawings. Yeah-huh.) I’ve assembled this list based on a very scientific method of process-eliminating and popularity algorithms and – oh yeah – my own biased personal preference. Feel free to read on, take my advice, or ignore me completely!
Pencils: H, 2B, and 6B
Here’s the thing. While there’s a huge variety of pencils out there, different brands and qualities and weights, you don’t need them all. I decided on this ‘capsule pencil collection’ of three weights.
I would actually take along 2 of the 2Bs, because them suckers waste away pretty fast. It’s the one I use for the majority of my drawings, because it gives a really nice variety of shades. But to round out its abilities, throw in the H and the 6B. Use the H primarily for your initial sketching, and use it lightly so it will erase if you change your mind, make a mistake, etc. The 6B is for the darkest shadows, when you need more contrast than the 2Bs provide.
Also, when planning your deserted island stay, keep in mind that the softer a pencil is, the quicker its tip will wear down. So you might want to take even more than 2 of the 2Bs, and a whole boxful of 6Bs. Don’t worry about the H, though. The H will last you either until you’re rescued or until you’ve established a great tropical city with an economy based on coconuts and crab meat. Whichever comes first.
A Kneaded Eraser
Kneaded erasers are my favorite drawing tool, for two reasons: they are serious workhorses, and you can use them like tiny, hard, clay-ey stress balls while you draw. It’s an oddly satisfying finger workout.
Unlike normal erasers, which disappear over time and cover your desk in little pink scraps of rubber, kneaded erasers don’t lose any of their volume as you use them. They’re magic. They rub the graphite off of the paper, but instead of leaving the remains of it behind, they just suck it all up. Besides the obvious benefit of less mess, this also means that they last literally forever. Your eraser will be there with your H pencil when you get that city of yours built.
AND – I’m not finished singing the praises of this eraser yet! – the reason it’s called a kneaded eraser is because you can mold it into whatever shape you want. Cylindrical, spherical, conical, five-pointed-starical, this little baby does it all. You can even squeeze it down into teeny-weeny points to erase the smallest spots imaginable. Perfect for those pineapple still lifes you’re going to be passing time with.
A Good Old Black Fine-Tip Sharpie
Who likes Sharpies?? Raise your hands, Sharpie fans! (The rest of you, go buy a package now, tear it open, and write “I <3 Sharpies” 500 times. You will soon realize the error of your Sharpie-hating ways.)
Mostly, I use Sharpies for finishing hand lettering projects. I go right over my pencil lines, which I erase once the ink dries. The beauty of these little markers is in their super-crisp black lines – not even an 8B pencil can compete. It takes my projects to that next level of ‘done-ness’, and looks so clean and polished! No doubt about it, the Sharpie will definitely be your most valuable tool when it’s time to write out those huge SOS signs. (If your city planning doesn’t work out, that is.)
The only possible downside is the smell. Some people can’t tolerate the odor of Sharpies. My older sister is one of them, and when I was five she wouldn’t let me draw with them because she was afraid I might pass out from breathing it in – but obviously I’m fine, I survived, and I’m now a perfectly normal human being. *twitches*
And, hey, if it smells so bad, you could probably use it as a wild boar repellent. See, there really ISN’T any downside to Sharpies!
So! Pack your suitcase and head for that island. You’ve got a lot of drawing to do. 🙂