No long-winded intro for this one; it’s pretty straight-forward! A simple list with links to the products and apps/software that I, as a freelance illustrator, prefer! Not the “best of the best” or “the most feature-heavy products available” but just, simply, what I like the most, personally. 🙂
First and foremost, the single product that I use 24/7: The Apple iPad Pro 11″ with the Apple Pencil 2nd Gen. I have the 2018 model and it still works beautifully for me.
Best-suited for: Someone who needs utmost portability and is a professional. I don’t recommend this for a total beginner unless you have the money to spare.
Apps to use: Clip Studio!!! By FAR my favorite! Procreate is also great and something a lot of people use. I don’t like it, personally, but you might! Personally, if not Clip Studio, then I’d recommend Medibang, which is free! 🙂
Second-fav: I absolutely love the XP-Pen Artist Pro 15.6″. I used this for a while after winning one in a giveaway on Twitter and I adore it! Ultimately I stuck with my iPad, but this cutie is budget-minded and amazing. Think of it as a dupe for the Wacom Cintiq Pro 16, minus the touch screen, for like half the cost.
Best-suited for: Someone who doesn’t travel often (it’d be awkward to travel with, in my opinion, though doable if you don’t travel a LOT), and has a smaller budget. You’ll also need a laptop/desktop to use it with. It works with Mac or Windows.
If you want a cheaper/beginner alternative: An even cheaper model is the XP-Pen Artist 12 for just $200.
Programs: Again, Clip Studio! A great free option is Medibang Paint.
My absolute favorites:
- Copic Ciao or Copic Sketch markers. Amazing markers!! A cheaper dupe product is Ohuhu, which would be awesome for beginners and it’s way less than half the cost of Copics.
- Canson XL Mix Media pad. My go-to for sketches, lighter marker work (wouldn’t use it for heavy marker usage), studies, etc.
- Strathmore Bristol pad. My go-to for full marker illustrations.
- Pilot Color-eno erasable mechanical pencils. I love these!! I use them for separating each part of my sketch to reduce the likelihood of messing up when I’m doing lineart. Example: If my sketch has more than one character, I use one color per character.
- Staedtler technical pencil. I love this for refined sketches and studies! I have a few and put a 2mm lead with a variety of hardnesses in them.
- Sakura Koi and Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolor palettes. They’re amazing!! The Koi palette is perfect for anyone who wants a set to travel with, or for beginners.
- Pentel Watercolor Brushes. These brushes are for using specifically with watercolors and ink. They’re also portable and keep you from having to carry around extra vials for water.
- Tombow Fudenoske brush pens. These are beeeeautiful brush pens! I use them for strictly black/white art that I either intend to have no color, or intend to scan in and color digitally.
- Canon CanoSlide scanner. This cheap bby is what I got as part of an equipment package from college in 2014 and I still use it! And let me tell you, she’s been through the ringer and she still functions just as beautifully as the day I got her!
- A4 light pad. This is what I recommend for lineart. You put your sketch on the pad, put a blank paper over it, and ink on the blank paper while still seeing your sketch thanks to the light. Keeps you from ruining your sketch if you mess up on the lineart!
These are other things I love that aren’t really art-specific but make my day easier.
- L-shaped Desk with Hutch. This is the desk I use! It’s kind of a pain in the neck to put together but I think it was worth it. It’s spacious enough for me to have my iPad, laptop, scanner, and printer all out while still sticking to a smaller floorplan. Plus I dig the hutch. Also a plus: It’s cheap!
- Noise-cancelling Headphones. This bad boy has been a lifesaver! I absolutely cannot focus with a ton of noise, so I put these on, put on a podcast or YouTube video, and get to work.
So that’s it! Got something you want to add? Let me know in the comments! Hope this helped, and blessed be, loves! ❤
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