Sketching Equipment

by Michele Cooper

You can get started in urban sketching with just two things: 1. something to draw with and 2. something to draw on. (I know of one sketcher who uses a pen and the parking stubs (in Singapore) for his drawing paper. And one in Seattle who once used the inside of cereal boxes!) I used my ferry boarding ticket one time.

Sometimes the anticipation of a new venture is made even more exciting by the prospect of new equipment! That is especially true of preparing for sketching on location.

The first priority is that your equipment be light, inconspicuous and easy to carry. All the equipment seen in this photo will fit into a large jacket pocket or small to medium cross body bag. They could all even be carried by hand if the need arose to move quickly. Rain showers can catch you unawares!

These are the essentials:
  1. A waterproof fine tip pen. Micron, Pitt, Sharpie
  2. Option: A Lamy Safari fountain pen with water soluble ink (black T-10)
  3. A mechanical pencil. Doesn't need sharpening
  4. Kneaded eraser. If you're going to do a lot of pencil sketching.
  5. A waterbrush. Carries the water for painting in the handle so there's no need for a water bottle. I like Pentel Aquash
  6. A roll up or zip up case to keep your drawing implements together.
A sketchbook designed for multimedia. Takes ink, pencil, marker, and watercolor equally well.
Hardbound books help support your drawing while standing or sitting with it in your lap.

  • I like Pentalic Aqua Journal, Nature Sketch, ProArt, and Stillman & Birn Beta (130-180 lb thick paper)
  • or Choose your own preferred paper and make a maze book.
Binder clips. To hold the pages open.

Sketched with a twig, ink, watercolor
Color Options:
  1. Small, travel watercolor kit. Needs at least three primary colors and a lid for mixing. This one is DIY in a mint tin. Yarka has small 10 and 12 color moist pan sets.
  2. A set of watercolor pencils for museum sketches.
  3. Caran d’Ache Neocolor II is a fun option for watercolor (tin of 15 gives you plenty of colors)
  4. Prima Tropicals Set. An affordable travel alternative to the larger studio setup that we use in class.
  5. A folded paper towel, sponge or pack of tissues to clean your water brush.
Consider the locale, weather, how long you'll be there and personal comfort
  1. A portable camp stool
  2. Umbrella
  3. Hat/Sunglasses
  4. Camera/Smartphone
  5. Sunscreen
  6. Bug Repellent


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for your kind words, Cheryl.

  2. Hi Michelle. How can I subscribe to receive email notifications of new blog posts?