Updated sketching kit details

December 28, 2018 | 21 Comments

I’m gearing up for the re-run of Foundations (starting next week) and thought it was a good time to take a photo of my current sketching kit. This is the stuff which I carry with me (practically) everywhere.

So here are all the details.


  • A mix of Daniel Smith, Winsor and Newton and Schmincke watercolours in an Art Basics tin. More details here.

Fountain Pens

  • Lamy Joy pen (white) with a gold nib (once was EF but now more like a M in thickness) filled with De Atramentis Document Ink black. More about permanent inks for Fountain Pens here. Please note the Joy is a calligraphy pen and comes with a stub nib. I replaced that with a normal nib for drawing.
  • Spare Lamy Joy pen (black) with a F nib. The only use of this pen is backup ink supply in case my White Joy runs out.
  • TWSBI Eco (turquoise) with a F nib filled with J Herbin Diabolo Menthe ink (water soluble). I use this pen for the guidelines for my writing.
  • TWSBI Eco (white) with a F nib with De Atramentis Document Ink Black which I use for all my writing. The rationale for this is that it preserves the ink in the White Joy so I don’t have to fill up the ink in that pen as much. Plus the F nib suits my handwriting better – I prefer writing with a thinner line than I do for drawing.
  • Green Sailor fountain pen with 55 degree fude nib filled with De Atramentis Document Ink Black.
  • Green Sailor fountain pen with 55 degree fude nib filled with De Atramentis Document Ink Urban Grey.
  • Lamy Vista with a F nib filled with Waterman Serenity Blue (water soluble). I use this mainly for a second ink colour for my notes (a different colour makes the pages more interesting.) I am using this ink as I wanted a bright blue and the De Atramentis Document blue was too dark. I also do the occasional simple line drawing with this pen.
  • Pilot Kakuno with F nib filled with a mixed ‘Burnt Sienna’ colour of De Atramentis Document Ink (Yellow, Brown and a little Red). I use this as a third colour ink for text and the occasional line drawing.


  • Pentel Aquash Waterbrush in large. I don’t like the results from a waterbrush (washes are flat with little granulation) so I rarely paint with it. The main use is as a clean water supply for pre-wetting skies.
  • Rosemary & Co Series 772 1/2 ” sable blend dagger. I use this brush for 99% of my sketches. It has a sharpened end so that it fits into a toothbrush container.
  • Rosemary & Co R13 travel sable blend brush. This is for occasional use – just if I feel the urge to use a round brush for a change.
  • Rosemary & Co R4 Pure Kolinsky Sable 1/4″ One Stroke. I want to use a flat brush more often but always reach for my dagger so I don’t use this brush much.
  • Refer to the Brushes Section for more details.

Other pens and pencils

  • White Gel Pen. I either use a Sakuri Gelly Roll or Uniball Signo Broad (pictured). For further information there is a great review here.
  • Everyday black gel pen – for filling out forms (which might not be on fountain pen friendly paper) and for signing copies of my book.
  • Ecoline Brush Pen (water soluble) in Warm Grey #718. I use this for quick sketches when I want to add some tone. Here is an example.
  • Watercolour pencils: Faber Castell Albrecht Durer. Minimal selection at the moment: Dark Indigo 157, Cadmium Yellow 107, Deep Scarlet Red 219, Walnut Brown 177. Click here for my usual full selection.
  • White Chinagraph pencil (various brands). The most readily available in Australia is the Staedtler Lumocolor Permanent White pencil. I use this under watercolour as a resist.


  • A plastic card for scraping wet paint. A few examples here with Paul Wang who introduced me to using a card (he is a master!)
  • Sandpaper for sprinkling watercolour pencil specks into a wet wash. Think chocolate on the top of a cappuccino – see here.
  • Sharpener by Faber Castell
  • Two small water containers attached to either my palette or my support board (or anything) with Blu Tack. The Blu Tack on the bottom of the containers is a little messy (comes off in my bag and gets on everything else!) but it is the most versatile fixing means (more so than using velcro or magnets). I bought these containers at a $2 shop a number of years ago and haven’t seen them for a while now.
  • Glue stick. I don’t know the best brand/type of glue to use (suggestions welcome).
  • Black wrist band for wiping my brush (Note: I mainly use napkins, but the wristband is still in my kit for occasional use if I run out of napkins)

I carry my pens in a Mead Five Star Pencil Pouch Stand ‘n store (here is an Amazon Link for one) and my dagger brush in a toothbrush holder – more about that here.

More info about my materials

  • Make sure you check out my Sketching Tools section!
  • You might be interested in a detailed interview I did on Parkablogs about my art tools here. It’s a few years old but most of it is still relevant.

The last time I took a photo of my kit was in October 2015 and it hasn’t changed much!

  • I’m constantly changing my fountain pens! In 2015 I had a lot of fude pens with different coloured ink for drawing but these days some of my extra pens are mainly for writing!
  • I’m no longer carry around a secondary pocket palette or my full selection of watercolour pencils.
  • I’m currently not using a Faber Castell Graphite Aquarelle 2B or the Pentel Pocket Brush so have removed from my kit.
  • The brown watercolour marker has been replaced by the grey Ecoline one.

But apart from that, my kit is more or less the same. I think the biggest change is that I am hardly ever using watercolour pencils these days. But of course that might change any time.

Well, I hope I’ve included enough details in this post. Please let me know if I have missed something. It is amazing how much time it takes to write a detailed list but as I get asked materials questions ALL the time, I know that it’s worthwhile to put all the details in one place!

So, are you joining the Foundations Run-Through starting 2 Jan? Have you got your kit ready yet?

I’m really looking forward to working through Foundations again. I’m thinking about what tool/s I will play with next week in Lesson 1: Knowing (and loving) your materials. There is a good group forming – some newbies and lots of people re-doing the course. I know it will be a lot of fun!



  • Thanks for the kit update Liz. I used your previous posts to set up my sketching kit for the first time – and that was around this time last year! It would be interesting to see how mine has evolved as well.
    I’m already enrolled on the Foundations course – so will be joining the Run-Through on the 2nd of Jan – won’t be able to synchronise perfectly, with the time difference to UK, but will be catching up over the week.
    Looking forward to it 🙂

  • Dawn Holder says:

    Always interesting! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Sharon Stover says:

    Oh, I think it would be a good idea to go through foundations again. My calendar just needs a little squeeze.

  • Harry Ward says:

    Hi Liz, what do you use the white chinagraph pencil for? Do you use it as a resist? Thanks.

  • Alan Barbour says:

    Glue stick: best is UHU.
    Q: Please explain about scraping with plastic card.

  • I am jealous you have such a cool stash of dedicated tools…. and inspired to create my own stash. I love following you because I don’t know how to paint but am trying to learn by experience and endure the beginnings bravely. Some day I hope to enjoy my own art as much as I do yours!

    • Liz Steel says:

      All the best Karla – try to enjoy the journey. We all have sketchbooks full of early work with a lot of less successful sketches. But the memories are priceless and so special.

  • Alan Barbour says:

    The Foundations course is in my future sometime; I just finished the introductory Art course at the local [junior] college, which got me past my terror of trying anything artistic and transmogrified my failures into limited successes and learning experiences. Next up is beginning drawing, then penmanship (home study course), then beginning watercolour. Then I should be well prepared for Foundations. Nice kit idea to use water soluble light blue ink for setup lines; and now I can see a value for demonstrator pens.

  • Yvonne Carpenter says:

    Pardon the ignorance – what is a “resist”? ?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Watercolour will not ‘stick’ to a wax surface so if you draw with a wax pencil/crayon it resists the application of paint. Get a normal coloured pencil and draw a small square then try painting over the top

      • Alan Barbour says:

        I realized when you mentioned the resist pencil that must have been the way you made the fish market sign in one of your sketches–blue sign with lettering too fine and regular to have been made with a brush. I had thought at first you used a white gel pen over the blue wash.

      • Liz Steel says:

        I’m not sure if the sketch but normally only use chinagraph for rougher textures like waves. I often blot the white gel pen so it is less stark.

  • I’m looking forward to joining you on the Foundations course. I have finished putting together my class kit two days ago and I’m ready to get started. My kit is much simpler than yours, but I’m hoping it will be enough to get this beginner going. 🙂

  • Pam Cope says:

    Signed up for the foundations class and having a great time going through and testing all my supplies. I’m getting ready for a big trip to Japan so want to take the essentials and maybe buy a fountain pen while I’m there!! I’ve made a travel kit that I can carry with me at all times. Looking forward to the class over the next 12 weeks.

Leave a Reply