Although traditionally know by the term “lead,” pencils are made of a mixture of natural graphite power and clay. Once the mixture has hardened it is coated in wax and encased in wood.
Colored pencils are made the same way as lead pencils except with a pigment core. Artist-grade pencils are filled with higher concentrations of high-quality pigments than student-grade colored pencils. Water-soluble pencils offer all the advantages of colored pencils but include a water-soluble ingredient in the lead so that it is possible to thin out their color into a transparent wash.
Brands available: Cretacolor, Conté à Paris, Faber Castell
Made from wood, this medium has been used for drawing since prehistoric times. Charcoal is available as natural sticks, compressed sticks, in pencil form and as a powder.
Brands available: Cretacolor, Daler Rowney
Pastels are made from finely ground pigment mixed with clay or chalk and a binder. They come in a wide range of tints and shades achieved by mixing in differing quantities of chalk with the original color. Pastels come in round or square sticks and are either think or chunky.
Brands available: Conté à Paris, Daler Rowney, Royal Talens
Dip Pen vs. Reservoir Pen
Made from wood, quill (feather) or metal (nibs set into holders), they are called dip pens because they are loaded by dipping directly into the ink. The nib retains a small amount of ink which is held in place by its own surface tension.
Reservoir pens carry ink in a cartridge or a special holder and only need to be refilled from time to time. In general, their nibs are less flexible than those of dip pens.
Brands available: Royal Talens, Faber Castell, Sakura
A large range of markers and fiber-tip pens are now popular for sketching and detailed drawing. These are especially convenient because the colors are consistent, ready to use and dry almost immediately. Colors may bleed through a regular sketch pad so bleed-proof pads are recommended when using this medium.
Brands available: Copic, Stylefile (available soon!)