Question: Hi Lachri. I’m a young artist, and I’m learning how to do things. I would love to try the Inktense line, but since I’m still a kid, my mom won’t really let me buy things that I want to try, even if my friends offer me samples. What should I do? Also, do you have any alternatives to the Inktense or Graphitint line?
Thanks, Haebin

Ok, so I have NO idea why your mom isn’t wanting you to try new things offered by friends (did you color on the walls when you were younger? haha). But I do hear from artists all the time who want to know what to do when they can’t afford quality supplies, so I’m going to address that in general given I’m not comfortable offering kids advice on why their parents make different decisions.

Graphite.

Yep, that is my answer. Ok fine, I will explain more, but really I can stop there. Graphite is one of the least expensive mediums. Even if you only have access to a #2 pencil and computer paper, draw on that! You can perfect your drawing skills until you can afford the supplies you want. Drawing is such a core building block to becoming a great artist. If that means you have to spend the next 5 years only working with the #2 pencil, then fine! Do that!! Don’t let a lack of supplies stop you from improving.

Even if you want high quality graphite, you can get a set of my favorite graphite pencils (Faber-Castell 9000) for $14 on amazon (affiliate link), and a pad of paper for even less. This doesn’t mean that you’re forever stuck doing outlines. Not by a long shot. Graphite can create super realistic work when you get comfortable with shading.

People wanting to get started with colored pencil ask me this the most. “Can you recommend¬†pencils that are still good but cheaper than polycromos, luminance, or prismacolor”. No, I really can’t. They don’t work the same so you’re not going to learn the same techniques. There are two things I recommend in this case.

  1. Start perfecting your graphite work while you save up for the full set of a quality colored pencils. It really is worth saving up for.
  2. If you really want to work in colored pencil but can’t afford the full set, then just buy a handful of quality pencils to start with. You don’t NEED 120 pencils just to start learning colored pencils. Pick out 10 or so colors and get really good with them. Remember, realistic work is more about the values (having correct lights and darks) than perfect colors. You would be amazed at what you can do with just a handful of quality colored pencils!

Back to your original question though, you may want to let her know though that graphitint isn’t permanent like inktense. It will wash out of clothes if that is her concern. You can also try some water soluble graphite if she is ok with that medium.