It probably comes as no surprise that as a bird artist, I draw birds every single day. I carry my drawing kit with me everywhere so I have my favorite art supplies with me at all times. Here are the items that I just can’t live without.

Sketchbook

My current sketchbook is a Pentalic 8” x 6” Traveler Pocket Journal. The paper is smooth and of a nice weight so ink does not bleed through.

Proportional Divider

The Proportional Divider is my secret weapon for getting proportions correct. While this little device is a bit tricky to get used to using, my drawing has improved dramatically since I mastered it. Basically, the proportional divider allows me to measure the bird’s features and transfer those to scale.

Clear Plastic Ruler

Getting the proportions correct is only half the battle in drawing birds. My other secret weapon is a clear plastic ruler. For some reason, I find estimating angles very difficult so I am constantly having to place the ruler as a horizontal or vertical guide to judge angles correctly.

Pro Tip: With regular use of the proportional divider and ruler, your “by eye” judgement of proportions, distances between features, and estimation of angles will improve dramatically.

Graphgear 500

My favorite drawing instrument, by far, is the Pentel Graphgear 500. I keep several sizes on hand but I tend to use the 0.3 most often, with HB black lead.

Kneaded Eraser

I keep a small plug of kneaded eraser in a little hard plastic box to dab up graphite, soften edges, and strategically lighten areas for highlights.

Tombow Monozero Eraser

This tiny Tombow eraser is an incredibly helpful tool for making feathers look fluffy and to create pops of contrasting values. I sometimes shave the already teensy tip down to get a sharper point and then use it to “draw” soft features against a darker background area. (I often use the kneaded eraser to pick up the crumbs.)

Staedtler Mars Retractable Stick Eraser

For larger cleanups and corrections., I use a Staedler retractable stick eraser.

OttLite Folding Task Lamp

This little portable, battery powered task light is worth its weight in gold! This LED lamp is lightweight and super-portable. It’s especially great when traveling—just pop it open and the page is well-lit and colors appear just as they should. If you’d like to forego the expensive batteries and plug this little light in, you’ll need to order a power cord separately. (Safety note: the lamp portion begins to heat up when the power cord is being used in place of batteries.)

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