Easy to find Art Supplies for Fashion Illustration

I think it’s really great to know what you are looking for and talking about when looking easy-to-find- art supplies for fashion illustration and design sketching. Quality ones.

I’m going to show you what you will find if you go to a local art store (if you’re in the U.S.) looking for items for your illustrations, or  for my programs online or at Parsons.
(for info about DIGITAL illustration supplies, check my articles on iPad/ tablet fashion illustration).

Great art supplies DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

My Parsons shopping cart at Utrecht (Brooklyn- based art supplier)  is about is the same cart I require for my College Students, but is loaded with discounts, and can be customized by adding or subtracting items from the cart so you only buy what you want. It also includes my favorite brushes (awesome yet inexpensive).

ps if you are interested in working with markers, my Markers Magic (WAITLIST) Course will be released 2017. Also check out my articles and youtube videos about markers.

Email me  or comment if you are interested-– your specific questions will help me design my course for YOU.

The photos in this article aren’t fancy: i just snapped away at my local art store.


1. ANY brand of SKETCH paper.

What is SKETCH PAPER?   11×14 is great, or 14×17, and you can choose any book that she/he  thinks is best. MAKE SURE THE SURFACE HAS at least a slight “TOOTH”, or texture. (VELLUM surface).  The point is that SKETCH paper is slightly sheer (good for tracing techniques), but bigger and has a nicer surface texture than paper from your printer at home. Get a spiral binding. This is for “disposable”, quick, and practice work usually.

Fashion Illustration- Drawing paper- Laura Volpintesta, Fashion Illustration TRIBE

2.  DRAWING PAPER is wonderful.

What is DRAWING PAPER?   It is heavier than sketch, comes with less sheets, costs more, can’t be traced through unless you use a light table/light box or go to a window and trace during daylight.  It takes paint nicely (less wrinkling than sketch paper) for casual painting of ideas and has a rich, delicious texture for drawing  and colored pencils.  Medium surface best, or vellum surface.

Fashion Illustration- Bristol paper- Laura Volpintesta, Fashion Illustration TRIBE

3. BRISTOL is a heavier paper, and this is the one for our finished illustration work with gouache.

What is BRISTOL?   It’s stiffer and thicker than the other papers.  The pic you see here says “smooth surface”, we generally DO NOT WANT SMOOTH SURFACE! Look for VELLUM SURFACE or COLD-PRESSED for a textured surface that has tooth and imitates fabric well when you paint on it.   You can also invest a lot more and experiment with any other watercolor or tinted papers that you like……


Fashion Illustration- Designer Gouache- Laura Volpintesta, Fashion Illustration TRIBE

4. DESIGNER GOUACHE is about $10 per tube at Micheal’s, and less at Utrecht and other discount suppliers.  Van Dyke Brown and Naples Yellow are my MUST HAVE tubes, for mixing great and easy skin tones.

Winsor and Newton is a great brand, and so are LINEL, Daler Rowney or TURNER gouaches.  Utrecht also just released a line of designer gouache and I totally trust them.  Gouache is velvety and opaque in a way that watercolor isn’t, though it is similar to watercolor. It will cost about 80-100 dollars to set yourself up with the TUBE colors. Extra tubes of black and white are good to have too. Just a pea sized amount in a palette and add water, mix until the color is homogenous.

MY ONLINE SHOP CART does not include tube gouache– only PAN gouache which is so portable and easy to use, but in a good quality. This way you can get started as quickly as possibly, and always upgrade once you’ve gotten your “feet wet” .

Your other options:

Fashion Illustration- Reeves Gouache set- Laura Volpintesta, Fashion Illustration TRIBE

Reeves gouache

is VERY VERY VERY affordable and decent.  $15 for 18 colors.  I like it. It’s a fine alternative to the others and a good introduction to gouache!

Pelikan Gouache  available at Amazon and other locations is a dry palette gouache. This means portable, easy set up and clean up, and a great range of colors.  Get the 24 color set, about 20 dollars. Palettes are dry cakes that you can take with you everywhere! THIS IS THE GOUACHE IN THE UTRECHT SHOPPING CART.

Caran d’Ache Gouache Studio but sometimes it is hard to find, or pricey: on Amazon it’s 50 right now…. it’s a 15 set, 14 pans with one tube of white, comes in a white box with rectangular pans, and its just the BEST BEST my FAVORITE.

Fashion Design Art Supplies, Prismacolor colored pencils5.  Prismacolor Colored Pencils are amazing. Get just 12 (about 20 dollars, or 24, or 36 depending on your budget. Don’t by their “scholar”line, I haven’t tested the quality yet. These pencils are top-quality if you buy their top of the line pencil. They work WONDERFULLY on top of gouache after it dries.



6.  This set of WOODLESS GRAPHITE is $10 at Micheal’s, but I just love woodless graphite for drawing and this comes with a variety of softnesses, plus a pencil sharpener. They are high quality pencils.


7.  Finally, waterproof felt-tip pens (in this case, PITT pens by Faber Castell) are great for professional technical drawings and other illustration techniques. I love that brush tips are included in the set, for expressive dramatic effects.   I blogged about these great pens when I found out they created the bigger set!!

Another great brand of waterproof felt pens for fashion flats and illustrations is the Micron Pen, purchasable in sets of varying widths (recommended) or a-la-carte.


c- thru ruler, fashion illustration Tribe, art supplies

8.  I can’t live without these 2×18″ “C- thru” rulers for every aspect of my design life. We use them easily to work on proportions for model drawing.


9.  Any cheap white palette with round wells is great for mixing your custom colors. It’s like a dollar and change for a simple palette.  I like to have one with a dozen wells or so. Otherwise you can get a ceramic palette, but don’t drop it!


10.  These are great brushes at Michael’s. More than you even need, but not expensive so who cares? :0) the third from the left is the type we’ll be using: the round, pointed brush for watercolors.


11.  These portfolios aren’t required, but they are useful for storing and displaying your work affordably…. they don’t last forever, but they do work so you can insert your artwork and flip through the pages.  Handle it delicately to help it last longer!

You’ll also want/need:

  • water cups,
  • paper towels,
  • MASKING TAPE (1“),
  • double stick tape , and

fabric swatches if at all possible from anywhere possible!!

Also, check out my video about fashion books, model drawing tutorial, and Ebook of Fashion Design Prompts when you subscribe to my email newletter here on the site.

Much love, can’t wait to work with YOU!!!!

Laura Volpintesta, Fashion Illustration Tribe



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