Allison Ranieri

Independent Artist

What’s In My Pencil Case

In my Sketchbooking: Observational blog post I promised I would show what I use to draw with every day; here is a peek into what drawing supplies I carry around with me every day!


My sketchbook and pencil case are two very important parts of my life. I take them with me everywhere, and I feel lost if I don’t have them. When I don’t have either it’s amazing all the down time I realize I have in car rides, waiting for dinners, hanging out with friends or just bored around the house. I have been asked before about what supplies I carry around with me and draw with. So I have prepared for you a look into what I carry in my pencil case!

In the image below, you can see pens, pencils and other materials laid out on the right and on the left, on top of my pencil case, next to each number is the corresponding name of the drawing utensil. For a pencil case, I use a very handy, soft glasses case that has a magnetic closure at the top (perks of working in optical!). It very neatly holds all 13 of my drawing materials. These drawing materials rotate occasionally, but I generally stick with this bunch. On any given day, which of the 13, or which combination of the 13 I draw with very much depends on my mood. I will go more into this in a bit.


A listing of the 13 materials in my pencil pouch. See the written list below for links to purchase most of these materials.

In case your browser is not image-friendly, here is a written list:

  1. Pentel Aquash Watercolor Brush Pen – Pigment Ink – Light Black (JetPens)
  2. Pentel Aquash Waterbrush – Fine (JetPens)
  3. Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (JetPens)
  4. Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen – Black (JetPens)
  5. Pilot Pocket Brush Pen – Soft (JetPens)
  6. Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen – Black Ink (JetPens)
  7. Pilot Fude-Makase Color Brush Pen – Extra Fine – Black (JetPens)
  8. Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen – Super Fine (JetPens)
  9. Uni-ball Signo Broad UM-153 Gel Ink Pen – White Ink (JetPens)
  10. Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen – 3.8 mm Nib Width (JetPens)
  11. 0.5 mm mechanical pencil with retractable eraser (local art supply store)
  12. Faber Castell pencil – 2B (local art supply store)
  13. Graphite stick – 4B (local art supply store)
Photo Mar 17, 2 13 49 PM

I took this photo to show the line quality and darkness of each writing material. They are organized from left to right the same as the are in the previous photo.

From here on out I will refer to the materials I use with a number in parenthesis after them – the number that corresponds to the list above.

These are pretty much always the same 13 materials in my pencil case on any given day, though what I draw with varies based upon the mood I’m in, the lighting, the subject matter, etc. For example, if I feel like the lighting in a particular scenario is very good and I want to try to record the wonderful values of the scene in front of me, I will either use the 4B graphite stick (13) or a combination of the Pentel Aquash Watercolor Brush Pen and Waterbrush Pen (1 & 2), sometimes along with a pen like the Pentel Fude Touch Pen (4) to add some details. I like working with the graphite stick on its side to add larger areas of value, or on its end to add some rough texture to my drawing (it was broken in half at some point it its lifetime so the ends are rough). Sometimes I will take a napkin or even my finger and smudge out parts of my drawing with the graphite stick to add areas of interest and contrast to my drawing.

As you can see in the photo above, the Pentel Aquash Waterbrush Pen (2) looks a little gray – and that’s because I don’t fill it with *just* water – I fill it most of the way up with water – and then add in about 5 drops of black ink. This way, when I use the Waterbrush Pen I can create a nice light 2 or 3 wash layer in my drawing (depending on how many drops of ink I put in). When the Pentel Aquash Watercolor Brush Pen with Light Black Pigment Ink (1) goes on at first, it looks rather dark, but in fact dries to a nice 6 or 7 gray. See the image below for an example of using both the Pentel Aquash Waterbrush Pen (2). (with watered-down ink) and the Pentel Aquash Watercolor Brush Pen with Light Black Pigment Ink (1).


drawn with the Pentel Aquash Watercolor Brush Pen with Black Ink (1) and a light wash using the Pentel Aquash Watercolor Brush Pen (2) with gray ink inside. Details using the Pentel Fude Touch Pen (4)

A favorite trick of mine to do when I want to add some extra contrast to a drawing is to come back into a value drawing with the White Uni-ball Signo Broad UM-153 Gel Ink Pen (9). I love to add some extra highlight details on top of a drawing with this pen. It is very opaque, will draw on many surfaces and in addition, is water-soluble. For instance, in the sketchbook image below, I used my Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen (10) (also water-soluble) on toned paper to draw the outline and shadows of the figure model’s body, and then went back in with the White Uni-ball Signo Broad UM-153 Gel Ink Pen (9) to add the highlights, and used the Pilot Aquash Waterbrush Pen (2) (filled with only water) to blend these two mediums.


Pilot Parallel Pen and White Uni-ball Signo Broad UM-153 Gel Ink Pen on toned brown paper bag in Moleskine sketchbook

Though the Pilot Fude-Makase Color Brush Pen – Extra Fine in Black (7) and Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen – Super Fine (8) might look similar, there are some definite differences between the two. The Pilot Fude-Makase (7) has a shorter nib, and the Kuretake Fudegokochi has a longer nib which is harder and gives a finer point.

Some similarities but also distinct differences exist between the two pocket brush pens in my collection – the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (3) and the Pilot Pocket Brush Pen (5). The former is an actual brush pen made up of fine brush hairs and can create a traditional “dry-brush” effect when turned on its side and used quickly. You can achieve fine lines with this pen, but it is (to me) at its most satisfying with rotating between both finer lines and thick areas of dry brush. In addition, it is a reusable pen that you can buy refill cartridges for. The latter, the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (3), on the other hand, is more of a whole, squishy, spongey brush. You can get more consistent, constant fine lines with this brush pen. It has an entirely different feel from the aforementioned brush pen, and is truly a pen worth having in your arsenal.

When I am sketching at home, occasionally I like to add some fun touches to my work – especially if I am drawing a pattern. For this, I like to use some pens I didn’t mention in the list above: the Kuretake Zig Wink of Luna Metallic Brush Pen in Gold, Silver and Black. These pens are especially fun since they are metallic as they add some beautiful shine to any drawing, especially a monochromatic one.


A few other necessary materials displayed in my first photo are my trusty white rubber eraser, a round pocket pencil sharpener, a Pen-Touch 0.7 mm Extra Fine Point Gold Pen (from my local art store), and a mechanical pencil filled with Pilot Color Eno Mechanical Pencil Lead 0.7 mm (JetPens). Sometimes I like to do an under-drawing with the colored pencil lead, and like a Prismacolor Col-Erase pencil, the white rubber eraser pulls up these marks fairly efficiently.

So there you have it – that’s what I stash in my pencil case! Sometimes I like to experiment with brightly colored, cheap ballpoint pens or an 8-pack of Crayola crayons for some color, but this set is in my regular rotation. Hope you enjoyed!

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