Saturday, May 30, 2009

MAM Poll May RESULTS: Preferred media for drawing or sketching

Making A Mark Poll (May 2009) - Which media you like using for drawing and sketching?

At the beginning of May I started an opinion poll which posed the question Which media do you like using for drawing or sketching?

This month the poll allowed multiple responses. That's because I know lots of you have two or three types of media you like to use. It was suggested that people limit responses to those media used on a regular basis.

In total there were 183 respondents who provided 532 responses - which makes an average of very nearly 3 types of preferred media which are used on a regular basis

The averages in the chart relate to the percentage of respondents indicating a particular option. In other words 70% of respondents use graphite while 35% use watercolour and 22 % use charcoal. The percentages don't add up 100% because just one person could have said that their three favourite media were pencil, watercolour and charcoal.

The top three media for drawing and sketching

You might be surprised by which are the top three media for drawing and sketching.
  • a whopping 70% of all respondents use graphite - this was by far the most popular medium for drawing or sketching
  • 42% of people responding like to use coloured pencils. It's quite likely that at least one of them has been influenced by the fact that a lot of coloured pencil artists read this blog!
  • 35% of artists taking this poll prefer to paint with watercolour when sketching
There again, if pencil came top isn't it more logical that there more use of pencils - this time coloured - before you got out a brush?

Traditional pen and ink wins out!

Of those who like using pen and ink, there's a preference for using pen and ink the old fashioned way - but it's close!
  • 27% of respondents say their preferred medium is traditional pen and ink
  • while 24% opt for other forms of pen and ink - such as ballpoints, rollerballs or graphic pens
  • just 12% like using marker pens for colour
Soft pastels are the favourite

Between the pastels there's an expected preference for soft pastels
  • 17% of respondents use and prefer soft pastels on a regular basis
  • while 12% use hard pastels or conte sticks
  • and only 9% use oil pastels
Dry media and colour

People who use dry media quite often progress through diferent dry media. However if looking to use dry media to provide colour then
  • 42% prefer coloured pencils
  • while only 17% like soft pastels
The very traditional and the very new
  • 22% like using charcoal - probably the oldest drawing medium of all
  • while a third of this - 7% - like using digital drawing tablets.

Do please comment on what you like to use the most and why.

The next Making A Mark poll will be posted on Monday 1st June.



  1. That's really interesting! Great post. I never use graphite but I know a few people (non-sketchblogging) who do. I mostly use micron pigma or copic multiliner, with seom watercolours, and I think I chose my tools by seeing what the online artists I liked were using when I first started looking at sketching sites about 3 years ago. Or what I can fir in my bag - I used to love my set of watercolour pencils but gave up on them because they were too heavy to lug about. I must dif them out.

  2. I think we all have slightly differing priorities in selection of media for drawing, which implies a studio or at least a table that isn't going to move, and plein air sketching, which can include vulnerability to getting mixed up with other stuff you're lugging around. (Hand sanitiser is the worst.)

  3. I am not too surprised by the percentage of artists who prefer oil pastels . I think that many artists may consider them to be a version of childrens crayons. Oil pastels are the "ugly sister" of the pastel world. It is a shame because they can be a wonderful medium to work with. I have to admit that I go back & forth about using them. When I do use them I find them to be a lot of fun. There is in my opinion a need to have more professional grade oil pastels available. I do like soft pastels but the dust and storage present a problem for me. I think that Pan Pastels are something I would like to try.
    I enjoy using colored pencils because it is a great feeling to be able to pick up a stick of color and go to town. For many years I have gone outside and worked with either drawing and /or colored pencils. It gives me a great sense of freedom to take only a pad and some pencils plus the needed erasers & sharpners. This year I am going to go outside with acrylics (mostly likely Chroma Atelier) to paint. I will still use colored pencils & sketching pencils but I see that for the development of my art I need to also work with paint on canvas or board along with pencils, (colored or graphite) on paper. I would like to see more lightfast colored pencils for sale. Derwent had a terrific line of lightfast colored pencils called Signature. What was especially nice was the fact that the violets and purples important in landscape painting were highly fade resistant. Unfortunately they discontinued them. While the Colour Soft are very nice to work with it seems that for little extra effort Derwent could improve the lightfastness of these pencils. Talens Van Gogh also made a great colored pencil which has also been discontinued. Caran d'Ache Luminance is the newest lightfast colored pencil but they are expensive. Prismacolor makes a very good lightfast colored pencil . Polychromos are wonderful but again many of the pencils in the purple / violet range are not all that lightfast. Derwent does make an excellent sketching pencil which has been my preferred graphite drawing tool.
    Sometimes I like to use watercolor as an underpainting for colored pencil and/or oil pastel. Markers such as the Faber Castell Pitt artist pens or the Sharpie markers are excellent for quick studies
    I would like to return and work with watercolor pencils either by themselves or with other media such as oil pastels.

  4. I was rather surprised by the comment that Talens have discontined their lightfast range of coloured pencils - and went to check their website.

    This is the page on the Talens website for the complete range of Van Gogh coloured pencils and watercolour pencilsI'm glad to see that news of their premature demise isn't correct - they're one of my favourite pencils!

  5. what and why? that's an essay in itself!

    I use virtually any and all media sketching. What I take depends on whether it's a family outing or one specifically to sketch with friends or alone.

    If with family then what I take is lightweight and limited and may only be moleskine or other sketch book and a mechanical pencil or biro.

    If with friends then it's kitchen sink time! I would take in the car my oils, coloured pencils, watercolours, charcoal and a variety of sketchbooks/papers in all sorts of sizes and paper types.

    What medium I use depends on subject and weather.

    Recent sketches in Cornwall reinforced my love of oils as a preferred medium for catching colour and movement quickly and fast. I don't draw first but just go in with colour.

    I do like drawing as well so wouldn't be without the other stuff.

    Though I do love watercolour I generally prefer to use this at home with time to let glazes dry and have time to consider. It also involves carrying bottles of water and if working somewhere isolated it may need to be a large bottle as clean water is essential - and that becomes heavy.

    Acrylics aren't something I ever use plein air (only in the studio) because again there is water to carry. If you get it on your clothes they are ruined - whereas the baby oil will rescue you from oil painted jeans :>) which happens frequently.

    Charcoal - yes, love it and it needs a LARGE sketchbook.

    Pencil, yes for drawing, often.

    Pen - rarely as it can be too 'controlled' for me. I like media that work loosely. I do quite like sketching in biro as it flows across the page freely. I don't like scratchy pen nibs.

    Oil pastels - I use these in mixed media work

  6. Hi Katherine,
    I was glad to see that Talens did not discontinue the line of Van Gogh colored pencils. It seems that unfortunately they are no longer for sale here in the US. The same happened with Derwent Signature pencils. Talens did a lot of ads promoting the product and product. I would like to see these pencils available again because they were wonderful to work with. It seems that regarding Signature that ship has left port for good.


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