What’s inside my Urban Sketch kit
Early spring is when I usually start thinking about Urban Sketching outside again. No doubt this year will be different. For one, due to Covid-19, I have paused my Urban Sketching experience and I won’t be offering it at all this year. Below I’m sharing my sketch kit and how you can build your own. We’ll need to take extra precautions and stay safe but getting outside and sketching is a great way to get some fresh air and a little walk in.
My sketch kit
I customize my kit based on the outing. I would categorize them into 3 groups:
A minimal kit in my purse or work bag.
A small kit I carry for an afternoon sketch that fits in a sketch bag.
- All day
A larger kit I carry for a more complex painting or an all day outing.
The key is to include your favorite sketchbook and marking tools. Customize it to your liking. Hover over the icons to view the description and click it to read more.
The tools & supplies you’ll need
I customize my sketch kits based on what I’ll be doing that day. If I’m going about my normal day I’ll always keep a sketchbook and pen handy in my work bag or purse. If I’m dedicating a couple of hours to sketching, I’ll take a medium sized kit with just what I need. A sketchbook, a pen, a water brush, my small watercolor palette and paper towels. I’ll include additional supplies without bulking up. For all day sketch outings, I’ll pack my backpack with a variety of tools because I have more space. This is when I’ll bring more brushes, pens, paints and anything that will make my day more comfortable such as an umbrella. I’ll also pack a snack, water, and a first aid kit.
My kit includes watercolors so I need good watercolor paper.Some of the brands that I really like are Moleskine and Arteza. They are all available in larger sizes too. Browse the selection and choose the one that fits your routine and bag.
You don’t have to stick to pocket sized sketchbook but keep in mind that you’ll have to carry it around.
Hard cover books will be easier to handle and stand with. When you’re sketching outside, you may not always have a flat surface or a place to sit.
Wether you get a mechanical pencil or a generic pencil, make sure you stay around the H2 HB area. Mechanical pencils are great because they don’t need sharpening. One less thing to carry with you. I use the ROtring mechanical pencil because it lets me adjust the lead. It’s a little heavy but I don’t spend too long with the pencil
If you’d like to use an ink pen instead of a pencil draw your sketch, it’s a very popular style. It takes a bit of getting used to as you have little room for error, but the payoff can be very satisfying. If you are combining your ink and watercolors, be sure to get waterproof ink pens like Micron, Sharpie, or UniBall.
A water brush is a wonderful tool to have with you if you paint watercolor sketches. You don’t have to pack a water cup and other supplies. Just add water into the chamber and carry a few different sizes with you depending on what you’re sketching and how you like to work. The Pentel brands hold up really well and you can have them for years. I’ve also worked with the Derwent and Kuretake Fude Water Brush Pens. They are all available in various sizes and do well in the long haul.
Watercolor travel palettes
Watercolor palettes come in so many sizes and variations it’s hard to decide on just one. I don’t. I have a few different ones based on how much and how long I’ll be sketching. I have DIY kits that i detail below, and I have sets I purchased with paint. Whichever direction you go, think about your favorite colors. Don’t just grab any 12 set, look at the colors if the set and choose one that matches your style or mood. Think about the color wheel and read through my post on color theory and primary colors.
DIY watercolor travel palettes
DIY watercolor palettes are easier to make than you think. All you need is an Altoid tin (small or large) or any other similar sized tin can. Then grab some empty pans and fill it with your favorite watercolors from a tube. You can create multiple little palettes with different color combinations.
Watercolor markers can be used instead of or with your paints. It lets you paint smoothly like a marker but once you apply your water brush you can move the paint around as you normally would. Grab a set of 6 or 12, or purchase your favorite colors one by one.
Similar to the watercolor markers above, watercolor sticks allow you to apply the pigment in another way. They sort of feel like crayons and when applied, offer a texture that will help you speed things along in your sketches.
Lighting and other accessories
Every item in your kit takes up room. Only carry what you need and be flexible. If you’re heading out at night, bring a light with you. Always carry paper towels and extra water. Fastening clips in the size to fit your sketchbook. A water spray bottle and a syringe to pull water from your water bottle.
A canvas pouch to load your tools and supplies into and one that fits into your day bag or purse.