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Useful Sketching Reference Material

An old master

Winning the Children for Christ by Wally Guilford, a master sketcher. He used only soft black grease crayon, and lots of detail and sketches, but he was a real master. You will be rewarded if you can find his (long out of print) book and study his sketches (includes sketches of "Pilgrim's Progress")

What Materials?

Paint, chalks, pastels, fibre markers, crayons have all been used. You can draw on paper, whiteboards, blackboards or overhead projector slides Which is best? Whatever works for you, but I have found paints on cheap white paper is the best for me because:-


12mm (0.5 inch) "Signcutter" style with a long round handle. Oldfields were excellent (mine are about 30 years old and still OK, though a little worn) but are hard to get. You need one brush per paint colour.

Whatever you get, make sure that the brushes have rust-resistant ferrules (the bit of metal that hold the bristles to the handle).


You only need black and 4 colours;

  1. Pigment, to give the colour
  2. A resin, or binder, to make it set hard, eg, acrylic resin, linseed oil)
  3. A "vehicle" to thin it so that it can be applied, eg, water, mineral turps

Any hard setting paint has all three

A varnish has only the resin and vehicle (ie, no pigment)

The powder paint we use for sketching has only pigment and a vehicle (the added water). It therefore never sets, and can always be washed out with soap and water. You don't even need to wash the brushes; just use them to stir up your paint next time, even after months.

Correction: the "Educational Colours" paint I have been able to get in recent years seems to have some binder, possibly a starch. I've found this tends to go gluggy after a week or so, and what is worse, is prone to dribbling down the paper. I've been able to get some Chinese powder paints ("Tommy and Tess") from Riot Craft stores, and this is better, more like the old "Brenex Tempera" powder I used in earlier years. I can't get it in black, so am using a mix of "Educational Colours" black and black oxide (the pigment concretors use to colour cement). Black oxide alone works, going on jet black with no runs, but tends to shed black powder later when dry, so can be messier than usual.

To mix, I put 2 or 3 teaspoons of powder in a jar then add about the same amount of cold water. Put the lid on tightly and shake for a minute or so. The paint is right when it flows freely off the brush (test on old newspaper) but not so thin that black turns to grey.

The paint tends to thicken a bit over time, so a small bottle of water is a good idea, in case you need to thin a little, but do this sparingly. Don't mix too much paint, as some colours can go off a bit and become smelly.



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