Illustrator’s Essential Toolkit

Illustrator's Essential Toolkit

Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Tutorials

Here on Graphic Tide we are always looking for ways to help fellow creatives out, by sharing essential information on freelancing and marketing, to showcasing your designs on our tees to be sold throughout the world.

Today’s post I’m to going to highlight some of things which you might need to consider buying or investing in, if your looking to become an Illustrator, or something equivalent. What things do you need to succeed within the world of being an illustrator, or can help towards this goal? This post suggests what you might need within your toolkit, from different printers to certain types of sketchbooks.

If you like these blog posts, check our other blog posts, or if you would like us to feature a particular subject within art and design, please don’t hesitate to tweet us. Ok lets get started on what every Illustrator should have in their toolkit.


I think this is probably the most important thing you must own if your an Illustrator. Even if you work digitally or traditionally, I still think it’s important to own a scanner. It allows you to scan your illustrations into your computer to be sent to the client, or to be cleaned up in Photoshop. If you work digitally, a scanner can still benefit you, as you might scan textures and patterns in for your illustrations. Scanners allow you to sketch ideas and concepts from your sketchbook to be sent to the client, as every Illustrator needs to send roughs to clients. Remember higher the resolution (DPI) the better the image quality will be.

You can get reasonably priced scanners on Amazon, which range from £50 – 300, depending on what size and quality you require. I would say that, unless you work A3 or larger, that an A4 scanner is perfectly fine and should meet what you require, however I wouldn’t suggest anything under A5, as it’s just too small, unless you like working in A5, then that’s perfect!


The second most important item, has to be a printer. As you’re an illustrator, you must always be marketing yourself to future clients and commissions. A part of this is online marketing, but there is also offline marketing, sending physical pieces of work out to potential clients. By buying a printer, it can save you money in the long run, and lets you print only one sheet if that’s needed, which some online or high street printers don’t allow, or charge you a lot for it!

Inkjet printers come reasonably cheap at Amazon, and go from £15 – £500, depending on what quality printer you require. Anything around the £40-£100 mark is perfectly fine, if your looking to send out to pieces of work to art directors. If your looking for a printer which can print you art prints, to sell on your website, you may need to buy a more substantial printer, for example a LaserJet printer. As customers require art prints to be of the highest quality, which some cheap inkjet printers just cannot produce.

Sketchbook or Pieces of Paper

As an illustrator you are required to come up with the best images, which you can produce. This requires you to work out an image composition, concept, colours and tone. A sketchbook is key for this. It allows you to work in a place, which is not judged by clients, and allows you think through all these elements before going into the final illustration. A sketchbook also allows you to practise your craft, and by drawing daily in your sketchbook, you can improve your skills and techniques. Pieces of paper can be just as good, but this really depends on what you prefer. Pieces of paper can become lost though or creased, which is a warning.

On Amazon (sorry for citing Amazon a lot within this post, seems like the cheapest place!) sketchbooks go from £5 to £20, but it depends what you’re thinking of using a sketchbook for. If you want to draw in them, and scan them for commission, I would recommend you purchase a high quality sketchbook, which comes with thick paper for drawing on. A cheap sketchbook of around one to two pounds is perfectly ok if your thinking of just developing your ideas and compositions in.

Pencils, Pens, Paints and pencil case!

It might seem obvious, but I had to include these materials. Pencils allow you to sketch out illustrations before committing with paint, and allows you to draw inside your sketchbook. Paint is required for you who are traditional, and a pencil case is required to keep your belongings in! I would also suggest that for you guys who just produce things digital, is to get some of these, so you can experiment with new ways of workings, and evolve as an illustrator or designer.

An Actual Toolbox

This is particularly handy if you want to work outdoors, or away from your home office desk. A toolbox can fit all your paints, palettes, brushes, and whatever you use to create your art. Before I got my toolbox, I had to put all my materials into a plastic bag, which is not fun to pack and to unpack. A toolbox allows you to keep everything neat and tidy inside a small space, and can hold it’s own inside a crowded bus or tube train, which a plastic bag may not!

You can get Toolboxes for under £15, which is not to bad at all, depending on what you carry with you, and what you work with. You don’t need a special ‘art box’, but a DIY toolbox is fine, as this is built for builders putting in lots of things inside their toolboxes.

Well that’s what every Illustrator should own, but don’t take my word for it, have a think about it and see if it fits into who you are as an Illustrator. This is just a guide, so please don’t go rushing off to buy all the things I’ve listed, but if they all are, go for it! I would say at the very least that a scanner and printer are very important in making you a success.

If you liked this blog post, be sure to check out our other blog posts, or send us a tweet with whats inside your toolkit, and how this has helped you, we would love to hear from you. Have a good day, and enjoy purchasing!

About the author - HKJS


I'm an Illustrator, Designer & Animator from Hampshire, United Kingdom, and have been illustrating for a number of years. I have a wealth of experience within editorial, maps, posters and book covers. Having a firm interest in the creative industry and everything that revolves around it, I want to share what I've learnt to you. From this, I have a keen passion for t-shirt design and how illustration can become a part of something you wear.

Discover our exclusive tips & tricks to help you become a better artist