5 Essential Tools for the Analog Designer

If you didn’t know already, sketching is one of my great passions. Whether it be digital or analog, I try to make time for sketching every day and continue to improve my skills. In this post you will learn the 5 essential tools for the analog designer, tools I always want to have available on my desk.

1, Paper

Now I could say I use marker paper with a fancy brand name most of the time but honestly I don’t. As long as I have a blank sheet of paper somewhere within reach, I’m good to go. Sometimes it’s good old printing paper, sometimes it’s bleed proof marker paper. The important thing here is to not think too much on what paper to use, just grab what you can find and get to work.

If I happen to use marker paper, I use Copic bleed proof paper and Canson XL marker pads.


2, Markers

Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of different markers. If you open up my old shoe box that’s on my desk, you’ll find all kinds of markers in there. I use Copic quite often, one special thing about them is that they are refillable. This is great, since Copics aren’t cheap. 

My personal favorite is our TouchNew alcohol based markers we have in our BornToSketch.com store. They are at the same level as Copics when it comes to blending and rendering but costs a fraction of the price. You can get them for a great price right here below.

Other brands I’ve tried are Chartpak which work great but they stink up the entire workplace. I do like Touch markers as well. They are cheaper than Copics and last for a very long time without going dry.

As with choosing paper, choosing markers comes down to personal taste. I would try them all, see which ones you like and then go for it. Don’t spend too much time thinking about it. The time spend thinking is time spend away from what you should be doing, which is sketching.



3, Pencil

If you thought this would be a post of name dropping brands of the tools I use, I am sorry to disappoint. When I start with a marker sketch, I like to outline the sketch with a thin pencil to guide me. What pencil this is doesn’t really matter to me. As long as it’s not soft and giving me thick black lines I’m good to go. Hard and thin is what you want to look for. You probably have one somewhere close.


4, Pen

There’s one pen I absolutely love to sketch with and that’s the BiC Round Stic. You can find those in multipacks in any general grocery store by the checkout counters or order online for cheap. Why do I like them so much? They just create smooth, consistent lines and are nice to hold. Oh, and they’re really cheap. And I’m kinda cheap.


5, White Ink

To make your sketches really pop you might want to add white ink to your highlights. For this there’s only one pen I’ve used for years and that’s the Uni-Posca Paint Marker. It has a fine tip which makes it easy to create thin, white highlights as long as you didn’t have too many coffees and are a but jittery, keep that hand steady!

For thicker, more “in your face” highlights, I use the Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen. This has a thicker tip so you can cover a larger area faster. Great stuff.


These are the 5 essential tools for the analog designer I think every designer should have on their desks at all times. You never know when inspiration strikes and when that happens the last thing you want to do is to have to look for where all your stuff is. Always have it ready!

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