a. Colored pencil, either mechanical or Col-Erase. I use these suckers all the time. Though I also use mechanical pencils (specifically the Papermate Sharpwriters– I love these pencils!), those are relegated to thumbnails and concept sketching when I can afford to make a mess. The colored pencils erase well when I make mistakes but rarely show up when I convert my inkwork to Photoshop. Which means I don't have to erase my inks and risk smudging or fading.
b. Inks. I love inking. There's something really fun in taking a rough and tumble pencil sketch and pushing and pulling darks and lights with ink. So I use black and white ink– I use a few black inks, but an old favorite is Dr PH Martin's Black Star Ink in Hi-Carb. White I have found good success with Pen-White (also by Dr Martin).
c. 'inkwell'. Okay, I'm not sure whether it's an inkwell, but my dad gave it to me as a stocking stuffer when I was a kid– I think it's a tiny Russian lacquer box. At any rate, it turned out to be perfect to hold a few dropperfuls of ink. Which isn't all that useful for dipping nibs into, but I'm accident-prone and have ruined a lot of brushes so it's great to be more mindful to not dip the brush too deep. And I lower the risk I will knock the ink bottle over anyway. For white ink I use a juice cap, but one day I hope to find another one of these suckers.
[to show you what this is: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2367/2431926666_383c1d1800_o.jpg ]
d. Brushes. I have a bunch of brushes. Some are broken in and beat up and others I try to take good care of. I love the brushes I get from Rosemary & Co– affordable and handmade!
e. Sturdy paper. Typically smooth. If it's for screenprintin', I order French Paper. If it's for making illustrations, I use bristol board (usually Strathmore 300 or 400 series, plate surface, 14×17"). I am frugal so I gang run multiple drawings on every page. Not especially framable, but it does the trick.
f. Scanner and Wacom Tablet. I'd be pretty screwed without either of these. Never abandon me, faithful tools. Unless I upgrade you.
g. Recorded action in Photoshop for cleaning up drawings. It goes something like this: Threshold>Color Range selects black>Cut>Paste onto a new layer. All I do is click a button and it's done. Wonderful. From there I'm free to lock my layer's transparency and color it, knocking out certain lines and changing the hue of others.
h. Lots of layers set to multiply + Hue/Saturation. I approach my illustrations like a printmaker, at least it seems that way to me. So I make a lot of different layers that all will overlap colors to make new colors. But I use Hue/Saturation (command-u!) all the time because I'll pick a color and it won't feel right when it overlaps with another. When I hit upon the right colors, it hums. But it takes an incredibly long time. Some people are masters of simple color combos– I'm not one of them.
i. Undo and Save buttons. I've learned too easily that I will make mistakes and that computers will fail me. So I go back and I save often.
j. Paper to jot sketches/ideas in, typically in some book form. I have a habit in spreading my ideas in a lot of different places. I have sketchbooks, though I've given up on worrying I'll ruin them– I make a lot of ugly sketches and I know they're just for me to scratch images and shapes and patterns into. Or I'll practice lettering or patterns in them, copying from things I see just to make marks. But I also have a lot of little notebooks too that I make lists in. It's a little ridiculous after a while, especially when I want to find a specific idea from months ago.
k. Rubylith + Xacto knife. Well, to be fair I don't screenprint all the time. But lately when I do, I make separations this way. It's really old school I guess, but it's so peaceful and stimulating to work backwards. Also required: a trashcan to pick up all the little scraps.
l. iPod/iTunes/Hulu/Netflix/Deezer/Pandora. I fail at working in silence. I always have. It's debatable how productive I am when TV or movies are streaming, but it keeps me laughing and lets my brain whir in the background, so I can't really beat myself up on that one.
m. Small dog. I don't know that I need this to work, but my dog Levi stays with me all the time when I work. When I get frazzled she flops onto her back for a belly rub or does something equally silly, and when I'm drawing she'll sleep on my chair back. If I didn't have her I would probably go mad from lack of socialization!
n. Staying positive, having fun, and not getting too fatalistic. It seems incredibly easy these days to pop onto a website, see someone's mindblowing work and think, 'Well, I suck in comparison, I'll never be that good, ho-hum, why bother.' (Or maybe it's just me) So I remind myself on a daily basis that it's okay to feel a little jealous, but to remember I am the best I've ever been today and I am going to keep getting better IF I work hard and have fun. Sometimes it's good to step away when things are frustrating and just let go. I don't go the whole 'telling myself in the mirror' route, but if I have fun then usually I'll notice that there was a good benefit.
o. Patience. So important.
p. Bed/Sleep. Despite being a night-owl, I still need sleep. But not only for resting– oftentimes I find right before I go to sleep I can see beautiful inspiring ideas flow up from the darkness. Oftentimes these are things I can't replicate yet. But they give me inspiration for projects both current and in the future.
I could probably go on to Z but I think by then you'll all be ZZZing! Hopefully that helps a bit though!