Tools Used by Artists


Artists working in every media use tools to produce their work. While some of an artist's tools are specialized, others are common items that might have purposes outside of art production. Artists' tools are constantly evolving, as artists incorporate new technology while continuing to take advantage of traditional methods and materials.


  • One of the most basic tools for artists is a pencil. Artists may use pencils for completing sketches, making notes or rendering finished work. While graphite is the most common material for a pencil's filling, charcoal and wax pencils allow artists to sketch in shades of gray or a full spectrum of colors.


  • Artists use brushes to smoothly apply pigment from paint, chalk or pastels. Some brushes use synthetic materials for the bristles and handle, while more expensive brushes use natural hair such as camel or sable. Brushes come in various shapes, like round, chisel and blunt tips, for creating various effects.


  • One of the most traditional art media is paint. Artists use oil-based paints along with plastic-based acrylics, egg-based tempera and watercolors. Every type of paint consists of a binder, which is colorless, and a pigment suspended in the binder to add color. Some artists mix their own paint from powdered pigment and raw oil or acrylic binder.


  • Artists working in any media may use cameras to document subjects, archive work or produce fine art photography. Digital cameras are useful for documenting landscapes, figure poses and still life arrangements in the studio. Artists also use digital and film cameras, along with optical and chemical darkroom techniques, to produce photographs that stand alone as art.

    Videographers and filmmakers use cameras to produce moving images. While the line between popular entertainment and fine art can be a matter of opinion, media artists are gaining ground in the art world using technology to produce unique images for distribution in theaters or exhibition in art galleries.


  • One of the more recent additions to the list of must-have tools for the artist is the computer. Artists use computers to do research, archive image collections and buy other tools and supplies over the Internet. Digital artists may use image-editing software to retouch digital photography or produce digital paintings.

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  • Photo Credit paintbrush image by Adam Borkowski from
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