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How I learn about new "toys"!

It's important that we know how things work prior to attempting to use them. For many things in our lives this is apparent, but sometimes we forget that an artist tools have a learning curve as well. Just because I can use a pencil doesn't mean I know how each different type of lead or graphite or charcoal is going to react on the variety of papers, canvases, or other surfaces there are available.

I recently purchased some new drawing materials and wanted to show all of you just what I do with a new tool in hand. Since I have never used any of these particular brands before I needed to play around with them and learn how they were going to react to my hand and the surface I was using.

Here is my new drawing pad. This Union Square spiral bound drawing notebook is 5x7 and is described as velvety smooth cartridge drawing paper. Union square boasts "Superior quality, acid-free papers, for a flawless performance with every use." Their papers are enveloped in a personalizable cardstock cover, and are bound with either heavy gauge, black wire binding or a glue bound, fold over cover. As you can see in the picture the one I purchased is spiral bound.

I must admit that the texture of the paper is exquisite. Very smooth but still with enough "tooth" (texture) that I believe my pencils are going to enjoy this very much.

Next we have Concept brand dual tip markers. As you can see in the picture I purchased both the 12 basic colors and the 12 cool gray colors multipacks. The packaging claims "Each of these high quality markers feature two nylon tips that are packed with vibrant ink! One end is a brush tip, for the soft line detail. The other end contains a chisel tip, which can draw three different controlled line widths. The ergonomic barrel of concept markers is comfortable to hold and will not roll off the table."

The markers feel good in my hand. The weight is just right, there is a rubber type grip on each one and the caps click into place snugly so I don't ever have to worry about one of them falling off.

Raffine Artist Sketching pencils by Marco

These graphite pencils come in 12 different grades from 2H through 8B. The maker claims they are high quality, sharpen smoothly, and are ideal for freestyle sketching or detailed portraiture.

These pens are made by Acurit. They are professional waterproof technical pens containing permanent, acid-free, non-fading pigment ink. Their fine tips are sizes .20, .30 and .50.

I'm a sucker for a good pen and I'm excited to try these new babies out!

And last but not least, Vanish brand 4-in-one eraser. A must-have when doing pencil or charcoal drawings.

And here is my test sheet. I do not wish to use a scrap piece of paper when testing out my newest toys because I like to have a reference to look back on when trying to decide the best tool to use in a moment. Since I will likely be using these new tools on this particular sketch book I made this the very first page in it.

I began with the pencils. I took each penc