I thought I’d share the tools I use to create a product from start to finish (specifically greeting cards and paper products for my stationery shop)! From when I first start sketching out ideas to more final drawings, to bringing it onto my computer, and ultimately into a tangible product. Things like the hardware (printers, scanners), software, pencils, artist pens, paper, and production supplies (different paper cutters) I use on a daily basis!
Full list and break down after the jump!
Honestly, I think any pencil you have will do! I also used to use a mechanical pencil just because I didn’t have to sharpen it, haha. Anyway, I just discovered a whole stack of fancier pencils I had to buy during art school that were unused, so I’ve been making my way through them. Here’s a list of what I’ve used and currently using:
- Utrecht Professional Pencil HB
- Faber-Castell 9000 HB
- I also use a Muji Small Pencil Sharpener and Eraser (that works very well and doesn’t leave black marks)
Same goes for sketchpads, any notepad or paper will work. You will start to get a feel for the size you like, type of binding, or thickness of paper you prefer. I personally don’t like using small sketchpads because it feels too confining when I’m drawing and I prefer spiral bound. I’ve used all of these:
- Strathmore Sketch Pad
- Canson Sketch Pad
- When I’m brainstorming and being more rough with ideas I prefer to use an even larger drawing pad and then pick ideas I love and finalize them on one of the above sketchpads. Any large piece of paper or even a roll of paper will do, currently I had one left over Bienfang Marker Paper.
I think picking your pens might be the most important step in making your drawings ready for digital and translating the style you want. Once my drawings are final I still do things super analog and trace the drawing onto tracing paper to scan into my computer. Depending on the style you’re going for things like pen line weight and style of the pen nib will matter and that just goes with trial and error!
- In the beginning I used to use Micron Marker Felt Tip Pen in 05
- Currently, I am using and loving Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens in XS, S, M, and 1,5, depending on what I feel works best for the design. They can all be found in this Assorted Pen Set (I received this from my sis, who introduced me to them, thanks!). I also use the Brush width pen for hand addressing International orders because it makes everything you write look pretty (and hides my horrible handwriting hah).
Once a drawing is finalized I’ll trace it to scan onto my computer. I’ve only used this Strathmore Tracing Paper.
- I’ve been an Apple user since college and currently work on a 27″ iMac desktop (I used a 20″ iMac for 8+ years and then briefly my sister’s old mac mini)
- And if you’re curious, I use a magic mouse and my large, marble printed mousepad is from No Bad Mondays
- To scan all of my drawings: Epson Perfection V600 Scanner
- As an all purpose printer: Canon MG5720 Printer
- To print my greeting cards and prints (and anything else I need to be archival and high quality) I use my wide-format Epson SureColor P400 Photo Printer (I used to use a Epson R1800 before it died, rip)
- To print shipping labels: Dymo LabelWriter 4XL Thermal Label Printer (I wrote more of my tips on shipping and supplies if you’re starting out here)
- To create die cut stickers, gift tags, or packaging labels: Silhouette Portrait Cutting Machine
(a good option to test out die cut products before committing to outsourcing and buying in bulk. Also, it has come in handy for packaging labels, instead of buying a bulk pack of sticker labels or paying to have them produced I was able to get more use out of it to create labels the exact size and shape I need for products that don’t have a quick/high sell through, like boxed card sets or items I’m not sure I plan on selling long term)
Supplies for Production
- For general cutting: Fiskars Recycled 12″ Bypass Trimmer. I used to solely use this trimmer until I bought a rotary trimmer, but I still find this type of trimmer useful in my daily use.
- For cutting bulk paper (notepads and I’ll also cut greeting cards 2 sheets at a time): CARL Heavy Duty Rotary Paper Trimmer 12″
- To score my cards: Martha Stewart Scoring Board (I did not like the bone folder that comes with this board). I use this 7″ Pointed Bone Folder from a local shop here in NYC, Talas. I suggest getting one made from genuine bone.
- To make my notepads, I DIY’d a book press (with help from Sea Lemon on YouTube and I made a few modifications to fit my needs).
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe Photoshop
- Silhouette Studio (for creating the cutting templates, but I prep all the designs in Illustrator / Photoshop)
…and that’s it! Whew. Leave a comment down below if I missed anything you were curious about or share any useful tools you use in your daily process!
Some products included in this post are Affiliate links and I receive compensation if you make a purchase through the link! Everything I share and recommend on this blog are items I’ve personally used and hope they help you on your journey.