The Art of TaniDaReal


While I did more real media artwork in the past, I still very much enjoy drawing traditional pictures.

Both digital and traditional drawing have their advantages and limits. While digital art forgives a lot (due to the many possibilities of adjusting, backups, layers, etc.), you may have to think some more when it comes to real media. Are you really content with the sketch, proportions, perspective? There are not too many chances to fix that later once you started inking or coloring (which can be very frustrating at the end). Traditional art can be a lot more challenging when it comes to such things. But, both the feeling of drawing and having a unique original painting at the end makes up for it.

I enjoy the feeling of a real pen or brush, how the color behaves on the paper (also how different on different types of paper), to mix different real media, see the brush strokes in the colors.

There are many different ways to create traditional artwork. Dare to play around with different media to find out what works best for you, here are just some examples for real media:

  • Acrylic colors
  • Oil colors
  • Water colors / Aquarell
  • Pencil / Coal
  • Markers (alcohol based), like Copics or Prisma colors
  • Colored pencils, like "Polychromos" (oil based)
  • Airbrush


Before you start drawing/coloring, make sure you have got the right type of paper.
Some papers can be used for various types of media (like sketches), while some media require a special kind of paper for the best result (like water colors).

Paper for water colors is usually heavier with a visible structure on the surface, so it won't tear or ripple in contact with the wet colors. Or there is a special non-bleeding paper for markers (smooth surface, colors turn out rich and don't blur/bleed). I like to use a smooth heavy paper like Bristol for makers or acrylics. Regular copy paper shouldn't be used for anything more complex than pencil sketches, as that kind of paper is usually quite cheap, easy to damage and doesn't work well with many colors.

  TIP: rather choose a bigger paper than a small one for sketching. It is quite frustrating if you start a nice sketch and then realize that the feet won't fit on the paper any more because it is too small.


I personally love mechanical pencils (with the thin refillable pencil leads), which are available in different sizes. I usually use 0.5 or 0.7 thickness (sometimes I also use 0.3 when I want to draw very fine lines like hair or fur), and different hardnesses (H, HB, 2B, etc.) depending on the sketch.

I can't really recommend a brand, I recommend to go a store and try some pencils to find out what feels best for yourself. If you want to do a lot of shading, a regular pencil (wooden) might be better. You should try working with different hardnesses too, as the pencil leads vary from very soft (B) to very hard (H).

There are also blue (and other colored) leads by various brands (Faber Castel, Pentel, Pilot, etc), also for mechanical pencils. I really enjoy sketching with them, as they have a different feeling compared to regular pencil leads. They can also be used for basic sketches (as they are dark enough to be seen, but light enough to be outlined) and then be traced with a regular darker pencil or ink. When you scan the sketch, you can make the blue lines disappear in your graphic program, so you've only left the clean pencil outlines. How well the blue lines can be erased depends on the lead itself as well as the amount of pressure you used.


There are different pens for inking your art, depending on what outlines you want for your art. There are pens with a solid tip in different tip sizes (for example by Copic). And there are brush pens with a brush like tip, giving you the chance to create fine and thick lines in one stroke, for example by Pentel or Tombow. They come in different sizes and colors. Some art stores also have their own brand, which may be cheaper as the original brand ones. It's worth trying them out.

With those brush pens, you can't only ink your art (e.g. for coloring), but also create full artwork with them, as the brush tip is also very nice for filling areas. If you're inking in order to color the picture later with traditional media, make sure you're using waterproof ink, otherwise it might smudge if you use watercolors or markers. Also when you've used pencil for the sketch and inked it, let it dry and use a good eraser, so the black lines won't smudge when erasing the pencil or fade.


Another favorite choice of mine are Markers by Copic - coming in a wide range of different colors. There are different types of markers (Copic, Copic Ciao, Copic Sketch, Copic Wide), I personally am using the Copic Sketch series, as they have the nicest brush tip in my opinion. Of course there are also markers by other brands, like Prisma, but as I have never used them I can't say anything about their quality.

For the best results, you should use a special non-bleeding marker paper with a smooth surface. That way the colors will turn out very rich, smooth and even. But for that, you also need to make sure that your marker is filled properly (and not running empty / dry). Copic markers are very expensive unfortunately (about 6 EUR per pen), however the refilling ink costs about 10 EUR (and you can refill a marker about 8-10 times with it).

If you are inking your picture first (black outlines), make sure to use a water-resitant or marker proof pen for inking. Otherwise the alcohol-based marker color will affect your ink outline and will smudge / blur.

Here is an example for coloring with markers:


I barely do pictures with colored pencils only, but I very often use them for details, shading and highlights mixed with other media (like markers, water color or acrylics). The work-in-progress example posted above (Copics) shows the use of colored pencils as well.

The colored pencils I am using are called "Polychromos" by Faber-Castell. They're high quality and probably some of the best pencils there are. Polychromos leads are highly pigmented and smooth, which makes blending colors very nice. They are also smudge and waterproof. I can definitely recommend them.


One of my favorite media are professional water colors (Aquarell). Drawing a picture with water colors is way different than with acrylic colors for example, having different advantages, but also different limits. I personally like the soft look and gradients of water colors.

After having tried out different brands, I can say that I liked the water colors (pans) by Schmincke best, as they had the purest colors and were best to paint with. Schmincke is a very good brand offering high quality colors - water colors, acrylics, airbrush colors, and many more. However, they're not the cheapest. They're available as pans and liquid colors (tubes).

Of course there are other good brands out there too. The best thing is to try out a few to see what colors and brushes work best for you.

If you want to ink your picture first (black outlines), make sure to use a water-resitant pen or ink. Otherwise it will smudge / blur in contact with the water and may ruin your picture. Useful accessories for painting with water color are for example a little sponge (e.g. for painting clouds), or various liquid additives (for example by the brand Winsor + Newton) that you can add to your colors to affect its behavior (e.g. making it dry slower). Such additives are usually available at professional art stores.

The manufacturer Faber-Castell also offers water color pencils. You can draw with them like with regular colored pencils, but if you add water with a brush afterwards, the color on your paper will turn into water color (so you can smudge / mix / soften your colors on the paper).


The best acrylic colors that I have used so far were Golden Liquid Acrylics. They have a smooth and liquid consistence and take a little longer to dry, which makes it easier to paint. As you can simply mix the colors, you have an endless variety of colors.

When working with acrylic colors, you usually start painting with the dark colors and add layers of brighter colors. That way you can create a nice fur structure, by adding single fine bright hairs on top of the darker fur underneath.

  TIP: If you're drawing a picture with a background (this actually goes for every coloring, also water colors or digital), it is recommended to start with the background and surroundings (leave the character empty, or protect that area with masking fluid -> see more about masking fluid in the useful items section). When you have finished the background, you can color the character and make it fit into your scene, according to the lights/shadows/colors of your background. It's easier to make a character fit into a finished scene, than painting a complex background around an already shaded / highlighted character. That way you can make sure the character will really blend into the scene.


I only have some experience with airbrush yet. It is really fascinating and turns out in nice results. For example I used airbrush for spraying markings / patterns on fursuits or puppets (fake fur), or do gradient backgrounds for pictures (on paper).

I have an Flexible Airbrush Pistol and a compressor by Revell. It sure requires practise to handle the pistol properly, but it's worth putting some effort in it. If you're planning to get into airbrush, I recommend you ask a professional about some tips first. There is cheaper equipment too, but I can't say anything about it's quality or results. Also, if using airbrush, you have to be quite careful, as for example the pistol requires faithful cleaning after each use.

For airbrushing the fake fur I used AeroColor colors by Schmincke, as they turned out to be quite durable (once they've dried), colorful and good to work with. They are not really water-proof, and you shouldn't add too much color to the fur (might get stiff / sticky), but I have been quite happy with its results.

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