Know Your Tools

“What Pen Did You Use?”

We’ve all seen it a million times. A talented hard-working artist posts a beautiful image to Instagram. The first comment is, “What pen did you use?”

It’s almost insulting, as if the tool made the art, and not the persistence of the illustrator who drew every day for 20 years to develop the style.

But, you know what? It’s still a valid question.

While too many people want to think the tool makes the work, it certainly does still contribute heavily to it. A crayon will create a different piece of art than a Pentel Pocket Brush, but both have their uses. That seems like such an obvious statement, but I fear the knee jerk reaction to “What pen did you use?” often forgets it entirely.

The Combination of Factors

A well made tool in well trained hands will make better art, more often, more comfortably.

The end result in art is the combination of the artist and their tools.

The tool is an extension of the artist, and should be treated as seriously as the training and experience that stands behind it.

That’s why I created Clip Studio Paint is just the tool you use. It doesn’t matter if that image you posted to Tumblr yesterday was done with CSP or in Photoshop or in Corel Paint or Sketchbook Express or —

In the end, you’re still going to use one of those tools. Your art will only get better for knowing how to use it, and what the tool is capable of. If you’re doing a job that needs production under any sort of deadline, being able to use your tool of choice more proficiently will make the difference in getting the job done on-time and well, or not.

Knowing your tool makes your life easier and your art — whether it’s a hobby or a profession — more joyful. I hope this website can help contribute to that feeling.


The most important tool I’ve ever learned is the eraser, whether you’re working digitally (the “E” keyboard shortcut) or with real world equipment. You can’t learn unless you fail repeatedly and try, try again until you get it right. And that’s an editorial all unto itself that I’ll save for another day…

Originally published at on July 6, 2016.

For more of my art,check out my Instagram account.