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Arts & Crafts

  • From colored pencils to graphite pencils, today’s artist has so many options to choose from the selection process can be intimidating. Whether you like to work with vivid colors, subtle tones, or austere black-and-white shading, the perfect art pencil with smooth, high-quality pigments is waiting for you here. Whether you’re working in color, drawing in a gray-scale with 20 distinct shades, or mixing painting with watercolor pencils, these lists of the best art pencils available will help you find the perfect medium for your next project. Be sure to check out our buyer’s guide as well to learn more about the different types of art pencils available and their specific attributes.
    February 02, 2016
  • Are you trying out watercolor painting, pen-and-ink sketches, or even a new origami fold? Whatever the project, every medium requires a unique paper which meets a specific set of standards and attributes. The art papers listed here will make it easy for you to find what’s best suited for your next creative project, whether it’s a charcoal sketch or a page to add to your beloved scrapbook. Be sure to check out our buyer’s guide as well to find out more about the different types of papers available and some key terms every artist should be familiar with.
    February 02, 2016
  • Whether you need cotton yarn for crocheting dishcloths or faux fur for knitting fashionable scarves, there’s a variety of yarn types available to match your needs. Synthetic yarns, such as acrylic are usually slightly elastic which make them ideal for beginners. Many synthetics are also available as basic worsted-weight yarns, which are suitable for most types of knitting or crochet projects.More expensive wool and cotton blends tend to be a little trickier to use, while specialty yarns like boucle yarn have their own unique challenges. Still, the extra flair makes these specialty yarns highly popular. Whether you’re looking the best yarn for a project, or just looking for something new to try, the different types of yarn here offer you some great options. If terms like “worsted weight” or “boucle” have you shaking your head in confusion, check out our helpful buyer’s guide below.
    February 02, 2016
  • While many art materials have only a limited range of uses, airbrush painting is a very diverse hobby. Car enthusiasts use airbrushes to create hood decals and full-body paint jobs, makeup artists use airbrushes for ultra-smooth, even application and there are even airbrushes intended specifically for painting fingernails. This list focuses on the broad group of airbrushes used for fine art projects but when applicable, we’ve noted which of these best picks can be used for special projects such as fingernails or autos.It may take a little effort to understand the terminology used, but the basics are simple. With a single-action brush, artists can change the airflow but not the flow of paint. With double-action brushes, artists change both the airflow and the volume of paint. Gravity-flow airbrushes have a cup fixed to the top of the brush, while siphon-flow airbrushes draw the paint up from a tube fixed to the bottom of the airbrush. The style affects the type of painting to a degree, though having a high-quality airbrush is more important than having a particular style.These best airbrushes were selected based on their versatility or range of uses, as well as their reliability and ease of use. The airbrushes are all favorites among artists and have a good reputation for quality, but it is important to treat them carefully and to read the manufacturer’s instructions before beginning use.
    May 16, 2015
  • Despite the generic term, clay can be made from highly diverse materials. Polymer clay, for example, is a compound designed to be molded like clay but remains soft and malleable until oven dried. Similarly, plasticine compounds are clay-like material used extensively in models for stop-gap animation since they’ll never dry out. Even traditional clay is often formed from different types of material to create the ideal texture or to improve its strength. Whether you’re creating models, throwing vases, or looking for a basic clay for your children, these lists will show you where to start. Be sure to check out our buyer’s guide provided below if you need help interpreting the terms used in our best pick reviews.
    April 30, 2015
  • From graffiti writers to architects and graphic designers, many artists love to use art markers in their work. Today, individuals have a wide variety of brands, materials, and styles to choose from. Traditional art markers deliver vivid colors in an easy-to-use tool, while water or oil-based paint markers function like a paintbrush in a tube. Whether you prefer an art marker with dozens of different tips to choose from or pick an all-in-one paint marker featuring virtually unlimited colors, you should find what you are looking for here. For more information about the types of markers available, you can also check out our art marker buyer's guide below.
    April 29, 2015
  • If you have ever used pastels before or wanted to try pastels, pastel pencils are an appealing alternative. They offer the same feel as regular pastels, but they’re encased in a standard pencil shell to create fine tips for detail work and to reduce the pastel’s messiness. Artists usually develop a preference for a specific feel in the pencil, whether soft and creamy or fine and hard.While all of the brands listed here meet the basic standards for high quality pastel pencils, they reflect the full spectrum of pencil leads available. We’ve noted which brands tend to be harder and which are a bit softer, so if you are new to pastel pencils, you might want both types to find out which feels better to you. All of these brands, though, were selected based on the wide range of colors they offer, the overall strength of the pencil leads, and their artist-quality ratings for lightfast, fade-resistant colors.
    September 16, 2014
  • While watercolor and oil paints have been around for hundreds of years, acrylic paint is a fairly recent invention. The first blend was created in the 1940s, combining the thicker feel of oil paints with a water-based formula. Since then, a wide number of brands have been created, but the best acrylic paints are the professional or artist level paints. Each of the brands here was selected based on their quality as a professional level acrylic paint, lightfast ratings, and a wide selection of colors.Some of these brands also offer student-level paints. Student-level paints can be a good choice for anyone on a strict budget, but they generally have less pigment and lower quality materials; the professional or artists’ paint is the best choice whenever possible.
    June 25, 2014
  • Rubber cement is a strong, reliable adhesive ideal for a range of uses whether you need to make a quick repair, create a poster-board display, or even patch a flat tire. Unlike regular glue, rubber cement combines an elastic material such as latex with an adhesive solvent; it’s important to follow any warning instructions and avoid letting children the cement without adult supervision.Depending on your projects, you may want an all-purpose, artist’s archival quality, or specialized rubber cement. This list covers the best basic types of rubber cement available with each pick based on its overall adhesive strength, mess-free application for ease of use on a range of projects, as well as a high amount of positive feedback from satisfied users.
    June 19, 2014
  • In the past, light boxes had thick walls made to contain a standard fluorescent light bulb. With their translucent covers, these primitive units allowed artists to trace drawings or study slides. Most of them required working at an awkward angle with the individual propped up over the box’s tall sides. Modern light boxes are now the standard with thinner, portable designs featuring cool, long-lasting LED light sources which burn for thousands of hours without needing replacement bulbs. Some of the top manufacturers produce both older models with fluorescent lighting as well as LED units for only a slightly higher cost.All of these best light boxes we’ve selected provide strong and even lighting, sturdy, wobble-free work surfaces, special features like add-on battery packs and voltage adaptors as well as being available in a range of sizes suited to your needs.If you want to use your light box outside the US, you’ll need to make sure the model works with non-US outlets or else get an adaptor since many countries’ electrical systems provide a higher voltage.
    June 06, 2014
  • Crayons are a fun, easy medium to work whether they’re being used by preschoolers or professional artists. With their broad appeal, there’s a wide range of quality crayons to choose from. Most people will pick up any brand of crayon or look for the cheapest box on the shelf. Lower end crayons are too waxy and won't leave a lasting mark on the page, and can also be too brittle or soft, frustrating younger artists because of frequent breakage.Each of these best crayon brands offers something a little different in style, material, or price, but they were all selected based on their status as top-quality crayons. These picks all have at least 24 colors to choose from, come in vibrant pigments suitable for professional artists, they’re of higher artistic quality than most brands and are also non-toxic, making them safe for children to use.
    June 03, 2014
  • Watercolor painting is a fun medium to experiment with and it’s easy to find supplies. Unfortunately, the most commonly available watercolor paints are grade school-level paint trays. While cheap, these simplistic trays aren’t the best choice for the color and clarity which makes for a professional-looking watercolor painting. Top-quality watercolor paints may come in trays, but more often they’re found in tubes like acrylic or oil paints. Many brands offer both student and professional-grade paints, but obviously the professional paints offer the best quality.Depending on the pigments, the brand may offer paints with a variety of lightfast ratings and clarity. Each tube should tell you information on whether the paint is transparent, semi-opaque, opaque, and how lightfast it will be. Some colors fade faster than others so if you need the color to hold up over time it’s important to check this information.All of these best watercolor paints vary widely in price depending on the color and the pigments used. However, all of them were selected for this list based on the overall quality of the paint as measured by the use of high-quality pigments and materials, excellent lightfast ratings to guarantee permanent colors, and each brands' popularity among artists for good, consistent colors.
    May 23, 2014
  • While all artists need good materials, finding a high-quality brush should be a top priority for watercolor painters. With rising brush prices, more artists are trying other materials and will experiment with a variety of materials and styles before finding their favorite brushes. Artists who create large works will need much larger brushes than artists preferring small, detailed work.In most cases, it’s better to select a few good brushes, such as a couple medium-size round and a flat brush instead of trying to collect a full range of sizes and styles. Good quality rounds and flats can provide most of the strokes which specialty styles offer. You can also experiment with different types of brushes to find the types of brushes to suit your painting style best. As a rule, Kolinsky sable hair still claims the highest rank among artist’s brushes although it has become a rare commodity. Synthetic brushes on the other hand have improved tremendously over the years.This list will help you find some of the best watercolor brushes available today based on their ratings and how well they meet the following criteria. Regardless of their material or style, watercolor brushes should have cleanly-trimmed tips, full bristles, and sturdy hardwood handles. The best brands will also have rustproof ferrules fastening the brush to the handle.Many of these brushes would work for oil paints or acrylics as well, but it’s better not to mix media and to designate individual brushes for one medium only.
    May 22, 2014
  • Picking a knitting needle might seem easy since most craft stores stock dozens of styles. The challenge is finding the right needle. Straight single-pointed needles work great for basic projects like scarves, but large afghans work better on long circular needles, and socks or gloves require a set of double-pointed needles. Some yarn is fairly slippery and works best with rougher needles such as bamboo, but natural fibers like wool sometimes work better on slick, metal needles. Still, quality is important, and each of these brands was selected for its overall quality, popularity, and availability. Most of these brands also offer needles in a variety of styles and materials to accommodate a full range of knitting projects.
    April 18, 2014