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As we approach the time of year to begin preparing for a new school term, many of our teenagers will be embarking on their new GCSE subjects in September, whether that be physically in their schools or virtually from home, they will still need certain equipment.

We have collated the most common items your future artist will need for their upcoming year of creative discovery. Combining quality with a student budget, so where possible using our own branded products ‘ART Discount’ alongside other exceptional quality products from our online collections.

If you are the student embarking on your art course, the important thing to remember is that you can of course start with the basics and add as you go along.

Students will select one of more of the following titles for study: 

  • Fine Art
  • Art, Craft & Design
  • Graphic Communication
  • Textile Design, 
  • 3D Design
  • Photography

Students will start with basic drawing techniques within the first few weeks, as they are guided through observational drawing like fruit, eyes, hands, texture. So along with sketchpads, pencils in varying grades are essential to understand creating a 3d object using shading. A fineliner will be a great addition to your drawing tools, giving bolder outlines and build confidence through sketching with a pen rather than a pencil. Also tone and colour can be built up using cross-hatching or dotting.

Drawing is a key part of developing any art, craft or design work. It is an important method of researching, investigating, developing and communicating your ideas. Drawing and mark-making can be used to record observations about a subject, experiment and develop formal elements such as line and colour whilst expressing emotions and abstract ideas. Whilst drawing is an important researching and investigating method whilst developing ideas, it is also a medium in its own right, used for final resolved work.

A number of different tools can be used to create a variety of effects within your drawings includingerasers for removing marks or creating highlights andsponges for rubbing and smudging, although many students will start to use their own fingers so prepare for messy hands!

If introducing coloured pencils, take a look atwater-soluble pencils as they can be used on wet paper to create paint-like effects or when water is brushed over them, they can be blended to soften the effect. 

A Sketchbook is an essential tool and along with the portfolio (work completed throughout the 2nd year period) goes towards 60% of the final grade, intended to be a creative document that displays a range of visual and written work, which documents a journey towards, and intentions for the final piece. It should (in theory), be deep and personal ,providing a backstory to the entire project of the final piece, leading the examiner to the end product.

The sketchbook is used to record ideas, try techniques and plan for larger pieces of work. All artists will keep a sketchbook handy, using it like a journal, exploring creativity by keeping visuals that inspire, design patterns, create colour palettes, cartoons, shapes, photographs, anything that you like! Most sketchbooks are A4 or A3 in size and are pre-bound for ease. An A3 book is obviously better because it allows more to fit on a page however A4 ones are often preferred because they fit into a backpack or schoolbag much easier.

Charcoal is another drawing tool which gives a quick, responsive approach. Marks are varied depending on pressure used, from strong lines to soft shading as it smudges easily, therefore a fixer is needed to keep it in place. (insider tip is to use hairspray!)

Chalk pastels are a fantastic way to bring vibrancy to the drawing and are so easy to use, smudging easily so great for filling large areas.

Oil pastels are great for creating strongly-coloured drawings, blending is done by working colours on top of each other therefore detailing is more difficult. 

As the course progresses into painting, (meaning using pigments to apply colour to a surface to create pictures) students will look at artwork through the years, giving essential inspiration and also understanding of techniques. Students will begin to recognise that artists create realistic paintings such as portraits, landscapes and still life or abstract paintings using colour, shapes and lines. 

There are many types of paint, each with its own qualities so it will depend on the effect required.

Watercolours need to be mixed with water and are a translucent medium which dry quickly enabling quick response but difficult to fix a mistake.

Gouache is opaque and dries quickly to an opaque finish used by many graphic artists and illustrators and very effective for abstract work.

Oil Paint is vibrant and durable due to the use of layering to create the painting.

Acrylic paint is easy to use and comes in an abundance of colours. This type of paint is a great introduction to painting so along with watercolour we have added this to our list of basics.

Brushes will of course be needed for the paint so to make it easy a set which includes round and flat is ideal. A Flat brush is for spreading paint quickly and evenly over a surface, A round brush has a pointed tip for details.









Acrylic paints







We have also found some fantastic resources to help guide and ease any worries that may be there before starting the course. 

Here at Art Discount HQ, many of us began our artistic journeys with a G.C.S.E in art, a brilliant start to our varying pathways and a great chance to start experimenting with materials and learning techniques you will use throughout your life, whether that be in a creative career or in any artistic project along the way.

Good Luck!

Catherine Peters
Catherine Peters

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