Best art supplies for beginners on a budget

Ever felt that itch to create something beautiful, a burning desire to express yourself through art? You grab a pen, maybe a stray crayon from your kid’s art box, and stare at a blank piece of paper. Suddenly, that initial spark of inspiration gets doused by a voice in your head whispering, “But I don’t have any fancy art supplies!”

Let’s be honest, the price tags on some art supplies can be enough to scare away even the most enthusiastic beginner. But here’s the good news: you absolutely don’t need a small fortune to unleash your inner artist. In fact, some of the most stunning works of art were created with surprisingly simple tools.

This guide is here to show you that creating incredible art is within your reach, regardless of your budget. We’ll explore the essential art supplies every beginner needs, along with some clever tips and tricks to help you stretch your artistic dollar as far as it can go.

So, grab a cup of coffee (or your favorite beverage of choice!), get comfortable, and let’s dive into the wonderful world of budget-friendly art!

Must-Have Budget-Friendly Supplies

Best art supplies for beginners on a budget

Now, let’s get down to business! Here’s a breakdown of the essential art supplies you’ll need to kickstart your artistic journey, all without breaking the bank:

A. Drawing & Sketching:

  • Pencils: This is where the magic begins! Grab yourself a set of pencils with varying degrees of hardness, such as HB (general writing), 2B (softer for shading), and a mechanical pencil for finer details.
  • Eraser: A good vinyl eraser is your best friend for cleaning up mistakes without damaging the paper. In a pinch, a kneaded eraser can also work wonders.
  • Sharpener: Keep those pencil points nice and sharp for clean lines and precise details.
  • Drawing Paper: A good quality sketchbook or loose sheets of drawing paper are essential for practicing your skills. Look for heavyweight, acid-free paper that can handle erasing and blending without tearing.
  • Optional: Blending Stump: A blending stump helps you soften and smooth out pencil lines, creating a more realistic effect. However, a rolled-up piece of paper or even a clean cotton swab can be a budget-friendly substitute.

B. Coloring:

  • Colored Pencils: While a giant set of every color under the sun might seem tempting, focus on a smaller set of good quality pencils to start. Look for brands known for vibrant colors and smooth blending. 12 to 24 colors offer a great starting point.
  • Markers: Washable markers are a fantastic option for beginners, especially if you’re worried about making mistakes. They offer a wide range of colors and are relatively inexpensive.

Optional: Crayons: Crayons might seem like a “childish” medium, but they can be a great way to explore color theory and create fun, textured artwork.

C. Painting (Focus on one medium to start):

  • Watercolors: A student-grade watercolor set with cakes or pans will provide a good range of colors to experiment with. Synthetic brushes with round and flat tips are perfect for watercolor techniques.
  • Acrylics: These versatile paints are another great option for beginners. Student grade acrylics are a budget-friendly choice, and synthetic brushes (rounds and flats) will work well for basic techniques.

Paper: Watercolor paper is essential if you’re using watercolors. It’s specially treated to handle the wetness of the paint without warping or buckling. If you’re using acrylics, inexpensive canvas panels are a great starting point.

Pro Tip: When it comes to painting, even with budget-friendly paints, investing in good quality paper or canvas will make a big difference in the final outcome of your artwork.

Pro Tips for Budget-Conscious Artists

Now that you have your essential supplies, here are some clever tricks to help you get the most out of your artistic investment:

  • Utilize household items: Cardboard can be used as a painting surface, brown paper bags offer a unique texture for drawing or painting, and even old paint brushes from around the house can be cleaned and repurposed.
  • Shop at discount stores and dollar shops: You’d be surprised at the variety of basic art supplies you can find at these stores. Stock up on sketchbooks, drawing paper, and even basic painting supplies without breaking the bank.
  • Look for student-grade or bulk art supply options: Many art stores offer student-grade versions of popular art supplies at a lower price point. Bulk packs of pencils, erasers, and markers can also be a cost-effective option.
  • Invest in quality paper even if using budget-friendly paints/pencils: As mentioned earlier, a good quality paper will make a world of difference, especially when using watercolors or other wet mediums. Even if you’re using student-grade paints or pencils, your artwork will look and feel more polished on a sturdy, acid-free paper.
  • Explore online resources for free tutorials and inspiration: The internet is a treasure trove of free art tutorials and inspiration. Sites like YouTube, Skillshare, and even many artist blogs offer a wealth of information and step-by-step guides for beginners.


There you have it! With a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can embark on your artistic journey without spending a fortune. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and experiment! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – that’s how we learn and grow as artists. As your skills develop, you can always upgrade your supplies to explore new techniques.

The most expensive tools in the world can’t replace passion and dedication. So, grab your pencils, unleash your inner artist, and get creating!