Today I’m sharing more secrets with you guys!

I’ve been illustrating for as long as I can remember, so I’ve had my fair share of trial and error when it comes to supplies. I finally figured out my absolute go tos- and I’ve been religiously using these same products for years now.

When it comes to scanning, there’s a lot more to it than just what type of scanner you use. It’s important to use the right paper, especially with watercolor. If you use rough watercolor paper, you’re gonna have a pretty hard time getting a smooth scan. I am a HUGE fan of Aquarelle Arches paper- specifically Hot Pressed, Grain Satine. It’s perfect for creating clean, smooth illustrations- and super easy to scan.

I used to use my desk scanner for everything, which was great… but when I started traveling a lot last year, It was hard to manage creating new work and finding somewhere to scan it. That’s why I decided to give the Magic Wand a shot. Boy, am I glad I did! I totally thought it would be a flop, but it’s my new best friend. Whenever I travel, I take this handy wand with me (even when I’m not traveling!). Highly recommended. You basically just drag the wand over your work, and it does a great job capturing the image. Almost all of the illustrations you see on my site were scanned with this. It has a handy high res/ or low res option too. I tend to work fairly small, so the size is great (it’s about a foot long), but I do wish it came in larger sizes too.

As for paints, brushes, and pens- remember when I gave you a little insight here? Lately I’m loving the Copic pens. I destroy delicate pen tips like nobody’s business… so Copics are perfect for me. You can buy tip replacements, instead of a whole new pen. I like the .01 weight, and the brush pen for getting various line weights.

I use a few different types of brushes, but I usually stick to angular shaders. You can get the most use out of a single angular brush- takes some practice, but it’s great for covering large areas as well as getting small details.

You guys know I’m loyal to these paints + these gouaches. I’ve been using them since I began with watercolors- and I absolutely love them. Whenever I run out, I just buy tubes of Winsor & Newton watercolor and fill em back up. Oh, and make sure you don’t clean your palette too often! I see people do this all the time, but you really don’t need to. All those colors you mix can be reused with just a little water later on. Plus it gives your palette a bit of character!

Hope this helps… shoot me questions on anything in the comments! I’ll try my best to answer them all.

Don’t forget you can see all of my tutorials here.

Posted in Tutorials | 32 Comments | Share:


  1. Megan says:

    Katie – thanks! Question…when you scan (either with the magic wand or other) do you have to adjust the whites around your illustration on photoshop? (I hope that question makes sense.)

    • paperfashion says:

      Great question. Yes- I always pull my illustrations into photoshop and clean up the backgrounds, to make them completely white. I adjust levels, and use the eraser for any stray glitter! Hope that helps!

  2. dressperado says:

    Do you soak, stretch and tape your watercolor paper to a board or paint directly on it?

    • paperfashion says:

      nope! i just paint directly on it. sometimes before i even take it off of the block… but only do this if you are confident you won’t rip it when removing it.

  3. I love this tutorial, I’m a huge fan of your work! Where can i get a watercolor palette like yours it looks easy to travel with?

  4. allyn says:

    hi katie,
    thanks so much for sharing your tips! i certainly appreciate it. i’ve always doodled and am now starting to really want to work on it; even if it’s for fun or making a few things for friends. i adore your work and find it (and your generosity) a talent!
    thanks again,

  5. Lyn says:

    thanks for sharing this nice peek into your creative world! Seeing your “dirty” palette made me smile! I haven’t touched my Prang set since art school years ago, but I did keep a “dirty” palette back then. =) I’m not good at watercolors, so nowadays I keep to watercolor pencils instead…

  6. Julia Frazier says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! It’s so sweet of you to take the time to give tutorials and hints for everyone interested!

  7. Anto says:

    Thanks so much for sharing some more tips. They are so helpful!
    I have the exact same scanner and it works wonders.
    One question, though. Do you do anything special to keep it steady and straight so that the scan doesn’t turn out shaky?
    It usually works fine for me but every once in a while my pulse gets in the way.

  8. Jessica Lee says:

    Hi Katie,

    I love all of your tutorials! I’m sure you’ve heard this too many times but thank you so much for taking the time to write tutorial posts.

    This is kind of off topic but I wish there was an easy way of browsing through your old blog posts. It’s been only a few months since I stumbled upon Paperfashion blog and I’ve been trying to check out every single one of your old blog posts….

    Also, just out of curiosity, as for the prints you sell through Paperfashion shop, do you print them all yourself at home?

    • paperfashion says:

      you are so welcome!

      you can see old posts via the category links on the left side bar. that should help you find old post easier!

      i do print everything myself in my shop!

      • Chris says:

        Hi Katie,
        Your illustrations are so beautiful and inspiring! I love your work, and I enjoy following your blog!
        Thank you for posting your favorite materials and supplies, including the Magic Wand scanner. Great tips! You didn’t mention anything about printers though, and you said you print everything yourself. Do you mind sharing what printer you use?Thanks so much!!

  9. Megan says:

    Thanks for the quick answer Katie! I figured that’s what you did, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing out on some secret trick I didn’t know about! =)

  10. jane says:

    hi katie! just started reading your blog! and thank you for sharing!! i had a question about the hand held scanner..how do you manage to create a straight even scan? i’ve tried one before and my prints always came out wonky..

  11. Liz says:

    Thank you so much for being generous enough to share your talent AND tutorials. Your colour mixing tutorial was such a help during my fashion illustration courses, and I hope to someday be half as good as you are!

  12. andrea says:

    hi katie
    I love your work. Your pictures are amazing. And your tutorials are very inspiring.
    I wonder, if you also use a sketchbook. and if so, which one do you use? (Or do you only use aquarelle arches paper. )
    thanks for your answer

  13. Jess Lee says:

    Hey Katie! Love the blog! Quick question-When you scan your paintings with the wand, does it ever brighten the colors? I tried using my all-in-one printer to scan my painting and it brightened so much, it looked completely different. Do you have the same problem with the wand?

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  16. Katie says:

    Are you still using the magic wand scanner? I’m looking for a good portable scanner (same reason as you – traveling) and I’m wondering if you still like it…


  17. Tammie says:

    i always love hearing what artists like to use, thank you so much for sharing!

  18. Mary says:

    I just stumbled upon your site by accident. What a happy accident it is! I’m new to watercolor and art of any kind . I’m 61 and feel so young again . My stuff is very amateurish, but I don’t care I’m enjoying myself so much. Your ideas are fabulous and have inspired me so much. Now to have the time! Thank you for your openness and all your wonderful info.

  19. Giulia says:

    just discover your paints! thank you for all the inspirations! I just want to ask: do you usually wet the sheet with water before painting or not??

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  21. Emily Meade says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love this insight to your beautiful work. I was wondering how you print your work and on what kind of paper!

  22. Hey there! This post couldn’t be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this.
    I will forward this write-up to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
    Many thanks for sharing!

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  23. Nannette says:

    I every time used to study paragraph in news papers but now as I am a user of internet
    so from now I am using net for content, thanks to web.

  24. Hi Kate thank you so much for sharing these tips.you have no idea how much this has helped me! I love the work you do and it just inspires me to keep going and know I know what tools I need!

  25. frostontina says:

    Hey Katie,

    Thanks for a great post!

    Just wondering – with the wand scanner, do you ever find that the scanner scan so bright that you lose all the details in the work? appreciate your help!

  26. sarah says:

    What brand is the scanner you use?

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