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Winsor and newton watercolours 2.jpg
Winsor and newton watercolours 2.jpg

Materials & Recommendations

Here are a some recommendations for tools and materials that I find useful for drawing and painting Islamic geometry

Compass recommendations:

It can be overwhelming searching for a compass because there are so many different types out there. Generally, I look for a metal, sturdy looking compass and with a wheel like the one you used to adjust the radius. This helps the compass to stay fixed and not move around too much.

The compass used in class was a Jakar Giant Bow Pencil Compass 155mm Long 

There’s so many brands out there I wouldn’t be able to list them all, but the ones I use and can personally recommend are Jakar, Rotring and Staedtler. Don’t go for the ones aimed for school children, as they are not sturdy enough or good with accuracy. You may have to pay a little more for a decent one.

Others have recommended compasses from brands such as Linex, Alvin, Ecobra, Helix and Haff. And often vintage compasses are the best ones, but are much more expensive.

This is the compass I use regularly, and used to demonstrate on the bigger paper

Staedtler 552 01 PR1 Mars Comfort Compass


We used a 2H ‘hard lead’ pencil to construct the lines, and a 2B ‘soft lead’ pencil to draw the final pattern (as it showed up darker on the page) and on the tracing paper as it is easier to transfer on to the watercolour paper

Watercolour paper:

The drawing was transferred on to A3 Watercolour Paper- it was cold pressed 300gsm by Cass Art. Daler Rowney do good watercolour paper also. Have a look for ‘300 gsm’ and ‘cold-pressed’. Generally, the higher the GSM the more water it is able to take.


Paints I recommend and that we used in class that are good for beginners are the ones that were in the round stack, the ones that were in a round palette, and they can be stacked on top of each other. There were two types, Koh-i-noor, and from Hobbycraft.

 Koh-i-noor watercolour pan set of 24 (a round set of paints).

The Hobbycraft paints

My go-to gold gouache is: Winsor and Newton Gold Gouache

The other paints I’d recommend to start with are Winsor and Newton Cotman watercolours and Daler Rowney watercolours, they have a good range of colours and most of them are a good price. Both can be bought either in tubes that you can squeeze a little out to use, or in the ready-made pans that you just add water to.

Art shops:

Check out your local art shops as you can get plenty of supplies from there.

  • Cass Art

  • Hobbycraft

  • Jackson’s Art Supplies

  • The Range

  • Wilkos


And lastly, if you would like to learn more, a good resource I highly recommend is Art of Islamic Pattern, which has a wealth of information and online classes during the pandemic, which are recorded and available to download.  They also have a series of beginner sessions which are useful for those starting out or wanting to refresh their skills.

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