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I’m an artist, self-taught designer, and educator who is hell-bent on teaching everyone how to get started with Islamic geometry.

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Why You Should Invest in High-Quality Drafting Tools


In January 2017 I found out why it’s important to invest in high-quality drafting tools.

I was working on 6 designs to be used on prayer mats by a company in Jeddah.

They were huge patterns, the biggest I did in my entire life.

I was working day and night to deliver the artworks in time, and I remember having this amazing idea of outlining the shapes in gold. Doing that free-hand wouldn’t look good, so I did a research and found out that something called “ruling pen” existed on this planet.

Professional websites were selling them at 50-70 Euros…WHAATTT?! I was not going to spend that money. NO WAY!


A quick search on Amazon and I found something for 7€. Oh yes, I bought it.

After 10 hours of watercolour painting I took the ruling pen filled it with gold gouache and started outlining.

The first shape was ok. The second one was a mess. The gouache started to bleed, and I had this massive blob of gold colour expanding in every direction. I grabbed paper tissue and cleaned the surface as good as I could.

And I moved on. The lines looked so bad. The ruling pen wasn’t working as I wanted, and I nearly had a panic attack. I started to cry. I ruined the whole painting: all those hours, the back and neck pain. Everything was ruined.

That was the very moment I learned the following 3 things.



This is the feeling you get when everything goes wrong. Your circle division is not correct, the line doesn’t pass through the centre, the shapes look weird, the colours are not vibrant, the paper warps, you name it.

Frustration is the introduction to failure.

If you continue to feel frustrated every time you pick up your tools you will soon enough give up on what you do because we all have enough problems in our lives and we don’t need another thing to make us frustrated right?

Instead, Islamic geometry should make you feel relaxed and at peace. You should be excited every time you pick up that shiny steel compass from its case.



I’ve already mentioned it in this blog posts that YOU CAN’T ACHIEVE THE SAME RESULTS WITH CHEAP STUFF. At least not in Islamic geometry.

It’s not abstract art. It’s not a splash of colour on white paper or a banana taped on a white canvas.

This kind of art is about accuracy and inner peace. How calming and satisfying is it to make a well-balanced construction? I think that’s the best feeling in the world



I know that professional-quality tools are expensive, but here is the thing.  You buy cheap tools on Amazon -> you are not satisfied by it-> you buy another cheap tool which is slightly more expensive thinking that it’s better than the previous-> you are not satisfied-> out of frustration you finally buy the expensive tool.

So if you invest in high-quality drafting tools straight from the beginning, you would actually save money, and you would also save yourself time.


I would be glad to be proved wrong, but this is how it worked for me.

If you still think that you can do it your way, please go ahead. I was the same. Nothing could convince me about spending my money on expensive stuff, but I’ve learned it the hard way, and that’s ok too. Everyone has his own life… and wallet.


***Affiliate disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links which means that I may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you. This helps to support my work so that I can continue to make valuable free content for you.***


Why You Should Invest in High-Quality Drafting Tools

April 1, 2020

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  1. Shazia says:

    So true Sandy! It’s so tempting to buy the cheaper stuff, but honestly worth spending abit extra to get the real deal 🙂

  2. Vivien Adler says:

    Thanks Sandy. Sometimes the problem is finding the good quality stuff in the first place. I’m in Australia and it’s difficult to access some better quality tools. Paints and paper doesn’t seem to be a problem, but I noticed good paper in Spain is heaps cheaper than here. But I’m quite happy not to be in Spain at the moment!!

  3. Monique Thijsens says:

    You are so right Sandy!! This is what several artists told me too and on top of it, when using good quality materials it will reflect in your work, even as a beginner your work will look much better, and as such less frustration to deal with!

  4. […] Why you should invest in high-quality drafting tools […]

  5. TARIK says:

    Thank you for you madam, I read your first experience thank you for the advice, I have just started in Islamic art and your advice is really useful and really helps me to see the way, thank you again.

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I’m an artist, self-taught designer, and educator who is hell-bent on teaching everyone how to get started with Islamic geometry.
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