Thank you very much for the kind compliments on my Mars observation and artistic ability. You are also very talented rendering the solar surface and spectacular prominences.
Charlie- My initial observations are made using a graphite pencil (typically using pencil grades between 4H to 2B; most of the time either 2H or HB). I then add color to the graphite rendering (based upon notes written at the time of the observation) on my computer using Photoshop (any image editing program may be used such as Gimp, PhotoPaint, Paint.Net, etc.). My recommendation is to review the posts on this excellent forum and learn from experienced observers/artists, start using a graphite pencil to make your observations (an HB grade is the easiest one to use as it is not too dark and easy to blend), and especially to practice, practice, practice. Your observations may not be works of art but they are useful to you and other observers by understanding what you were observing at the moment of your observation. The best of luck and I look forward to your future observations on the forum.
(Best of the CN Sketching Forum)
(Jeremy Perez's excellent web site with good tips and useful templates for the planets and DSO's)
(Erika Rix's excellent web site also with good tips)