The ability to draw was seen as an essential skill of any artist. Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the most influential artists of the Renaissance period, produced many drawings and kept journals filled with his anatomical drawings, experiments and preparations for bigger works.
The beginning is as important as the end product and the artist Paul Klee, saw the meaning of abstraction in it. In the early 20th century, he saw the beginning in the use of lines, forms and colours, all the elements that make a drawing or a sketch.
The pencil sketches, drawn on various materials, are often perceived only as an element in the creative process, but if we look into art history, we can see the dominance of drawings used for a better understanding of the world around us. And the world around us is born out of lines.
So, whether you’re just learning to draw, already a pro, or somewhere in between, you need a good artist drawing pencil for your creative needs. The right pencil can work wonders for improving your artwork and it’s always a good idea to have a range of options available.
Which Pencils Are Best for Drawing?
Drawing pencils are an essential part of any artist’s kit. You need high-quality materials even if you draw only to work out a composition for your painting. But there are so many different pencils to choose from and it may be hard to narrow down the options. To help you find an artist drawing pencil that suits your style, here is what you need to know about the most important tool in the creative fields.
There isn’t really the best art pencil, but every artist finds a pencil they like best after some practice. Every artist has different techniques, while some have a lighter touch, others may pound in the graphite, so the best way to know which pencil is perfect for you is to try a few.
Your drawing style is the first thing to consider when selecting your pencil, after that, most of it comes down to personal preference. Detailed artwork requires different pencils than those used for shading and sketching, therefore there are different grades of graphite pencils, such as the following.
H stands for hard and an H grade pencil has more clay in its lead and it will make fine and lighter lines. Most pencils are graded with both a letter and a number, so when it comes to H grade pencils, the higher the corresponding number, the lighter the lead. H pencil is the softest and 9H pencil is the hardest. The harder a pencil is, the lighter a mark it makes.
H leads don’t smudge easily, give clean lines and are a good choice for light sketches, outlines and technical drawings. Pencil grades from H to 2H to 5H get easier to keep sharp and they are greyer and less shiny than other pencils because they contain more clay. Keep in mind that these harder pencils can easily dent the paper, so you should have a very light touch when shading.
B stands for blackness and a B grade pencil has more graphite and will make darker and bolder lines. The corresponding number refers to the softness and darkness of the lead, so the higher the number the softer and darker the lead. B pencil is the hardest and 9B pencil is the softest. The softer a pencil is, the darker a mark it makes. B leads smudge easily, but the good thing is that they’re readily erased, well suited for pencil drawings.
2B is great for sketching out, planning and blocking in the main areas of tone or shade. It creates a very good quality of line and can be smudged a little and erased with ease if needed. It’s hard enough to sharpen to a point and you can use it for the fine details in sketches and drawings and create sharp edges to contrast with the soft areas.
6B is often used to add in darker tones or shading as a contrast to the lighter shades and bring sketches and drawings to life. 6B pencils have good shaping capability and create rich dark tones.
9B pencils give the darkest of shades, beautiful smudging and blending qualities as well as the rich and varied quality of line.
F stands for fine point and an F grade pencil can produce darker and lighter marks, with no extremes. F leads stay sharp for a long time and are a great choice for drawing fine details and writing.
HB pencil is very popular as well and it falls into the middle of the scale. It’s the most common writing pencil out there, most often seen in offices and schools, and it’s good for linear drawing on smooth paper. Since it doesn’t leave too much graphite on the page, it’s great for preparatory drawings as it won’t dirty any paint or watercolour painted on top. HB pencils have limited tone/shading capability and are a great choice if you’re a beginner and feeling a bit insecure when starting your sketching or drawing.
In the end, you can always play with your drawing skills, do some shading swatches and adjust your pencils to suit your creative journey.