Graphite pencils. The standard black lead pencil is the most widely used pencil in the world. Its production began in the 18th century and over time has transformed into a global process. The base of the lead pencil is graphite combined with various binders. The body of the pencil itself is made from wood, but sometimes it can be made from other materials, for example, from rubber. Nowadays, the production of special pencils in a plastic case with a replaceable refill, like fountain pens, has begun.
Professional artists often use special graphite pencils to draw. Their main difference from the lead ones is that they do not have a special wooden shell. They also have gray graphite as a lead, with which you can draw the smallest details, create thin lines, realistic drawings and sketches – you can find the example of using such pencil in our easy daisy drawing article.
Charcoal pencils. One more variation of the standard black drawing pencil is the charcoal pencil. Such a pencil consists of coal, depending on the method of manufacture, it can be wood or pressed shavings. The charcoal pencil is good for shading, it is not convenient to draw small details with them. Now you can find charcoal pencils that come in a wooden case. They can be used like regular pencils. A distinctive feature of these pencils is a brighter and more saturated black color. If you choose the right charcoal pencil, you can learn how to draw like artists, creating various sketches and studies, as well as volumetric graphic drawings.
Watercolor pencils. Another type of pencil is watercolor pencils. Looking at them, such pencils are almost indistinguishable from standard colored pencils. But the lead is not pigmented wax, but pressed watercolor. There are several ways to draw with such pencils. You can first create a drawing, and then process it with a brush dipped in water. Or vice versa, moisten the paper first, and paint on wet, creating interesting effects.
Types of Pencils Used for Sketching and Shading According to Pencil Grades
The softest pencil, marked 9B, allows you to create very dark and bold lines like some charcoal pencils. The hardest pencil is marked 9H, it creates thin and light lines.
Any pencil is composed of graphite and clay. Therefore, the more clay in the pencil, the harder and stronger the lead is, and the lines it creates are thinner, and vice versa. Most pencil manufacturers use the HB mark, with “H” for hardness and “B” for softness. In American marking system, the thickness is indicated in numbers. The midpoint, the HB pencil, is number 2, and the scale has marks from 1 to 4.
The comparison of American and European pencil grades is as follows:
- 1 is marked as B
- 2 is marked as HB
- 2.5 is marked as F
- 3 is marked as H
- 4 is marked as 2H
Best Pencils for Drawing According to Professional Artists
Staedtler Lumograph Pencils Set. Many professional artists have noticed their stunning designs. The kits include sets of pencils with different hardness. The pencil sets of this brand are distinguished not only by their quality, but also by their attractive appearance.
General Pencil Charcoal Pencils
Illustrators have commented on the excellent softness of the lines and the tinting ability of these pencils. The charcoal pencil creates more saturated and richer tones that even the softest graphite cannot achieve.
BIC Velocity Max Mechanical Pencils. These are special pencils for sketching. Many artists consider them a worthy choice if you’re looking for the best sketching pencils. Their main advantages: wide distribution of products, there is no need for sharpening, the lead is not smeared during operation.
Faber-Castel Colored Pencil Set
This is the choice of professional illustrators willing to put in a little more cash for premium quality. The artists note that these pencils are superior in quality and durability to their counterparts from other brands.
LUXLIA Professional Watercolor Pencils. It is the perfect choice if you want to paint watercolors on paper. The key feature of this set is its wood-free design and rich pigmentation.
Tips on How to Choose the Best Pencils for Drawing
What is the most important thing when buying pencils? What type of pencil is best for sketches? If you want to get professional artwork, use our tips to help you when choosing any pencils:
- The choice of pencils depends on your personal drawing style and the final idea behind the particular work. For fine art lessons, you can go for a thin and hard lead pencil, while for creating artwork it is better to use charcoal or watercolor pencils.
- Check the packaging for certifications or other quality standards.
- The wooden shell of the pencil should be varnished or painted. The wood itself should not be rough and cause splinters, but vice versa. The wooden shell should be smooth and pleasant when you touch it.
- Trying to get the best pencil to sketch with, remember the importance of timely sharpening. When working with a double-sided pencil, it should be sharpened on both sides.
- The pencil lead should run along the entire length of the pencil.
- If you want to buy colored pencil set, check if the color of the shell matches the color of the lead; it should be as closely as possible.
- Test the pencil for durability as follows: the lead should not break when you press it slightly.
- You can choose several different pencils based on such criteria as softness. You do not need to select each pencil separately, since there are pencil sets, which include different types of pencils.
- You should also pay attention to the thickness of the pencil lead itself: usually it is 2-5 mm. The thicker the lead of a pencil, the more resistant it is to breakage and the more surface area it can cover. However, the minus of a thick pencil lead is the need for frequent sharpening. Therefore, such pencils are more often bought for children than for professional artists.
Don’t forget to choose the correct type of eraser for drawing.