0

Your Cart is Empty

How to use graphite pencils

How to use graphite pencils

All great art starts with a sketch!
Picasso owned an impressive 175 sketchbooks filled with ideas at the time of his death. Pencils are a great way to sketch ideas quickly or make beautiful, detailed drawings. Using a good range of graphite pencils allows you to explore a broad tonal value and achieve varying results.
 
How are pencils made?
All wood-encased pencils are made from three major ingredients: graphite, clay and a small amount of binder. Back in the 17th century these were ground down by hand, put in a cylindrical mould and fired in a kiln. Today, Winsor & Newton pencils are made with sustainably grown, easy-to-sharpen, aromatic cedar wood.
 
How to understand pencil grades
If you’re new to picking up a pencil, the first thing you will notice is that there several numbered and lettered grades. These work as a guide to help you select the right pencil to fit your needs.
 
Here’s the scale for graphite leads:
 
8B 6B 5B 4B 3B 2B B HB F H 2H 3H 4H
This scale runs from Softest (left) to Hardest (right)
 
B = Blackness
F = Fine
HB = A combination of H and B
H = Hard
A ‘B’ range pencil indicates it has soft lead – the higher the number, the softer and darker the lead.
The higher numbers in this range have a greater concentration of graphite. Generally, ‘B’ grades are best for shading and smooth coverage of large areas.
The ‘H’ range makes a more subtle grey mark, the higher the number, the less graphite is included, these are best used for delicate, intricate drawings.
The ‘F’ grade is used to indicate that the pencil lead is a special formulation that will maintain a fine point.
The most popular pencil, ‘HB’ is a combination of hard and soft leads which makes it a great all-rounder.
Whether a beginner or a professional, having an array of pencil grades is essential to achieve a tonal range in your work. Generally, the best way to start drawing is with a hard pencil which will make a light mark that erases easily, allowing you to adjust your drawing frequently at the beginning. Then, as the drawing develops and requires a darker mark for shading or bold details, move on to a softer pencil. Multiple layers of a hard lead will never produce black; therefore, you need a softer pencil to be able to achieve a truly dark mark.
 
Top tip
Your sharpener is your best friend. Use a quality pencil and keep it sharp so you have fine point that will not break with pressure. You can refine the point of your pencil with the artists’ old trick of placing a piece of fine-grade sandpaper on a table and gently running the side of the lead across it.
We have had a product drop this week of Graphite pencil sets..............
Take a look at our full range of sketching pencils:

catherine peters
catherine peters


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in ARTdiscount Blog

A beginners guide to using Pastel Pencils.
A beginners guide to using Pastel Pencils.

by Ellie Jakeman February 29, 2024

In previous articles we have discussed soft pastels as a versatile and vibrant medium. In this article we will focus on discussing pastel pencils, which are often used in conjunction with soft pastels and PanPastels to provide a more linear quality to your work.
Read More
Abeginners guide to using soft pastels
A beginners guide to using Soft Pastels

by Ellie Jakeman February 22, 2024

Soft pastels are a delightful medium cherished by beginners and seasoned artists alike for their versatility and forgiving nature. In this post, we will delve into the basics of soft pastel artistry, from choosing the right materials to mastering essential techniques. 
Read More
Artist Interview: Phoebe Dee
Artist Interview: Phoebe Dee

by Izzy Latimer February 14, 2024

Phoebe Dee is an emerging Freelance Illustrator who is based in Brighton, England. Within her work she specialises in pastels, creating playful character designs! She graduated in 2023 with a BA in Illustration from Falmouth University and from then has took social media by storm with her colourful pastel artworks!
Read More