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Saturday, August 2, 2008

What kind of pencil is best for drawing and sketch, how to pick pencil for artist and illustrator.

What kind of pencil is best to draw and sketch, how to pick pencil for artist and illustrator.
How to choose a pencil to draw for yourself?

Many people ask me what kind of pencil I use, well I really have no favorite, really. But if I recalled a few years back, it was probably a Clutch pencils (mechanical with big leads), then sometimes I would use thin lead mechanical pencil. But in life drawing session, I would use regular wooden pencils, or big thick graphite stick or charcoal sticks if I am drawing on a big pad. So really, it the matter of purpose or how I like them at time.
Nowadays, I use what I can find around me pen or pencil doesn't matter as long as I can fit the
proper lines and value in the sketchbook.

A lot of good professional artists I know have their own preferences, they use different kind of tool varies from person to person. One of the best artist I know can draw anything so great with just regular mechanical pencil with hard lead (2H, or H). But I probably wouldn't be able to pull that off, I love dark lead but not too soft. So it is really up to you to decide which will fit you.

There are many kinds of drawing pencils; here's an overview of lead hardness, line darkness, and varieties of pencils for drawing.

A good pencil is an artist’s best friend. No subject is beyond an artist’s rendering if they have the pencils they need. A good rule of thumb to remember what each pencil does is to remember that the softer the lead, the darker your line will be. Pencils with “B” in the name are soft. Pencils with “H” in the name are harder leads.

This is a list of pencils and/ or lead to help you determine what type you need for different purpose.

Grades of graphite. A word here is appropriate concerning the different grades of graphite. The grades range from numbers 2 to 9. There is a letter following that to determine whether it is hard “H” or soft “B”. In the middle where the two grades meet you will find things like HB, B, F (finepoint) and H. Hard pencils are lighter in tone while soft pencils are darker. So the actual order you will find it 9H 8H 7H 6H 5H 4H 3H 2H H F B HB 2B 3B 4B 5B 6B 7B 8B 9B.

* 2H- This is a very hard lead pencil that makes light marks. It is good for drawing details and preliminary drawings that you may not want to be permanent.
* 6B- This pencil makes dark, softer marks. The 6B shown in the example is a wide woodless, which is great for expressive drawing and sketching.
* #2 or HB- You remember this pencil from school. Most of use started our drawing career using this beauty to doodle on homework. Its lead falls between soft and hard and makes a great all-around go-to pencil. Keep this one with your sketchbook at all times.
* #2 Jumbo- Remember these monster-sized pencils from kindergarten? They have all of the benefits of a regular #2, but they have a very wide lead that is perfect for expressive drawings and thick lines.
* 2B- Softer than the HB, 2B makes darker lines. 2B is great for outlining drawings.



A) Clutch or Lead Holder pencils. They use 2mm graphite refills which are the same size as the wood cased pencils. There is a clutch mechanism in the tip that is activated by the plunger which holds the refill firmly in place. This allows me to extend the graphite as far as I may desire as well as retract it for more detail work. Being 2mm, they also can cover the paper rather quickly when necessary. Creating a chisel point at the tip (by holding the pencil at about a 45* angle and scrubbing a flat spot) allows me to cover larger areas with the flat side but simply turning the pencil gives me a sharp chisel line for those times when I need that. Using it in this way means I do not need to sharpen the graphite very often. I am also very particular about the brand of graphite refill I use.

B)Pencil Leads for Clutch pencil.

C) wooden pencils. The most common is F, the wood cased pencil. These generally come in sets of 9B to 9H and are what most new artists begin using. I would suggest a new artist begin with these but be aware that there are some negative things with them. First, they will change in weight and balance as the pencil is sharpened. I have found this to be annoying. Secondly, my technique will not allow a regular sharpening but requires that they have a good ½" of lead freely available to work with. This brings me to one of the largest drawbacks I’ve found. The graphite is not always centered in the wood so when you sharpen them the tip becomes off center and I often find myself trying to draw with the wood instead of the graphite. The last problem can be overcome with pencil extenders (I don’t have one so I can’t show it) but as they wear down to a nub, a certain amount of the pencil will most certainly need to be thrown away. These pencils require a traditional sharpener or a razor blade to sharpen.

D) mechanical pencils. Standard mechanical pencils can be found in several thicknesses. .3mm, .5mm and .7mm with .3 being a bit tricky to find. Many artists use these exclusively and are able to produce stunning work with them. I find them excellent for detail work but do not use them in the main.

E) leads for mechanical pencils

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4 comments:

Cocoya said...

I have been wondering about this for a good couple of years! I have an issue with humidity and mostly stick to hard leads despite me attempting softer types. I *finally* got used to creating sketches in a typical fashion rather than how I once used to do it so chances are I will look into softer leads again.

Despite the fact that I have drawn for 3 years or so, it's almost funny how much I lack knowledge in this field. Then again, it's normal to not know all. Thanks again for the information!

XIA said...

Indeed, thanks for visiting. You are welcome anytime. I like hard lead when I am laying out construction lines for drawing or doing perspective, it doesn't smear as much. I also like soft lead when I am doing some organic stuff like life drawing, drawing tree, out door sketch...but I still have to watch out for the smearing. Glad you find this useful. :)

snow said...

Is there anything wrong with producing rendered concepts with a H mechanical?

Are traditional pencil drawings still used in concept art and for clients? Or does everything have to be computer rendered?

Thanks :)

XIA said...

snow> Not at all, as long as you can make it looks cool then they are in.

Well, for clients, sketches are still require when you do the first pass (which can either be digital or traditional, it's up to you because when they hire you to do the job, they already know what they can expected base on you portfolio)

I am sure there are still artists out there that do traditional stuff and scan them in then turn them over to clients. So as long as they are good, and what they are looking for, I don't see any problem at all.

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