The Best Pencils to Use for Drawing
Tradtional vs Mechanical, Hard vs Soft Lead
“What kind of pencils do you use?” I think this is one of the most common questions I have been asked over the years.
I often receive emails posing this question. Many emerging artists have tremendous talent. They know the time and energy that goes into a detailed drawing, and they want to use the best materials possible.
My answer to this question surprises some. For the most part, I use ordinary pencils purchased from an office supply store. I like mechanical pencils, as the leads are quite thin and thus yield a sharp point without wasted time sharpening and making a corresponding mess. The mechanical pencils are available in several thicknesses too. My favorites are the .5 mm and .7 mm thickness leads. Most mechanical pencils come with HB leads, though you can purchase other hardnesses separately, such as H, B and 2B. There are also .3 leads, though they are so thin that the lead is almost too fragile to use effectively.
I do 90% of my drawing with the mechanical HB pencil lead. Then, I use traditional (lead encased in wood) artist pencils or leads in the B to 6B range to “punch out” the darkest areas of my drawing. See my Pencil Drawings Creation Process page for an illustration of this effect. My two favorite art suppliers for pencils and pencil leads are DickBlick Art Supplies and Utrecht Art Supplies.
Another important aspect of pencil drawing is the type and quality of paper used. See my other article on selecting the best drawing paper!