Which Pencils are Best for Drawing?

Best Pencils for Drawing

The most common question I have been getting on my youTube channel is “which pencils are best for drawing?” Before I offer my opinion on that, let me briefly clarify the different grades for graphite pencils.

What are the Different Scales for Graphite Pencil?

The grading scale for graphite goes from 9H all the way down to 2H, then H, HB, B, 2B and all the way up to 9B (some brands goes up to 10B). A 9H pencil has an extremely hard lead, whereas the 9B pencil has an extremely soft lead. Right in the middle of the spectrum is the HB pencil, which is almost the same as the #2 pencil that you have used in school. The harder the lead, the finer the line, but also lighter. The softer the lead, the broader and rougher the line, and much darker. Therefore the full spectrum of lead goes from light and hard to dark and soft.

What are the Best Pencils for Drawing?

For me, the 2B, 4B, and 6B are my favorites. For general light sketching and roughing out process, the 2B works great. Once I have roughed out my drawing as well as some light shading with the 2B, I will use the 4B for shading the dark areas. Then the 6B for even darker areas just to give it a wider range of tones.

For fast drawings and sketching, the 6B is great. Because the lead is softer, you will be able to get a broader stroke resulting in quicker coverage on the paper. This allows you to shade very quickly, and will also give your drawing a more dynamic and lively feel.

What About the 3B and 5B?

You don’t need the 3B if you are using the 2B. Moving to one grade higher or lower will not result in much tonal differences. But jumping 2 grades will.

What if All I Have is a HB or #2 Pencil?

That is perfectly fine for drawing. Not having a darker pencil only means that your drawing will not get that dark, but you can still get a good range of tones on the lighter side of the spectrum. Your drawing will be on the lighter side, but it can still be beautiful. If you don’t have the soft pencils, don’t worry about it, just try to get a good range on tones in your drawing.

Drawing the Eye with Different Grades of Pencils

Here is a demonstration of the 2B, 4B, and 6B pencils so you can see the differences.

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