Useful Tips

How to choose pencils for drawing and writing


If you read this article, then you are drawing and are currently interested in what kind of art pencils exist. Indeed, in drawing, they are one of the important tools. Without them, the creator, as if without hands, be he just a beginner artist or a professional. Therefore, we could not ignore such an important topic and did not tell what pencils are for drawing.

All you need are pencils and your imaginary worlds.


Artistic watercolor pencils look like ordinary colored ones, but in their core there is a pressed watercolor that needs to be dissolved with water, that is, after the drawing is ready, wash it off with water. As a result, you get a watercolor drawing that was created without paints.

Everyone is familiar from childhood, because they are used not only for professional purposes, but also for children and adults. Colored pigments are added to their rods, which give the desired colors and shades. The better the components, the more expensive they are. Pay attention to color fastness and durability. However, I will not tell you in detail about artistic color pencils, since our site is devoted to drawing with a simple pencil.

I think you guessed that the core here is coal. It is difficult for them to draw thin strokes and lines, it is more suitable for shading. But many artists create with the help of such tools and get beautiful drawings that they could not create using other tools.


Simple art pencils or graphite, the most common type of “magic” wooden stick, with which you can not only create, but also write and draw. Let us dwell on them in more detail.

There are several factors that you should pay attention to when choosing graphite pencils. Most likely, like all artists, you will need several different tools, which you will choose from your preferences and goals.
Finding the best simple pencils to bring to life your sketches and drawings, at first glance it may seem like a difficult task, but a lot depends on your personal preferences. There are many world-renowned companies producing entire sets of graphite pencils for professional use. You have the right to independently choose which ones to buy based on your wishes and preferences, because you will draw and maybe time will pass and only then will you find those that are ideal for you. But in addition to the variety of companies offering this indispensable tool, there are different classes according to the degree of stiffness of the rod. But more on that later. The difference in the thickness of the rod allows you to experiment with a wide variety of lines and shades while drawing.

How to choose the perfect pencils for drawing

When choosing the perfect graphite pencil, the first thing you should pay attention to is your drawing style. For a drawing of a technical nature and a detailed picture with thin and precise lines, completely different tools will be needed than those used for applying shadows and drawing artistic drawings. In a word, decide what you will draw more often, dark, thick lines or lighter and thinner strokes? Understanding your personal artistic style and needs will help you narrow down your choices when looking for a good pencil to draw.
Many artists use several types of pencils at the same time. Therefore, many manufacturers create and sell sets for drawing with pencils, which come with a set of simple pencils of different brands. This variety allows you to switch between art tools depending on the requirements of a particular image.

Hardness scale and types of marking

When you decide what exactly you will draw, you will need to learn to understand the classes of graphite pencils. Which consist of two components, a mixture of graphite and clay. The combination of these two components makes smooth strokes, but the lines will be different depending on the amount of clay. As a rule, the more clay, the harder the rod and the thinner the lines that they draw. And vice versa, the softer, the thicker and darker the lines and strokes.

In the United States of America, the No. 2 bar is the most popular. The American scale for marking thickness ranges from 1 to 4 (including 2.5). But in the rest of the world, a different rating scale is used, which most manufacturers adjust to. They use the HB scale, where “H” stands for hardness and “B” stands for softness. US standard No. 2 pencil is HB on this scale. Pay attention to this if you get art tools from this country. Russia uses its own hardness marking, where the letter “T” is responsible for hardness, “M” for softness, and TM combines these two properties and is hard-soft. That is, American No. 2, world HB and Russian TM have almost the same hardness rods.

The HB marking scale ranges from 9H, a hard pencil with thin light marks, to 9B, a soft pencil with a high content of graphite, leaving greasy dark marks. All manufacturers label their products, but keep in mind that there are many manufacturers and labeling may vary. Therefore, 6H from one manufacturer can draw quite differently than 6H from another.

As soon as you figure out which pins you are comfortable working with and will surely know for which lines and strokes you need pins, then you can easily mix and match different ones to assemble a set of art pencils that will meet your needs as an artist.
The main thing is not to be afraid to experiment and practice, then you will definitely be able to draw and get those lines and strokes that you aspire to. And it is best to test your strengths and thickness of the rods on the hatching, the types of which we described in the article "Basic types of hatching with a pencil."

Classification of lead hardness

There are two systems for classifying lead toughnesses - European and American. In the European system for designations use a combination of letters and numbers. The letter B (short for English blackness - darkness) means that the core is soft, with a high content of graphite. The higher the number that accompanies B, the softer the stylus is and the darker and richer the trace left by it.

The letter H (abbreviated from English. Hardness - hardness), indicated in the marking of the pencil, has the exact opposite meaning and informs about the high content of clay in the lead. Class H rods leave a bright mark.

In the American system, only numbers are used to mark pencils. In the middle of such a scale is # 2½, which is equivalent to the European F (short for English fine point - perfect, excellent). American stylus # 2 class usually correspond to European HB (abbreviated from English hardness-blackness - hard-soft). The ratio of European and American systems is shown in the photo.

In addition, I want to note that there is no single standard for the hardness of the lead. Different brands of pencils of the same class may be slightly harder or softer. For example, Japanese leads always leave a darker mark than European equivalents. Although they use the same classification system.

In this article we will refer to the European system, because it is more extensive and developed than the American one.

Stiffness symbol

In Russia the hardness scale looks like this:

  • M is soft
  • T is solid
  • TM - hard soft

European scale
slightly wider (marking F does not have Russian compliance):

  • B - soft, from blackness (blackness),
  • H - hard, from hardness (hardness),
  • F is the average tone between HB and H (from the English fine point - subtlety)
  • HB - hard-soft (Hardness Blackness - hardness-blackness),

To indicate the stiffness of the pencil, a number scale is used:

  • # 1 - corresponds to B - soft,
  • # 2 - corresponds to HB - hard soft,
  • # 2½ - corresponds to F - middle between hard-soft and hard,
  • # 3 - corresponds to H - solid,
  • # 4 - corresponds to 2H - very solid.

Pencil pencil discord. Depending on the manufacturer, the tone of the line drawn with a pencil of the same marking may vary.

In Russian and European pencil markings, the number in front of the letter indicates the degree of softness or hardness. For example, 2B is two times softer than B, and 2H is two times harder than H. Pencils marked 9H (hardest) to 9B (softest) can be found on sale.

Class H leads

Class H rods exhibit extreme smear resistance. They leave clear light lines. What makes such pencils indispensable when you need to create contours, drawings, sketches, sketches for watercolors. They are suitable for left-handed people, because the trace of such leads is not smeared. Class H pencils have the disadvantage of being too hard, causing the tip to scratch the paper. And the higher the number that accompanies the letter H, the greater the likelihood of scratches and grooves.

Soft pencils

Start from B before 9B.

The most commonly used pencil when creating a drawing is HB. However, this is the most common pencil. This pencil draws the base, the shape of the picture. HB convenient for drawing, creating tonal spots, it is not too hard, not too soft. A soft pencil will help draw shaded places, highlight them and place accents, and make a clear line in the picture. 2B.

Hard pencils

Start from H before 9H.

H - a hard pencil, hence the thin, light, “dry” lines. Hard objects are drawn with a hard pencil with a clear outline (stone, metal). With such a solid pencil, according to the finished drawing, thin lines are drawn on top of shaded or shaded fragments, for example, drawn strands in the hair.

The line drawn with a soft pencil has a slightly loose outline. A soft stylus will reliably draw representatives of the fauna - birds, hares, cats, dogs.

If you need to choose between a hard or soft pencil, artists take a pencil with a soft stylus. The image drawn with such a pencil is easy to shade with a piece of thin paper, a finger or an eraser. If necessary, you can thinly repair the graphite core of a soft pencil and draw a thin line similar to the line from a hard pencil.

The figure below more clearly shows the hatching of different pencils:

Hatching and drawing

Strokes on paper are drawn with a pencil, inclined at an angle of about 45 ° to the plane of the sheet. To make the line greasy more you can rotate the pencil around the axis.

Light areas are hatched with a hard pencil. Dark patches are accordingly soft.

Shading with a very soft pencil is inconvenient, since the stylus quickly dulls and the thinness of the line is lost. The way out is to either sharpen the tip very often or use a harder pencil.

When drawing, they gradually switch from light to dark areas, since it is much easier to darken part of the drawing with a pencil than to make a darker place lighter.

Please note that the pencil should not be sharpened with a simple sharpener, but with a knife. The stylus should be 5-7mm long, which allows you to tilt the pencil and achieve the desired effect.

Lead pencil lead is a brittle material. Despite the protection of the wooden shell, the pencil requires careful handling. When dropped, the stylus inside the pencil breaks into pieces and then crumbles when sharpening, making the pencil unusable.

The nuances you should know when working with pencils

To hatch at the very beginning, use a hard pencil. Those. the driest lines are obtained with a hard pencil.

The finished drawing is drawn with a soft pencil to give it richness and expressiveness. A soft pencil leaves dark lines.

The more you tilt the pencil, the wider will be its trace. However, with the advent of pencils with a thick stylus, this need disappears.

If you do not know what the final drawing will look like, it is recommended to start with a hard pencil. With a hard pencil, you can enter the desired tone. At the very beginning, I myself made this mistake: I took a pencil that was too soft, which made the drawing dark and incomprehensible.

Pencil frames

Of course, the classic version is a stylus in a wooden frame. But now there are plastic, varnished and even paper frames. the lead of such pencils is thick. On the one hand, this is good, but on the other hand, such pencils are easy to break if put in your pocket or unsuccessfully dropped.

Although there are special pencil cases for carrying pencils (for example, I have a set of KOH-I-NOOR Progresso black-graphite pencils - a good, solid package, like a pencil case).

Class F and HB leads

Class F rods (middle between hard-soft and hard) occupy a central place in the European classification. Class HB (hard soft) is a notch. Pencils of both classes are ideal for writing. They are dark enough so that you can easily read what is written, in addition, they hardly smear.

Class B leads

Class B pencils give a smoother line to your writing and drawing. They are easily smeared, but at the same time, the eraser removes them without a trace. They are ideal for creativity, as artists need to create shading and dimming. Especially for these purposes, pencil leads with a higher value of B. are suitable. Animators, when creating cartoons, like to use class 10B pencils, because such pencils slide on paper like wax crayons, allowing you to quickly make nice, deep and rich drawings.

Pencils, especially class H, are suitable for writing and drawings on textured paper. The gel and ink pens on such a surface will not be able to provide good adhesion to the sheet, so clear, correct lines will not work.

If the surface is glossy or rough, rough, then only with a pencil can you put smooth lines and clear drawings on it. Such paper is often used in sketchbooks and in books to create manga (anime).

How to choose a pencil?

Wooden pencils they are convenient in that they make available a full range of hardness classes. They can at any time change the thickness of the tip of the stylus using conventional sharpening. Indeed, without adjusting the thickness of the lines, the artist will not be able to achieve the perfect result.

Mechanical pencil convenient and economical. Great for recording. But due to the fact that the force of pressure on the tip is too small, artists cannot use it for dynamic hatching.

Collet pencil - this is the strength and dynamism of hatching, like a wooden pencil, and a convenient body, like a mechanical one. Collet pencils have one, but significant, drawback: pencil leads for them are sold in only a few hardness classes.

We have selected recommendations that will help you choose a pencil of any type.

Writing pencil

As we already said, class F and HB leads are ideal for recordings. They leave a saturated and smooth trace that is practically not smeared. Other classes (H and B) are also in demand, because someone likes the darker or lighter version. But it should be borne in mind that when choosing class B pencils, it is undesirable to use for writing those whose softness exceeds 2B. They can be very blurry and give the text carelessness.

Faber-Castell Grip graceful pencil helps create thin, filigree lines. The trihedral shape and relief points in the capture zone make the writing process extremely convenient even for left-handed people. The pencil is available in hardness classes 2B, B and HB. This means that the written text will look quite clear and contrast. The trace from the stylus of this brand of pencils is not smeared.

Pencil for creativity

Artists use both soft and hard pencils to create different effects. Usually they have pencils of all hardness classes in their arsenal. Beginner artists probably do not need a complete set. Therefore, pencils of different softness are better for them to buy as they master new drawing techniques. Wooden pencils are ideal for creating patterns with graphite dust. Because lead pencils of other types of pencils have to be broken for this, and a wooden pencil leaves the necessary graphite chips in the process of grinding.

KOH-I-NOIR 1502 standard hexagonal pencils are available in three sets of 12 pencils each: from HB to 10H, from 5B to 5H, from 8B to 2H. This means that artists will be able to choose tones for air sketches, intense shading and deep dimming. It should be borne in mind that the tone of the pencils of this manufacturer is slightly darker than that of other brands of similar hardness classes.

Mechanical pencils

The main problem with mechanical pencils is a small selection of lead pencils of different hardness. The fact is that it is almost impossible to make a rod of high softness with a small diameter, because it will be too fragile. For writing, a mechanical pencil will be the best choice. For painting, you still have to buy wooden pencils. It is worth noting that artists demand 0.2 mm thick leads. Потому что они позволяют прорисовывать мельчайшие детали и контуры, не отвлекаясь на затачивание, как это было бы в случае с деревянным карандашом.

Хотя выбор грифелей у механических карандашей значительно меньше, чем у деревянных, у некоторых брендов ассортимент впечатляет разнообразием. For example, Pentel leads are available in 10 hardness classes - from 4H to 4B. The same great selection of Pilot pencil rods.

Collet pencils

Artists who want to perform dynamic hatching and deep shading, like a wooden pencil, and at the same time maintain the convenience of mechanical ones, should look at collet pencils. In such models, usually a significant stylus diameter is 2 mm or more. This allows the use of high soft rods. Another advantage of collet pencils is that you can set the same longer working length of the stylus as with wooden pencils. This makes a large number of drawing techniques available.

The KOH-I-NOOR 5311 collet pencil delights in durability and versatility. The model has a reliable metal case, designed for many years of service. Strong grip of the lead allows the use of rods from 3 to 5.6 mm, including those with high softness. The pencil is convenient for hatching when a large working length of the shaft is needed. They can be written if you sharpen the tip of the stylus with a sharpener located in the button at the top of the case. KOH-I-NOIR 5311 is indispensable during repair work when specialized markers fail. They make markings on brick, concrete walls, silk embossed wallpaper.