Sketching and Drawing: Types of Pencils to Use

Learn How to Draw and Sketch Using the Correct Media

Colored pencils for drawing and sketching
Colored Pencils. Getty

Pencil Artwork
This is the simplest artistic media but with several forms. You can use almost any of the different types of pencils that are available for your drawings.

Types of Pencils
These include the Standard Graphite Pencils which is the commonest. There are also different types of Standard Graphite Pencils. They are usually labelled in the ranges of 2H, to 6B to show their Hardness or Softness.

The higher the number by H, the harder the lead of the pencil -- and the higher the number by B, the softer the lead.

Graphite Sticks Pencils are made up of solid sticks of graphite. They can produce thicker and bolder lines; blocking in shadows and dark tones on a large space on drawing paper. A must-have for most types of drawing.

Charcoal Pencil cores are made of compressed charcoal. It is soft and produces deeper and richer blacks. Charcoal pencils are very good for impressionist drawings and quick sketches.

Colored Pencils that most artists use have a softer lead than regular classroom pencils. These leads are made of wax and help when placing colors on drawing paper.

Watercolor Pencils are color-based. The lead easily dissolves in water. So, you can add separate amounts of water to your lines for more watercolor intensity. You can mix watercolor pencils with color pencils to add loud vibrant colors.

How to Sketch:  Largely, your perceptions of the life around you, forms your drawing pattern as an artist. To learn how to draw, you have to get a writing tool like pen or pencil. However, to be able to erase easily and make corrections, a pencil would be better for your sketches. I will show you wonderful ways to use an eraser effectively – eraser are not used generally for rubbing out mistakes!

The Techniques: As you learn to draw, begin by defining your outline which could either be a light outline for creating your guidelines or heavy outline that are used in the last instances.

While light outlines can be drawn with either a ruler or a free-hand, heavy outlines are drawn with free-hand.  Personally I do NOT recommend using a ruler. You will not find the pros using a ruler –ever!

Next on the techniques is Hatching. This is a shading technique that can either be light or heavy. Hatching can be done by marking out small lines bunched together to create a fill color.

Cross-Hatching is like hatching technique. The only difference is that the method of hatching is repeated in the opposite direction in a second layer on top of the first layer. Cross-Hatching can also be used to add darker shades to your pencil drawn portraits.

Stippling: This is also a shading technique but in sketching, the lines are very small, almost like dashes. Stippling techniques are usually used in sketching iris of the eyes, and stubble facial hair in a portrait.

Back and Forth Stroke: This involves the moving of your pencil in a back and forth motion at a fast pace in the same direction. This technique can either be light or heavy. All you have to do is to alternate the pressure to have the strokes as either light or heavy.

Scumbling: This involves moving the pencil in small, circular motions in a compact form.

Pencil artworks also include different pencil shading and blending techniques within pencil drawings. 

An IMPORTANT point here is that pencils, in all their variations, will CHANGE depending on the type of drawing paper you use. Drawing papers all have what is known as a “tooth” which is the surface texture of the paper –this can be rough to smooth.  You can get a cheap smooth paper which is useless to sketch on.  Try out various paper and pencils to start off with. Get QUALITY pencils only!

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Mumford, Jon. "Sketching and Drawing: Types of Pencils to Use." ThoughtCo, Jul. 24, 2017, thoughtco.com/types-of-penciles-for-drawing-and-sketching-1123355. Mumford, Jon. (2017, July 24). Sketching and Drawing: Types of Pencils to Use. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/types-of-penciles-for-drawing-and-sketching-1123355 Mumford, Jon. "Sketching and Drawing: Types of Pencils to Use." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/types-of-penciles-for-drawing-and-sketching-1123355 (accessed November 21, 2017).