That’s right, a blog post all about pencils! If you’re new to sketching, we appreciate its sometimes a little difficult to get your head around the whole pencil grading thing! I mean, what do those little letters and numbers on your pencil mean? 2B? 2H? HB?

Basically, a pencil is made up of mainly graphite and clay, the number thing pretty much represents the ratio of each ingredient. The feel of a pencil and the mark it makes on paper is dependent on the blend and ratio of those two products: the more clay there is, the harder the pencil will be; the more graphite there is, the darker the pencil will be.

Your everyday pencils i.e. the ones that kids use in school, the ones you use to mark the wall when doing DIY or to scribble down notes, are generally HB. This means the amount of graphite and clay are neutral, meaning you get a relatively dark line, but your pencil doesn’t go down too quickly.

What pencils are best for light sketching?

Any pencil within the 2H to 6H range can be used for light sketching. They don’t contain too much graphite so it’s great for creating an outline for a draft sketch. 6H is the pencil with the least graphite in which means that this specific type keeps its point exceptionally well. Once you’ve got your outline, we recommend going over your sketch with something a little darker like a bolder pencil or pen.

What pencils are best for shading?

To add shading to your sketches we recommend using pencils in the 2B to 6B range – 6B being the loosest and darkest shade. The B range of pencils are very soft as they contain the most graphite, which means they smudge really well (great for causing shadowing) and they’re also great for adding shade variations to your sketches.

Using the two together

Each set of H and B pencils are great for using together to create a piece of art. Their very specific characteristics really complement each other helping you to create every happy medium a sketch needs to have.

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