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Best Graphite Drawing Pencils
Many artists, including professional fine artists, illustrators, and architects, rely on a high-quality pencil.
A good graphite pencil allows an artist to draw clean lines that can blend evenly.
Even though drawing pencils are relatively inexpensive, there are good quality and low-quality artist pencils available.
If you are like most artists who are learning to sketch, you have probably already purchased a handful of different pencil brands that are stored in a box, never to be used again.
Graphite artists, illustrators, and architects all have a different artistic style and rely on the graphite pencil to perform differently. A realistic graphite artist will want to create soft value changes with the graphite. In comparison, an illustrator is looking for clean, bold lines.
Deciding on the best pencils for your artistic style can be challenging, but just like acrylic paints or watercolor paints, it all comes down to your preference.
NFAM has researched and asked many artists what their favorite pencil brands are to help make it easier for you to decide what sketching pencils are best for you.
Best Drawing Pencils For Professionals
Best Pencils For Beginners
How To Select The Best Drawing Pencil
The first thing to take into consideration when deciding what pencils to buy is your artistic style.
Are you interested in drawing photo-realistic drawings?
Do you want to sketch illustrations or cartoons?
Are you just learning how to draw and do not know what style of art you would like to create?
Technical architectural drawings will require a mechanical pencil to draw fine lines, while a photo-realistic artist will need a set of different pencil grades to draw a realistic portrait.
Do you use a variety of lines for cross-hatching, or do you blend the graphite for shading?
Do you like dark bold lines, or do you use lighter, thinner lines for your sketches?
Having a clear idea of what style of art you will be creating will help you narrow down the choices.
What Are Graphite Pencils
You might have heard the term lead pencils.
In the 1500s, people thought that graphite was a form of lead, and that is where the name lead pencils came from. But pencils do not contain lead.
Pencils are made with graphite powder and a clay binder.
The amount of clay mixed with the graphite powder will determine how hard or soft the core is.
Different companies will use a fine ground clay binder, which makes a smooth, consistent line. If the clay is not ground fine enough, the lines will have some imperfections.
Sketch pencils come in a variety of lead grades. The lead grades determine how hard or soft the lead is.
A harder lead will create a lighter line and hold a sharp point longer, while a softer lead will create a darker line and not keep a sharp point.
HB is the middle of the scale. A full range of pencil grades is 9B – 9H.
Many professionals have a set that ranges between a 6B to 4H.
Why is a different grade important for pencil drawings?
The different grades will create different values. Sketching or drawing photo-realistic drawings require blending and different values to create a three-dimensional illusion on a two-dimensional surface.
The different grades of graphite pencils will determine how dark of a line the pencil can create.
Here is an example of the different values graphite pencils produce. You can easily see how light a 2H is compared to a 4B lead.
The HB pencil is the middle of the grades, so when you determine what grade to use for your drawings or sketches, use the HB as your guide. Another guide is to compare the value of a common writing pencil. Writing pencils in America is commonly a 2B.
You might be wondering what the best sketching pencils are or what is the best overall drawing pencil.
You might also be confused about the terms drawing and sketching. These two words are commonly used interchangeably, but there is a difference.
Sketching is a quick loose process to capture an idea, whereas drawing is the final project.
Picking the best pencils will be determined by your drawing style of if you are sketching or drawing.
Buyer’s Guide – Drawing Pencils For Artists
Tombow Mono Professional Drawing Pencils
Tombow Mono Drawing pencils are rated the best pencils by many professional artists.
They are well crafted with break-resistant, extra-refined, high-density graphite. These pencils use the same lead as the Tombow mono 100.
There are three different pencil sets available, or you can purchase the different grades individually.
Pencil Set of 3 includes an HB, 2B, and 4B pencil.
The Set of 6 includes an HB, B, 2B, 4B, 6B, 2H. This pencil set comes with a Mono Zero Eraser.
The Set of 12 – includes 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H, 2H, 3H, and 4H. This set includes an eraser and pencil sharpener.
Faber-Castell 9000 Pencils And Sets
Count Alexander von launched the Fiber-Castell 9000 pencils in 1905 and they still provide finely graduated degrees which have made them a top choice for illustrators and fine artists.
The finely ground clay and graphite make each line consistent and smooth. The break-resistant lead is fully bonded to the casings making it possible to keep a sharp tip.
Faber-Castell offers 5 different drawing pencil sets and comes individually in different grades.
Art Set – includes a 2B, 4B, 6B. The set comes with a latex-free eraser and a sharpener.
Drawing Set, Set of 6 – includes an 8B, 6B, 4B, 2B, B, and HB pencil.
Art Drawing Set, Set of 12 – includes an 8B, 7B, 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H, and 2H pencil.
Drawing Design Set of 12 – includes a 5H, 4H, 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, and 5B pencil.
Graphite, Set of 15 – This graphite pencil set has everything you need for your drawing projects. It includes 12 graphite pencils (8B, 7B, 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H, and 2H), a stainless steel pencil sharpener, a vinyl eraser, and a black nylon pencil bag.
Faber-Castell Goldfaber Sketching Pencils
Faber-Castell Goldfaber Sketching Pencils are quality pencils for sketching and aspiring artists at an affordable price.
These student-graphite pencils are made of finely ground clay and graphite for a smooth line.
Available in a set of 8 pencils, a plastic pencil sharpener, and an eraser. The pencils range from a 2H to a 6B.
Lyra Rembrandt Art Design Graphite Pencil Set
The Art Design graphite pencils are high-quality pencils for drawing. The consistent grading creates an accurate graphite line every time and is perfect for a designer, an artist, and used as a drafting pencil.
Lyra Rembrandt pencils are superior to breaking, which keep sharp points perfect for line drawings.
The 12 pencil set includes pencils ranging from a 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H, 2H, 3H, and 4H pencil.
Caran d’ Ache Graphite Pencils
Caran d’ Ache gets its graphite from the deepest graphite mines and has designed Graphite Line, an original concept devoted to graphite that provides artists the possibility to create their own graphite range. The water-soluble graphite and clay mixture creates a wide range of blacks suitable for beginners and professionals.
Many professionals claim that Caran d’ Ache produces the best pencils.
Staedtler Mars Lumograph Black Drawing Pencils
If you are looking for pencils that create true black marks, Staedtler Mars Lumograph Black Drawing Pencils are for you. These pencils have a high proportion of carbon for dark black lines and are cleaner to use than charcoal pencils and charcoal sticks.
If the type of art you create is with hatching or expressive sketches, these pencils should be in your art supply box.
Derwent Graphic Pencils
These pencils are created from the finest graphite from Cumberland Valley, England. The pencils range from 9B to 9H and they all create a crisp, smooth line perfect for hatching, illustrations, and tone drawing.
There might be times when you will want to use a mechanical pencil for fine lines and details.
Here are some of the top-selling mechanical pencils:
- Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Pencils
- Pentel Graph Gear 500 Pencil
- Koh-I-Noor Mephisto Profi Mechanical Pencil
Final Thoughts On Pencils For Drawing
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned artist, using the best tools for your crafts is essential for your finished product.
The pencils best for you will be determined by your artistic style and personal preference. Each brand produces a unique drawing pencil and depending on the type of work you produce will determine what art supplies will be best for you.
If you are looking for a rich deep black mark you might be interested in purchasing charcoal sticks or charcoal pencils.
Can you combine charcoal and graphite in a drawing?
Some people mix both mediums in a drawing however, charcoal is very soft and will cover most of the tooth of the paper making it more difficult to create subtle tones. If you are interested in darker lines with yr graphite drawings you might want to consider using carbon instead of charcoal sticks and charcoal pencils.