Sketching Pencils Guide

Posted onby admin
  1. Check out my beginner’s guide to drawing to learn the basics of drawing in just 4 weeks and covers basic pencil holding techniques, coloring, 2D and 3D shapes, perspective, figure drawing, and much more. This colored pencil guide will use some terms assuming a basic knowledge about drawing.
  2. The best way to discover which pencil is best for which situation is to experiment with them. For simple sketching, the HB pencil is probably the most popular, with artists also favoring the H and the B pencils. For preliminary sketches that will be used as a guide for a painting or illustration, the lighter 2H–4H pencils are ideal.
  3. Draw First, Add Water Later. Most artists use watercolor pencils to create a drawing and add water.

Graphite drawing pencils are essential drawing tools because they have a variety of grades and work well in all styles of drawing. This handy chart is a guide for the range of values of 16 popular graphite pencil.

Drawing with pencil is an art form that you can jump into at any age. It requires very few supplies and — honestly! — isn’t hard to learn. In fact, if you know how to hold and use a pencil (check!), you already have the basic graphite skills needed to start working with this versatile medium. Our beginner’s guide to drawing with pencil can help you with the rest.

Skeptical? Try the quickie sketching tutorial below. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make your first pencil drawing of a simple object. And once you master these basics, you’ll have the skills (and confidence) to move on to more complex subjects. Get ready to make your mark!

What You Need

There are a few tools you need to get started on your sketching journey.


David Pennington/Unsplash

Clearly! But in the art world, there’s more to choose from than the standard #2. Pencils are graded by both number and letter, with “H” being harder and “B” being softer (or blacker). Within each letter category, there are numbers denoting degrees of hardness or softness; the higher the number, the softer the pencil.

Confused? That’s okay! You don’t have to know exactly what letter/number you need, or even what you’ll be drawing, to buy pencils. Simply pick up a variety of H and B pencils (even fancy models won’t set you back much) and you’ll be covered.

What about mechanical pencils? Yes, they can be great. They never require sharpening and are terrific for line work, hatching and cross-hatching. They’re not as good as regular pencils for soft shading, though. If you’re serious about drawing with pencil, it’s a great idea to figure out what types of tip (fatter? finer?) and graphite hardness you like, and then take the leap into buying a high-quality mechanical pencil.

Pencil Sharpener

You’ll need a good one. A great choice for beginners is a manual pencil sharpener with two openings. Each will sharpen the pencil to a different type of tip, so this will give you a lot of drawing versatility.


Picsfive/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Erasers aren’t just for do-overs and clean-ups. They can also used for shading and special effects. Even if your pencil has an eraser on the end, it will be worn down in no time. A soft gum eraser or a “big pink” eraser (like the eraser on the end of a pencil but larger) are both great, low-cost choices.


If you’re just getting started with pencil drawing, you probably don’t want to be using expensive paper from the get-go. You’ll want to invest in two types of paper: sketch paper, which is cheap and ideal for testing out ideas and refining techniques; and higher-quality archival drawing paper , which is thicker and has a gentle “tooth” that’s ideal for graphite, for when you’re ready to work on a final piece. You can even transfer the sketches you’d like to develop into finished pieces onto good paper using transfer paper.

Drawing with Pencil in Four Easy Steps

Apply the basics of this tutorial in all your drawing endeavors.

1. Choose a Reference Image

If you’re just getting started, a photograph is a great reference choice because it won’t move or change on you as you work. Go with something basic like a flower or simple object. In this example, we’ll use a donut.

2. Make an Outline

What Are The Best Pencils For Sketching

Draw the basic shape of your object, but don’t worry about realism here. It’s okay to take some liberties.

3. Add Tones and Textures

Once you’re happy with your basic sketch, you can start filling in and refining your drawing. Evaluate your reference image for distinct textures to convey in your drawing. In the case of the donut, the “cake” part has a slightly uneven texture. You could start by filling in that area using small light circular motions (known as scumbling).

To add some definition, darken the scumbling around the edges or add hatching (linear lines) or cross-hatching (crisscrossing lines) to portions of the radius of the donut that correspond with the darker portions of the reference image.

4. Refine Your Drawing

Finesse your drawing by using various pencil marks to shade and highlight certain areas. Using a variety of tones will suggest color even in a black-and-white piece. Start slow (you can always make an image darker, but making it lighter is more difficult) and pause every now and again to look at your image from a distance. It will help you determine what areas need more shading.

Pencil Number Guide

You can take the drawing as far as you’d like from this point, working it into a highly detailed work or leaving it more loose. Follow your intuition and make the drawing your own!


Photos via Unicorn Love unless otherwise noted

Learn More Now

Get more must-know tips from a pro and complete four projects step-by-step in our class Startup Library: Learn to Draw.

Sketching Pencils Guide For Beginners

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?

Sketching Pencils Guide

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.

Image Reference:

Sketching Pencils Guide Pdf

Make It Yourself