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Drawing tools:- Pencils And Pencil grades explained

Pencils come in a verity of grades & hardness degrees. Pencil grades range from soft and easily smeared graphite(the gray matter inside the pencil) to hard and obviously hard to smear ones.

Click here to check pencils with various grades in Amazon.

HB-Pencil grades
2 pencils with pencil grades of HB.
If you ever wondered what the HB or 2H labels on your pencil mean. These are the indicators of the pencil grade. The following diagram summarizes the whole thing, which I will explain next:-
Pencil Grades diagram
Pencil Grades vary from soft and easily to smear lead to soft and more black ones
  • The H stands for “Hard” and B stands for “Black”
  • The F in the middle stands for “Fine” or “Firm”, and it can be sharpened easily to to make a finer tip, It is between the H & HB. this kind of pencils is good for writing.
  • The harder the pencils is(the more H grade is has) the easier for it to smudge, which is often exploited to make shading effects and so.
  • And as the Pencil Wikipedia article states:- Pencils brands like Koh-i-noor offers twenty pencil grades from 10H to 8B for its 1500 series; Mitsubishi Pencil offers twenty-two pencil grades from 10H to 10B for its Hi-uni range; Derwent produces twenty pencil grades from 9H to 9B for its graphic pencils and Staedtler produces sixteen from 6H to 8B for its Mars Lumograph pencils.
  • There are other grading scales used in other countries, and they mostly grade pencils the same way(by hard or black). In truth, there is no real worldwide standard for pencils, and as stated above, many pencils manufactures have their own grading scales(thanks again Wikipedia).
  • HB is the standard school used in the US.
  • Because the B pencils are softer, they need to be sharpened more than the H pencils.

What Kind Of Pencil grades To Pick?

  • Use harder pencils if you are find yourself press the pencil hard on the paper, though I advise you to ease up your lines so you could control your lines better. The best practice is to have more than one pencil, having at least one B, one H, and an HB pencil can help you achieve a wide variety of fray values, preferably with no more grade than 4 . You can achieve the more blackness by pressing your pencil more, which mean you can get away by using one pencil at times.
  • You can use anything you want if you are just starting out for sketching, and then try out other pencil grades yourself.
  • Feel free to only use what I am saying here a a starting point, and do your own experiments with pencils to find out what you think works the best for you :)

Where Do mechanical Pencils Come Here?

I have wondered for a while how much hard mechanical pencils lead are, in order to compare then with the pencil grades explained above, I eve made a research on the web to find out the answer, but with no avail. mechanical pencils leads is measured by thickness, and range from 0.2mm to 5.6mm. There is no grading system for them as far as I know. This is the kind of pencils I use most of the time for my own drawings.
Update:- It turns out that mechanical pencils has pencil grades as well.
Mechanical pencils have few advantages above normal pencils, some of them are:-
  • No need to sharpen them which makes them a great choice for lazy people like me :)
  • They also don’t become shorter over time.
  • You can always make then or thick lines by just rotating the pencil while drawing.
  • They look so stylish, the one I use looks close to this one, isn’t it beautiful? :3
  • They can prevent you from pressing too hard on paper, because if you did, they break. I always extend the lead of my mechanical pencil(which uses 0.5mm lead by the way) when I draw hard-to-draw lines so that I won’t press too hard and make hard-to-erase lines(keep in mind that this trick won’t work on mechanical pencils with thicker lead, like 0.9mm).

Of course, mechanical pencils have few disadvantages, which can make less ideal for you:-

  • Depending on the one you use, they can feel heavier than normal pencils
  • They tend to cost more than normal pencils

Click here to check pencils with various grades in Amazon.


See Also

I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible.

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