Pencil Drawing Supply Review

Updated: 01 Jul 2019

Drawing pencils

Intro

Pencil-drawing is one of the pillars of painting.

The advantage of a pencil, unlike other drawing and painting tools, is the ability to erase.

Below is a review & guide for pencil drawing supply & equipment:

Disclosure: some links in this article are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase.

Supply & equipment categories:

Drawing Pencils Types

Standard Drawing Pencils

Drawing pencils come in varying brightness values when HB is the standard value.

For example, a 3B pencil will be darker and softer than a 2B pencil.

Staedtler drawing pencils with H levels Drawing pencils with H levels
Staedtler drawing pencils with B levels Drawing pencils with B levels

The lighter grades will begin with the H values until HB and then, the B group for the dark levels.

Drawing pencils brightness values

Recommended Drawing Pencils Brands

MY TOP CHOICES:

Staedtler Mars Lumograph - Highly recommended, durable, high quality pencils suitable for ANY task. The pencil grade is clearly written on ALL sides.

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Staedtler Mars Lumograph drawing pencils Staedtler Mars Lumograph

Castell 9000 - Another top quality choice. Faber-Castell is the largest pencil manufacturer and one of the oldest.

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Faber-Castell 9000 drawing pencils Faber-Castell 9000

OTHER OPTIONS:

Mitsu-Bishi Hi-Uni - Professional drawing pencils. They are quite smooth and easy to work with. Great for shading.

Being smooth, they require frequent sharpening in order to draw fine details.

They arrive unsharpened.

Mitsu-Bishi Hi-Uni drawing pencils Mitsu-Bishi Hi-Uni

Caran d'Ache Grafwood - High quality yet pricey. Unique barrel color in accordance to the graphite grade.

Barrel is a bit thicker than regular pencils and might not fit in some sharpeners.

These pencils are very soft and therefore very gentle and in need of constant sharpening.

Caran d'Ache Grafwood drawing pencils Caran d'Ache Grafwood

Prismacolor Turquoise - Professional pencils. They are a bit darker and harder than other brands.

These pencils are best used in a gentle way since they leave noticeable marks.

They arrive unsharpened.

Prismacolor Turquoise drawing pencils Prismacolor Turquoise

Staedtler tradition - These pencils are great for drawing. Unlike the Staedtler Mars Lumograph, the size is not written on all sides of the pencil and they are not as smooth.

Staedtler tradition drawing pencils Staedtler tradition

Derwent Graphic - Good drawing pencils but quite soft and in need of constant sharpening.

Derwent Graphic drawing pencils Derwent Graphic

Thick Drawing Pencils

Thick pencils with a thick graphite bar are used for sketching or for filling large surfaces.

Faber-Castell jumbo drawing pencils Thick drawing pencils
Faber-Castell thick graphite pencils Thick graphite bar in the center

Graphite Sticks

A graphite rod or bar is a graphite stick with no wood coating.

Graphite sticks come in many shapes. Cylinder, rectangle-bar and pencil-shaped graphite rods are very common and are used for filling large areas quickly.

The degree of lightness or darkness of a graphite stick will determine the brightness value of the area it fills.

A graphite stick can be used to draw directly as with a pastel stick.

Artists who prefer not to get dirty while working can use a graphite stick coated with a thin layer of plastic.

Graphite sticks for drawing Graphite sticks

Mechanical Pencil

A mechanical pencil is a pencil that can be filled with graphite sticks that can be extended mechanically.

Mechanical pencils do not have to be sharpened.

Like a technical pen, a mechanical pencil produces lines of uniform thickness and is used, among other things, for technical drawing.

The mechanical pencil is suitable for the creation of small, precise details.

Mechanical pencil by Faber-Castell Mechanical pencil
Graphite sticks for mechanical pencils Graphite sticks for refill

Good to Know:

High quality mechanical pencils come with high quality eraser.

Due to the small size of the eraser, it can be used for creating fine and precise details such as hair.

To learn how to use mechanical pencils, visit my article on when, why and how to draw with a mechanical pencil.

Erasers for Pencil Drawing

Eraser (also called a rubber) is used for erasing AND drawing.

Certain erasers can be used to change the brightness value of a surface or to create noticeable, bright details.

Gum Eraser

Gum eraser (also vinyl or plastic) is the standard eraser and is intended to erase mistakes.

This eraser leaves debris behind and is not intended to produce precise details.

A brush can be used to clean the eraser debris from the drawing surface.

My choice: STAEDTLER Mars plastic.

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Gum, vinyl and plastic erasers Gum, vinyl & plastic erasers

Keep in mind:

A hard gum eraser, by a quality brand, will erase better. That said, it could damage the drawing paper if you are not careful.

I use the Staedtler Mars plastic eraser because it is hard and therefore, superior for erasing.

When drawing in a gentle way, a more gentle gum eraser can be used which does not damage the paper. My favorite for that is the Tombow MONO plastic eraser.

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Tombow MONO gum eraser Tombow MONO plastic eraser

Kneaded Eraser

A kneaded eraser is designed to collect particles of graphite or charcoal by absorption.

This eraser does not wear down and does not leave residue like a regular eraser.

By gentle friction of the kneaded eraser on a drawing surface or gentle taps, it can increase the brightness value ​​of a particular area.

The kneaded eraser is flexible and can be made of shapes such as a dot or line. The harder the eraser is the more accurate textures it can create.

Kneaded erasers Kneaded erasers

Eraser Pencil

The purpose for erasers in the form of pencils is to enable the creation of small and precise details.

In some brands, it is possible to sharpen the eraser with a sharpener, but it is sometimes recommended to use scissors or a knife to sharpen the eraser.

A pencil eraser with a brush is great for cleaning debris from the drawing surface.

Faber-Castell Perfection pencil erasers Pencil erasers

Tombow MONO Zero

This little refillable eraser pen can make all the difference!

The Tombow MONO Zero eraser is superior to any other type of eraser when it comes to creating fine details, especially for drawing hair.

This eraser is a lot like erasers that come with quality mechanical pencils, only much smaller and therefore more precise.

Two tip types to choose from: round and rectangular.

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Tombow mono zero pen eraser Tombow MONO Zero

How to Sharpen Pencils

Pencils can be sharpened with a regular pencil sharpener or an electric sharpener.

Another way to sharpen pencils is using a knife for a very sharp point. Knife sharpening gives better control and accuracy for some artists; it is a matter of personal preference.

Sharpening pencils with a knife takes time, create dirt and leaves wood and graphite waste in the work environment. Using a knife can lead to injury.

My favorite is a canister sharpener since it is efficient, clean and easy to use.

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Regular and canister sharpeners Regular & canister sharpeners
Utility knife for sharpening pencils Utility knife for sharpening

Paper for Pencil Drawing

There is a wide range of paper for pencil drawing that includes:

A pad of paper is a collection of individual sheets of paper that can be torn off.

The characteristics of paper:

*The roughness level of a paper indicates how well it grabs the graphite particles.

Some recommended brands:

Fabriano

Fabriano is a leading paper manufacturing company. In addition, the company is unique in that it uses renewable energy.

The company is named after the town of Fabriano, located in Italy. Fabriano is one of the first places in Europe to produce quality commercial paper, from the 13th century to the present day.

Ecological recycled paper by Fabriano Eco-recycled paper
Single paper sheets by Fabriano Single paper sheets

Winsor & Newton

Winsor & Newton is a British company that manufactures art equipment including paper for drawing and sketching.

Sketchbook is a book with smooth pages designed for drawing and sketching with pencil and used by artists as part of the creative process or for practicing.

Winsor & Newton sketchbook Sketchbook
Winsor & Newton paper sheets pad Paper sheets pad for drawing

Hahnemühle

Hahnemühle is a German paper manufacturing company and a world leader in the production of paper for inkjet printers. The company is known for the high quality of paper for drawing and sketching.

A Sketchbook with a spiral allows ripping or cutting a page for an unsuccessful sketch.

Hahnemühle sketchbook for drawing Sketchbook with a spiral
Hahnemühle paper sheets pad Hahnemühle paper pad

Arches

Arches is an established French company (1492) specializing in the production of high quality paper.

Arches paper is made of 100% cotton.

This paper is of a high quality, but also very delicate. Extensive use of an eraser can damage it.

Arches white paper sheets pad White paper pad
Arches Cream paper sheets pad Cream paper pad

Other Recommended Brands

Canson is a French company for the production of quality paper and other art related products.

Daler-Rowney is an English company producing art equipment.

Canson paper sheets pad for drawing Canson paper pads
Daler-Rowney paper sheets pad Daler-Rowney paper pad

Blending Stump

A blending stump is made of compressed paper and used for mixing or smoothing of charcoal or graphite particles.

It is an excellent tool for smoothing or filling large areas and creating transitions of brightness values.

When a gentle mixing or smoothing is needed, a soft synthetic brush can be used.

Blending Stumps in different sizes Blending stumps
A synthetic brush for smoothing drawings Soft synthetic brush

Fixative

Pencil drawing is laying particles of graphite or charcoal on paper.

Fixative is a liquid that can be sprayed on dry media artwork like pencil, charcoal or pastel, to preserve it and prevent smudging.

Fixative is toxic and flammable and should be sprayed in a well-ventilated place and kept away from the reach of children.

A thin layer or layers should be sprayed. A larger amount of liquid will cause the paper to wrinkle.

Winsor & Newton fixative Winsor & Newton fixative
Too much fixative cause wrinkles Wrinkles due to fixative

Summary

Pencil drawing is a craft that can be learned and for some artists is a solid basis for their craft.

Creating different brightness values is one of the characteristics of pencil drawing. It is advisable to use several drawing pencils with different lightness or darkness degrees.

Kneaded eraser is also used for drawing and not just for erasing. Due to its flexibility, it can be shaped in many ways to create different textures and effects.

It is recommended to use quality drawing-paper. Fixative can be sprayed on a finished drawing in order to preserve it for future generations.

Other useful resources:

Once you have some drawing supplies, it is time to start drawing.

For realism: Beginners Guide: Realistic Pencil Drawing.

Drawing depth: 15 Proven Ways to Create the Illusion of Depth.

*ALL art supplies in this article are owned & used by me.