The Best Materials For Creating Pencil Drawings
By: Kelli Swan
I often receive emails posing the question "What kind of pencils do you use?" Many emerging artists have tremendous talent. They know the time and energy that goes into a detailed drawing, and they want to use the best materials possible.
My answer to this question surprises some. For the most part, I use ordinary pencils purchased from an office supply store. I like the mechanical pencils, as the leads are quite thin and thus give me a sharp point without wasting hours sharpening (and making a corresponding mess!) The mechanical pencils are available in several thicknesses too.
Most mechanical pencils come with HB leads. I do 90% of my drawing with this softness of graphite. Then, I use artist pencils in the B to 6B range to "punch out" the darkest areas of my drawing.
One of the hallmarks of my pencil drawings is the wide range of grayscale tones, including very dark (nearly black) shadows. Believe it or not, achieving these rich dark areas has as much to do with the paper used as it does with the softness of the pencil lead.
Tonal depth in a pencil drawing depends upon using the highest quality paper available. It is always preferable to use an acid-free or archival paper, otherwise the drawing will start turning yellow and possibly look faded over time. My personal preference is Strathmore 500 drawing paper.
The Strathmore 500 paper comes in two different finishes: a very smooth plate finish and a vellum finish which has a slight texture. I like the plate finish for mechanical drawings and those images that require more technical precision. The vellum finish works very well for landscapes and animal portraits, as the texture of the paper enhances fur and other natural textures. Try it out yourself - create a small rending on an ordinary piece of drawing paper, and then create a similar drawing on a high-quality, acid-free sheet. You will notice how much easier it is to a wide range of tones and textures with the higher quality paper.
Top quality paper tends to be expensive, though it is a small price to pay when one considers the time and inspiration that goes into a pencil drawing!
About the Author:
Artist and Graphic Designer Kelli Swan: Pencil Drawings of Horses and Dogs and Virtual Graphic Design and eMarketing.
Art Supplies I use for Realistic Pencil Drawing
For other articles and videos on this topic, please follow the links below:
You can go beyond a simple sketch with graphite and use it even in a painterly way. Derek Wicks describes his technique on how he uses graphite wash in his drawings.
Drawing pencils come in various grades from hard to soft. You can also choose between graphite, charcoal and carbon pencils for your drawings.
Collecting art supplies can be a lot of fun. There is a variety of mediums to choose from and a variety of accessories that go with that medium. Here are some for drawing.
Graphite drawing is as basic for an artist as it can be, but true graphite art is less common that perhaps it should be. Here is some help to take your drawings to the next level.
Art materials are not cheap, even if most people think of artists as "starving artists," but the use of good quality materials is practically a necessity if you are really going to create your best artwork.
When you look at work from other artists, you spend time looking for the most basic mark: a brush stroke, a pen line, a smudge. You learn from the basic techniques.
As an architectural student, one of my first frustrations was that of trying to understand how graphite lead was graded. Here is a simple article discussing the topic.
Choosing paper can be challenging. When you go to the art supply store, the variety seems overwhelming because you want to try them all.
Here is a bit of the history of graphite and the use of the term "lead," plus other information about the pencil.
When I draw with a pen, I want the pen to glide on the paper, but when I draw in pencil, I want the paper to offer some resistance, to have "tooth."
Some artists prefer line, others like shades. One of the best ways to obtain shade gradation in graphite is through the use of stumps.
I have, through the years, raided my artwork. I gave it away, tried to burn it, or simple tore it up or threw it away. Overworking your artwork is a disaster.
In architecture is easy to decide where to use the harder lead in your drawings, but an artist has to choose with a lot more freedom.