The Best Materials For Creating Pencil Drawings

By: Kelli Swan

The Best Materials For Creating Pencil Drawings

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



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