Art Materials and Tools: Drawing – Pencils
Drawing is probably the most immediate of all art forms. It allows you to put down your observations instantly. In addition, all you really need to draw is a pencil and a sheet of paper (even a napkin will do).
Unfortunately, drawing is also one of the more demanding art forms and it takes a lot of practice to become really good at it. However, drawing is a real basic art form, i.e., it is a prerequisite to learning many other art forms such as painting and sculpting.
Above all, drawing is an excellent vehicle for learning to see the world as it “really” is. It is a way to overcome the often greatly simplified memories of everyday objects we have stored in our brains since childhood.
Finally, drawing also allows you to put your own interpretation on your observations and ultimately lets you produce your very own art.
In this article we will discuss the various pencils used by the professional artist.
1. Graphite Pencils
Graphite pencils are the most direct and simplest of drawing tools. They are made from graphite and come in grades from very hard to very soft:
9H 8H … 2H H F HB B 2B 3B … 8B 9B
The F-pencil is somewhat of an odd duck in the series. It produces a fairly fine line and is often used to draw hair. The HB-pencil separates the hard pencils from the soft ones. In practice, you do not really ever use all 22 grades. I personally use mostly a 3B, a 5B, a 9B, and an F. For really fine lines I sometimes use a 2H pencil. But this is more of a personal preference and you should make your own choices.
Pencils do not cost much, so buy the best you can find. It is more than worth it. A good graphite pencil currently cost about a dollar.
2. Graphite Sticks
Graphite is also available in sticks. These sticks are usually wrapped in a plastic film. They are graded just like ordinary graphite pencils as we explained in Section 1. They are ideal for large-scale projects. They are also inexpensive so don’t be stingy and buy the best.
3. Colored Pencils
Colored pencils cannot be blended and must be built up in layers. Blending is achieved by putting one transparent layer of color on top of another. This way it is possible to obtain very interesting optical effects. Colored pencil art has made great strides in the last twenty or so years. Great pieces of art have been produced with colored pencils. Today, colored pencil art is very well respected and many artists specialize in creating very detailed and intricate drawings.
4. Water-soluble Pencils
This is the latest variety of pencil to come along. Water-soluble pencils provide a valid alternative to watercolors. The pencil marks turn into a watercolor-like wash when they are brought in contact with water. This wash can then be manipulated with a paint brush.
These four types of pencils are the most basic and have been used by most drawing artists. Of course, pencils are not the only tools that can be used to draw. Other drawing materials and tools will be discussed in future articles.
Remi Engels, Ph.D., is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter. He is also the author of a popular Pencil Portrait Drawing Course. Get Your Free copy here: Remi’s Pencil Portrait Drawing Course while supplies last.
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