I enjoy using graphite pencil as, like color pencils, it is a drawing art form.
Pencil drawings basics – learning and practicing the various shading and textural methods is a must. Also understanding the differences between the hard and soft leads and their effects are a necessity.
These are skills every artist needs and are the foundation on which to grow and expand your methods and personal style.
Graphite is probably the most common drawing medium that there is. Most graphite drawings are simply called pencil drawings, as graphite is almost always used in the form of a “pencil” – but the term “graphite drawing” is a more accurate description.
Pencil Drawings Basics: Techniques
Graphite drawing techniques are virtually endless.
It all comes down to the personal techniques and preferences of the artist as to how the pencil is used and what effects are created. Color pencil drawing techniques apply the same principles – just in color.
What is important is the quality of the pencil that you use for your drawings.
This does affect the quality of your artwork.
Drawings and Sketches in Pencil
With graphite, you are essentially creating a drawing in various shades of grey. Therefore you need to concentrate on the highlights and shadows to achieve an interesting image.
There is a grading scale for graphite pencils which you should become acquainted with.
Pencil drawings basics requires you to know your pencils. Practice is the only teacher for this.
Use the harder graphic pencils, which stay sharp, for details and very fine work, using HB for mid tones, H for highlights and the soft B for darker tones.
With this full set of grades of lead, you will achieve a wide range of tones in your drawing from very light to very dark. However, achieving a true black is difficult with lead pencils as when the paper is saturated with graphite, it tends to shine.
I use watercolor paper to do my drawings as I enjoy the slight texture it provides and it has a good weight to it (bond paper is too thin).
Alternatives to the traditional graphite artists pencils.
There are graphite sticks and woodless pencils.
The sticks come in different widths and grades and allow you to use the sides of the medium to achieve wide blocks of graphite across the paper in one movement.
Graphite Stick Pencils are made up of solid sticks of graphite producing thicker and bolder lines. They allow you to block in shadows and dark tones quickly in a large space. Great for people who like working on large pieces and doing big, bold work.
The woodless pencils are a personal choice and have a heavier weight in the hand. Essentially it is pure lead you are holding, so be careful not to drop them.
Again – as with pastels – the drawing needs to be framed under glass for protection and longevity.
Best Pencils for Drawing
I love working with Graphite Pencils – they are very convenient as I can work with them anywhere – inside or outside – with ease, as well as put them down and pick them up at a drop of a hat. Very convenient when fitting a quick art session in between other commitments!
Professional drawing pencils are a must when choosing a set or individual pencils to work with. They impact on your work and make for a better finished artwork.
I am currently working with a set of Cretacolor Artist Studio Graphite Pencils which is a set of 12. They are easy to sharpen and have a high breaking strength.
There is nothing worse than pencils that break every time you sharpen them. It is time-consuming, a waste of good lead and frustrating too. This set has a good range of grades including 6B – 4B – 3B – 2B – B – 2x HB – F – H -2H – 3H and 4H.
I have found these meet my requirements more than adequately.
Blending Graphite Pencil
When blending pencil on the paper, I tend to use my finger for convenience and for larger areas. This is solely as it is literally “to hand”.
If doing lots of blending I place a soft piece of tissue over my finger sometimes, this I can change if it gets too dirty.
If you prefer a proper tool and also something smaller to get into the finer areas of your work a paper blending stump or tortillion is perfect. These look like a pencil, are made from paper and you can sharpen them as per a pencil and come in different thicknesses.
Another pencil drawings basics requirement is your paper knowledge.
I use a wide range of watercolor paper for my drawings – part of the enjoyment is choosing a paper with a different tooth and pattern to suit the subject matter I am working on.
I would, however, advise you to use a good quality paper from a reputable brand name. A good weight is 300gsm/140lb which is what I tend to use.
But be adventurous with your paper – I also use pastel paper as there is a wide range of colors and tones to choose from and these create a different mood to your drawing too.
Even craft paper, which has an unending variety to choose from, is suitable depending on what effects and subject matter you are working on.