What Pencil is Best for Drawing?

Which Pencil should you choose? Amylee can help!

You want to start drawing? Or just creating black and white on a piece of paper? You may have some questions about materials to use as pencils look all the same, but we’ll see they are not in the below article.

1 / Details about pencil

The pencil is a thin graphite rod contained in a sheath of wood, which is used to write and draw. The pencil also called the “lead” is composed primarily of clay and graphite.


The hardness of lead differs depending on the mixture used. A soft lead contains more graphite and less clay, and is called bold. The more the clay content used in the lead, the dryer the pencil lead will be. For convenience, the hardness of the lead is indicated by a number, which ranges from 1 to 9. The higher the number is, the softer or the bolder the lead is (with H or B grades).

3 grades coexist in graphite pencils : H, HB, B. It depends on results you want to get. There’s choice for everyone!


1 / H Grades

  • H = HARD
  • European Grading System : 10H- 9H – 8H – 7H – 6H – 5H – 4H – 3H – 2H – H
  • Quality: dry lead, hard, smudge-resistant, cleaner lines
  • Colours: light gray to medium gray
  • Use: light and pale sketches, construction lines, perspective, drawings, preparatory studies, clear details, technical drawings, even watercolours
  • Disadvantage: lack of darkness, tend to scratch paper
  • Erase: white eraser
  • Favourites of architects and industrial technicians
  • Shop by brand: Koh-I-NoorFaber-Castell

Pencil sketching from a painting by Luciano Ventrone

2 / F and HB Grades

  • F = Fine point and HB = Hard Bold
  • Colours: medium gray
  • Quality: Normal mine, medium, medium dry and oily
  • Use: to write and take notes for quick sketches, for drawing instruments (ruler, compass, etc.)
  • Erase: white eraser
  • Favourites of schoolchildren, students, illustrators, designers
  • Shop by Brand : StaedtlerConté

3 / B Grades

  • European Grading System: B – 2B – 3B – 4B – 5B -6B – 7B – 8B – 9B -10B
  • Colours: dark grey to black
  • Quality: smooth lead, bold like butter
  • Erase: Kneadable Eraser
  • Use: freehand drawing, shadows, volumes, gradations, dark details and heavy lines, allows all artistic expressions, are working with or without fading
  • Disadvantage: very messy dust deposit. The mine wears quickly out. Intense black sometimes leaves marks after the use of the eraser.
  • Favourites of caricaturists, portraitists, art designers
  • Shop by Brand: FilaGerstaecker

Sketching pencil from photograph by Andre de Dienes


4 / basic material:

• the paper

-Smooth paper for drawing precise, detailed, and meticulous drawings with high definition.

-Textured Paper: sketch artist with richly textured gestures.

I work on smooth paper 80gsm for preparatory work and a thicker paper grain for advanced drawings and final compositions.

-Paper Size: I prefer to draw on the large size (65×50) or A3. I reserve the A4 for my little corner table doodle.

-Colour of the paper: white, beige or grey paper if you want to add white pencil


CLAIREFONTAINE Drawing – CANSON Bristol Board – CANSON Sketching Paper


* * * * *

  • 1 pencil SHARPENER or 1 CUTTER for those who appreciate a long pencil tip.
  • SPRAY FIXATIVE. Once the work is finished, spray the entire composition so that the black pencil work retains its intensity.
  • 1 DRAWING BOARD. A tilted board to avoid distortions
  • CRYSTAL PAPER SHEETS to protect the drawing and avoid problems in storage
  • and above all else, a brain full of ideas

The content for this post was provided by professional artist, Amylee. You can visit her blog here www.amylee.fr and her portfolio.

Find more information on the products in the website GreatArt Online and follow us on:

See all our products in our new art supply shop in London Shoreditch :

Your opinion is important !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nineteen − 9 =