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Pencil drawing

Pencil drawing tutorials are just a step away but be patient if you are a novice and take the time to read this brief introduction.

The following paragraphs will give you precious basic knowledge about the tools of the trade to start learning about pencil drawing.

If you are an advanced student and you think you already know everything about pencils, feel free to skip this part and go straight for the tutorials!

You might also be interested in learning more about pencils and how to choose the right one for you. In this case follow this link to this article about our most precious companion, the pencil.

The main instrument you’ll need will be a pencil. You weren’t expecting it, were you?

Yes, a pencil but not all pencils are the same and choosing the right tool to start with will dramatically impact your drawing skills and the steepness of your learning curve.

pencil techniques

A typical pencil consists of a thin stick of pigment, which can be graphite or charcoal, mixed with clay. The stick is encased in a thin wood cylinder. Clay is there to give body to the graphite and make it more resilient and less fragile.

Pencils are usually divided according to the amount of clay added to the graphite. The more the clay the harder the stick the fainter the mark.

You have probably wondered what those “HB” or “2H” or “3B” marks at the top of a pencil mean. Well, they just indicate the graphite content, hence softness, of the pencil you are holding.

Grade H stands for “hardness” and grade B stands for “blackness”. So, the higher the H grade the harder is the pencil and the higher the B grade the “blacker” will be your mark.

Is all this important to you? Yes!

Koh-i-noor offers twenty grades from 10H to 8B for its 1500 series; Derwent produces twenty grades from 9H to 9B for its Graphic pencils and Staedtler produces nineteen from 9H to 8B for its Mars Lumograph pencils.

With all these choices it might seem dounting just to grab a pencil and start your pencil drawing. Which one are you supposed to start with?


No worries! We are here to help out. This is really easy, believe me. What are the advantages and disadvantages of hard vs soft when you draw? This is the question you should ask yourself and once you know it, you’ll be able to make a conscious choice about the right pencil/s for you and your style.

Ok, let’s start! Hard pencils, say from grade H onward, give you more control on the marking, more precision. The harder the pencil (the higher the H grade) the lighter the mark. It will be easier to erase it and you won’t smudge it as easily as whit the soft pencils.

Problems are, the harder the pencil and you won’t be able to produce a rich value variation in your drawing (More on value on another age of Drawing Factory). If you use very hard pencils, say H4 to H9 you will actually leave marks on the paper very easily, I mean physical marks, grooves on the paper, very annoying. Moreover the hard pencils invite you to get lost into details, which you really do not want at the beginning of your pencil drawing.

For the soft pencils same story applies on reverse. Less control on the shape of your marks, easier to smudge around, difficult to focus on details (which might be a good thing at the beginning). However softer pencils will give you a range of dark values to play with much wider than hard pencils and won’t leave annoying marks on your drawing paper.

[quote_center]So all in all hard pencils are good for detail and light scketching while soft pencils are great for creating shadows and values and also for darker and more “artistic” sketching.[/quote_center]

When it comes to choosing a pencils a good starting point would be a couple of them: a 2H and a 2B.

The 2H is great for light sketching, particularly if you love to make a lot of marks while pencil drawing. The 2B is dark enough to add shadows and value to your drawing without loosing too much on the detail side.

I strongly suggest to start from this multipurpose couple and move your way through the possibilities offered by the other grades gradually by experimentation.

How to make the most of the pencil drawing tutorials

Now that you have had a very quick introduction to the basic tools you need to know to understand the following tutorials I’d like to briefly tell you how to benefit the most from them.

We wanted to do something slightly different from what you would normally find on the internet.

What we try to achieve with the tutorials on Drawing Factory is twofold. First, provide solid step by step tutorials if you are just interested in learning how to draw a particular subject from a particular perspective. Second, explore the internal thoughts related to drawing a particular subject. Investigate what happens in the artistic mind during the creative process.

So every step is accompanied by a description of the internal process that guided certain choices over others. I am certain this will give you a new perspective on how a pencil drawing is created and help you immensely in creating your own.

Enough words now! Let’s get drawing.

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