Choosing Drawing Pencils (Or Just One!)
The decision you need to make is whether to use a set of drawing pencils, or to just use one versatile pencil.
To help you decide I will run through the pro’s and con’s of both.
Using One Versatile Pencil
I have started with the one pencil option because it is my personal preference.
I use a Pentel (R) Sharp Automatic Drafting Pencil, 0.5 mm, Black P205
for all my drawing filled with a 2B lead ( I run through lead gradients in Step 1: Shading Techniques With Pencil).
What I like about using the one gradient consistently is that it gives me more control over the tones and blending. I know exactly where I stand throughout the drawing, and can pretty much predict how a particular technique will turn out before I apply it.
It is also more practical and efficient to use the mechanical pencil because I will never have to replace it, sharpen it or carry around a set. I just replace the lead!
It is the cheapest option. A pencil like mine costs less than £3, plus the lead which can be found for pennies. Many stationery shops sell them on the high street, as well as online.
What I don’t like about using the one gradient consistently is I sometimes feel a little boxed in and without a range of other tones, which often leads to me matching shades up hence adding more lead to the paper which can sometimes make my drawings appear darker than I wished.
I also tend to fuss over my drawing near the end since I am constantly holding the pencil. This can lead me to overdo the work, and cluttering my portrait.
Where To Buy
Available in stationery shops on the high street.
Available online; the one on the right is very similar to mine and costs less than £2 from AbbeyShake in the Amazon Marketplace.
- Pack 24 2B 0.5mm Pencil Refill Leads New
( I use 2B 0.5mm- the width needs to match the pencil )
Using A Pencil Set
When I started taking pencil drawing seriously as a teen, I purchased a pencil set to get me started.
What I liked about using the pencil set was the freedom I had to experiment and try different textures and strokes out.
Blending different tones together was harder, but could still yield great results and the range I had to play with was great.
They are also not bad value compared to mechanical pencils, and a set can cost only a little more; meaning 8 or 12 pencils for a little more the price of one!
If you are leaning more towards a set, then make sure you get more B gradients included than H. In fact, the more B gradients the better. I explain why in Step 1: Shading Techniques With Pencil.
What I didn’t like about using a pencil set was the freedom!
Yeah, I know I said I liked that a minute ago but what I mean is the freedom of all these different gradients when I started was pretty overwhelming before experimenting. Not knowing when to use which pencil was a constant bother to me!
I also didn’t like picking up and putting down, picking up and putting down and so on… I just wanted to get on with my drawing! Having to constantly check which gradient I was picking up really broke my concentration and frustrated me.
Having to constantly sharpen the pencils, carrying around a tin and having to replace the set every year was also a pain!
Where To Buy
Arts & Crafts shops on the high street.
Be careful selecting cheap over quality, such as the ‘toy’ sets found in markets!
Online at the Amazon Marketplace.
The set to the right is a great set because the gradients are soft; always choose soft over hard for pencil drawing.
- Pencil Sharpener
What Else Do I Need?
Once you have your paper and pencils sorted, then we can go to More Drawing Tools and have a look at what else you may need to get started in pencil drawing.