Drawing Pencils: Best drawing pencils for making art

Choose the right drawing pencils to fill your sketchbook with.

As an artist, it’s impossible to not use drawing pencils.

Whether you enjoy spending time to draw animals or prefer urban sketching, a good quality drawing pencil is essential to any artist’s toolkit.

There are some basic considerations if you're thinking about using more drawing pencils. In fact, if you're like most artists, you'll probably grow a collection of different drawing pencils depending on the type of drawing you're making.

Discovering the right drawing pencils to fill your sketchbooks can be a challenge. Essentially, if comes down to your own preferences. After you get used to a particular drawing pencil brand, you'll probably start mixing and matching a variety of pencils anyways.

In this article, I'm going to mostly recommend are pencil sets. This allows you to gain a better understanding of what each brand offers. However, each drawing pencil brand will also sell their pencils individually once you need to restock.

Selecting the Best Drawing Pencils

When you're cruising the internet or art store in search of the perfect drawing pencils, think about what drawing techniques you favor. Look at your existing work or think forward to what drawing styles you would like to try. For example, a more rendered and realistic drawing style with a lot of shading will require different drawing pencils.

Also, think about how you draw. Do you lay down heavy lines? Do you tend to draw more lightly? Taking into consideration your drawing style will help you select appropriate drawing pencils.

Remember, it's okay to use all sorts of pencils.


Understanding grades of drawing pencils

After you understand what type of drawing pencils you need for your art, you need to understand the different grades of graphite pencils.

Yes, I know everyone refers to pencils as having “lead”. But they don't. In fact, graphite drawing pencils have a mixture of both clay and graphite. It's these components that allow for smooth lines. However, graphite pencils create a variety of lines. Which is up to how much clay there is. For example, the more clay there is in a drawing pencil, the harder the pencil. Which means the lighter the lines will be.

Most pencil manufacturers use the HB scale. Meaning, “H” stands for hardness and “B” for blackness.

The HB scale ranges from 9H, a hard pencil makes lighter lines. To a 9B which is softer with more graphite, producing darker lines.

It’s easy to mix and match different pencils once you understand the type of lines the pencils produce.

Best Drawing Pencils

Derwent Medium Graphic Drawing Pencils (Set of 12)

Derwent Graphic Drawing Pencils

Sturdy Precision 
With a hexagonal barrel, you gain greater precision for drawings. Hard (H) degrees have a 2.2 mm core for sharp lines. Black (B) soft degrees use a 3.5mm core for softer lines.

Broad Range
Derwent offers a comprehensive range of 20 degrees to help achieve your vision. This set contains 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H, 2H, 3H and 4H.

Versatile Execution
Our wide range lets you choose a pencil that fits your artistic concept. Whether used for blending, illustrations or shading, our pencils will help express your vision.

Strong Core
The core sharpens to a fine, long-lasting point, great for emphasizing even the smallest details. The fine point allows for professional-level precision on your most intricate images.

For best results, combine with other Derwent products, such as Derwent Canvas Pencil Wrap, Derwent Sketching Paper Pads, Derwent Pencil Sharpener and Derwent Battery Operated Eraser.

Prismacolor – Premier Turquoise Soft Grade Graphite Pencils

Prismacolor premier drawing pencils

Prismacolor’s graphite pencils are a great starter set. Perfect for learning how to sketch. It comes with 12 graphite drawing pencils of a variety of grades. These are durable, allowing you to experiment with a variety of light and darknesses. A great drawing pencil set to start sketching seriously.

Staedtler Mars Lumograph Pencil Set (Set of 12)

Staedtler premium quality drawing pencils

A lot of artists only use Staedtler’s range of drawing pencils. The Mars Lumograph drawing pencils are known for their lack of breakage. Making them great for sketching on the go. They also don't leave any trace after erasing. No stray smudges left behind!

This set offers 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H, 2H, 3H, 4H drawing pencils. Which is pretty much all you'll ever need.

Lyra Rembrandt Art Design Pencils (Set of 12)

LYRA Rembrandt drawing pencils

Lyra Art drawing pencils are of great value. Offering strong graphite perfect for more highly detailed drawings. This set offers no shortage of shading and rendering possibilities.

These are high-quality graphite drawing pencils that are smooth and easy to blend.

Faber-Castell 9000 Graphite Sketch Pencil Art Set (Set of 12)

Faber Castell 9000 graphite best drawing pencils

Faber-Castell is a German brand with a reputation for producing high-quality art supplies. The brand makes sets with a variety of grades included in a set. Or you can purchase single packs of pencils in each grade.

Known for their consistency and durability. Meaning, they sharpen easily and don’t often break. Plus, Faber-Castell’s tin makes the pencils highly portable. Therefore, an artist's favorite. No matter the style or skill level.

Tombow Mono Professional Drawing Pencils (Set of 12)

Tombow drawing pencils

Japanese manufacturer Tombow is known for its high-density pencils.

These pencils sharpen easily and the point stays longer.

I use these when I'm working on 2D traditional animation.

These also create a darker line and is smudge-proof.

Basically, the dark lines of the Tombow feel like ink. The Tombows come in 2B, B, and HB.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Pencil

Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Drawing Pencils

In conclusion, if you're looking to make smaller, more detailed drawings, I would experiment with mechanical drawing pencils.

This Pentel pencil is the one I settled on after trying a bunch of other options. Essentially, it feels like quality in your hand. I especially love using this when I'm drawing in Moleskine sketchbooks.

You're able to purchase these in different thicknesses. You can also get the lead in different levels of hardness and softness.

In conclusion, the drawing pencils you use in your art are up to you. Having great drawing tools will help make your easy drawing ideas come to life.

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