What Do I Need to Start Drawing with Pencil

Although there are a variety of media and implements we can use to draw such a pen, chalk, graphite and charcoal - just to name a few, it is true that pencil still remains as the most familiar and easier to use; the complication comes when deciding which pencil to use to achieve a specific effect; the diversity of pencils could be daunting for any beginner but practice will give you the experience you need to identify the materials and equipment you feel more comfortable with. In the meantime, use whatever you have to hand to draw and read the article to understand a bit more about the pencil as a drawing instrument.


Learn How to Draw - Tips on how improve your drawingCredit: Daniel M Ramirez

Drawing Pencils Explained

The versatility and universality of the humble pencil makes it as the number one drawing tool for any new beginner and the majority of professionals. The quality of the pencils varies from the very poor to the highest quality one. Pencils are graded according to the softness or hardness of the graphite; also, each one of them produces a very different tonal range that has fascinated people from decades. It is important to note that B stands for Blackness (Softness) and H for Hardest (Lighter than B).


  • Hard pencils: they range from 9H to H. The hardest  is 9H and start increasing in tonal range in order (e.g.: 8H, 7H, etc.;), the “less” hard is Pencil H.


  • Soft Pencils: they range from 9B to B. The softest  is 9B and start decreasing in tonal range in order (e.g.: 8B, 7B, etc.;) the less darker of this range is B


Pencil Grading Chart - how to draw with pencils

Still confused? In simple terms: 9B is the darker and 9H is the lighter. Since you have an artist mind I have included a grading chart to make it simple to understand.  Once you have a look at the chart, you should take into account that the standard wiring pencil is the HB; from there you can start working to figure out the tonal effect you want in your drawings; but Barrington Barber, one of the best Artist recommends in his book The Complete Book of Drawing  that “You should have at least three degrees of blackness, such as an HB (average hardness and blackness), 2B (soft and black) and 4B (very soft and black)”.


 The Best Draw Pencil Set

Drawing of Seura's picture Sunday afternoon on the island of la Grande-Jatte by Barrington BarberCredit: Barrington BarberA couple of years ago, when I decided to continue drawing again (after a three years break), I browsed through the various drawing pencils in Amazon and came across with the Pro Art 18-Piece Sketch/Draw Pencil Set; at that time the product had 6 reviews with an average rate of 4 but I am glad to see that after such a long time, it has 25 reviews and an average rate of 4.5 out of 5. It is indeed the best set for any beginner of anyone with more experience as it offers exactly what you need to draw, plus the quality of the products are just fantastic; however, make sure to read the reviews and make sure that the product you buy is exactly what you need.