What Are The Best Pencils For Drawing?

What Are The Best Pencils For Drawing?

September 2, 2021

By Jedida Okonkwo
Every artist can choose from a long list of pencils. And it can be quite infuriating when you have to select a particular pencil to reproduce an image and not know which to pick. In this post, we’ll be looking to clear up all of the confusion on drawing pencils. It’ll also let you know which pencils are meant for drawing and sketching. In addition, you’ll also find out how to use each pencil and realize that there is no need to purchase colossal pencil packs or tins – only a few individual pencils would be fine. 

Each section of the article provides critical details that will help artists decide when selecting pencils. If you want to know the best pencils for drawing, continue reading. 

What Are The Types Of Drawing Pencils That We Have Today?

Without any doubt, most of us have seen and used a pencil at least once. But did you know the type of pencil that it was? Let’s find out. 

Wood pencil fills are referred to as lead, but they are a mix of graphite and clay. Pencils that produce darker lines contain more graphite, while harder pencils are filled with more clay.

Don’t get confused when you see names such as carbon pencils, water-soluble graphite pencils, or charcoal pencils. They only describe the type of material used in making some of these pencil types. 

The range of sketching and drawing pencils that we have extended from 9B to 9H and F. They include; 9B, 8B, 7B, 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, HB, H, 2H, 3H, 4H, 5H, 6H, 7H, 8H, 9H, and F. 

How Are Pencils Graded?

The letter ‘H’ represents Hard, ‘B’ represents Black and ‘F’ stands for fine. 

H Pencils

H Pencils have hard lead (containing more clay and less graphite) and can remain sharp for an extended period. They don’t stain the paper with much graphite and produce light or pale drawings. 

Due to the hard nature of the pencil’s lead, they dig into the paper surface and can be difficult to rub out. Their tips are so hard that even when the artist removes the graphite from paper, there will be ugly impressions and indentations left on its surface. These types of pencils are usually not the best choice for drawing. We have H, 2H, 3H, 4H, 5H, 6H, 7H, 8H, and 9H pencils. 

B Pencil

B pencils are softer (containing more graphite, less clay) and tend to get blunt quickly. This is because when you draw with them, they leave behind a lot of graphite on the paper surface. These types of pencils are great for dark drawings or sketches. Artists don’t have to press hard to leave a mark which eliminates the ugly indentations caused by H pencils. 

Rubbing off the lines or marks made with these types of pencils is easier because the graphite tends to only sit on the surface and comes off quickly. These are the best pencils for drawing and sketching. We have 9B, 8B, 7B, 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, and 2B pencils. 

F Pencils

F pencils are those with extraordinarily hard lead, and you would hardly even find them in pencil sets. 

HB Pencils

These types of pencils sit at the midway of both major pencil types, H and B. These types of pencils are commonly used in schools and offices.

What Do The Numbers Mean?

The number added to the pencil type is used to indicate the hardness or softness of the pencil within that particular range.

H pencils: The 9H pencil is the hardest, while H pencils are the softest H range. 

B pencils: The 9B pencils are the softest while the B is the hardest within the B range. 

This means that pencil hardness travels from soft on the left to hard on the right, i.e., from 9B to 9H and F.

This is a long list of pencils, and you don’t have to use each of them for some basic tasks of drawing and sketching. The truth is that you can even ignore a good number of them and focus on a few that are perfect for you. 

What Are The Best Types Of Pencil For Drawing?


Most people tend to have a 2B or 4B pencil in their possession. Many people love this type of pencil because of the amount of freedom it affords the user. 2B is softer than an average pencil and offers the artist more leeway to do what they want with the image. People who want to sketch prefer softer pencils every day because they provide a dark, smooth result on images. 

This pencil is ideal for blocking, sketching, and planning the main areas of the image or the tone. It creates a clear, high-quality line that can easily be smudged and erased. It’s hard enough to sharpen to a pointed tip and highlight the details in the image and create a sharp contrast with softer areas. 


These pencils help make very light lines on drawing paper. It can be an excellent idea for preparatory images because it does not leave too much graphite on the page that could stain anything you plan to put on the page. It has a limited tone/shading, but it’s a good choice for beginners unsure of what to draw. 


These pencils are an excellent choice for adding a darker tone/shading to your drawing, and you can use them to bring your drawing to life because of their contrasting capabilities. The pencil has an excellent shading capability and produces a lovely rich dark grey tone. 


9B pencils get used up quickly because their lead is quite soft. Remember that soft pencils are made up of more graphite and need to be sharpened often. This pencil will give you a very dark shade, a beautiful smudge, and a dark blend. Just take care when using it because if it’s overused, the pencil will result in a lack of sharpness and definition. 

Who Are The Best Pencil Manufacturers?

The manufacturers that you have access to depend on your budget. However, the quality of the pencils you buy would determine the quality of the final image that you produce. 

The best manufacturers for making pencils include: 

  • Rembrandt
  • Derwent Graphite
  • Faber Castell
  • Staedtler Mars Lumograph
  • Caran d’Ache graphite

The best choice of pencils for any artist isn’t from any particular manufacturer. It’s a great idea to try out a combination of pencils from different manufacturers. 

Do Beginners Need Expensive Pencils?

You might be a beginner, but that doesn’t mean you have to use cheap pencils. The quality of your pencils would affect the quality of the image that you produce. Low-quality materials end up frustrating the user and could cause you to abandon your newfound hobby. Cheap tools will limit your capacity to take on different projects. Using quality pencils as a beginner would provide you with a good foundation and encourage you to draw. 

The best advice for beginners is to purchase the best quality they can afford. It’s better to buy a few quality pencils than a set of low-quality cheap ones – most of which you will end up realizing that you don’t need.

Tone, Lines, Shades, and Smudge Factor of Pencils

Tones and Shades

Different pencils are designed to produce a variety of tones. These tones and shade differences are usually unmistakable when you use different pencils to create a single image. 

Line Quality

The line quality of a pencil depends on the combination of a pencil manufacturer and type of paper. There are too many variations to mention it all. You would need some time and numerous experiments to get it right. 

The Smudge Factor

This is a good quality that you should take advantage of, and it’s found in pencils with lots of graphite. Smudging with your finger can achieve fantastic results in transforming your image. This factor greatly depends on the type of pencil and paper in question. You can smudge the 9B pencil a lot because it leaves a lot of graphite residue on the paper surface, while You can smudge HB pencils the least. 


Every artist knows that there are thousands of pencils to choose from to help you achieve an outstanding final result. The best type of pencils for drawing include HB, 2B, 6B, and 9B. The other types of pencils are equally impressive and can be used for various artistic applications.