Ok i just bought a pencil case with several different types of pencils but i have no idea what to use each one for lol.
I use HB the most for quick sketches but find it weird when drawing eyelashes or eyes in great detail. These are the pencils i have
4H, 2H, H, HB, F, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 8B
i know HB is good for quick sketches but what about the rest? i got a book but it doesnt tell me much about the pencils and which ones to use for what either.
anyway i going to sleep.
Okay, someone might be able to come along and give you some neat techniques for such and such pencils, but that person won't be me. Aside from some of the physical properties of the leads, it really boils down to personal preference.
The higher the H, the harder the lead and lighter line. (I think a 9H can double as an embossing tool and/or deadly weapon). It's easier to get really sharp tips on H pencils, and they produce less "noisy" lines (i.e. lay down graphite more evenly for me at least). Also since the lines are lighter, they erase more easily, and don't transfer as much graphite to contacting surfaces. Beware of accidentally embossing the paper with harder pencils as this is impossible to erase. Also, prob. just a personal thing, but I can't stand to use anything above a 5H on all but the smoothest of papers...something about the grating friction of toothy papers with that hard of a lead is like nails on a chalkboard.
The higher the B the softer the lead, and the darker the line. Once you reach the 4B point it becomes more difficult to keep a really sharp point. Try using sandpaper to create a tip instead of a pencil sharpener. The main strength for these is really putting down some nice dark shades. They blend rather easily too. Just beware of smudges and paper stains (when trying to erase).
The various leads aren't really "for" anything. it's like blue isn't FOR anything either, you just use blue where you need blue. All the various pencils are a somewhat easier way to get tonal variety. A soft pencil (a "B" pencil) won't have as easy a time getting very light tones. It can be done with a gentle touch, but it's easier to use a harder pencil that is just naturally lighter.
You'll probably find that the whole box isn't really useful. One H pencil, one B pencil, and one mid range pencil is probably all you need for a very good range of values.
Last edited by J Wilson; February 20th, 2009 at 02:51 PM. Reason: typo
Expanding on what J Wilson said:
There are professional uses for harder leads; several working comics artists use 2H leads when drawing in advance of the pages being inked. Many artists working in graphite will use a range of grades since the really soft leads like 6 & 8B can generate something close to black. Such a range isn't really needed if all your drawing is preparatory to working in another medium.
As an art student you will find some exercises are best approached with a certain grade; perspective drawings are best done with H or harder leads, responsive drawing is best done with B or softer.
The full grade range is:
I don't know if the full range is actually still produced commercially -- I've never seen anything harder than 6H for sale. Note that the "F" pencil is actually between the HB and H grades.
One more thing: different pencil manufacturer grades will differ. One company's F might be the equivalent of another's H. More expensive pencils are more consistent from batch to batch and less likely to have irritating, tiny clumps of clay in the lead.
have fun with them,
One more thing, to add to what J Wilson and rpace have said: what paper you are using will also effect what pencil you might want to choose. Harder, more strongly sized papers like tracing paper bite off more graphite, so harder leads will make darker marks on them, while softer leads will wear down and smear. Conversely, lightly sized papers like printmaking papers will be damaged by any but the softest leads.
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Derwent does, and they can be purchased individually and sets up to the full 24 pencil range. It really just depends on the art store...I can't get above a 4H were I live, but in other locations I've bought the harder ones.I don't know if the full range is actually still produced commercially -- I've never seen anything harder than 6H for sale. Note that the "F" pencil is actually between the HB and H grades.