Starting out with Graphite pencils
Looking to start out with graphite pencils and not sure what you need?
Graphite pencils are a wonderful medium - the effects you can achieve from them can be truly impressive and as many a photographer tends to lean towards Black & White photography for dramatic effect, so too does an Artists for many of the same reasons. Luckily, starting out with Graphite pencils does not mean breaking the bank, in fact it may be one of the cheapest mediums to start with. In this article you will find some great ideas & recommendations for starting out with Graphite.
- Graphite pencils - Pencil grades start from H for Illustrative fine lines and B-9B for effective realism
- White Eraser - Ensure your eraser is only used for Graphite and keep edges clean to avoid smudging
- Pencil Sharpener - Ensure your pencil fits the sharpener, some pencils are thicker than others
- 3 ply Tissues - The best way to blend large areas without using your hands/fingers
- Indent Tools - Use before laying Graphite down for fine lines you want to keep 'white'
- Paper Stumps/Tortillions - ideal for blending small areas
- Pencil Eraser - Good for erasing small areas
- Clean Soft Brush - Perfect for wiping Eraser bits from your drawing rather than using your hand.
- Electric Eraser - Good for creating fine highlights in your work
- Spray Fixative - A Matte UV Fixative is best for Graphite portraits
HINTS & TIPS
X Touch the paper with your hands - natural Oils can √ Use a clean sheet of paper underneath your spare hand
transfer onto the paper and spoil all your hard work to lean on throughout
X When erasing mistakes, avoid blowing the bits √ Use a paper stump/tortillion or sheet of tissue to
from your paper or wiping them away with your blend instead of fingers
hand to avoid smudging.
Heavyweight paper (220/300gsm upwards) is best for those who like to create high detail or photo-realistic portraits. The higher the gsm, the thicker the paper and the more layers you can apply. Lower weight papers are fine for sketchy type portraits.
One pencil - Do you need a wide range of products to create good work?
This was an exercise I created with one 5B pencil and 2 types of eraser. It was produced simply to show how versatile a pencil can be and that a huge range of products is not always needed to create detailed work. It is best to apply each consecutive layer of Graphite with a little more pressure each time. Start off using a light pressure, building up to an heavier application for the final stages, this avoids saturating the paper too early and allowing for high detail if your aim is realism in your work.
The pencil grades explained using the DERWENT GRAPHIC 24 tin as an example
Derwent offer a full range of 24 pencils in a tin with grades from 9H through to 9B. The grades are defined as follows:
H = Hard F = Fine B = Black
H, 2H, 3H, 4H, 5H, 6H, 7H, 8H, 9H
The H pencils are harder with the 9H being the hardest lead. These are great for Illustrators and Graphic designers.
The F pencil is good for fine lines
The HB pencil is the middle of the full range, commonly used in schools.
B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9B
The B pencils are softer lead and create the darker shades with the 9B the darkest tone of the set. The higher the number, the softer the lead and the more prone to breaking if dropped, so care should be taken not to damage the wood shaft and lead. These are great for realism artists.
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