Graphite Pencils, F – 8H

December 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Staedtler, Derwent, Kooh-I-Noor

From top to bottom:
Staedtler, Mars Lumograph: H
Staedtler, Mars Lumograph: 3H
■ Rexel Cumberland, Derwent Graphic: F
■ Rexel Cumberland, Derwent Graphic: 4H
Kooh-I-Noor, Hardmouth: 8H

Drawing with hard graphite pencils

I often use hard graphite pencils when I’m drawing. I prefer them, because 1) the drawing isn’t smudged as easily as with soft pencils, and 2) it’s easier to draw details – the point of the pencil will stay sharp and make a clear line. If you want to make sharp lines with softer pencils you’d have to sharpen them constantly and use up the pencil faster. The downside with hard pencils is that the lines won’t be as dark/visible as with softer pencils.

Hard pencils are marked with H, and the harder the pencil is, the higher the number is. Soft pencils are marked “B”, and HB is in the middle. “F” is supposed to be somewhere between H and HB. Harder pencils create light, thin, sharp lines and soft pencils dark, softer, broader lines. The darkness of the pencil seems to vary between different brands. For instance, the Rexel Cumberland 3H is darker than the Staedtler 3H in my experience.

Pencils and different papers

The darkness or lightness of the drawing also varies depending on what paper you’re drawing on.

Schoeller Durex

The darkest part are drawn with an HB and an F, the lightest parts are done with 4H and 5H. The surface of the paper is smooth and almost cream coloured. You don’t have to press the pencil hard against the paper, it’s easy to draw details and I think the lines look quite dark for being hard pencils. I love drawing with these papers.

Fabriano 160 g/m2

This is a drawing on Fabriano paper (The quality on this scan is unfortunately not as good as the picture of the Schoeller paper.):

The darkest parts were made with a HB and 2H, the lighter parts with 3H and 4H. This paper is whiter than the Schoeller paper. It has a fine grain. The grain makes the paper a bit rougher, and this paper is quite hard, so you’ll have to press the pencil harder against the paper if you want to make darker lines; the drawing process will be slower. It’s not so easy to make “dark” drawings with graphite pencil on this paper. A good thing about this paper, is that you can work a lot with the greyscale, going from dark to light, with pencils of different hardness. Another good thing is that it’s easy to erase lines (that is, if you make light lines and don’t press the pencil too hard against the paper).

This is a better scan of another drawing on this Fabriano paper. Because of the grain, even though it’s fine grain, it’s harder to make clear thin lines than with smooth papers –  the look of the drawing will be quite different depending on what type of paper that is being used. For the darker parts in this drawing, I used a B (Rexel Cumberland, Derwent Graphic).

Daler-Rowney Heavy Weight 220 g/m2

I’ve written about this paper before (here). I wrote that I prefer to use it for ink drawings and not graphite pencil drawings. The surface of the paper is smooth but also somewhat soft. It’s hard to make really thin lines even if you’re using a sharp, hard pencil. It’s almost as if the graphite won’t stick to the paper when you make thin lines so you have to “fill in” the lines again which of course ruins them. It was easier to draw the parts that required short, angular lines (like the grass) and the light shades (like the hand and arm). But larger dark areas (large shadows) and longer lines required more effort. For this drawing I think I used B, F and 2H.


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