Which Pencils are Used for Sketching?

Which Pencils are Used for Sketching

When you are new to sketching or have been sketching for a while, you may wonder if certain pencils can be better than others when it comes to sketching.

There are specific types of pencils used for sketching that allow for an easier creative process. They differ in hardness and degree of darkness.

The most suitable pencils for sketching fall into the B category of graphite pencils. Type B has more graphite, is softer and darker than grade H, which is harder.

Many pencil-related specifics are outside the world of #2 pencils. You may have many questions about them and what the different points mean and entail.

What are pencil grades?

Each type of pencil has a grade depending on the type of graphite inside them. There are also corresponding numbers next to the class.

The following classes are:

  • Grade H. Grade H pencils have more clay allowing it to be lighter and smoother. The lines are thin and can produce detail. Numbers start at one, and the higher the number in the class, the tighter the lead. H-grade pencils don’t smudge easily because they’re more opaque and smooth.
  • Grade B. Class B pencils have more graphite, creating a darker line because B stands for blackness. The number corresponding to the level also starts from one and the higher the number on the level, the softer and darker the lead will be. The tallest B-class pencil in your art supplies will be the darkest of the bunch. Class B pencils smudge easily but can be erased easily.
  • Grade F. Grade F pencils produce darker and lighter marks. The ‘F’ stands for a good point, as it is the best pencil of its kind. F-grade pencils stay sharp for long periods of time. F-class pencils are not usually included in pencil sketch sets. However, they are occasionally found within them.
  • HB class. An HB grade pencil is exactly what you might think. It is a medium pencil and falls between H and B grade pencils. These pencils are the most common pencils to find in your office or school.

It will be easier to choose the pencil you want for your sketch when you know how much each level is. This lets you know the right pencil for the type of drawing you’re creating.

What kind of pencil is best for sketching?

So now you are ready to sketch your drawing. However, which layer is best suited for sketching?

Each layer has its benefits depending on the sketch.

H – grade pencils

The H pencil does not smudge easily and produces clear thin lines. You can quickly create sketches and technical drawings with them. They can be quite scratchy as you increase the hardness.

B – Grade pencil

Professional sketching pencil set, 24 pieces art pencils 14B, 12B, 10B, 9B, 8B, 7B, 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H – 9H, Colored pencils Graphite for beginners and professional artists

Class B pencils can be easily erased at any time. They are not resistant to even the slightest smudge. They are best for pencil drawing because they can create a brush-like medium due to their softness. You will have to use pressure to create textures and shadows. However, they are soft, easy-to-use pencils for sketching.

F – grade pencil

Staedtler Staedtler-Rumogurafu F 100-F Stretching Pencil (imported from Japan)

A fine grade pencil, grade F, is the perfect pen for drawing fine details and handwriting. However, they may not be the best for sketching.

HB – grade pencil

Arteza School Pencils HB #2, Pack of 96, Wood Cased Graphite Pencils in Bulk, Pre-Sharkened, with Erasers, Office & School Equipment for Ex Exam and Classroom

In the center of the scale is an HB pencil. This HB pencil is the standard pencil used. It works well for casual sketching and everyday drawing. However, to capture details and textures, it is best to use a softer type B pencil. If you are avoiding smudging and want clean lines, then the H point could be your choice.

How to choose a sketching pencil?

When you are picking out a pencil for sketching there are three things that are important for you to understand. These factors are shades, lines, and smudges.


Shadows in your sketches are important. Shading too much or too little can be frustrating as the process can be difficult depending on your vehicle. If you’re using a super soft pencil like the 9B, you may have noticed that shading can be quite easy but can be very dark. If you don’t want your sketch to be too dark, your best bet is to use a lower grade B pencil.


Each type of pencil has different types of lines. A softer lead will create a thicker line, but a harder lead will create a fine, precise line.

By experimenting with each pencil to find what you like, you’ll notice a different quality of line each pencil produces. If you want a thin and precise line, it is best to use the H type. Technical sketches such as architecture benefit from these layers because of less blur and precise lines.

Blur factor

If you have a softer graphite pencil, you can smudge the graphite with your fingers. You can blend tones and shades with soft graphite. Through smudging, you have a direct application of the type of shade your sketch produces.

This all depends on the type of pencil you are using. Grade 9B pencils allow you to easily create smudges because the graphite is translucent and easily brushed off. However, class H pencils will not allow this.

Similar to line quality, it all comes down to experimentation to figure out which pencil smudge factor you like best for your work.

Should beginner sketchers use expensive pencils? 

When you’re looking for pencils, you might not want to buy the most expensive ones on the shelf if you’re a beginner. However, if you buy cheap pencils, you will likely be disappointed with the quality of your work and tools.

Cheap pencils can limit your success in sketching because you will be limited by your abilities. If your tools are limited, so are you. Owning quality pencils for sketching will help you achieve your creative success.

It’s best to buy what you can afford. However, please make sure it is of good quality before your purchase. When it comes to art supplies, quality over quantity is what sets you up for success. You can help your wallet by buying a few quality pencils that you’ll use more of, instead of buying a full-value pack.

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