Art Blog

The Best Drawing Pencils Every Artist Needs

Do you want to get the most out of your pencils? To have fun drawing in graphite and colored pencil? While pencils don’t make the artist, being armed with the best equipment sets you up for drawing success. Here are a few great choices of pencils you can try drawing with.

Crystal candleholder colored pencil drawing by Veronica Winters

This 9×12-inch drawing of a crystal chandelier was completed on white bristol smooth paper with the lightfast Prismacolor Premier colored pencils and a few Caran d’Ache Pablos.

sketch of interior

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The best graphite pencils

Graphite pencils come in various degrees of hardness, from 9H (the hardest) to 9B (the softest). The hardest pencils are used for shading the lightest areas in drawings, while the soft pencils are great for shading the darks and the middle tones. The most common medium soft graphite pencils are 2B pencils, which are usually used for general outlines and sketching. 

The best graphite pencils for experienced artists

Best graphite pencils

The highest quality black lead pencil, the Japanese Tombow Mono drawing pencils come in 17 grades of hardness. These pencils feature the unbreakable high-density graphite lead and smooth varnished finish. Having a high-point strength, this pencil allows for a wonderful coverage.

Though a bit pricier, the Faber-Castell 9000 Graphite Pencils also come in sets of different grades of hardness and have superior black, break-resistant leads.

For a pencil that can create both broad strokes and precise lines, go with Cretacolor’s Monolith woodless pencil (included in this Cretacolor Silver Box Graphite Drawing Set). These pencils have a protective lacquer coating, are easy to sharpen and range in hardness from from HB (medium) to 9B (extra soft).

The best graphite pencils for beginners

Prismacolor Ebony graphite pencils are the favorite of many artists. They have satiny-smooth black lead and are affordable — perfect for lots of practicing!

The best colored pencils

Best colored pencils

While there are countless colored pencils on the market, the key features that separates the best ones from the crowd is the lead’s softness, lightfastness and durability.

The best colored pencils for shading

The absolute best professional colored pencils are the Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils, which have durable, soft leads and are also lightfast. Sold individually and in sets, these colored pencils have the strongest coverage and softness. But the best comes at a price: A set of 76 pencils will set you back by $300 on average.

The favorites of many professional artists are Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. These colored pencils have a very soft lead that gives rich and smooth colors with remarkable color saturation. The company produces both the lightfast (light-resistant pigments) and regular colored pencils. Lightfastness is noted on a pencil as LF-I (the best), LF-II (very good), LF-III (fair) and LF-IV (fugitive). At $73 for a set of 72 pencils, these are an affordable alternative.

The best colored pencils for drawing details

Swiss made by Caran d’Ache, Pablo colored pencils are a much cheaper alternative to the Luminance. While they feature the superb lightfastness and are resistant to lead breakage, these pencils don’t have the same pigment saturation and softness as the pencils mentioned above. However, these pencils are awesome for drawing out the details and they don’t require constant sharpening.

With superior led resistance to breakage and smooth application, the Faber-Castell Polychromos Colour Pencils are another great pick. While they don’t have the same vibrant pigment saturation as Caran d’Ache or Prismacolor’s products, the smudge-proof pencils are great for drawing small details. The lightfast rating is written on each pencil with a star rating, from “reasonable” to “very good,” which is 100+ years in light resistance.

sketch of interior

Learn to Sketch on Location

Put those pencils to use! Learn how to build narrative-rich scenes by sketching on location. Enroll Here

15 Comments

Veronica Winters

I’m glad you found it, Yvonne! If it’s a regular box by Prismacolor, they don’t, and you can match the lightfastness rating with the chart, but they also sell smaller lightfast sets where the rating is written on the pencils (see the picture above). I found that a lot of Prismacolor Premier colored pencils are lightfast (I& II) but many of their blues and some greens are fugitive. so keep checking. 🙂

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Carter Brooks

This is a very comprehensive site for drawing instruction. I’m a beginner and looking forward to learning and practicing. Do you offer courses?

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pinku

yes ,mam it is very good pencil for art working

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LadyD

Carter,
Scroll to the top of the page. In the Craftsy Banner, you should see a link to online classes. Most such classes are paid, not free… however, I think there are one or two free classs also available.

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Ron Maxwell

I enjoy looking at all you have to offer

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Leopoldo Bleck

For example, 9H is the hardest and more like a chisel, while a 9B is the softest and blackest. For fine detail, you want H pencils; for texture and tonal range, you want B pencils.

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Desmond Reid

Congratulations on a really informative site.
Can you tell me where can I find a supply of 0.9 propelling pencil leads softer and darker than 2B ?

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Agbolade tobi

Wot are d functions of all those penciles?

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Agbolade tobi

Where cn i fund d 9H and 9B

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Barry white

Just found this site so far it is very informatI’ve

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Barry white

So far great site

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Mark Thomas

How many different types of White Pencils are they out there?
I was at a blacksmith shop and he had a pencil he called a “White Artist Pencil”, which the lines stayed on after heating the metal.. I didn’t know enough to ask, “What Kind”.
As far as I can see, there are some basic types..
Oil Base, Graphite, chalk or Charcoal?
I am not sure if there is such a thing as a “Graphite White Pencil or not”..
He didn’t specify that it was a “Hard to find item”. Seems he picked it up at a local store or art store..
Is there any other kinds? or, do you know if one of these is heat sensitive or not?

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Mary

Have you tried looking into Stabilo Pencils? They’re famous for writing on most all surfaces like plastic, metal and glass. I’m not certain they come in a white or not, but Stabilo brand is a good one to look into. They are not wax or oil based, but rather a graphite lead core. Check Amazon listings for a Stabilo All Pencil in white. Hope this helps…

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