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The Best Types of Pencils Used for Sketching and Shading

The Best Types of Pencils Used for Sketching and Shading
types of pencils

When it comes to drawing and sketching, you need the right tools. If you are an artist, chances are that you have tried a few different types of pencils for your craft. The majority of people begin where anyone would, by using an everyday pencil.

While no rule says that you can’t use a typical #2 pencil, for true artists, there are better options. The kind of pencil that you use can drastically influence how you end up working. It is for this reason that we brought together a quick breakdown of the different types of drawing pencils.

When it comes to drawing, everyone is different. What one person likes, another person might hate. It is important to keep this in mind as you explore this craft. You might find that a different kind of pencil can drastically improve your overall process. Our advice is to experiment with the different types of drawing pencils until you find your favorite. You might even learn that you like different options for different projects!


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yellow drawing pencilsGraphite Drawing Pencils

Graphite drawing pencils are easily the most common type of drawing pencil used. These pencils come in a wide range of options, with each variation being assigned a different grade. People tend to like these pencils because they are not only great to use, but they vary enough to allow for different art styles. This makes it easier for people to find something that works for them. In a sense, they are one of the more traditional types of pencils.

As a source, graphite is perfect for drawing and sketching. It is the neutral color that you would expect, and you can easily choose an option that is right for you. Many artists find that this is their go-to pencil option across the board.

In addition to that, many artists go with Prismacolor’s graphite pencils because they are highly-rated and you can easily get them on Amazon.

When it comes to creating a more basic project, this is the exact kind of tool that you will want. However, graphite pencils can also be used in a variety of ways that make it easy for you to use it for any kind of project. Some people find that they exclusively rely on this kind of pencil for their work.

A graphite pencil will be assigned a grade, and this is how you will determine how it can be used. It comes in several variations. First, it will be assigned a letter. H pencils are known for their resistance when it comes to drawing. Instead of putting down a lot of graphite, they are more reserved. B pencils are known for countering this.

They leave more graphite on the page as you draw. There is also an F option for a fine point. You will find that this pencil option has more precision. There is also a number applied to each grade. The number indicates how much will be left on the page for that kind of pencil. The larger the number is, the less it will leave behind.

sketching on paperCharcoal Drawing Pencils

—When it comes to types of pencils, charcoal pencils are a bit divisive for the community. They tend to be the kind of tool that people either love or hate. While other types of pencils are more about preference, charcoal pencils are about the craft. Drawing with a charcoal pencil is simply a completely different artistic process. Some people love it and others would rather draw with a Crayola crayon instead. It is a matter of how the artist likes to work.

The primary reason that charcoal drawing pencils get such a bad reputation is because they can be messy. While they are more controlled than other charcoal options, they can still make quite a mess. The majority of artists who work with these pencils find that the charcoal has a way of sticking around.

It is much easier to smear or smudge these types of pencils than other tools. For this reason, some people simply can’t stand working with charcoal pencils. They don’t like controlling it on the page or having it all over them after the fact.

The real area where charcoal pencils shine is drawing under the right hand. For those who know how to use charcoal pencils effectively, absolute masterpieces can be made. If you are looking for a chance to create something truly amazing, charcoal pencils can get you there.

They allow you to more effectively manipulate your work as you go. These types of pencils are great for helping you to smudge your way to greatness. For those who commit, there is simply nothing better.

colored drawing pencilsColored Drawing Pencils

—The funny thing about colored pencils for drawing is the fact that so many people forget them. To the general public, colored pencils are usually affiliated with coloring books. However, these are tools that are perfect in the hands of the right artist. While you might not want to make every single thing you draw a special color, these are still tools and not toys. The right kind pencil in the right hand can work wonders when it comes to making great art.

Colored pencils are one of the best types of pencils for drawing because they allow you to add so much more to an image. You can enjoy working on a variety of projects with almost no limit with this kind of tool. Being able to manipulate color simply allows you to do so much more with a work of art.

While you can make amazing works of art using an ordinary pencil, colored pencils breathe life into an image. This is why the people who lean on these consistently love them so much.

The real power of colored pencils is that it adds a certain degree of depth to any image. Whether you use two colors or ten, your image is going to pop. A proper set of colored pencils is an invaluable asset in the hands of a good artist. This makes it easy for you to create compelling works of art that people will love to look at.

As a bonus, you can change how you interact with your art by how hard you push. Pressure variation works wonders when it comes to managing the color on the page. If you’re looking to get some drawing tools to help bring some more life into your drawings then Crayola offers a great set of color pencils on Amazon.

drawing pencil next to teaCarbon Drawing Pencils

—If you are looking for a proper middle ground between charcoal and graphite pencils, look no further. Most people are not even aware that carbon drawing pencils are a real thing. If you were to ask the majority of people what to use a carbon pencil for, they would likely assume something technical.

However, these tools are amazing when it comes to drawing and sketching. In truth, these are some of the best tools that are commonly overlooked by artists. These types of pencils are not well known, so we want to encourage you to give them a shot.

Carbon drawing pencils are a perfect balance between the perks of graphite and charcoal pencils. The biggest selling point for them is that these types of drawing pencils tend to be darker. They allow you to create darker strokes on the page, which can be used to make some truly amazing effects.

In addition to providing more color, these pencils are also very smooth. You will love how they can glide across the page almost as much as you will love what you can make with them.

When shopping for carbon pencils, you will want to do your research. Companies tend to mix other elements into carbon pencils, which can change your experience.

It is common for companies to add graphite or charcoal when it comes to making these pencils. While there is nothing wrong with that, understanding what is in the pencil is important. It can change the way that these types of drawing pencils work.

free hand drawing for beginners - practice tracingMechanical Drawing Pencils

—Though this is not the most common approach for artists, plenty of artists do use mechanical pencils. Finding the right mechanical pencil can be a bit of a process, but when you find one that works for you, that’s it. Mechanical pencils come in a variety of options depending on your needs.

This can give you some control over your experience that other pencils might lack. Mechanical pencils come in various weights, grips, and types. This makes it easy for you to find a custom experience. However, finding the right lead option to avoid any snapping while drawing is important.

I love using mechanical pencils to draw or sketch. I can easily add different colored leads in the pencil to create different kinds of images.

watercolor drawing pencilsWatercolor Pencils

—Some artists prefer to toe the line between mediums. For those who love drawing almost as much as they love painting, watercolor pencils provide an amazing middle ground. You can enjoy a complete drawing experience with the additional perks of experimenting with paint options as well.

These tools are not only incredibly easy to use, but they can be pretty addicting. You will be amazed by just how much fun you can have with them. More importantly, these offer a great way to help you try a variation on your existing skills.

Watercolor pencils are types of drawing pencils that come with an added perk. While you can use them to draw in a completely normal capacity, their abilities do not stop there. These make it easy for you to bring something extra special to your work.

They are designed to interact with water to create a completely new artistic experience. You can easily draw your picture and then focus on adding a touch of water for a completely new design option.

There is a surprising amount of control with these pencils, and you can make some amazing works of art. These types of pencils tend to be overlooked because they can be a bit much for some. However, for those who work to refine their craft with these pencils, the results can be amazing.

You will love seeing what you can create by adding a little water in the right place. A good set of watercolor pencils can help you to make some truly great projects that you will love to show off.

stylus drawing pencilsStylus Drawing Pencils

—In this day and age, drawing is getting a completely new face. Many artists are switching from pencils and paper to the use of digital platforms. With this sudden shift in interest, companies are clamoring to create digital pencils that can be used with the major digital drawing platforms available.

These tools are created in so many different ways, so finding one that suits your preferences is important. They can vary widely when it comes to price, so it can be best to start small and invest as you grow.

A digital drawing pencil can be judged in a lot of ways. You will want to consider the pressure sensitivity of the device, as well as its responsiveness to tilt. The technology in some of these devices, particularly ones like the Apple Pencil, is truly amazing. You can enjoy a completely responsive experience that perfectly mirrors a real pencil. As a bonus, they can be used for other digital mediums like painting and writing.


Every artist has their preferences regarding what they want. Depending on how you like to draw, what you like to draw, and your physical needs, your preference change. Finding the right types of pencils to get your art made is a careful process that involves experimenting.

You might be surprised to learn just how much you prefer some of the pencil options over others. Remember to always keep an open mind. Avoiding a type of pencil will just limit you as an artist. However, there is nothing wrong with sticking with what you love either!

Which pencils would you use? What do you like to draw and sketch with?