Faber-Castell sell a range of high quality lead pencils but any high quality pencil will suffice. It’s worth paying £2-£3 for a good graphite pencil. Pencils vary for a 2H (Hard) to a 4B (very soft) or even softer than that. The softer a pencil, the more it smudges. When transferring an outline to pastel paper using tracedown, I recommend using a HB Pencil or even an F Pencil if you can get hold of it. This F Pencil is between a HB and B strength. You can use the same pencil to go over the outline on the pastel paper. Sometimes on delicate areas where you don’t want hard lines to appear under your work, I use a B or a 2B. I go over the outlines which means as I proceed with the picture, I can erase them slightly. This is more difficult to do with the HB pencil line.
For me, I think a good drawing pencil would be a B or 2B but if you want more delicate shading, you can then use a softer pencil such as 3B, 4B etc.
Before I started painting professionally, I used to draw cartoons for my children and still do occasionally. When doing cartoons, I used a 2B pencil as it was softer and easier to erase.
With cartoons, you want to avoid using the very soft pencils unless you’ve no intention using colour on top. This is because the soft pencil will affect the colour application i.e. watercolour or ink. We mentioned this subject on episode 40 of our podcast – listen online by clicking here.
What’s your favourite pencil to use and what do you use it for? Let us know in the comments below.