The wood graphite pencil is the most familiar drawing tool you'll keep in your collection of art supplies. It's also the most readily available.
Because of your familiarity with this pencil I won't bore you with a long description of what it looks like.
It may interest you to know that the “lead” in a pencil is not really lead, but something called graphite. When graphite was first discovered it was thought to be a form of lead. Later, when it was found to be something else (graphite of course), the term “lead” stuck, and to this day we refer to the middle of a pencil... the “lead”. http://pencils.com/pencil-history/
You can find artist's wood graphite pencils at any large hobby store. There are also several on line stores that have great prices.
When you first start looking for artist's wood graphite pencils you'll see lots of brands and types. Some will be pricey, while others will be had for just a few dollars.
The pencils will have numbers and letters on the ends (I'll explain those here shortly).
If you're just starting out, and don't plan on creating masterpieces right away, then go with an inexpensive set of pencils. These sets are sometimes sold in a storage tin, and are very affordable.
If you're going to start with the basics, there are 6 grades of softness you should get:
9xxB, 6B, 4B, 2B, H and 2H
Artists' pencils come in a range of softnesses:
9xxB, 9B, 8B, 7B, 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H, 2H, 3H, 4H, 5H, 6H, 7H, 8H, 9H
The letter "B" stands for "BLACK", and are softer than the "H", or "HARD" pencils.
The 9xxB is the softest and will produce a deeper black on the paper. I want to discuss this pencil a little more, so keep reading.
The 9H pencil is the hardest and will give you a lighter black tone.
The HB pencil will be sort of middle of the road, and is comparable to a standard yellow No2 school pencil.
The ”F” stands for "FINE" which means that it can be sharpened to a fine point
( as can all the “H” pencils).
The "H" pencils are going to be more likely to scratch your paper, and the "B" drawing pencils are going to be more difficult to sharpen and break more easily.
I didn't say you shouldn't use them; just be careful... Okay?
As I said earlier, to get off to a good start all you'll need is a set of drawing pencils that includes these grades of hardnesses:
2H, HB, 2B, 4B, 6B and 9xxB.
Get some scrap paper and practice using your new pencils. Hold them with different grips, and apply different pressures so that you become familiar with the feel of your new friends.
A common exercise is to draw a sphere and practice developing your shading and highlighting skills. This is also a good way to get used to the action of drawing so as to make drawing second nature.
Think of a new driver having to use a clutch, brake, and accelerator all in perfect harmony. At first every step must be focused on individually in order to move the automobile. After some experience behind the wheel, the driver can operate every aspect of the vehicle with complete confidence...automatically.
So draw...draw...draw every day!!
It's the only way to make using your pencils second nature to you.
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