Graphite Pencil Vs. Lead Pencil: How to Choose the Right Pencil?

Graphite pencil vs lead pencil? Which is better?

As a sketch artist, you will need a variety of pencils to enhance your art. Different pencils provide different functions and provide a different result. This is why you need to know what pencils to work with and how to work with them.

The most important thing you can have to yourself is knowledge. That is what sets a good artist apart from a great one. A great artist banks on a variety of knowledge because they can apply their knowledge to their skill producing great results. 

The more information you have, the more you can enhance your work and experiment with different techniques and tools. It will give more depth to your work and you ill have a solid foundation on which you can build your work. 

Let’s explore which pencils can be used for sketching and understand basic difference of graphite pencil vs lead pencil.

Graphite Pencil Vs Lead Pencil

Best Mechanical Pencils in the World

Graphite pencils are also known as lead pencils and used for drawing, writing, and even sketching. As you have seen, many pencils especially the ones that you write with have HB written on it. This is the grade of the graphite and this is a middle grade which makes it perfect for writing. 

Of course, an artist will have to utilize a different grade so they can get exceptional quality and create different effects.

Graphite pencils that are artist quality have different hardness and the number of materials that are used to mix with graphite. This is why a normal pencil won’t work well when it comes to sketching and drawing. 

The hardest grade of a graphite pencil is 9h, meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, the softest grade is a 9b. Here is a much more accurate representation of varying grades of graphite pencils:

  • Softest: 7B – 9B
  • Softer: 4B – 6B
  • Soft: 3B – 4B
  • Medium Soft: B – 2B
  • Not too soft or hard: HB – F
  • Medium-hard: H – 2H
  • Hard: 3H – 4H
  • Harder: 4H – 6H
  • Hardest: 7H – 9H

Soft graphite pencils are dark, softest grade being the darkest of them all. Meanwhile, hard graphite pencils are much lighter, hardest being the lightest. 

What you want depends on the art you want to make. However, here are some tips and uses of different grades so you can make a better choice. 

How to use different grades of graphite and lead pencils

Different grades provide different functions and if you are just starting in sketching or drawing here is what you need to know about the different grades:

H Pencils

This grade is mostly used so you can create a more even or smooth texture in your sketches. This is because they are lighter than B and you can easily make transitions between dark to light or light to dark with this grade. 

Their main purpose is to fill the texture of the paper so your transitions can be much smoother. However, one thing to remember here is that because they are a harder grade they don’t give you much room to work with. 

This means that no matter how hard you try the pencil still won’t leave a very dark tone on the paper. It will make your paper inconsistent and the surface of the paper will have developed spaces in between, even if you work on it later on your sketch will look very inconsistent. 

So, when it comes to H pencils you will be restricted in your range of tone and have less room to explore with tonal range. It may be a hard pencil but you need to use it very smoothly because that is what it is intended for. 

H pencils also make less shine than B. Use H pencils to first build a layer and then to give your sketch more depth, use B pencils. This will reduce the shine of the graphite and make your drawing look more consistent. 

B Pencils

Graphite Pencil Vs. Lead Pencil

With this pencil, you can explore the tonal range and you have a wide variety of possibilities. However, one thing to note here is that when you are working this grade of pencil, you will notice that the texture of the paper is very much visible. 

This is why you should first layer your sketch with an H pencil and then start creating more tone and range with a B pencil. This will help in making your work look much smoother and also maintain the texture of the paper without making it noticeable on your drawings. 

Instead of just getting one grade, it is recommended that you get both so you have more range to work with. It will also help in layering and working across a variety of tones. 

Just getting one grade of graphite pencils is not enough if you want to create proper depth and texture in your drawings. Here are some additional tips to take your drawings to the next level. 

Tips for Using Graphite and Lead Pencils

  • There is a right way to hold a pencil as well, so you need to work on your grip and maintain it to create stable drawings. It also helps with adding effects
  • Start your drawing by using a hard graphite pencil and make an underdrawing, this will help you be more precise and you can see how your drawing looks
  • Work on your blending as bad blending can ruin the look of your drawing
  • Apply various shading techniques in one drawing to give it more detail and depth

Bottom Line

Mastering a skill is not easy, but you can start easy and then slowly upgrade your skills so you can learn and apply knowledge at the same time. Having the right tools goes a long way when it comes to mastering an artistic skill.

This is why you need to have the right graphite pencils and lead pencils, the right paper, and all the right tools to ensure the professional look of your drawings. Practice makes perfect so keep researching and practicing to get the most out of your tools and art!