What Pencil Should Artists Use for Shading?

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Art

You know that saying, that a workman is only as good as their tools? Keep that in mind when you’re looking into pencils to sketch, shade and draw with. Although it might not be entirely true, pencil specification is still very important and can make a huge impact on your final artwork. Just as you’d do your research before investing in very expensive kit or equipment, you should really put some thought into the right pencil for you. Here’s a breakdown of a few different options and what they work best for…

For the right shading, you need to consider what type of pencil you want to use. H and B are the most popular options for drawing and shading, B stands for black, H, for hard. Both are welcome when shading, however, you need to think about your desired effect before you put pencil to page…

Dark Shading

For deep, dark shading, you’ll need to venture away from a standard 2B pencil. Bs have different grades and variants, so moving upwards in number is going to make your shading more intense and dark. 4B is a great option for dark shading because it is smooth and soft enough to give you an even layer of shade without blunting too quickly. You can go for 6B, however, it’s going to blunt pretty quickly due to its extreme softness, so it might be hard to control and easy to smudge. If your shading is covering a large area that you want to keep matte, be wary of B pencils. B leaves an almost shiny sheen on the page, whereas H leaves a matte finish. Consider a high-grade H if you want to avoid any reflection or glinting on your work.

Medium Shading

Medium shading works best, in general, with a 2B. A B pencil will also have a good effect, although is usually best for lighter shading. Both 2B and B options are going to give you a great, even tone. These are mid-range pencils and therefore a lot of artists like to use them for pretty much everything. You’ll see these used in sketching, shading, drawings, writing, all of it. These are great to have in your kit, even if you are planning on creating slightly darker, moodier works. You’ll reach for them during detailing or additional sketching, so they’re worth the investment.

Light Shading

B pencils are usually the favourite for general shading or for getting an inkier effect, but that doesn’t mean that H pencils are total discredited! H pencils are fantastic for gentle, light sketches and delicate drawing in general. Be sure to use a light hand when you’re using H because they are so firm, they do have a tendency to dent paper. Careful drawing should avoid any indentations. HB and 2H are great for your delicate sketches and shading.

What Else Should You Consider for Your Kit?

Your artistic talents don’t stop at shading! Building a proper kit is essential, whether you like to sketch, draw, watercolour or paint. Consider securing yourself a set of H and B pencils, all grades, if you’re creating a serious graphite masterpiece. Be sure to have an eraser, ruler and scrap paper handy to ensure your artistic process is as successful and uninterrupted as possible! A leather pencil case or kit case should keep your tools protected, there’s nothing worse than not being able to find a specific pencil when you’re midway through a sketch!

Shop for pencils to start building your kit today!

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