Drawing Techniques – pencilJanuary 9th, 2019 / Drawing Techniques
Welcome to the next week of January. We have recently completed a series of posts devoted to painting techniques. If you are interested in what was in this series of entries, be sure to click here.
In the meantime, I decided that in the next posts – starting from this – we will address the issues of drawing techniques and tools that are used with them. We start from the total basics – the pencil. Perhaps you will ask, what new can you read about the pencil? I will not try to rediscover America again, but I will try to collect the most important information and a handful of curiosities in one place. Let it be such a small compendium of knowledge about pencils. Enjoy!
It will not be an exaggeration if I write that everyone has a pencil and has used it even once. If you read this entry and my blog is known to you, you are certainly more or less interested in drawing, painting and everything related to the broadly understood artistry. You probably use a pencil every day or with a similar frequency, and most of your work has its beginning as a simple sketch, and probably not one.
What is the pencil exactly?
The name “pencil” is a remnant of ancient times, because ancient Greeks, Romans or Egyptians used thin lead rods, less often silver or zinc ones to make drawings in light gray. This continued until the second half of the sixteenth century, when in England it was accidentally found on graphite. Since then, the pencil has become a tool that we know today.
If you ask an accidental passer-by what exactly a pencil is, it would probably be answered that it is graphite in a wooden frame. This would only be true in part, because the stylus itself is a mixture of graphite and kaolin (sedimentary rock, “greasy” to the touch and color from white to brown).
Thanks to the appropriate proportions, different hardness of the pencils is obtained – we have about 24 hardnesses on the scale, however, manufacturers offer a different range of them. Pencils with the H symbol (hardeness) are hard pencils. The higher the number before the letter H, the harder the pencil. The composition, in turn, we find more kaolin than graphite. H-scale pencils are mainly used to make technical drawings. Due to the higher content of kaolin, the lines are lighter, the stylus itself is more resistant to abrasion.
On the other hand, we have pencils B (blackness). The higher the number next to the symbol, the softer the pencil. A larger percentage of graphite in the composition translates into a more intense black. The dashes are less precise, but it is easier to control the color saturation – such pencils are great for shading. However, they are consumed more quickly and more often they need to be sharpened.
Between these two scales there are also pencils with HB and F symbols of moderate hardness and black, thanks to which they are most often used in everyday use – when we want to make a note or make a simple sketch.
Which pencil should you choose?
It all depends on what we will use it for. If, most likely, you are interested in or want to take care of the drawing, the standard HB-9B palette will be the best. When sketching, putting your hands in making more certain, simpler lines or regular circles, as well as more complex shapes, softer pencils will work best. First of all, because it will be easier to lead a stylus on paper, and possible mistakes such a pencil will forgive faster than that of the hardness scale H. Secondly, it will be easier to erase and correct the failed lines. Soft pencils do not leave holes on the surface of the paper, which significantly hinder work. So much in theory, however, I really like to sketch with harder pencils – below HB, but I do not push them hard to the paper. I often choose an automatic pencil with thin graphite with HB hardness.
When it comes to choosing between a traditional pencil, a colored pencil, and an automatic pencil – here I recommend to give it all a try. It’s best in your own hands to check what is most convenient for us. Automatic pencils will always be equally precise, less dirty, and the choice of hardness of inserts allows you to adjust the pencil to a specific purpose. On the other hand, with traditional pencils, we can easily make shading, which is much more difficult with automatic pencils, unless we choose one with a graphite stick as a cartridge. Many cartoonists, especially when learning, recommend sharpening the pencil in such a way that we leave a long section of the exposed stylus. Thanks to such a pencil preparation, we can grab it in a way that allows to make very smooth lines – for example, sketch a circle with one line, with precision similar to a compass.
It is worth knowing that pencils from different manufacturers with identical markings may differ in hardness and blackness. That’s why it’s best to test different brands and choose the one that suits you best.
The last important issue is the selection of the eraser for erasing. Thanks to the ease with which we will remove traces of the pencil (the more soft, the easier), this tool works perfectly when learning to draw. It is also practically the cheapest technique, because in addition to the pencil itself, only the paper and the aforementioned rubber are needed. Once, bee wax, pumice or a crumb of bread served for this purpose. Today, rubbers are made of India rubber. The most universal are white or so-called rubber bands. bread elastics, made of very soft rubber, which kneads like plasticine. With this eraser, we do not wipe the traces of the pencil, but only apply several times in place to collect graphite. Erasers in a wooden frame similar to a pencil or a pencil are also worth recommending. We can mark them on our work of light reflection, i.e. blinks.
I hope that this brief guide will systematize the information that each of you has about the pencil. I encourage you to sketch, draw and many returns to the basics. Of course, if you’ve been involved in drawing for some time, you certainly have your own preferences. If so, be sure to share them with me in the comment. If you are just starting to learn drawing, know that our blog has a whole department related to the basics of illustration, which you should read.
See you next week!