Can You Sketch With Regular Pencils

Sketching with regular pencils can be difficult if you don't know where to start. Most, if not all, professional artists and graphic designers will posses a natural ability to know which pencil to choose when sketching and drawing particular concepts and subjects. 

You can sketch with regular pencils, but in order to draw well, you will need to understand the graphite grading system. This will help you choose the right pencil when drawing. Otherwise, you may well produce unwanted results.

Despite the limitations of regular pencils, it is an essential item of equipment. You will almost certainly have to draw and sketch with them if you want to develop your drawing style. Read on to see how other artists use a variety of techniques to sketch with regular pencils.

For many artists, the type of pencil they use comes down to their own individual personal preference. 

Sketching Basics when using a Pencil

Can You Sketch With Regular Pencils
Can You Sketch With Regular Pencils

Not surprisingly, the type of pencil they use comes down to individual choice. The artist Lee Hammond who has been teaching drawing since the 1980s, believes in using high-grade quality pencils if you want to produce quality drawings.

When she began teaching the blended pencil technique in the 1980s when pencil sketching as she remembers it, she had a looser quality than the smooth perfect shading that can be found in contemporary graphite drawings. For more detail on this idea, watch this excellent video.

‘Graphite drawing had a looser, more impressionistic approach. Smooth blending was rarely seen. ‘Lee Hammond

Hammond believes that drawing with good quality regular pencils will enable us to create fantastic drawings. Her particular area of expertise lays in her ability to blend the 2B graphite lead seamlessly across the page.

The Advantages of Sketching with Soft Grade Pencils

The Graphite artist Nelson Ferreira chooses to sketch and draw with softer black grade pencils to complete his graphite work based on a wide range of traditional themes.

When drawing portraits, Ferreria has been known to apply one of the softest grade pencils to create graduated shadows in his drawings. He uses an 8B grade pencil to create texture with the side of the pencil. The 8B selection will also enable you to draw and sketch with a darker quality of line if you choose to draw directly with the tip of the pencil.

Nelson Ferreira also draws with medium grade F pencils, which, when used, are similar to the standard HB regular drawing pencil. Using the F pencil, he has found that this grade of a pencil creates a much smoother shading and sharper lines, which are ideal for sketching fine details when drawing.

Nelson also uses the hardest lightest pencils to create the smoothest quality shading to the extent that it masks the paper's texture. The 6H pencil, as he demonstrates, is an excellent tool for drawing highlights and creating beautiful, highly detailed sketches and drawings.

He recommends artists who sketch in pencil will advise that the sketching of more naturalistic textures such as rock or trees should be rendered using the soft grade pencils as these pencils naturally will leave a textured surface on the paper.

High-Quality Pencils. Caran d'Ache Grafwood Graphite Pencils. This is an artist's grade pencil made from high-quality materials. You notice the difference right away when drawing and sharpening them. The advantages of purchasing high-quality pencils have seen touched upon earlier in this post. The bottom line is that they will produce a higher quality drawing and last longer than cheap pencils.

Regular Quality Pencils. Staedtler 100B G6 Mars Lumograph Pencils will enable you to produce good quality drawings and sketches. If you are unsure and do not want to go to the expense of purchases quality materials at this stage, these pencils will work fine.

Shading with Regular Pencils

The alternative is to create a smooth surface, such as glass is perfect for the 6H pencil. The soft shading left by this pencil is ideal for this type of subject matter.

Using Different Sketching Pencils?

Believe it or not, many people do know how to sketch or what sketching involves.

All artists will gravitate towards their personal pencil of choice when sketching. For many, this will be the 2B pencils. This pencil has several advantages:

  • The 2B pencils are ideal for sketching the rough outlines which characterize pencil sketching.
  • The essential advice is to sketch light, loose looking line with the pencil while not committing to drawing a definite mark or line on the paper.
  • These techniques should be practiced in a sketchbook at home every day until the sketching techniques are engrained and perfected.

How do you use Different Sketching Pencils?

The YouTuber and artist Brandon Schaefer begins sketches with the drawing of basic shapes and three-dimensional shapes with a pencil:

  • Sphere. To sketch a sphere, start drawing the outline of the form using a variety of scratch lines. At this point in the sketch is not to produce a definite line. Draw the whole of the shape before you commit to drawing with any fixed-line.
  • Cube. Use the same process to sketch the form of a cube. Begin by sketching lines to create a simple square shape. Draw three lines at an angle from the corner of the square. These sketched lines can then be drawn over to create the form of the Cube.
  • Cone. To sketch a cone with a pencil. Sketch an elliptical shape at the base of your drawing, marking a point perpendicular to the middle of this shape. Draw sketching which meets at this, and you will create a basic sketch of a cone.

Sketching with Pencils on the Location

Sketching on location is the method the artist Mateusz Urbanowicz uses to create a drawing of the Japanese Open Air Architectural Museum. 

In this excellent sketching video, he discusses the techniques to create sketches of buildings and the structures in Tokyo. Mateusz uses the HB, 2B, and 4B regular pencils to create illustrations onto smooth paper.

This artist demonstrates that he often draws from secondary source images to create concept sketches based on buildings. Urdanowicz will then erase the outline until the lines are barely visible. He begins to create a darker line with an HB pencil based upon the initial sketch draw onto smooth paper.

Urbanowicz then focuses on the application of lines to depict the shadows in the building and trees of his sketches. Mateusz Udbanowicz has been influenced by the Japanese artist Oga Kazuo who produces highly creative yet simple sketches of Japanese architecture.

Subjects You Can Sketch with Regular Pencil

Sketching with a pencil lends its self naturally to a wide range of different subjects. But, perhaps the topics that artists and enthusiasts tend to gravitate towards are the traditional ideas. 

  • Still life sketching is the ideal subject for graphite artists who wish to focus solely on the techniques related to pencil sketching. Accessible to all artists of any ability, these types of drawings can easily be created from home. Simply organize objects on a tabletop and create sketches of direct observation.
  • Life drawing through it can be produced by looking at photographs of the human form. Ideally, it is practiced by attending a life drawing class. It is her that you will be able to sketch the human form directly. This is probably the best and most direct way to improve your drawing and sketching skills. The following drawing course Anatomy for Artists is ideal for helping you learn the skills related to this branch of drawing.
  • Landscapes, if you enjoy sketching subjects on location either in the city or landscape sketching, can produce an extraordinary range of drawings. Landscapes also lend themselves to being photographed and draw as a secondary source.

In Conclusion

So there we are. I hope you have found this post interesting and informative, and you will be able to use the information provided to extend your understanding of sketching with a pencil.



Ian Walsh is the creator and author of and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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Can You Sketch With Regular Pencils