Pick up a pencil and let’s get sketching.

Pick up a pencil and let’s get sketching.

Hey everyone.  Today on my arts and entertainment blog I wanted to keep looking into art and different mediums.  I’m fairly old school in that one of my favourite mediums is the humble pencil.  I recently went online and bought myself some new bargain drawing pencils which I absolutely love, you can get them from http://www.easyprices.com/art-collectible.  

In other news have you guys watched the Gilmore Girls revival yet? No spoilers but I’m disappointed.

Sketching and Drawing.

Firstly, I’d like to discuss the subtle differences between sketching and drawing.  Sketching is a form of drawing, and drawing is the method in which that form takes place.  Most people use the two words interchangeably to mean the same thing, and there’s a lot of confusion as to the differences between the two.  

A sketch tends to be the starting place for a lot of artists.  It is the preliminary drawings and practice marks that can then lead on to being a more detailed drawing, or piece of art.  Sketches tend to be quicker, and rougher than drawings, and they can be produced using many different mediums.  Sketches can be created using pencils, similarly to drawings, however they can also be created using ink, paint, charcoal and chalk, pastels and graphite.  They can be produced in any size, however they are normally created significantly smaller than many drawings.  

Another difference between sketching and drawing is the medium on which the piece of art is created on, the surface.  For drawings the surface they are created on tends to be higher quality paper or a higher quality version of whichever surface the artists prefers.  Whilst a lot of sketches are produced on any surface available at the time, for example newsprint or scrap paper.  

So to summarise in general a sketch is seen as a preliminary form of an art piece, and is a form of drawing.  Whilst a drawing can be the outcome of a sketch. 

 sketch figure

When to use the different types of pencils.

There are many different types of pencils, and to start with I’ll explain the differences between the pencil leads.  The identification of the pencil leads on pencils is by the letter and number assigned to each pencil.  The letter is either H or B, with H indicating a hard leaded pencil and B indicating a soft leaded pencil.  And they meet in the middle with the HB pencil, which is the standard pencil for children and students alike.  From a softer lead to a harder lead the range would be 9B, 8B, 7B, 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, 1H, 2H, 3H, 4H, 5H, 6H, 7H, 8H, 9H.  

In general a harder leaded pencil will be used for rough outlines at the begin of a sketch or drawing.   Harder leads create lighter marks on paper and are much easier to erase.   They can also be used when shading in a section of an art piece which needs a lighter colour.  

sketch eye


A soft leaded pencil will be used to deepen or darken the lines on the sketch or drawing, they create a more finished look and can be used to shade darker areas on the paper.  A soft leaded pencil, from 6B to 9B, can be used to create a colour as dark as charcoal.

The subject matter can also change the types of pencils you will use.  A still-life drawing would require a larger variety of pencils due to the depth of image that you’re trying to create, whilst a quick sketch or gesture drawing would be created using a few different types of the softer, darker pencils, such as a 4B, 6B and 8B, or a 3B, 6B and a 9B.  And the colour range of the subject matter can also change the types of pencil you would choose, a darker subject matter, for example an aubergine, would normally require softer darker pencils, whilst a lighter subject matter, for example an orange, would use the harder, lighter pencils.  
In general if you need to shade it isn’t advisable to press harder with the pencil as this will create grooves in the paper and can cause the paper to tear or rip.

My personal favourite brand of pencils for sketching are the Derwent pencils.  They have lots of different types of pencils available for sketching and drawing, and it’s worth trying out the different types available as something which works for another artist might not work in the same way for you.  My preferred subject matter would be life drawing, and in particular close up detailing of hands, faces and torsos.  This works well with Graphic Pencils which are great for drawings with fine details, and shading and adding texture.  


derwent sketching pencils

I hope this has helped you if you’re interested in trying out drawing and sketching and need to know what to choose.  If you’re interested in working with oil paints, you should check out our blog post from last week.   Now, I’ve got to get back to my latest sketch!  Ciao.