Using pencils for drawing and sketching

My earliest memories of art lessons include using pencils to create monochrome drawings on paper. A monochrome drawing is a drawing that is made with a single colour, usually black.

Creating a drawing is the most accessible and inexpensive way to begin as an artist. All you need is a sketchbook and a pencil.

Types of graphite pencils
The graphite in pencils can range from very hard to soft. The harder the pencil is, the lighter the mark it makes on paper. The softer the pencil is, the darker the mark it makes on paper.

The hardness and softness of graphite is indicated by letters and numbers. H = Hard, B = Black (or soft) and HB = Hard Black (or mid-range). The numbers indicate how hard or soft the graphite is on the scale. 9H is very hard and 9B is very soft. HB is mid-range and is the most commonly used type of pencil and a good place to begin.

Sharpening a pencil
The best way of sharpening a pencil is to use a craft knife or scalpel to shave off the wood. Always shave the wood in thin slices in a direction away from you, moving the pencil around until you have a sharp point.

Using a sharp knife is safer than using a blunt one and children should be supervised by an adult.

For very fine, detailed drawings, you can also sharpen the point on sandpaper as you work.

Erasers
Two types of erasers are essential. A soft putty eraser blends tones and a plastic eraser removes mistakes.

Go easy on the paper you are using. If you rub with an eraser too much it can roughen the surface of the paper and ruin your drawing.

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