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Best Pencils for Drawing and Sketching, and Other Tools You Will Need

Mars Lumograph Art Drawing Pencils Set by Staedtler. Drapery studies by Gvaat.

This post is about pencils I recommend for drawing and sketching, as well as erasers, pencil sharpeners, and sketchpads.

All of the items I recommend I purchased myself, and I am using or have used in the past. I will update this post from time to time to let you know of new things I use!

Heads up, If you buy something through a link in this post, Gvaat.com may get a share of the sale.

  1. Having the best pencils for drawing will not make you a great artist, but it can help
  2. The quest for the best drawing and sketching materials
  3. Pencils for sketching and drawing I recommend
  4. Erasers and other pencil tools
  5. Pencil sharpener for sketching
  6. Best drawing pads and sketch pads to use with pencils

1. Having the best pencils for drawing will not make you a great artist, but it can help in other ways

Master study on Strathmore paper by Gvaat. Koh-I-Noor Pencils and some old erasers.

So let’s skip right to the burning question: will having the best art tools in the world make you a better artist?  The answer is no. Having the best art supplies in the world will not make you or me or anyone else a better artist. However, having poor supplies can limit our full potential.

What does that mean? It means that if you are drawing with very poor quality pencils you may not see your current skill translate well to paper. You would probably get a better indication of your skill level drawing with good or great tools.

This observation is not just limited to the quality of marks a particular pencil is capable of making. Consider that materials of poor quality can really hinder your interest in making art. If something is not pleasant to use, you are likely to use it less often, perhaps you are likely to draw less often. And drawing less often is the opposite of what we want when our goal is to be well on our way to art mastery.

Therefore, it is important to have robust art supplies at your disposal at all stages of your art journey if you can afford them.

You don’t have to have the best tools in the world to create great art, far from it. In fact, highly skilled artists can often do a lot with very little. However, avoiding poor quality tools is going to propel us forward faster.

Thankfully, the quality of pencils and their variety improved over the years, and there are many good pencil sets to choose from.

2. The quest for the best drawing and sketching materials

The quest for the best drawing materials, be it a pencil or a digital tablet is a dangerous one! It is what we do with our time that ultimately makes us improve as artists, or .. not improve.

Let me say that again:

It is what we do with our time that ultimately makes us improve as artists, or .. not improve.

Beginning artists are likely to spend an enormous amount of time researching the very best materials they can get their hands on.

Yes, I think looking at materials, and knowing them, and trying different things is important. However, it is more important to practice drawing!

Limit your time looking for the perfect pencil, get some good recommendations, and move on to learning to draw. Once you are better at drawing and tried a variety of art materials, it is much easier to make decisions on what is the best tool for you. So invest time into drawing!

With all of that out of the way, here are my recommendations for pencil sketching and drawing:

3. Pencils for sketching and drawing I recommend

Drawing by Gvaat with Caran d’Ache Technalo line pencils.

I’ve been using pencils from three manufacturers, Caran d’Ache, Koh-I-Noor, and Mars Lumograph Art Drawing Pencils Set by Staedtler.

I really like all three types and I think they are great pencils to use for sketching or drawing. Staedtler receives my highest recommendation at the moment – the latest set I bought provided a very smooth drawing experience. But this could just depend on the batch of pencils you get, and I am happy using any of the three kinds.

Pencils vary in hardness level (or grade) from very soft and dark to very hard and light. It is difficult to recommend any specific hardness level of a pencil. Making a recommendation that you should always draw with a 2B and you should always sketch with a 3H for example, I consider nothing short of irresponsible.

I like to lightly sketch with 4H and 2B and 9B, but I also like to sketch with any good quality pencil regardless of grade. I also like to draw with a whole range of pencils used in a single drawing, and I highly recommend getting a set with a range of soft to hard grades like this one by Staedtler.

Get at least as soft as 6B and as hard as 4H. Try the 9B sharpened to a fine point if you can. All of this variety will be very good for you and your drawing progress.

4. Erasers and other pencil tools

Dust Catching erasers by Mono catch particles as you erase

Mono erasers are some of the best I’ve used. They don’t seem to disturb the paper surface too much and do a great job of picking up the pencil off the page.

For delicate and precise erasing, you can get a mono eraser that dispenses like a mechanical pencil and has a small precise tip. To check Amazon prices click here.

5. Pencil sharpener for sketching

This scholar pencil sharpener keeps the desk mess free as you draw

I really like the Prismacolor scholar sharpener. It sharpens pencils fast, rarely breaks the pencil lead, and keeps the workspace from turning into a mess. It will pair well with any pencil set for sketching.

The only problem with sharpeners that hide waste inside is that they are bulky. If you are looking for a very small pencil sharpener, I would get this Staedtler metal sharpener instead.

6. Best drawing pads and sketch pads to use with pencils

Sketchbook by Moleskine, Koh-I-Noor Pencil Set, The Art of Rhetoric by Aristotle and Niko Ramen vol 1.

For the past few years, I’ve used Moleskine sketchbooks for sketching and they are my absolute favorite. Moleskine has an art line of sketchbooks with thicker paper and regular sketchbooks with really thin paper that they call the classic notebook

If you are going to get the regular version, just know that your sketches will probably show up through the thin paper on the other side. Since I don’t draw on the back of a page, it does not bother me.

I like both kinds and use both depending on the type of drawing. For quick sketches, I use the regular thin paper version since I like the feel of it and for anything more involved I like the art line of sketchbooks. They have thicker paper that will just last longer.

Master study on Strathmore paper by Gvaat

I’ve done multiple master studies with pencils in the past, some of which you can see on this page. For these larger studies, I have always used Strathmore drawing paper. I really like the quality and the large size formats. Some of these drawings are a few years old also and they have held up well. Check Amazon pricing for Strathmore pads here.

After Leonardo Da Vinci . Master study by Gvaat on Strathmore paper. Koh-I-Noor Pencil Set

I hope you enjoyed this overview of my recommendations for the best drawing and sketching pencils and other materials. Provide some feedback here. Let me know what interests you when it comes to pencils for drawing and sketching and I may add it to this post.

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