How to Choose a Drawing Pencil


Select a drawing pencil that’s suitable for your sketching project.


  1. Take a trip to the local art store and try several pencils. The correct pencil is the one that you enjoy using the most.
  2. Select a pencil with soft lead if you want dark, fat lines that are easy to make and you don’t mind smudges or frequent sharpening.
  3. Select a pencil with harder lead if you want smudgeproof, precise lines and a pencil that doesn’t require sharpening as often.
  4. Ask the art store clerk about any pencils that don’t have a grade indicating the softness or weight of the lead. Leads are graded, hardest to softest, 4H, 2H, H, HB, F, B, B2 and B4.
  5. Consider a lead holder and a selection of changeable leads if you want to be able to change the weight of the lead, keep a very sharp point and enjoy using a special gadget.
  6. Select a mechanical pencil with replaceable leads and erasers if you enjoy gadgets and don’t want to carry a pencil sharpener or lead pointer and a separate eraser.
  7. Choose a pencil or leads that work well with the sketch paper that you select. You’ll get rips using hard lead on fragile paper, and lots of dust and smudging using soft lead on rough paper.
  8. Select a soft lead if your sketch paper might become damp while you’re sketching, since harder lead won’t make marks on wet paper.
  9. Remember to pick up a separate eraser. Most drawing pencils don’t have one on the end. Make sure it works with the lead you’ve chosen – very soft and very hard leads are both difficult to erase.
  10. Remember to pick up a pencil sharpener or lead pointer. Make sure it works with the pencil or lead holder you’ve chosen.