What are graphite pencils? Are they the same as your regular pencils? Do they refer to drawing pencils? It can really be confusing when you refer to something as a graphite pencil, but what we fail to notice is that all pencils can be a graphite pencil.
The term graphite pencils are commonly used in the art world. However, it is not that accurate, because, again, all types of pencils can be graphite pencils (more on this later). But suffice to say, when you hear someone asking about graphite pencils, more often than not, they are referring to drawing pencils.
With that said, we are going to discuss what is really a graphite pencil and why it can refer to all types of pencils. More than that, we are also going to discuss the different kinds of graphite pencils when used in the context of art.
What Are Graphite Pencils?
What is so special about graphite pencils? None, really. This is the case because the term was just hyped by brands that manufacture art supplies, but technically, graphite pencils are you’re your regular pencils that are just a different type by marking material.
What do we mean by this?
Simply put, it is called as such because it refers to how the pencil can mark something, which is by the use of graphite. With that said, graphite pencils are the most common type of pencil that have graphite encased in a wood case.
This can range from those typical yellow pencils we use in school to drawing pencils used by artists. So, you see, the term “graphite pencils” should be used loosely as it refers to a lot of different kinds of pencils.
In truth, it is just now that graphite pencils are used to refer to drawing pencils due to the constant branding campaigns of companies like Faber-Castell and Lyra Rembrandt.
Two Types of Graphite Pencils
Now that you know that graphite pencils are not just drawing pencils, but they can also refer to pencils that can be used for drawing, let us discuss the two types that these commonly used pencils go in.
- Liquid graphite pencils
- Solid graphite pencils
Liquid Graphite Pencils
These were invented by Scripto and Parker Pens in 1955. These are pencils that look like regular pencils, but when they write, they resemble a pen-like marking. This happens due to the graphite lead having a liquid formula.
At the same time, it should not be mistaken as being a pen although it dries similarly to that of a pen. However, it is not widely used because why use a pencil that performs like a pen when you can just use a pen, right?
Solid Graphite Pencils
These pencils can also be called woodless pencils. This name came to be because these are graphite pencils that are just basically clay and graphite composite without the wooden casing or just a thin piece of wood. This is done to have more space for the graphite lead.
Further, this is the type of graphite pencil that can vary in darkness and hardness. When people talk about graphite pencils that are used for drawing, they are actually referring to this type of graphite pencil.
Variation of Solid Graphite Pencils
Let us now discuss the variation of solid graphite pencils since this knowledge can be used when you are picking out a graphite pencil that is suited for your current artwork project. You will now see what the F, H, and B markings are for.
These letters are actually a grading scale. They refer to what type of graphite is used in a specific pencil. The markings actually depend on the brand, but they still adhere to a common standard and formula in terms of indicating what type of variation you get.
Look out for specifications in the set such as lightness, shading, or rigidness. More than that, you should also adjust your expectation on the pay off based on the theme of the set.
Here are the labels to look out for.
- H Pencils
These are hard pencils that have less graphite left on the paper, which means these are made of lighter lead graphite. These pencils are best for shadowing and refining. Some are even used to reinforce blending.
- B Pencils
These are softer pencils compared to the H pencils. In contrast, they leave much more graphite on the paper, so in the process, the pay off is darker. These are best used for drafts, defining, and blending. Most B pencils are used with hand manipulation techniques to fade out the color.
- F Pencils
This refers to the fine point of a pencil. These are the ones that will stay sharp for a long time. Further, they are hard pencils and are mostly used for defining and enhancing an already completed drawing. They are not used for regular drawing because they are much harder to manipulate.
- HB Pencils
These are just the middle ground pencils, but they still tend to lean more on the harder side. Therefore, it is not best to be used in a regular drawing as the pay off might look harsh. These can be used for regular writing and defining.
Some General Rules
You might have seen a combination of the letters, or repetition of letters in the labels. Other than that, there are also numbers. Here are a few more things to remember:
- When you see a number, the higher it is, the harder the writing core, but the lighter the mark is left on the paper. For example, 4H is harder than a 2H. However, a 4H is lighter than a 2H.
- As for softness and darkness, it follows that the higher the number, the darker the color will be. For example, a 5B is softer than a 2B, but a 5B is darker than a 2B.
So, do you now know what are graphite pencils? Now that you know, it is now easier for you to choose the right pencil to use for your artwork. You will no longer get lost in the sea of letters and numbers. Go on and find the perfect drawing pencil for you!