On the first day of
Christmas NatStatWeek, my true love sent to me: a pencil day. Now I’ve never really thought of myself as a fan of pencils – I’ve always been a fan of ink and pens. However, this is not because I dislike them but rather I think I’ve just never realised how important pencils are and how much I use them in my daily life. All of my drawings are designed with pencils… all of my sketches, card design ideas, sticker designs are all sketched with pencils… they always have been. I have a set of pencils from when I was younger that range from 9B to 9H – covering all of my needs – but I still never really appreciated them. Until recently. I now know how amazing these little creations are, how easy they are to use and how much I love the ability to erase them when I make a mistake (which is probably quite often…).
Even the ‘aumsome’ logo you might see on my site was sketched in pencil first, before I went over it with a brush marker and scanned it in to create the logo. So it does seem very appropriate that today’s theme is all about pencils – giving us all a chance to appreciate them!
Whilst I used to just grab any pencil around to do what I needed to do, I have now realised the importance of having the correct pencil to hand. For drawing, I always take a moment to look at the grade of the pencil. If you’re not sure how pencils are graded, they are given a number and a letter. H is for Hardness, whilst B is for Blackness. (There’s also an F for Fine). These are scaled so you can get a pencil that’s 2H or 3H or even 9H (and everything in between!). I tend to stay within the ranges of 2B-4B for the majority of my drawings but have definitely use some of the H for lighter or finer details or 8-9B for the darkest bits. Personally I use brands like Derwent or Faber-Castall and just own a set of them that cover the whole range (and probably about 10 2Bs…).
But there are so many differences in pencils – I am only beginning to notice these myself! Have you ever gotten one of those really cheap packs (probably from the pound store) as a child and gotten like 100 pencils for £1? Yeah those ones that can be a pain to sharpen or keep breaking. Yup, those. I hate those. If they work, then fine, great, I don’t mind. But for the most part, I really struggle to sharpen them (and I have a great sharpener!) as they can just snap off easily or the lead seems to be broken on the inside. I like a pencil that’s easy to sharpen… for the obvious reason that I would rather use the pencil than spend all day trying to use it.
For this reason, I know have two “go to” pencils that I always have on hand. Both are very different but I like them for different reasons. One of those choices is the Palomino Blackwing Pearl pencil. These fall under the “balanced” graphite range and produce these beautiful soft, dark lines. When I am pencilling out a sketch or practising my lettering, these are the ones I pull out. They can certainly be quite expensive though but you get what you pay for with these. I’m definitely looking at other ranges they have to see if I can get my hands on a few others too.
For a cheaper alternative, the other pencil I always have on hand is the Field Notes Brand pencils. I actually now use these in the notebook that I carry around with me when making notes, to dos or drawing sketches for ideas I have. I love that it’s easy to erase the pencil marks if I make a mistake, which makes it perfect for on the go use – especially given that all of my greatest ideas tend to come to me whilst I’m on a moving bus or train and am likely to end up scribbling all over my sketch!
You can also get pencils in beautiful patterns, with funny quotes or even in funky shapes now so be sure to look around and see what you might like! I do enjoy having some pretty ones to look at or ones with great quotes on them – I’ve seen some with hilarious quotes that I will have to buy for a friend. I love these motivational quote ones. They aren’t great quality, to be honest but I love seeing the quotes – especially the “Just Start” one as that’s a reminder I often need when I’m too scared to do something. Just starting it can help wonders for that fear!
But enough from me, go check out some other pencil experts now…
I briefly spoke about how pencil grades work but didn’t cover them in much detail. If you wanted to find out a bit more, check out this post by Pencils.com. And for more pencil goodness (and a lot more information than that I’ve provided you with here – I definitely starting appreciating a good pencil more because of this site), head on over to Wood & Graphite – I love the videos but there’s blog posts for you to read too! It’s a great resource so be sure to check it out.
Trust me, watch a few videos and you will quickly fall in love with pencils too. They are far more versatile than you think… Did you know you can write underwater with a pencil? You know, in case you’re in the depths of the ocean and suddenly get a great idea to write down – you can!
I believe both of these pencil brands are made in US (so they will be cheaper from there) but if you are in the UK, you can find them at various stationery retailers. For an idea of the price, you can find them on Amazon – Field Notes Brand Pencil or Palomino Blackwing Pearl Pencils.