When it comes to using graphite pencils I usually aim to own a set ranging from around 2H to 6B.
If you are new to graphite pencils, the higher the “H” (e.g. 5H) the lighter the grey colour will appear on your piece of paper. And you will have to push harder on the piece of paper to try to make that colour darker. This will potentially be risking damaging the paper you are drawing on.
The higher the “B” (e.g. 6B) the pencil will more easily rub a darker grey colour onto the piece of paper. However with this much graphite it can be easy to smudge the drawing by getting the black graphite on your hand. To handle this issue I tend to rest my hand on a piece of paper that covers the part of my drawing where my hand is resting. To lighten the dark colour you apply less pressure and to darken it you apply more pressure.
People may use different ranges of graphite pencils in their artworks but I tend to do one of two routes:
- I use one pencil (usually a HB or 2B as they are between the dark Bs and the light Hs) and draw the contours (outlines) with that one pencil as well as shading with that same pencil by applying pressure according to how dark I want to draw;
- Or I use around a HB or 2B and a 6B. I use the HB or 2B to draw my contours and do my shading but when I want to make an area especially dark I will add in the 6B to contrast the area in as dark a grey as I can make it.
I have a few brands and haven’t really found an issue between different brands. Currently I have brands like Derwent, and Faber Castell.
Recently I have been experimenting with using a pacer instead of a 2B or HB (also known as a clutch pencil). The pacer I am using uses 2mm lead. I enjoy having a heavier tool in my hand compared to a pencil. It is handy to also buy a pacer that has a sharpener on the end as it is designed to sharpen that lead. And being a pacer means if you need more lead you just release more lead out of the end of the pacer or if need be just reload lead into the pacer. The current pacer I am using the most is a green Linex.
Overall when it comes to graphite pencils it is just about what you prefer to use. Try them out and see what you want to use.