Coloured Pencils

Coloured pencils. I absolutely love them!

Easy to draw with and put away when you are finished without having to do a lot of cleaning up.

But there are so many brands out there.

I find that for coloured pencils it firstly comes down to what you prefer. Do you want to have a beautiful set of pencils or are you happy to have any pencils? If you want to have a set but try to get a pile of pencils you may find you are never really happy with your purchase and you just keep on buying pencils.

To get the widest range of colour my advice would be to collect different brands of coloured pencils and combine them. This creates the advantage of having a wider range as I have found different brands can have different shades of colour sometimes.

If however you want to have a set of colours I have found a lovely set that is a good range and fairly cheap (compared to name brands). The brand I am currently using is Marco Raffine.

Some pencils can feel like you aren’t easily rubbing colour onto paper, however I haven’t had any issues with these pencils in doing that.

The white pencil (usually the one I find the hardest to create an impact), does lighten up some colours a little when applied on top of a colour but it doesn’t whiten to such a large extent that it is has a really huge impact. In other words, it doesn’t make the colour significantly lighter. So if you want to have white areas, my advice is to put the white down first then add your other colours on top of it.

The Artist

Graphite Pencils

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.

The Artist

Kneadable Eraser

What a great invention for both coloured and graphite pencils!

A kneadable eraser grabs onto the pencil you have put onto your paper and removes the top layer. This eraser can be used to either lighten or completely erase an area. If however you want to erase an area completely clean, a kneadable eraser may not always clean it to the point you are wanting to achieve. If that is the case than I would probably use the kneadable eraser to remove the top layer and then a normal eraser to remove the rest of the pencil to reduce the likelihood of erasing hard enough to put a hole in the paper.

Note: This doesn’t mean you won’t put a hole in the paper, but it can reduce your liklihood of creating a hole by already removing some of the pencil so you don’t have to use as much effort with your normal eraser.

A kneadable eraser also has another great advantage beyond being able to lighten areas. For normal erasers, I find I try to use the edges to be able to erase small areas. A kneadable eraser is able to be pulled and molded into the shape you want to use to erase with. This is really helpful in an artwork when you want to lighten a certain shape or area. And as you get colour from the pencil you removed from your artwork onto your eraser, you can remold it to get a cleaner area to use.

There are also however downsides to using a kneadable eraser. As mentioned, they don’t always erase as cleanly as a normal eraser, so they may leave pencil behind. They can harden so it becomes harder to mold them. And if they fall on the floor they can pick up what they land on (like dirt from the floor).
If you are wanting to create artworks with pencil, I would definitely recommend using a kneadable eraser. Having used different brands, and as the general cost of kneadable erasers aren’t that expensive, I would suggest buying any brand and seeing how you find it.

The Artist