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A Discussion Over Materials

When creating artwork it's important to chose the right tools. In this brief blog we are going to be talking about some of the most common used for illustration.


Pencils are always the go to when it comes to drawing but pencils come in many different types so it's a good idea to make sure you have the right pencil for you. Pencils work on a hardness scale. The scale works with a number and then a letter for example 4H or 6B.

Demystifying the code of the hardness scale works like this. The higher the number towards "H" you go the more clay you will have in your graphite. This will make the lead harder and less likely to smudge. As a result the pencil will leave lighter marks. The other side of the scale is marked with a "B". The higher the number then the more graphite is in the lead. Graphite is softer and will smidge easier and appear darker.

Your middle ground is an "HB" pencil or now referred to as an "F" pencil. While most pencils are easily accessible this one you may have sitting around the house because it is the equivalent of a Number 2 pencil.


Now that we've covered pencils lets talk erasers. Chances are you are going to make mistakes so a good eraser will be your best friend. Erasers come in 4 major types.

Pink Erasers

If you have a number 2 pencil or an eraser topper then you have yourself a "pink eraser". The name can be a little misleading because not all pink erasers are pink. These erasers are more abrasive and can have a higher tendency of ripping your paper.

Gum Erasers

Gum erasers are generally tan, brown, or sometimes blue. Gum erasers are softer and crumble as they are used. As they crumble the excess graphite is held within the crumbles and will need to be cleaned away. Due to the left over graphite the crumbles can leave streaks on your paper.

Kneadable Erasers

Kneadable erasers are generally grey and as the name implies, are kneadable. As you knead the eraser graphite will become trapped within the eraser itself. Because the eraser can be kneaded it can also be shaped to fit smaller areas.

Vinyl Erasers

Vinyl erasers or polymer erasers are my personal favorite. They are soft and therefore not as abrasive to surfaces. As you use the eraser left over rubbings will include the graphite ready to whisk away leaving your eraser cleaner and ready for use again.


Not all paper is built the same. Paper comes in different weights with a different tooth so you definitely want to find the right paper to pair with your pencils.


The term weight refers to how dense or thick your paper is. The lighter the weight the thinner the paper will be. Lighter weight papers are generally less expensive thus making them easier to tear. A heavier paper weight works at the opposite end of the spectrum and will be thicker but more expensive. Heavier paper will also last longer and will be more common with final production pieces.


Tooth is a term used to determine how abrasive a piece of paper is. The general rule is to use softer media like graphite, pastels, or softer pencils with higher tooth papers as it will grab the media better. A harder or sharper pencil will glide over paper better with a smaller tooth.

Computer paper is a nice smooth paper that will work well with that No. 2 pencil you have at home and is enough to get you started.

I hope that I've demystified all those numbers on your paper, pencils, and helped you learn the difference in erasers so you can find a combination that works for you. Find what works for you so you aren't struggling with your paper and pencils. Remember, the tools you use will not make you a better artist but by using the ones that work for you then you will have a much better time and enjoy the practice you put in to becoming a better artist.

#artisttips #art #artist #pencil #paper #eraser #pencils #erasers #drawing

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