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13 Different Types of Pencils

Various pencils of different shades on a blank canvas.

Pencils are among the most popular writing and drawing mediums easily accessible in our modern society, there being a wide variety of types of pencils available. The first pencil, discovered during Roman times, served as a valuable and effective writing instrument, commonly referred to as a Stylus.

The only difference a stylus had over the modern-day charcoal pencil was its metallic components, which help improve stability, creating ideal and readable characters on the then paper, Papyrus.

Over the years, pencils continued evolving, with some featuring charcoal as the pencil core improves their efficiency. Graphite saw the most significant upgrade to these writing tools and was discovered in England during the 1560s. In 1662, Germany produced pencils whose design featured graphite fitted on a hollowed-out wooden stick and was among the first wooden pencil largescale manufacturers.

Types of Pencils

There exist three main categories of graphite pencils, the B, F, and H classes, each serving unique applications.

B Pencils

Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, B, Graphite 12-Pack

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B pencils are brighter than the other prospects despite being easily erasable, making them ideal for sketching and note-taking. In addition, these pencils are softer, making them create the perfect contact on paper to leave more graphite than their alternatives.


Pasler Professional Graphic Sketching Drawing Pencils 12 Count (8B)

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The 8B prospect is the first pencil option to find under B pencils and is exceptionally dark, providing you with the darkest shade of gray on any writing material. Artists find this type of pencil ideal for drawing and sketching since it creates prominent, dark, and perfectly visible marks on the drawing sheet.


Pasler Professional Graphic Sketching Drawing Pencils 12 Count (7B)

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The 7B pencil option has similar features to its predecessor and is perfect for art-related applications. The shade given out by this type of pencil is dark gray, and its intensity is slightly less compared to the 8B. When used on paper, you should expect a stunning image complemented by extremely dark features.


Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, 6B, Graphite 12-Pack

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Every professional artist will guarantee that the 6B is the best graphite drawing pencil available. Its features make it the perfect tool to use when adding dark values to your drawing projects. It offers better graphite for paper distribution, which plays a significant role in the image quality output. If you create portraits, the 6B pencil type will provide you with realistic textures that correctly bring out skin, fabric, and fur characteristics.


Pasler Professional Graphic Sketching Drawing Pencils 12 Count (5B)

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The softness of B pencil options increases with its number, meaning that a 5B pencil is softer than a 4B pencil. This pencil type produces darker marks on paper and serves numerous applications, drawing and note-taking being the most common.


Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, 4B, Graphite 12-Pack

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Unlike its predecessors, 4B pencils are slightly lighter and make ideal tools for your sketching and drawing needs. Their light nature allows you to apply less pressure while manipulating it on paper and will still bring out sticking-out images. So, if you fancy yourself with a passion for drawing, this is one pencil type that will guarantee a stress-free and motivational experience.

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Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, 3B, Graphite 12-Pack

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The 3B variant is a graphite pencil where the light shades dominate the darker ones, as the mark produced on paper is more towards a lighter gray. If your drawing features light values, this pencil type is an ideal option to include in your project.


Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, 2B, Graphite 12-Pack

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2B pencils give out a good range of tones and shades when used on paper, making them ideal for multiple applications. Their nature provides a medium to dark toning that can vary from light to dark shades depending on the pressure felt during manipulation. Some typical applications include drawing, sketching, and shading, while students find them excellent for writing rough work.


Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, HB, Graphite 12-Pack

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The HB pencil is the true definition of standard graphite pencils and offers neutral features compared to what B and F pencils guarantee. They fall in the actual middle of the pencil lead scale, and their tough nature makes them perfect for drawing and art-related purposes.

The B in its title stands for the blackness of its main component, while H explains more about its hardness. Staedtler is a major pencil manufacturer that considers the HB pencil a best-seller.

H Pencils

H is another standard classification of types of pencils available. They are the ideal sketching pencils and fit other applications, requiring a writing tool to create light marks quickly cleared using an eraser.

In H pencils, the lead’s hardness increases with the number on the H pencil variant; 4H pencils are harder than 2H pencils, and the lightest pencil features the hardest lead. Generally, all the pencils that fall under the F class are tough and guarantee extreme precession by holding the tip in place.

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Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, 2H, Graphite 12-Pack

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Unlike other pencil classifications, H pencils contain a lesser concentration of lead properties, hence the lighter shades. If you are new to art and drawing, it will help to invest more in options under this classification, as the light shades are erasable without much effort and lesser damage to the drawing material.


Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, 3H, Graphite 12-Pack

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3H pencils leave very light imprints on paper because their features significantly comprise light shades of gray. This type of pencil is excellent for sketches that involve adding light shades, and you can also use it to fill the blank spaces in your project with brighter pencil shades.


Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, 4H, Graphite 12-Pack

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A 4H pencil type is an excellent option for artists looking for a light-shading pencil capable of bringing out fine lines. This type of pencil is also effective in shading applications, and the characters produced lean more towards gray shades and appear less shiny because of the clay properties in its design.

These pencils can fit multiple purposes, including sketching, and are easy to maintain sharpness, reducing your pencil sharpener frequency.


Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, 5H, Graphite 12-Pack

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The hardness levels of the 5H pencil variant help create dark and thin lines, making it one of the best mechanical pencil options. Any activity that requires you to draw dark marks which are thin, the 5H pencils guarantee you a satisfactory outcome.


Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil, 6H, Graphite 12-Pack

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6H pencils are top-quality graphite pencils commonly used for sketching, drawing, and writing, among other artistic and technical applications. It features the highest hardness level across all pencil types and provides the darkest and thinnest marks on paper.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Types of Pencils Are Recommended for Construction?

Experts recommend H or 2H graphite pencil for all construction applications since these prospects provide clean and crisps marks on paper. 2H pencils are ideal for drawing the center, sectional and dimensional lines, whereas the H variant is perfect for lettering and object lines. HB pencils best draw dimensioning and boundary lines because of the fine dark line they produce and are artist-grade pencils.

What is the Difference Between H and B Types of Pencils?

The primary difference between H and B pencil types is the hardness of their Graphite component. B is a softer pencil than its counterpart because of its graphite concentration, meaning that the marks it leaves on paper are darker and thicker. On the other hand, H pencils have extremely tough graphite; hence, achieving gray shades and thin outlays.

What Type of Pencils Should You Have To Start Drawing?

Always aim to start your drawings with the 2B or 3B pencil type in every drawing project. They will provide you with just the correct shade configuration to begin drawing, and you can involve darker shades as you progress. 6B or 9B are ideal for deeper tones, and if used correctly, you will not require other pencil types except for a few instances. You can add some spice to the art by including a colored pencil in your project.

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