Pencils, charcoal and graphite

Pencils

Pencils come in a range of hardness:

  • The H range is hard and light and useful for design or technical drawings
  • The B range is soft and dark and more suitable for shading and tonal drawings.

Pencil techniques

Coloured pencils

Coloured pencils can be blended on the page and their tone can be altered by pressure.

Some coloured pencils are water-soluble. Water can be brushed over them, or they can be used on wet paper to create more painterly effects. Water-soluble pencils tend to be softer than ordinary coloured pencils.

Student coloured pencil drawing of woman on a beach

Charcoal and graphite

Charcoal is a fast and responsive drawing media. It gives both soft and strong lines depending on how it is used. It smudges easily so use a fixative to keep it in place.

It is best used for quick sketching and creating expressive marks. It creates very different marks ranging from soft and subtle shading to bold, dark lines depending on how much pressure you use.

Graphite sticks are harder than charcoal and can be used for more detail. They are like pencils, but without the wooden casing. They are useful for shading and blending.

Student charcoal portrait of seated older woman

Charcoal and graphite techniques