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Choosing Your Graphite Pencil

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

While selecting the pencils for your work it’s very important to know which type of pencil is good for what kind of work. Yes, you read it right. Pencils are segregated according to different grades. Graphite pencil cores are mostly made up of 2 components: graphite and clay. The marks made by a pencil depend on the ratio of these two materials . The more the clay, the harder and lighter a pencil will be. The more the graphite , the darker and softer a pencil will be.

That’s why the pencils are marked with different grades. so you will find pencils with H & B with some numbers written on it. I think most of us know that most basic pencils available in the market are HB or 2B. Have you ever thought what does that HB stands for? If yes, well then you know the answer. Those who are still unaware here is the answer.

The process for creating the grades for pencils by mixing different amount of graphite and clay was invented by Koh-i-noor Hardmuth, a Czech manufacturing company of stationary products based in Ceské Budějovice. Joseph Hardmuth, the founder invented a way to combine the 2 materials and made it affordable for common people. Before that pencils used to be very costly because of the use of only high quality charcoal. The Hardmuth company named their pencils as HB (stands for Hardmuth and Budějovice also known as Budweis) and F for Franz Hardmuth (grandson of Joseph Hardmuth and the person equally responsible behind this invention).

Later it was used as H for Hard, B for Black or Bold and F for Firm.

Grade B

A Pencil with Grade B has more graphite in its core and will make darker easy-to-smuge marks on the paper.

Grade H

A Pencil with Grade H has more clay in its core so it will make a lighter, finer mark and will smudge less on the paper.

For writing you should always stick to 2B, HB and 2H. Harder pencils such as 2H to 9H are great for very light sketching like drafting and outline . The lines will be really precise. So a sketch with H grade pencils before watercolour painting is a nice option

. For expressive sketching and especially for shading, bolder and softer pencils like 2B to 9B are the best options.

So at last my suggestion is to to buy a whole set if you are into pencil drawing. Always choose a brand you are familiar with . Personally, I prefer Staedtler, Derwent and Faber-Castel.

Hope you now know little more about graphite pencils.

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