Not all drawing pencils are created equal!

The best drawing pencils for artists!


Tombow Pencil 6Pak for ArtistsWhen I was learning to draw I had to do repetitive exercises using different hardnesses of pencils. It was very similar to doing scales on the piano. Repetition is a good thing as it trains eye hand coordination. I was not given a specific manufacturer or brand of pencil to buy, just the numbers, 2H, HB, 2B and so on. When I went to the art store I was amazed at how many manufacturers they were selling drawing pencils; Derwent, Sanford, Stablio, Staedtler, Design….. the list goes on. I didn’t pay much attention to the manufacturers. I thought a 2B pencil was the same from manufacturer to manufacturer. I have a tendency to be heavy handed when I draw. The lightest tones are difficult for me to achieve. In college I preferred a 4B or a 6B pencil. Back then we did a lot of smearing and I liked the softer leads. As I started my career as a Botanical and Natural Science Artist I knew I would have to master tonal drawing with more detail, crisper edges. Smearing and messy drawings would not be acceptable. I had tried many different brands of 2H pencils but found them to be scratchy, even gritty and very difficult to layer. One day I stumbled upon the Japanese brand, Tombow. The graphite was smoother, easier to layer and I found I could get a beautiful, silvery drawing that was delicate and precise with a 2H pencil! This got me to thinking……. I wonder how different manufacturers are within the same softness and hardness of leads. I continued to explore different brands and hands down Tombow wins!

The word “Tombow” in Japanese means “Dragonfly”. On the Tombow pencil there is a tiny little gold dragonfly embossed into the shaft of the pencil. For awhile they were difficult to find but now they are readily available online and in some art stores.

In my online drawing class I have several exercises which are repeated over and over again using different pencil brands as well as different softnesses and hardnesses. Many of the students have switched to Tombow and are really liking them. I found a nice intro packet on Amazon that not only gives you 6 different strengths of pencils, but it comes with a super tiny eraser. The eraser is great because it gets into the finest spots to lift out highlights, create veins on leaves and butterflies and more. I have included a link here directly where you can purchase this packet and try them for yourself.

Tombow Mono Professional Drawing Pencil Set, 6 Pencils and Mono Zero Eraser, 2H, HB/B/2B/4B/6B Degrees (61002)

What is your favorite drawing pencil? Which brand do you like best? Which hardness/softness do you like?

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