How to Draw With Pencils

Things You'll Need

  • Set of drawing pencils
  • Plastic and kneaded erasers
  • Shapers, tortillons and stumps
  • Brushes and chamois cloth
  • Artist's drawing paper
  • Sharpeners and emery boards
  • Moist wipes

How to Draw With Pencils. Drawing with pencils may seem easy; we've all done it. However, the difference between a doodle and a work of art lies in technique--which comes with education and practice--and tools. The following steps will help you learn how to draw real artwork with pencils.

Buy a good set of art pencils. Start with a boxed set and replace them with individual pencils as needed. A more expensive set will ensure that the lead quality is high and centered. (Leads that aren't centered will break when you sharpen them.)

Sharpen your drawing pencils correctly. Don't make a fine point of the leads as you would do when using pencils to write or do math. Instead, use a small knife or a pencil sharpener that makes flat tips. You can also rub your point against an emery board to get the tip the right shape for drawing.

Hold your pencil correctly. Grasp it between your thumb and first finger with the shaft of the pencil resting against your palm. Turn your hand palm down and draw with the side of the tip rather than the end.

Add other tools. Erasers, blending stumps and tortillons, shapers, brushes and chamois cloths are all used in pencil drawings. Buy white plastic erasers and kneaded erasers only--never the pink rubber erasers, which will leave holes in your paper. You may want to invest in a battery-operated eraser.

Draw on the right kind of paper for pencil artwork. Avoid paper that's extremely smooth; instead, invest in a pad of drawing paper with some tooth, roughness that picks up graphite better.

Pay attention. Ask yourself what kind of line you want to draw and purposefully apply the pencil to the paper. Think about the angle between your pencil and the paper, the sharpness of your point, and the amount of pressure to apply.

Have wipes on hand for quick clean-ups. Every pencil artists gets graphite on his or her hands while drawing. A moist wipe will clean both you and your work area when you're done drawing.


  • Take a few classes in your community, read books on technique and look at other artists' work; however, the best way to improve is to practice. Get a sketchbook and draw every day. Artists, like athletes, need to warm up. Begin each drawing session with a couple of sketches that you'll throw away. Know which pencils to choose. For broad, dark lines that blend easily, choose a bold pencil, such as B, 2B or 3B. For precise, light lines, choose hard pencils, such as H or 2H.


  • Never blend with your finger. This leaves oil on the paper that will affect the appearance of your drawing, though you may not see the problem until later.

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