Drawing Supplies

Pencil Drawings: Seeing the World in Black and White

A lot of artists use vivid hues to represent the world they see around them. They buy paints in every color of the rainbow, or huge sets of markers to help them do so. Other people prefer to give a starker view of the world. They work in shades of black and white, capturing shadows and space. Most favor using graphite pencils as the instruments to create their artwork with. These consist of a narrow core, or lead, of graphite inside a protective casing, like wood or plastic. The casing prevents the core from falling out, breaking, and smearing all over the user's hands. Artists can wield these writing tools carefully, laying down the fine lines and dark smudges that will detail their arts and crafts ideas for all to see.

Many pencil artists hone their drawing skills during their school years. They find themselves trapped in endless lectures about subjects that do not appeal to them, and doodle in their notebooks with their #2 pencils to pass the time. This pencil graphite is actually excellent to practice writing and sketching with. It has "lead" with a medium-hard consistency, which means it can make both light and dark lines, depending on how blunt the tip of the pencil becomes with use. If the graphite lead is softer, it will make dark lines. Harder graphite will leave behind light lines. A lot of artists who draw large illustrations, still-life pictures, and landscapes enjoy using sticks of graphite. Graphite sticks are similar to compressed charcoal sticks. They have broad sides good for doing shading and composition. Other great graphite tools for drawing include crayons with pointed tips that can provide better definition. Most online art supply stores carry graphite products in varying grades and sizes.

Artists looking to make drawings with more precision may want to purchase a graphite pencil set with leads of varying hardness. Almost every art supply store will have such sets for sale, and they can be ordered from a stationary retailer’s online store, as well. Graphite pencils make great learning tools, because even though their markings are extremely durable, they can still be erased if made in error. There are many types of erasers that will work well for removing pencil designs from paper and other surfaces. The best erasers will pick up the graphite molecules off of a surface without an excessive amount of force being used, will not do any damage, and will not produce a lot of residual mess. Good erasers will also last through several art projects. They should not fall apart soon after someone begins using them.

Most people are familiar with cheap rubber erasers, like the Pink Pearl erasers from their childhood. These are good for picking up graphite off of surfaces, but they have a tendency to smear dark markings around, and will tear through paper surfaces when being used. A soft, vinyl eraser will also remove pencil markings easily, but the paper they are on will most likely be traumatized in some way. Art gum erasers are favored by artists, because they can pick up graphite without tearing paper surfaces, but they are constructed from coarse rubber which crumbles rapidly, so they will not last very long once they have been taken out of the wrapper. Kneaded erasers can actually absorb graphite and charcoal markings right off of paper, however, the substances will remain on the outside of them and transfer elsewhere when the erasers are used again. These kinds of erasers have to be cleaned periodically to remove the graphite dust clinging to them. All sorts of erasers can be purchased at arts and crafts stores, or people can order them from an online catalog.

In addition to wooden graphite pencils, artists use mechanical pencils to make drawings with. These are plastic or metal pencils with mechanisms that propel lead down through their tips with simple button clicks. The best mechanical pencils are prized for their ability to produce lines of a consistent size, and because they are well-balanced in the artists' hands. Since they are not repeatedly ground down by an old pencil sharpener, mechanical pencils last for years. They are higher in price than wooden pencils, however, their lead and erasers are completely refillable, so using these pencils actually saves the artist money in the long run. Cheap Bic mechanical pencils or Papermate mechanical pencils also make great sketching pencils for artists to use out in the field, because they are portable and have retractable lead.

Artists can purchase pencils that have specific sizes of mechanical pencil lead for doing different kinds of artwork. Pencils with thick lead are used for sketching, and thin-leaded pencils are used for writing and technical drawing. Architectural drafting, or the hand-drawing of structural blueprints, is an example of drawing that requires a pencil with thin lead. Staedtler mechanical pencils are perfect for this, because they can come with lead less than a millimeter thick. Japanese mechanical pencils are also valued by artists and draftsmen for their precision markings. People can buy most mechanical pencils best at art supply stores, or get them from office supply retailers.

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