Keeping Blacks, Black
is essential to realistic graphite pencil drawings,
so it's important that your blacks are true blacks
and your whites true white. This article will cover
using the correct pencils to get dark shades in your
art work. If you are just starting out in pencil art,
you may be using only one grade of pencil. For example,
many start using mechanical pencils or #2 pencils.
These do have their place, but you will see a difference
when you start using different grades of graphite.
is graded on a scale of hardness which also dictates
the darkness of the pigment.
This chart illustrates some different grades of graphite:
Leads, Thinner Lines,
and Less Pigment
Leads, Thicker Lines,
and More Pigment
"H" stands for "hardness", and
the "B" stands for "blackness."
Pencils with the "H" grade indicates the lead is harder
and will lay down less graphite. These firmer pencils
are useful for fine lines and small details, and are
often preferred by engineers and architects. The lighter
and harder leads sharpen to a great point, and in
portraits are useful for rendering hair and fur.
pencils are completely in the middle of the scale,
balancing hardness and pigment. (Most mechanical pencils
are "HB".) "2B" pencils are like
the plain old #2 pencils you used in school. From
"2B" on up the scale indicates softer lead. Pencils
with higher numbers lay down more graphite. To get
darker values you would want to choose higher "B"
grades of graphite. Since these pencils also have
softer lead, they blend very easily.
To get nice dark values I use GENERALS "6B" or "8B"
Extra Smooth Woodless Graphite pencils. Some pencil
artists like to use fine black pens to achieve the
darkest values in their drawing. However, ink is unforgiving
and you can achieve the same look with a soft graphite
pencil. Occasionally I will overlay my darkest shadows
with charcoal. This helps reduce the shine of the
graphite and increases the depth of the shadows.
you need to cover large areas with a dark shade, try
powdered graphite. GENERALS sells pure powdered graphite
in a large plastic bottle. This can be applied with
a soft cloth or a blending stick. This renders a darkness
similar to a "6B" or "8B" pencil. However, it can
be messy, so protect your area and the lighter values
in your drawing.
the next article . . .
protecting highlights, and drawing in the darkest
shadows, its time for shading the mid tones.
more about shading and the tools to use for it in
the next article Shades
to List of Articles