Learning to draw can be daunting enough without fretting over what supplies to get. With so many different items
But it doesn’t have to be that way. And it shouldn’t.
In fact, this article will discuss the pencil drawing supplies you will need and guide you to take the guesswork out of which ones to choose so you can get started in drawing with graphite pencils.
Just in case you’re wondering if you will have enough “talent” to draw, please read my post “Can Anyone Learn to Draw?”.
Also, if you’re not sure how to learn to draw, my post, “The Best Way to Learn to Draw” will definitely help you get started.
- Graphite pencils
- Drawing paper for finished drawings
- Tortillons and Blending Stumps
- Proportional Divider
- Drawing Board
- Storage Container
Yes, you can just pick up an ordinary No. 2 pencil and start doodling or sketching—anyone can do that.
However, this article assumes you are more serious and want the best supplies and materials to start out right.
To that end, let’s talk about graphite pencils made specifically for graphite drawing art.
Generally, they are sold in a range of hardness or softness from 9H to 9B (lightest to darkest). The H pencils have a harder lead and make narrower and lighter lines with 9H being the lightest while the B pencils make darker lines with 9B as the darkest.
If you are just starting out, I would suggest sketching and getting familiar with the HB and 2B pencils first.
Regarding brands, my advice is to get a professional grade pencil—yes, even if you’re a beginner—and yes, you will feel very cool using them 🙂 ! You won’t regret it and the quality will be worth every penny (although they really are not expensive).
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The brand I use and recommend is :
These pencils come in a 24 pack, but honestly, you can get a 12 pack (pictured above) very reasonably that contains 4H to 6B, everything you will need to get started.
Also, Derwent Graphic pencils are made of the best graphite and clay that is pure to maximize a smooth and quality flow; they are a joy to work with!
In conclusion, you cannot go wrong with these pencils—they are a professional grade pencil you will enjoy and appreciate.
Sketchbooks and Paper
Learning to draw is something you will want to practice daily to keep improving. And the best way I recommend is to draw in a sketchbook whenever you have a chance to sketch.
Here is the Daler-Rowney Simply Sketchbook – 11” x 8-1/2”
Generally, I recommend a good quality drawing paper with a weight of at least 60 lbs. when you would like to do a finished drawing,
There are many drawing tablets on the market, but just don’t get one with paper as thin as printer paper as you will have a difficult time building up darker values.
My recommendation for quality, durable for erasing and will allow for smooth blending is:
Please be sure to choose the vellum surface not the smooth.
Ahhh…sounds great, doesn’t it??
Regarding handheld sharpeners, I have purchased ones from the dollar store, and they were fine, but I think I was just lucky.
Honestly, I recommend having a good handheld sharpener. They are not expensive and give you peace of mind that they will work well.
Kum Wedge Sharpener (Click here to check out). is the one I use and recommend, pictured here. It is made in Germany and has carbon steel blades that are razor sharp. Blades are replaceable, too!
Further, there are no worries of it chewing up your pencils. This is a quality sharpener folks.
In general, battery sharpeners are OK. Just know that you get what you pay for. Cheap ones can really damage pencils. Aim for purchasing a better one if you want a battery-operated sharpener.
In addition, if you purchase one on-line, look at reviews to find a good one. You will love the convenience of taking it on location!
We are so used to having erasers at the end of our Ticonderogas or mechanical pencils, that you may not think about needing to purchase separate erasers.
Well, the professional graphite drawing pencils do not have erasers on the end so clearly, you will need to have erasers on hand.
There are basically two different types of erasers I recommend you get: your basic synthetic rubber eraser which we’re most familiar with, usually in pink and a kneadable eraser (like putty).
But the one eraser I really like for its smooth and gentleness is the
Moreover, it is Latex free if that is a concern.
A second synthetic type of eraser I absolutely love is the
Here is a picture of me using the Mono Zero to put a vein into a leaf!
It is like a mechanical pencil except it has a very small eraser in it. And refills are available as well!
Love this little gem and refuse to draw without it!!
Kneaded or Kneadable Erasers
These are called erasers but don’t look, feel or erase like traditional erasers and their purpose is different from that of a traditional eraser.
These kneaded erasers come in a wrapped package usually in gray but also colors.
Pictured here is a kneaded eraser.
These erasers will dry out if left out. Some come with cases. However, if you buy one without a case, a ziplock bag for storage works just fine.
It is a putty-like substance (see above photo) that removes the graphite from your paper without any erasure crumbs and doesn’t wear away.
(And did I mention, how fun and stress relieving it is to just play with?? Lol :))
Generally, to use the kneadable eraser, you simply press down and pull up to lift graphite for the purpose of lightening or lifting value.
While you will see the graphite on the putty, you simply stretch and refold/mold the soiled part over on itself to get a clean spot again.
They are not good for erasing larger areas as they will not erase completely.
Using the Rubber and Kneaded Eraser Together
When you wish to remove graphite from an area, it is a great idea to use the two together.
First use the kneaded eraser to lift off as much graphite as you can, and then use the rubber eraser to finish erasing.
For example, here is a photo showing the difference of using the two-step process with both erasers uses on the right of the line vs. using just the rubber to the left of the line.
Clearly the right is erased more completely with very little residue left.
Tortillons and Blending Stumps
The shorter is the Tortillon, the double-ended one is the Blending Stump
Primarily the blending stump being thicker is great for larger areas, where the tortillon’s fine, pointed tip allows you to get into small or tight areas to blend.
In general, I like working with the stump vs. the tortillon. Here is a picture of a circle I worked with the blending stump on the right and the tortillon on the left.
The stump just feels softer and more gentle on the paper. And I was able to blend the graphite out farther. See for yourself the results.
Still, the tortillon is great for blending in very tiny areas.
To sharpen the blending stumps, just use sandpaper.
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You may not need a proportional divider right away if you are just practicing sketching and possibly following the techniques in Betty Edwards book, “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” (which I recommend and began with when teaching myself to draw).
However, going forward, this is a tool which can help you with proportions (just as the name suggests). It is also called a scale divider.
If your reference photo is bigger or smaller than your art piece, this is a tool you won’t want to be without. You can easily transfer the drawing to scale by adjusting the divider, getting all your measurements and proportions exactly right.
This makes scaling everything to its proper size a breeze!
If you intend to draw a reference photo with a 1:1 ratio, then a simple geometric compass would work just fine to transfer measurements.
Drawing Board and Storage Container
I really recommend a board to draw on, preferably one that has clips. A conventional clipboard will work fine if you’re working with the separate sheet. A paper pad will suffice to draw your art on; it’s stiff enough.
There are many storage containers on the market. A brand I particularly love is Art Bin. Here’s one I think will be great for drawing. Also has 5-star reviews. Click here for the Art Bin Essentials organizer. It will hold your drawing pad, pencils, and other materials.
Hopefully, you won’t have anything else holding you back from drawing. Just get started. Really, just do it! That’s the hardest part, getting started. But you got this!
Please let me know what your favorite drawing supply or tool is! You may have several favorites! Leave in the box below. I will never share your email.
Thanks for reading!
Have an artful day!