art · tools I use

Graphite tools of the trade

A friend of mine was asking what tools I use for my graphite drawings the other day, so here they are!

1.) Faber Castell 9000 6H pencil – I use this for embossing signitures or whiskers/light hairs in dark areas of the drawing because it is a really hard and faint lead. I also rarely use this for adding very light shadows and for doing rough sketches (usually for coloured pencil drawings)

2.) WHSmith Carbon pencil – this is even darker than my 9B pencil and I use this for the absolute darkest areas of my drawing.

3.) Caran d’ache Grafwood Tin of 6 Pencils – these are the most important tools I use and are my absolute favourite brand of graphite pencil. I have tried Derwent Graphire and Faber Castell Pitt pencils…. nothing compares. They are expensive but worth every penny. I don’t think I’d ever be able to use any other brand. The most used of the set are my 9B (which I have 2 of), 3B, and HB. I very rarely find that I need the 7B.

4.) Pentel Techniclick G with a 2B 0.5 lead – this mechanical pencil has served me well for many years. Used for picking out hairs or fine details.

5.) Staedtler Mars Micro with a HB 0.3 lead – this pencil lead is super thin! I use it for picking out very fine hairs in light and midtone areas.

6.) Faber Castell TK9400 with a 2mm 2B lead – I don’t use this all that often now that I have my wood Caran D’ache pencils but I still use it alongside them occasionally.

7.) Caran D’ache Technik eraser – an excellent eraser that picks up graphite really well. I am actually thinking of switching to a no-dust eraser instead, however.

8.) Conté putty eraser – this is a hard putty eraser and my most important eraser. I roll it to a fine point to pick out thin highlights, use it as a normal eraser to pick up lots of graphite off the paper without damaging it, and also to create texture with the graphite.

9.) Koh-i-Noor putty eraser – this is a much softer putty eraser that I don’t use as often. I usually use it for cleaning my emery board (14) but also use it to create texture with the graphite on my artwork, especially for bokeh effects and blurry backgrounds.

10.) Blending stumps – You’ll notice one end of these is really dirty while the other end is fairly clean. I use the dirty ends for laying down areas of shadow before going back over them in pencil/eraser. Also used for smoothing out areas of pencil and blending tones together. The less dirty ends I use for blending down much lighter areas of graphite so that I don’t accidentally darken them whilst smoothing out the graphite.

11.) Smooth chamois leather cloth – used in a similar way to the blending stumps to smooth out large areas of pencil.

12.) Paintbrush – used to quickly get smooth large areas of graphite down on the paper by dabbing on graphite powder (made with my graphite sticks (15)). Will be swapping this to a makeup brush in time as it’s hard to get really soft, smooth tones with a square brush! (but for now its the only large soft-bristle brush I have… )

13.) Faber Castell pencil extender – literally “extends” your pencils! Pretty handy for when you’ve sharpened your wood pencils down to a stub as it allows you to keep using them. I have 5 of these.

14.) Emery board – I use this for grinding down my graphite sticks (15) into powder and also for grinding down pencils into a sharp point without having to sharpen them.

15.) Royal & Langnickel graphite sticks – I got these for just £2 from Hobbycraft! They get ground down into powder to brush onto my paper, but I do also use them for sketching and getting large sweeping areas of graphite down. The 8B is not as dark as I would like but it does the job.

Not pictured:

Papers I use – Strathmore Bristol Vellum, Daler Rowney bristol board, and Winsor & Newton hot pressed Aquafine watercolour paper.
Reeves A3 drawing board – which I tape my drawing to whilst working on it using Scotch Low Tack Artist Tape.
Staedtler Noris manual pencil sharpener

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