#CheckThisOut: Materials you’ll need to create graphite pencil drawings

Marj Casal Handog
#CheckThisOut: Materials you’ll need to create graphite pencil drawings
Thinking of a new hobby or maybe even a side hustle? Consider drawing graphite portraits.

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Finding ways to make staying at home a novel experience can be challenging nowadays. We can only bake too much bread or watch too many movies and series on Netflix. It’s always good to be on the lookout for new things to try even if you think these may be outside of your comfort zone – and art should be one of them.

Some people don’t think of art – as in drawing or painting – as a hobby. They immediately conclude that they don’t have the talent to draw or paint without even trying. But art is not always about gunning to become the next Picasso. 

(READ: [DETOURS] Is 30 too old to start something new?)

You don’t need to be creating masterpieces. You can just choose to enjoy the benefits of being immersed in art – it helps relieve stress, gives you a confidence boost, sharpens your problem-solving skills, and can improve the quality of life of people with illnesses.

If painting with watercolors, acrylics, or oils feels intimidating, why not start with drawing using pencils. You can try drawing your pets and loved ones, or anything you might want to draw like plants or food. 

Here are some of the materials you’ll need to create drawings you’ll love.

A good range of graphite pencils

Since graphite drawings are just black and white, shapes and illusions are created by shading using different values. That’s why the first set of tools that you’ll need is a good range of light to dark (or hard to soft) graphite pencils. 

The lighter or harder pencils (H to 6H) are usually used to sketch and create outlines while the darker or softer pencils (B to 8B) are used for shading and for adding more prominent details.

While you can use just any pencil, using drawing pencils will help you produce more satisfying results.

Drawing pad or sketch book

While any paper will also do, a good drawing paper plays a role in producing better output. Since drawing papers are made for drawing, it has features like the “tooth” that absorbs graphite better compared to a smooth bond paper, for example. This means your drawing will look more vivid and realistic. It’s also thick enough to withstand multiple layers of shading without tearing. 


One of the ways to make graphite drawings look seamless and realistic is by blending. This way, you don’t need to draw over every bit of the surface area, you can either use soft brushes (makeup or watercolor) to lift graphite and gently spread it. This helps make your lighter and darker shadings look connected.

Kneadable eraser

Unlike the usual rubber erasers, kneadable erasers are like clay. It’s soft and dust-free, and doesn’t damage the paper. You can also shape it however you like. If you only need to erase a small part of the surface, for, example, you can knead this eraser so it’s shaped like a pencil tip. 

It can only erase light graphite, though. Lifting graphite is a more accurate way to say it. It’s usually used to either clean smudges and add highlights but not to completely erase graphite.

Pencil eraser

There are many ways to add highlights to graphite drawings. Some use white charcoal pencils while some use white gel pens (white gel pens are great for adding shine to eyes). But most artists use pencil erasers. 

It’s really just an eraser but it’s shaped like a pencil so you can use it to “draw” fine details like hair and fur. It’s easier to control than block or kneadable erasers when drawing details.


Drawing details require sharp pencils. And pencils could easily get dull. So it’s crucial to have a good sharpener. Some artists would recommend that you sharpen your pencil using a cutter knife and sandpaper. That produces really sharp pencils but sometimes, it’s easier to just use a sharpener every time you need it. 

It’s just hard to find a good sharpener. Some break the pencils or do not just sharpen enough to get a pointed tip. There are the more expensive ones that other artists recommend but for now, I’m sticking to some good ol’ sharpener. I just learned to sharpen my pencils gently so the lead doesn’t break.

Choosing brands 

As in everything, you can choose whichever brand you like. You don’t need to buy the most expensive ones. You also don’t need to go for the professional variants. 

But if you do want to try better quality ones that some artists swear by, there are affordable brands like Faber Castell, Strathmore, Staedtler, and Tombow that carry these art materials. 

Most importantly, have fun! Drawing can take a long time to finish because you can’t just rush it. If you try to rush the process by starting with the darkest pencils right away or pushing the pencil really hard to quickly darken the shadows, you might not feel happy with your output. 

Instead of focusing on the finish line, enjoy the process instead. Be amazed by how you can create something out of a blank sheet of paper and see it come to life, stroke by stroke, layer by layer. – Rappler.com

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Marj Casal Handog

Marj Casal heads the content team of BrandRap, Rappler’s sales and marketing arm. She helps create native advertising campaigns for brands like San Miguel Brewery, Shell, GCash, Grab, BDO, and more.