In last week’s blog post, I talked about the differences between an ordinary pencil and a mechanical pencil. Let me be honest with you. I don’t care what type of pencil you use. What I care about is what type of pencil lead you use for drawing.
When I started out with Islamic geometry, I was using an HB lead mechanical pencil.
Sincerely, I didn’t even know what the difference was, but I found it out really soon.
My drawings were soooo smudgy, my hands were dirty of graphite, and that affected the accuracy of my work. Does this sound familiar?
Every lead or pencil has a “code” made up of a number and a letter. The letter can be H or B. H stands for HARDNESS, which means hard and B stands for BLACKNESS which means soft. The number represents the level of hardness or softness.
The scale range goes from 9H – the hardest – to 9B – the softest. In between, there is HB and F, but I don’t use those.
Let’s see the difference between the H and B lead more in depth:
SOFT LEAD PENCILS
B leads are soft, and they are really useful for transferring. You can read more about tracing and transferring a pattern onto watercolour paper here.
I suggest this kind of lead to beginners and for big drawings. Be aware that the higher the number of the B lead, the softer the lead. This means that you will have smudges all around. This is not a big deal in case of big drawings.
Also, be aware that the lower the number, the more pressure you have to apply to transfer the design. It’s a matter of balance, baby!
The good news is that soft leads are easy to erase, leaving little to no marks on the paper. The bad news is that, in case of an ordinary pencil, you have to sharpen it more frequently.
Sincerely I stopped using B leads because, in my case, for my miniatures, I prefer using a hard lead – a 2H lead – for tracing and transferring. I have to put a LOT of pressure on the paper in order to transfer the design, but I obtain a smudge-free drawing which is essential for me.
But again, this is me and what works for me. Try it yourself and see what you prefer.
HARD LEAD PENCILS
This is, by far, my favourite type of pencil lead for drawing. A hard lead is great for drawing as it leaves no smudges – hello accuracy lovers! – but be aware that the harder the lead, the harder it is to erase. Be very gentle with it. A hard lead leaves a groove on the paper, which is impossible to erase.
As you already know, I’m heavy-handed, so I have to be careful with this pencil, but it’s totally worth the effort. When it comes to precision, this lead is miraculous. The lines are thin, and the lead stays sharpened for a very long time.
Again, this is what works for me and what I’ve learned during these years. I highly encourage you to try yourself and see what’s best for you. A pencil costs 1-2€ so it’s totally worth the investment if it can change the way you draw and help you become a better artist.
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The Best Pencil Lead for Geometric Drawing
May 22, 2020