Learn all about graphite and its diverse capabilities

With modern technology ever growing, so has the world of graphite! You now get graphite that is tinted to have subtle hues of colour, water-soluble graphite that you can use like watercolour, solid graphite sticks and even powders for the artists’ that like to work expressively or on large artworks.

Let’s start with the basics of graphite pencils, what they are and how to choose the ones that will work for your project.

Graphite pencils contain a ‘lead’ or core made of graphite mixed with a clay binder. Modern pencils do not actually contain any harmful lead as old wives tales may have lead you to believe!

Standard graphite pencils are usually encased in wood, but nowadays you can also get woodless pencils, often with a thin plastic coating to keep things from getting too messy.

Pencil grades

In most of the world standard grading for graphite pencils uses a scale of numbers combined with the letters H and B, standing for hard and black respectively. The most common commercial pencils range from 3H to 9B.

graphite grading

  • H pencils, ranging from H to 9H, are best for architectural and technical drawings where fine, solid lines are needed.
  • HB is somewhere in the middle, and a good combination of both blackness and hardness makes it the most common type of graphite pencil lead – often used for writing, drawing and sketching.
  • The B’s, ranging from B to 9B, are great for drawing and shading. Because these leads are softer (they contain more graphite, and less clay binder) they will need to be sharpened more often than H pencils.
  • You can also get an F pencil which is between H and HB, and can be sharpened into a fine point.

Special Graphite

Express and think big!

ArtGraf No.1 is a soft graphite putty that allows the user to shape the drawing tool according to specific drawing needs.

It can be shaped into a large ball for big areas or into a small tool for greater control in small areas. The shades and colour contrast can be adjusted through the use of more or less material..

ArtGraf #1 can be used directly from the package or mixed with water.

Watch video demo here

No more harsh reflections!

Matt is the new black! The Pitt Graphite Matt is the first graphite pencil with an ultra-matt and deep black lead of supreme quality, guaranteeing extremely reduced reflection on the paper and thus true-to-the-original reproduction possibilities.

The Pitt Graphite Matt comes in eight degrees of hardness: HB, 2B, 4B, 6B, 8B, 10B, 12B and 14B. The 10B, 12B and 14B grades are new to the Faber-Castell pencil range. 

Add some water and play!

Blur the lines between painting and drawing with water-soluble graphite. Use them dry like normal graphite or add water for a softer and more organic way of applying colour.

Water-soluble graphite comes in pencils, compressed sticks or even large wands like the ArtGraf Water Soluable Graphite stick!

This extra large handmade water soluble graphite stick enables artists to tackle big artistic interventions and large scale drawings. The graphite of 8B grade turns this rough object into a smooth drawing and painting instrument.

Add a dimension of colour!

Enhance your graphite drawings with a hint of colour! Tinted graphite allows artists to add muted tones of colour to their work and achieve subtle and soft layers of colour. When used with water you can also achieve granular effects and textures to give your work an added layer of depth.

These modified graphite pencils are great for mixed media artists who love to explore and push the boundaries of their medium. We stock an assortment of Derwent Graphitint pencils as well as ArtGraf Tailor shaped tinted graphite blocks.

yellow pencils

Did you know author Roald Dahl had a particular liking for pencils with yellow casings? He would only write with yellow pencils and would have six ready and sharpened at the beginning of each day.

Check out our top selling Graphite supplies below:

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