If you’re here then it’s likely that you’re looking for a pencil to help you create clean, beautiful sketching before you start the final painting on your canvas. There are many pencils available on the market but finding the best pencil for sketching before painting is a hassle if you have to check dozens of pencils manually.
Not all pencils are great when it comes to creating sketches. Some will let you create nice, sharp lines while others might make the canvas messy. For reasons like these, we’ve compiled a list of some of the 6 best pencils that make beautiful sketches. You can read through our reviews to understand the pencils well.
We’ll also talk about some features to look at while you buy pencils to use on canvas for sketching in this guide. There’ll also be some discussion about the benefits of using a pencil to create outlines before finally painting. Knowing about these will make your knowledge about pencils and sketching somewhat better, hopefully.
Benefits Of Using A Good Pencil For Sketching Before Painting
Before we talk about the benefit of using a pencil for sketching, let’s talk about the opposite scenario first: not using a pencil at all. This will help you understand the importance of a pencil much more deeply.
So when you paint on paper or a canvas, you first create the outlines in your mind and directly start stroking the paintbrush on the surface. It’s good but there are high chances that you could miss some intricate details in a painting, for example; a small shape or a pattern.
While creating large paintings it’s easy to make mistakes like this. And it’s hard to avoid them as you’ll inevitably forget some details while you’re focusing deeply on the major portions of your paint.
Another scenario could be that you planned an outline but later, while working, you forgot the original painting and changed it unknowingly. But if you used a pencil in the beginning and had drawn out the initial sketches well then the mistake could easily be avoided.
This is how you can avoid a lot of issues by using a pencil. It’s simple yet quite effective and you just have to be careful as you sketch.
6 Best Pencil For Sketching Before Painting
Now that we’ve talked about some of the benefits of using a pencil to sketch on a canvas before painting, let’s get to the reviews of the pencils we’ve compiled a list of. One pencil might be good for one task while another one might not. Read through our reviews of each to understand better about each of them.
1. Amazon Basics Sketch and Drawing Art Pencil Kit
A perfect beginner drawing kit should have a few things in it. First, a combination of commonly used pencil variations should be there. There should also be at least one eraser and sharpener as well as some charcoal based pencils. Having some sketch sticks would help as well since they can help create a variety of sketches.
And in the first item in our list, we’ve got all the necessary things for a beginner inside the packaging. There are, of course, better and more expensive pencil sets that can suit a beginner much well. But having a good set under the same price range as this unit isn’t so easy. It offers a lot while keeping its cost in check.
There are six graphite pencils in the set. The pencils vary in their lead softness and thickness. Whether you work on paper or on canvas, you’ll find the right graphite pencil for your sketching from this pencil set. Not all will fit for the same task, however. There are B and H levels that you can test with your sketching medium.
There are three charcoal pencils that are good to use while creating detailed shades. Charcoal is smudgy but necessary while sketching leveled shading which couldn’t easily be done with a pencil. There’s one sketch stick and three charcoal sticks. The sticks work much better while creating intricate shade designs.
There are two sharpeners as well as two erasers included in the set as well. And all of these combined results in a seventeen part pencil box set. Overall, the set is one of the best beginner pencil sets you’ll find in the market, especially on a small budget.
2. Staedtler Lumograph Graphite Drawing and Sketching Pencils 100G6
Staedtler is one of the leading pencil manufacturers and this lumograph graphite pencil has qualities of the brand.
The problem with hard lead pencils is they feel sharp against canvas or thick papers. And for this reason, people like to use soft B graded pencils with canvas. But interestingly, the six graphite pencils, in this case, have been made with specially formulated clay mixtures that result in a hard lead without that sharp feeling.
You’ll notice the difference in the lead’s clay mixture with the metallic tints in the shades of this pencil set. The grey tones are different and can easily be created into levels because of the metallic shade.
Even in the soft leads, the clay mixtures are prepared in a way that allows them to maintain softness while keeping their shapes durable enough. The set comes in a nice tin box to store and carry the pencils safely. All in all, the set isn’t totally complete since it has no erasers or sharpeners. However, the pencils are very good.
3. Arteza Professional Drawing Sketch Pencils
Not all H/B graded pencils are good enough for writing, let alone sketching or drawing. You’ll find only a few of the pencil levels in the mid-range that work well with an illustration or sketch works. The pencil set from arteza has just the right pencil levels to provide your needs for those specific H/B ranges.
There are twelve pencils starting from the thickest 6B to the hardest 4H grade. This range of pencils can provide a smudge free, no-mess sketching experience without damaging the texture of the canvas you’ll be working on.
There are, however, no erasers or anything other than pencils present in the kit. The set is overall good and comes in a simple box. All in all, it’s a nice package if you’re looking for only pencils for your sketching or drawing works.
4. Mxculior 71-Piece Art Supplies -Sketch Set, Painting,Coloring, and Drawing Pencils
The pencil set we’re going to talk about now has a whopping 71 piece pencil set which is more than the previous ones we’ve mentioned in this guide. What does the kit not have? It has almost everything a beginner needs to start his drawing works.
While working on a canvas, especially as you’re creating the sketches or making the outline before you paint, you’ll inevitably need to use some differently textured or colored pencils. The reason for this is that using variations in the shading helps a lot to mark out different types of areas in paint.
This set has regular graphite, charcoal, colored and watercolor pencils all in the package. The benefit you’ll notice as you use the varying color pencils is that your work and its planning will be much more simplified. You’ll be able to create the outlines properly with the variety of pencils provided in the case.
The set includes other sketching accessories too. Overall, a nice set specially for newcomers and sometimes, professionals as well.
5. Marco Raffine Fine 72 Colors Art Drawing Pencil
This set from Marco Raffine has even more items on the list. With 72 individual pencils – this unit is the largest set we’ll be talking about in this guide.
The set only includes colored pencils and there are no other accessories included here. However, the colors are sharp, bright and are prepared for all the shading and drawing type works.
Having a set like this can come in handy, especially to beginners in sketching and drawing. Having colored pencils, in general, is useful while drawing different details in an artwork. Overall a great set if you’re looking for a pencil-only set.
6. Hefei Yize 24-Color Painting Colored Pencils
The last set we’re going to look at is the colored pencil set from Hefei. If you’re looking for the best pencil for sketching before watercolor painting or any type of painting, this can be something you can check.
Like the previous one, this set has only colored pencils. There are no extra accessories included. However, if you’re trying to find a good colored pencil set to create your drawing and shading clean and crisp, this can be a really good choice.
It comes in 24 different colors, making it a good set for artists of all skill levels. It comes in a hangable durable paper box. It’s durable enough to carry the pencils safely. Overall, it could be a good choice if you need a colored pencil set.
What You Should Check Before Buying
Let’s talk about two important features in a pencil you should look for before buying. These rules apply only if you’re willing to create sketches on a canvas or canvas like paper and do painting on them.
Match with Canvas Texture
If you’re using a canvas to paint then it’s important to check the texture of the canvas before using a specific type of pencil on it. There’s a solid reason behind it.
Suppose you’re using a thin, light pencil on a rough, textured canvas. Once you start sketching you’ll notice you’re not able to create markings evenly and start to make uneven shapes. The cleaner you try to sketch the harder it gets. At some time you’ll make some mistakes and once you try erasing them, you’ll see that it’s hard.
Some people like to use pastel colors for sketching on a canvas because they’re thick and can easily penetrate through the hard canvas texture easily. Other preferred materials are graphite pencils or thick, soft leaded pencils.
One easy trick you can follow is to try some pencils on your preferred canvas and see the markings. If you think the sketch lines are not messy and clean then you can choose that. But whatever you do, don’t try to use thin pencils with uneven, rough-textured canvases. They’re going to make the simple painting complicated.
Some pencils may seem good to sketch with but can make a mess if you’re not extra careful while gliding your hand over the canvas. Smudging mostly happens with soft leads. But does that mean you should use hard lead pencils even on the textured canvases? Nope.
Test some pencils to find the right balance of soft lead and smudging. The lead shouldn’t be too soft, nor it should be too thin and hard. Try creating some sketching marks with a few pencils and do a smudge test with each of them. Get the one that creates the least amount of smudge.
Let’s talk about some commonly asked questions.
1. Should I draw with a pencil first before painting?
You don’t necessarily have to do this step but if you do, there are some benefits.
One of the major advantages of doing this is the level of planning possible with this method. You can plan out a fairly complex outline with a pencil and when you start painting, you can focus on that only. Because you’ve done all the planning with a pencil first, you don’t have to think of the outline as you paint.
And this is how sketching with a pencil can help you focus on the important task – painting. It can also help you avoid unintentional mistakes since you’ll be marking all the details beforehand.
2. How to hide pencil marks before painting?
You can use a white gesso on the sketch lines before you apply paint on them. Gesso can hide charcoal and pencil marks pretty nicely and won’t let the colors of them penetrate through the paint layer.
What pencil to use?
Try to use a soft, thick lead pencil on paper or a canvas. You can also use thin, H grade or mechanical pencils for creating intricate details. But it depends on the type of canvas you’ll be painting on. If it’s textured, use a thick lead pencil. It’ll let you create dark, thick lines easily. Thin pencils are hard to use on rough canvas.
Finding out the best pencil for sketching before painting shouldn’t be too complicated for you now. You know what features to look at before choosing one for sketching as well as the benefits of using a pencil for this task. You should take some time to choose the right pencil that suits your sketch and paint style best.