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Holding A Pencil Correctly

Extract from Sketching 365 • By Katherine Tyrell • Published by Apple Press


$ $ $ $ $
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5 mins

Sketching 365
Other Types of Pencil

Try a mechanical pencil

Also known as a propelling pencil, this type of pencil is extremely useful for drawing lines of a consistent thickness.

It has four unique features:

Good balance: it doesn’t wear down and thus is better balanced.

Constant core: the case contains a storage area for extra pieces of graphite, which are automatically propelled out the end of the holder.

No need to sharpen: the fine graphite core never needs sharpening.

Break resistant: modern cores are very strong, often coated in polymer to resist breakage.

Cores are available in different thicknesses – usually defined in millimetres – and different degrees of hardness.

Carbon pencils

This pencil produces very dark tones like charcoal but is much smoother and much nicer to draw with as it is less messy.

Clutch pencils

A variation on the mechanical pencil, the core is gripped and held in place by a claw. Thicker cores are inserted one at a time and require sharpening.

Drawing is very different to writing. People who have not been taught to draw often draw by holding a pencil as they do for writing, with their fingers very close to the writing end. However, the way you hold your pencil to draw can radically improve the range and quality of the marks you make.

Use your whole arm to draw as it increases the size and flow of possible marks, and allows you to work more easily on larger paper.

Change your grip so as to avoid your drawing being too ‘tight’. This also makes it easier to make a range of different marks.

Charcoal pencils

These have a charcoal core encased in wood, and vary a lot in quality. This is one item that is definitely worth testing in an art supplies shop because some are scratchy. Use a charcoal pencil to restate and emphasise line in charcoal or pastel drawings.
Lithograph pencils

Lithograph pencils are used for creating lines on media used to produce lithographs. They typically vary in softness from #00 (very soft) to #5 (hard).

Images Credits:

The difference in marks between graphite (left) and carbon sticks (right). Carbon produces a denser black.

Cynara Cardunculus (section) by Coral Guest (Carbon and graphite on paper); Use of carbon enables a much better range of values than can be achieved using graphite alone.

Posted by Apple Press Published See Apple Press's 26 projects » © 2021 Katherine Tyrell / Apple Press · Reproduced with permission. · Sketching 365 - Build your confidence and skills with a tip a day by Katherine Tyrell. Published by Apple Press, £12.99.

You Will Need

  • How to make a techniques. Holding A Pencil Correctly - Step 1
    Step 1


    These suggestions will help you achieve better control of your pencil and therefore more consistent mark-making. They apply to most dry media.

    Drawing: basic tripod/pen grip 
Grip near the point to limit the stroke length and achieve good control for fine detailing using only the tip. This grip limits the scope of how the pencil can be used.

  • How to make a techniques. Holding A Pencil Correctly - Step 2
    Step 2

    Drawing: basic grip
    Drawing can become looser when the pencil is gripped further away from the tip. It creates more scope to use a wider range of marks, including hatching.

  • How to make a techniques. Holding A Pencil Correctly - Step 3
    Step 3

    Drawing: overhand/gesture grip
    This grip enables drawing from the shoulder, more free-flowing lines, a range of mark-making techniques, and wider sweeps on large paper. It works well for drawing on a vertical plane or when using the side of the core or stick to shade.

  • How to make a techniques. Holding A Pencil Correctly - Step 4
    Step 4

    Drawing: (extended) underhand grip

    This is a very loose method of holding a pencil and is good for people who have problems with grip. I use the extended version (hold near the top of the pencil) and it is very effective for fast, controlled and measured hatching.

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