Pencil Drawing: A brief guide to getting started

At the heart of all great works of art is the humble pencil. Whether it’s a quick sketch or a detailed pencil portrait drawing, pencils are essential tools for artists of all levels. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about pencil drawing, from the basics of sketching to advanced shading techniques.

Getting Started with Pencil Drawing

Before you start drawing, you need to choose the right materials. There are a few things to consider when selecting your pencils, paper, and other supplies.


There are many different types of pencils available, each with its own unique characteristics. The most common types of pencils are:
HB: A medium-hard pencil that’s great for general sketching and outlining.
2B: A soft pencil that’s perfect for shading and adding depth to your drawings.
4H: A hard pencil that’s great for fine details and precise lines.
You can also find pencils that are harder or softer than these grades, depending on your preferences.


The type of paper you choose can have a big impact on the quality of your drawings. Look for paper that’s smooth and sturdy, with a weight of at least 70 pounds. Some popular options include:
Bristol board: A smooth, heavyweight paper that’s ideal for detailed pencil portrait drawings.
Drawing paper: A versatile option that’s available in a range of textures and weights.
Sketch paper: A lightweight option that’s great for quick sketches and studies.

Other Supplies

In addition to pencils and paper, you’ll also need a few other supplies to get started with pencil drawing. These include:

Erasers: Look for soft, kneaded erasers that won’t damage your paper.

Sharpeners: A good pencil sharpener will help you keep your pencils sharp and ready to use.
Blending tools: You can use your fingers, a blending stump, or a piece of tissue to blend and smudge your drawings.

Basic Pencil Drawing Techniques

Once you have your supplies, it’s time to start drawing. Here are a few basic techniques to get you started:
Sketching: Use light, loose strokes to sketch out the basic shapes and proportions of your subject.
Shading: Use soft, gradual strokes to add shading and depth to your drawings. Start with a light touch and build up your shading gradually.
Cross-hatching: This technique involves drawing a series of parallel lines and then drawing another set of parallel lines at a different angle to create a cross-hatched pattern.
Blending: Use a blending tool to blend and smudge your shading and create a smooth, seamless look.

Advanced Pencil Drawing Techniques

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can start experimenting with more advanced techniques. Here are a few to try:
Layering: Use multiple layers of pencil strokes to build up your shading and create a more complex look.
Burnishing: This technique involves using a hard pencil and a lot of pressure to smooth out your shading and create a polished look.
Texturing: Use a variety of pencil strokes and techniques to create different textures, such as fur, feathers, or wood grain.
Negative drawing: This technique involves drawing the spaces around your subject instead of the subject itself, which can create interesting and unexpected effects.


Pencil drawing is a versatile and rewarding art form that anyone can learn. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, there’s always more to discover and explore. By following the tips and techniques in this guide, you can create beautiful, detailed drawings from small sketches to grand pencil portraits that are sure to impress.