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Drawing techniques with a pencil

Auge mit Bleistift

Drawing with a pencil is probably the most widely used drawing technique. Many people spontaneously think only of pencils as a drawing material, but this is very unfortunate because there is a wealth of drawing materials. In this blog, we will introduce some of them.

Bleistift und Radiergummi

The most well-known drawing medium: pencils

Let's start with what is probably the best known drawing medium; the pencil.

First some general information: Pencils are actually made of graphite. The misconception of “pencils” arose when a graphite lead was once mistaken for a lead lead. Pencils are made partly of graphite and partly of clay. The clay holds the whole mixture together and ensures that it is reasonably firm.

Pencils have different degrees of hardness. H stands for hard and B for black. The spectrum of pencils ranges from 10H to 14B. The number always indicates the degree of hardness or softness. H pencils usually have a less thick color application and are particularly suitable for sketching. B B pencils are very color-intensive and well suited for shading, for example.

Pencils have a very wide range of applications. It ranges from simple sketches and still lifes to hyper-realistic portraits.

Pencils can also be combined well with other media, for example with oil pastels.


Hatching or shading is a very important technique for drawing with pencils. This involves shading an area by drawing over it with lots of small strokes.

There are also techniques that involve smudging these strokes afterwards.

There is a special trick to determine the correct tonal values. You simply half-close your eyes. This blurs everything a little and makes it easier to recognize the tonal values.


Drawing with colored pencils is also something for adults!

Colored pencils are a very popular medium, even for beginners, as they can be used to draw colorful pictures quickly and easily.

However, the range of colored pencils has been expanded by manufacturers in recent years and there are now colored pencils of varying quality and lightfastness.

Colored pencils consist of pigments, filler and binder. During production, great care is usually taken not to use toxic pigments, as colored pencils are also very popular with small children, as is the habit of putting everything in their mouths to suck on it.


Some colored pencils can now even be painted over with water to create a watercolor-like effect. It is also possible to wet the paper before drawing. This often even intensifies the color.

If you paint different colored pencil colors on top of each other, you can mix a new shade or create a very beautiful color gradient. Hatching is also possible with colored pencils.

A few comments on the painting surface: paper is probably the best medium for both pencils and colored pencils. However, the paper should be thicker, especially if you work a lot in layers.


Drawing techniques with silverpoint is an outdated techniq

Working with a silver pencil is a rather old technique, and over the years this technique has been somewhat forgotten.

A silver pencil is similar to a modern mechanical pencil, it consists of a very fine, small lead and a holder.

After application, the pencil is rather bluish, but once it has dried, it turns brown. The lines cannot be erased.

The lines are extremely thin, which is why they only work as a whole.


Shading is also very important, otherwise the picture will look a little lost.


Drawing with ink unique and inimitable

Drawing with ink is a very broad field, and that starts with choosing the right nib. But despite this, or perhaps because of it, drawing with ink is a very popular activity. We will focus here on working with a nib, although it is also possible to work with a brush. But that is a completely different field.

However, working with ink is very definitive work. Once a stroke has been made, it cannot be removed so that the paper looks the same again.

As mentioned above, there is a very wide range of nibs that can be used to apply ink to paper. Each type of nib has its own stroke character, so it is best to choose a nib that suits the motif in question.


If you dilute the ink with water, you can also achieve a thinner or watercolor-like stroke.

The targeted use of pen and undiluted ink can create a dramatic light-and-shadow effect.

One more thing about the painting surface; you usually work with ink on paper, but the paper should not be too absorbent, otherwise the color will run. However, if you are aiming for this style, it is better to moisten the paper slightly with water.

Nitram Kohle

The oldest drawing technique in the world: charcoal

Drawing with charcoal is one of the oldest drawing techniques in the world. Charcoal drawing has its own distinctive character and is particularly suitable for sketching and constructing portraits, nudes and landscapes. Charcoal is available in the form of pens, pressed chalk and pencils and is made from charcoal. The material is very chalky and can be easily smudged. For this reason, charcoal is available in various forms and degrees of hardness. Examples include hard charcoal, soft charcoal and powdered charcoal.

With charcoal, you can draw expressively with just a few strokes. No other drawing technique makes it so easy to create color gradients and moods. Charcoal drawings can be soft and gentle as well as very realistic.


Our students use charcoal sticks from Nitram. It is less prone to breakage and produces less dust. The unique manufacturing process produces a high quality, rich black charcoal that is neither pressed nor reconstituted. We have found that Nitram charcoal pencils are easier to sharpen, similar to pencils, and that mistakes are easier to erase and correct compared to charcoal. A binding agent is used in charcoal, which is why it is difficult to sharpen without splintering and cannot be removed as easily as natural charcoal.


There are, of course, many other drawing media, but no matter what you end up working with, one tip applies to all of them; to get the proportions of the object or person you want to draw right, it helps to look for templates. If possible, from real life, but otherwise, templates from the Internet will also work.

Happy drawing!


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