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Graphite Grading Scale Levels

Graphite Grading Scale Levels

Digital illustration, painting, water colors, and digital sketch pads are all part of the many ways an artist can create an image. Yet the most traditional method, pencil and paper, seems to still be a favorite and the most accessible to all artists.

We’re going to break down the different grades and levels of graphite pencils and why they are the most essential to every artist kit. Easy quick guide to help get your started.

This is a very easy approach of when to use the pencil and what each pencil is best for. Keep in mind different grades of lead have different applications and may not always work best on all surfaces. For this guide we’re using our sketchbook medium black and our vinyl eraser to help erase graphite marks clean without any abrasion marks left behind.

Why Have Grades?

There is no grade level that is better than the other, each one has its pros and cons, some grade levels are perfect for shading while others are perfect for fine details others are best for tracing others are good for general sketching. Some grade level can fill up a space evenly while others do it well others can fade to lighter shade value while others can’t. The number of factors depends on your style and what materials you’re using these grade levels on as well. Regardless, knowing when to use them and what each grade level is meant for will help out a lot in making better work.

Grade Levels Explained


shown above the grading scale level of graphite drawing pencils

Traditional wood encased pencils come in many wide various grades levels among them is from softest/lightest (containing more graphite ) to hardest/darkest. (containing more clay) 

Grade levels are from lightest to darkest; here is a chart of their levels of each one.Grades levels differ from their values and have each their own their practical uses and applications, Here are their best applications for each one.

H grade: lighter values 

B grade: are softer but have darker grade value from their H family counter parts

F grade: Fine points is what the f stands for and its grade level is hard, can have sharp points.

2h-9H grades: This means the grade levels are harder and the higher the number the lighter the value is of the pencil.

HB grades: is a very versatile value for general applications from drawing, writing, note taking, general use.

HB-EE grades: The more Bs the darkest it is.The HB system made up of numerical values is meant to showcase the blackness values of each pencil/lead. 


Grade Values Applications

Each grade level is meant to show softest to hardest, but each value also has their assigned application to help create the better application use of each level.


Everyday Use 2H -2B

These values are used from writing to drawing, general use is broad and easy to correct lines and clean up for everyday use and most general surfaces.

Light Sketching 2H - 6H

These values range from softest to hardest, but help with quick and light sketches. These values are best use for lineart pre-sketch work. Easy to erase yet bold and hard enough to create the detailed outline to make the sketch form desire to clean up with a darker value or pen.

Illustration, Shading Bold 2b-6B

These values are meant to help create a more detailed form of the drawing into an illustration cleaned and layered. Creating value and shadows better within the spectrum of hardest values.


Graphite Pencils Sets

Conclusion is sometimes you may use one over the other. It all depends on the use of your application but it’s probably best to make sure you are using them correctly and getting the most out of your tools.

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