Me and the PHCs (Pencils of Considerable Hardness)

I like hard-leaded pencils, which seems to put me in the minority.  The artists I watch on YouTube, for example, seem to draw with pencils in the 2B-6B range (with some exceptions such as Mark Crilley’s affinity for the Dixon Ticonderoga).  Valerie from YT channel Art Ala Carte, for example, sketches initially with a 2B (which she calls “a harder lead”) and switches to a 5B or 6B for darker lines. Even the Ticonderoga, an HB, is softer than the leads I tend to use.

scribble, scribble

These people darn well know what they’re doing; softer pencils allow you to make fairly marks without pressing hard, keeping the paper free of dent marks and your hand free of fatigue for longer.  I, on the other hand, am thankfully free of having to look like I know what I’m doing, so my pencil tastes are accordingly different.  Since I am a bit of a heavy-handed artist, soft pencils have me making dark marks that I have a hard time erasing.  These marks are also very smudgy, and I have thus far been too lazy careless ignorant overwhelmed by all there is to learn about drawing to pick up on the better habits, such as placing paper underneath my hand so I don’t smudge my work as I draw.

Harder pencils offer me an escape from all of this bother.  They make nice, light lines that resist smudging a bit better, and if they’re not too high up on the “H” scale, you aren’t scratching the life out of your paper.  (I got a 9H pencil out of curiosity — I’m convinced you could write your name on a diamond with it.)  If I had my druthers, I’d draw everything with, like, a 5H or 6H.  (Not happening…read on to see why.)

You can probably write your name on a diamond with a pencil of 9H hardness.  Buy me a diamond, and I’ll test out the theory, deal?  (Also, like my mad clipart skillz?)

Sometimes, though, my lines are too light or there are marks on the paper despite my being careful; PCHs (Pencils of Considerable Hardness) don’t play nicely with all brands or types of paper.  In my recent post Me vs. Paper, I shared my frustrations with the way various media, including pencils, are working on the sketchbook I chose for this month’s drawing theme (#bishicember — check it out on my Twitter feed @Julia_Ryder_).  Soft pencils haven’t worked on it either, even a “harder” 2B, so I’ve been bouncing back and forth like a ball in a pro tennis match, between B and 2H.  I think I’ve settled on an HB pencil…maybe I need to get myself some Ticonderogas after all.


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