Graphite tool requirements
Updated: Mar 19
Every graphite artist has a combination of tools they like. Here’s my list of the bare minimum.
There are various ways to start and end a drawing. Lately I start with faint 4h linework- and add the darkest 6b at the end. Graphite pencils should not have a wide variety in quality from brand to brand. They are cheap, so I see little reason to cut production corners for these businesses. That said, the price difference between “high end” graphite pencils and “low end” is not very much. So go ahead and splurge 20 USD on pencils, if you don’t have them. If you have a cheap set of graphite pencils, use those.
6H, 4H, 2H, HB, 2B, 4B, 6B
Razor blade. This may be a utility knife or xacto blades. They should be super sharp. The main need for a blade is to remove the wood casing from around the lead. The blade may also be used in thinning out the lead a bit before final sharpening with sandpaper.
Sandpaper. Fine grain. First you take the wood off with the blade, and gently sculpt the end with an angle close to the surface.
Tombow mono .5mm eraser
Graphite is very fussy with being smudged. It’s probably the messiest medium I can think of. It’s very hard to keep blank areas of the paper blank. You must take great care if you wish to do this kind of precise work.
Latex rubber gloves. You need two gloves. The left is to make sure your fingertips don’t leave an oily residue on the paper as you move or hold it. The second glove, you should cut the tips of the thumb, index, and middle fingers of the glove. This way you can still feel the precise grip of the pencil and protect the drawing ground.
Shield. This is a small piece of paper you can place under your palm to rest your hand as you work. A half letter size paper will do.
Brush. This is for wiping away residue from erasers. I can’t stress this enough. People tend to brush away residue with their hands- graphite is not forgiving. At first it will seem like it's fine- but towards the end of the drawing it will become muted with all your faint smudges that add up.