The hardness and blackness of pencil ranges from 9H to 9B. Pencil manufacturers use the letter "H" and "B" indicate a hardness and blackness of the pencil's mark. The letter "F" indicates that the pencil sharpens to a fine point. 9H pencil is the hardest pencil available and 9B is the softest pencil that creates the darkest lines. My ‘pencil kit’ ranges from 2H to 2B, but I recommend to use a 6B for deep shadows and bold, dark lines.Pencil any harder that 2H may be quite difficult to use and may create dents in your paper.You will often require a sharp pencil, or a mechanical pencil for fine details.
Yes I too used Hp/HB these pencils only in my college days.
Thanks. That was really helpful. What would someone use a 9B for? Is that just straight black charcoal?
I have only ever found a use for 9B graphite when I have needed a pitch black value in my drawing (which is much harder to get with graphite than charcoal). Charcoal, though, you can usually get pitch black with a 6B :) I'm not sure why they make the 9Bs! I have never found a use for any "H" pencils other than 2H, either, as they just end up scratching the drawing paper instead of leaving a nice pencil stroke.
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You have never found much of use for "H" pencils!! That is shocking, simply shocking!
I suppose this is the place where I should say, "Every artist has his or her way of working."
If one thinks of the act of drawing as rendering, it is natural that the various grades of pencils would be thought of as values of gray—much like a painter's palette of colors. However, for a lot of us, drawing is a part of the preliminary work for painting rather than an end in itself. Also, there are others among us who may be drawing complicated subjects—some with multiple vanishing points— that demand a precise line. And, believe it or not, in this "age of the easy way", there are some of us who occasionally face the problem of transferring complicated drawings to working surfaces such as watercolor paper or canvas.
Personally, I have been both an illustrator and a fine artist and I have quite a bit of respect for 4H, 6H and 9H. I am sure you appreciate the drawings of Jean Ingres. Some of his pencil work is with a 6H or the equivalent.
I have nothing against H pencils. If they work for you, that's fantastic! I personally never need a pencil harder than a 2H, whether i am transferring a complicated drawing to canvas, or completing it as an end in itself.
I just wanted to say a few good words for the "H" side of the Pencil family.
I am happy to hear that you are friend of 2H. Some of his relatives are nice too.
I use all the hardesses of pencil. I use mechanical pencils almost exclusively. H5 is great for more delicate tones and if I don't like what I'm seeing, I can always go in with a softer "lead" and go over it again. I use a piece of drafting tape with the hardness written on it attached to the side of the pencil.