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Graphite pencils are the most common and well-known artistic tool, familiar to everyone from childhood. They can be used for sketching, drawing and creating complicated graphic works. Pencils are easily put to paper. They leave thin and light or dense and wide traces. Also, they are easily erased by an eraser.
Graphite is a mineral, one of the carbon forms. It is extracted from various rocks, and also its artificial counterparts are synthesized. The raw materials are carbides, exposed to high temperatures, or cast iron, which, on the contrary, is gradually cooled to obtain artificial graphite.
Despite popular opinion, the core of a graphite pencil is not pure graphite, but a mixture of graphite and clay in certain proportions. The characteristics of a particular tool depend on these proportions.
For durability, reliability, and convenience the graphite rod is protected by a strong wooden shell.
There are two basic hardness scales of a pencil core:
Nowadays both systems are often using together. The number indicates the level of hardness or blackness, like 2B or 3H, etc.
The main point is that there is no universal world standard. Different brands have their own scales. That means that two pencils with the same mark, produced by different companies, would leave different marks on the paper. Two HB-pencils usually are definitely not identical.
Most manufacturers have their particular internal gradation for graphite quality or hardness or blackness. Some points can be local or regional. For example, Japanese HB-pencil is frequently softer and darker than the European one.
In addition to the usual graphite pencils, there are several other forms of artistic graphite:
For professional drawing professional pencil sets are best of the best. They are distinguished by high quality and extensive range. In the composition of art pencils, there is no sand or other impurities that impair the layer quality and scratch paper.
Artists often use soft cores, but they are quickly consumed. The best idea is to get a set of pencils of different hardness and blackness. The hard pencil is good for sketches, as well as for light or translucent tones and details, the black one – for tonal spots, the blackest – for intensive color, thick shadows, and voluminous sketches.
Professional pencils are comfier. They have an ergonomic design, optimal thickness and shape, uniform coating and strong the wooden shell. Quality pencils are easily sharpened to the desired thickness and angle.