The 5 Best Pencils for Drawing, Sketching, and Shading

When it comes to drawing, it all starts with the pencil. Finding the right drawing pencil for your projects is the key to success. But there are so many types of pencils, how do you know which is best for you? That’s where we come in.

In this review, we’ll explore the best drawing pencils of 2023, from basic graphite pencils to professional-grade charcoal pencils. We’ll discuss the different kinds of pencils available, what type of pencil is best for different kinds of projects, and how to choose the right pencil for your needs. We’ll also offer some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your pencils. Read on to learn more about the best drawing pencils of 2023.

Key Features:

  1. Break-resistant lead
  2. 12 graded degrees in metal storage tin
  3. Super-bonded lead
  4. Easy to erase and sharpen
  5. Unbeatable product quality

best drawing pencils

The STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph Art Drawing Pencils are a premium quality pencil perfect for professional artistic applications and sketching. The set of twelve pencils comes in a sleek metal case, making it perfect for travelling artists. The twelve pencils cover a wide range of graphite grades from 6B to 4H, giving you the ideal tools for any project.

These pencils are unique in that their lead is incredibly break-resistant, allowing for lengthy and detailed drawing sessions without breaking the lead. The lead also wears evenly, making it easy to erase and sharpen when necessary. The top-notch material and manufacturing process guarantee an outstanding product of superior quality.

These pencils are ideal for writing, drawing, sketching, hatching or artist-level graphic applications on paper or matte drawing films. Their compact size makes them easy to slip into your bag or suitcase for use on the go. With its wide range of graphite grades, these STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph Art Drawing Pencils will have you creating beautiful art no matter where you are.

Pros and Cons


  • Hexagon barrel for comfortable grip
  • Pre-sharpened and includes hand sharpener
  • Grids in the box keep pencils from moving around
  • Smooth on paper
  • No scratchy feeling


  • Difficulty viewing letter grade markings on Tombow Mono pencils
  • Can be difficult to erase

Perfect for Artists: Blackwing Matte Pencils

Key Features:

  1. Soft & smooth Japanese graphite core
  2. Rectangular erasers
  3. Genuine Incense-cedar from California
  4. Premium Japanese graphite
  5. Benefits the Blackwing Foundation

best drawing pencils

Blackwing Matte Pencils are perfect for artists and musicians looking to create a masterpiece with more subtle and natural strokes. The pencils feature a soft and smooth Japanese graphite core, which produces dark lines without excessive sharpening. With an iconic rectangular eraser and specially designed ferrule, these quality pencils are perfect for all users.

The Blackwing brand has a long history dating back to the 1930s and has had a cult following including legendary figures such as John Steinbeck and Chuck Jones. Furthermore, each Blackwing Matte Pencil is made with the finest materials in the world, including Genuine Incense-cedar from California and premium Japanese graphite.

In addition to the great quality of their products, the Blackwing brand also have a commitment to giving back, by donating a portion of sales from all Blackwing products to benefit the Blackwing Foundation, which helps keep arts and music programs in public schools alive. This is an amazing initiative for consumers to support and encourages us to keep art programs alive for future generations.

You can trust that when you purchase a 12-count pack of Blackwing Matte Pencils, you’re receiving exceptional quality, an iconic design, and contributing to all of these fantastic charitable causes.

Pros and Cons


  • Eraser is replaceable and long-lasting
  • Soft lead produces strong, dark lines
  • Elegant design
  • Faceted barrel provides comfortable grip and durability
  • Great for sketching


  • Unusual eraser shape does not fit into a standard pencil extender
  • Tip may break easily
  • Comparatively expensive compared to other pencils on the market

Best Colored Pencils: Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Key Features:

  1. Soft, thick cores
  2. Lightfast, richly saturated pigments
  3. Ultra-smooth, even color laydown
  4. Robust leads resist cracking and chipping
  5. 72 premium colored pencils
  6. Easily blended, slow to wear, waterproof
  7. Made in USA

best drawing pencils

The Prismacolor Premier Best Colored Pencils are an excellent choice for any artist seeking art supplies for drawing, sketching, and adult coloring. With 72 premium colored pencils, there is sure to be something to suit every level of expertise. The soft, thick cores are perfect for shading and creating depth in drawings, while the lightfast and richly saturated pigments make for vivid, lasting artwork. The leads resist cracking and chipping and provide ultra-smooth coloring that lay down evenly and can be easily blended together. What’s more, the colors are slow to wear, waterproof and stay brilliant over time.

The package contains a 9 3/4 by 8 1/8 by 1 1/8 inches tin with 72 pencils, making them both portable and convenient, perfect for storing away when you’re on the go or when you’ve finished your project. These pencils have been crafted with quality in mind and have been made in the USA. Whether you’re a beginner who is just starting out or a seasoned professional looking to upgrade their art supplies, these colored pencils are a great option.

Pros and Cons


  • Vibrant colors with unmatched hues
  • Protective packaging
  • Huge color selection in the Prismacolor Premier line
  • Low price point compared to other top tier colored pencils


  • Not the most lightfast pencils which can be an issue if you sell drawings
  • Can be difficult to sharpen

Best Mechanical: MozArt Aesthetic Mechanical Pencil Set

Key Features:

  1. 4 drafting pencils in 4 different tip sizes
  2. 4x HB Lead Refill Tubes with 30x Lead Refills each
  3. 4 eraser refills
  4. Ideal weight balance for fatigue-free writing and drawing
  5. Non-slip grip for added support and comfort
  6. Advances easily at the touch of a click
  7. Refillable leads and erasers
  8. Ideal for artists, professionals, and students

best drawing pencils

The MozArt Aesthetic Mechanical Pencil Set of 12 is a must-have for anyone who likes to draw, sketch, or write. This set of four drafting mechanical pencils with tip sizes ranging from 0.3mm to 0.9mm comes with an abundance of extras, making it perfect for everyday use.

The set includes four HB Lead Refill Tubes with thirty lead refills each and four eraser refills, so you’ll never find yourself without the supplies you need. The ideal weight balance of the pencils makes them perfect for long writing and drawing sessions, providing fatigue-free performance every time.

The convenience of this set is further bolstered by its easy lead and eraser refills. A non-slip grip provides added support and comfort when in use, meaning less strain and fewer slips. And don’t worry if you’re a novice or pro – the mechanical pencils are engineered to be an ideal tool for artists, professionals, and students alike.

As comfortable as these units are to use, they’re also quite simple to maintain – no more worrying about constant sharpening and dealing with blunt tips! MozArt Supplies, the makers of this set, pride themselves in offering high quality Japanese mechanical pencils and ensure customer satisfaction is a priority.

If you’re looking for an attractive and reliable way to take your sketching, writing or illustration to the next level, look no further than the MozArt Aesthetic Mechanical Pencil Set of 12!

Pros and Cons


  • No need to sharpen
  • Best for Detailed Drawing
  • Most Durable for Heavy Use
  • Smooth writing surface
  • Available in multiple lead sizes
  • Great for drawing and detailing artwork


  • Pencils may jam when in use
  • Lead breaks easily even with minimal pressure applied while writing/drawing

Best Graphite: CRETACOLOR Fine Art Graphite Set

Key Features:

  1. Sketching and drawing
  2. Portable
  3. Cedar wood casing
  4. Range of graphite grades (2H, HB, 2B, 4B, 6B, 8B)

best drawing pencils

This CRETACOLOR Fine Art Graphite Set is a perfect option for any level artist. Whether you are a beginner trying out sketching for the first time, or an experienced draftsman looking for a selection of graphite pencils to take with you on the go, this set has something for everyone. Each pencil features a cedar wood casing that not only looks appealing but also ensures that each pencil can withstand extended use.

The graphite lead of this pencil range is ideal for sketching and drawing, with a set of six pencils ranging from 2H to 8B in hardness. The most popular of these are the HB and 2B which are known for their versatility as they can be used to create precise lines as well as darker shading effects. Furthermore, the 4B, 6B and 8B offer excellent opportunities to play with bolder textures and dramatic shading effects in your sketches.

This set includes all of the supplies needed to start sketching right away, making it an ideal gift option for those interested in exploring fine art graphite sketches. Each wood case contains one each of the following pencils: 2H, HB, 2B, 4B, 6B, 8B. This allows you to select the best tool for whatever project you have in mind.

In summary, CRETACOLOR Fine Art Graphite Set is an amazing choice for artists of all levels. The variety of graphite lead grades provides limitless possibilities when creating sketches and drawings, while the cedar wood casing makes sure that this set remains durable even with prolonged use. Every graphite sketch artist deserves to experience the incredible range and ease-of-use offered by this superb CRETACOLOR Fine Art Graphite Set!

Pros and Cons


  • Most Efficient
  • Long lasting and durable
  • Versatile and lightweight design
  • Comes with convenient tin
  • Smooth


  • Some users found their pencils cracked easily

What to Look for in Drawing Pencils

Choosing the best drawing pencils can be daunting, but with some knowledge of the available features and a good understanding of what you need and your budget, you can find the perfect pencils for drawing. Let’s take a closer look at each of the product features to consider when selecting drawing pencils.

Lead Softness:

Lead softness is an important factor when selecting pencils for drawing because it affects how deep and dark your lines will be. Harder leads, such as those available with HB graphite, create sharp, firmer lines on paper whereas softer leads create darker, deeper shading, such as those available with B graphite. Consider your desired effect before buying to find the perfect lead softness for the job.

Lead Core Size:

Lead core size helps determine how thick or thin your line will be on paper. Thicker cores create thicker lines and are great for shading and manipulation of tone, while thinner cores are better for detailing and creating finer lines. Select either larger or smaller core sizes depending on your preferred effect, as well as what type of drawing you are doing (portraits, landscapes, etc.).

Barrel Type:

Pencil barrels come in two main types, round and hexagon (hex). Round barrels are traditional in design and are suited to general use, while hex barrels provide better grip control since the edges are contoured to your fingertips. Consider the way that you grip your pencil when deciding between these two barrel types.

Quality of Wood:

The quality of wood used to make pencils affects not only its balance and durability but it can also contribute to a comfortable grip when drawing. Pay attention to this aspect of the pencil to ensure that it doesn’t break after light use. Quality brands like Staedtler, Tombow, Faber-Castell are renowned for their excellent product standards so try researching these brands before making a purchase if you want to guarantee great quality wood.

Eraser Attachment:

Some pencils come with an attached eraser on the end which can be really convenient for retouching or making corrections to your sketch or drawing without having to stop and search around for an eraser. The convenience of having an eraser attached to your pencil depends on the particular model that you choose so double check this feature before buying if it is important to you.


Drawing pencils come in all kinds of price ranges depending on what features you’re looking for and how much money you can spend on them. Set a budget before you begin looking at different models to help narrow down your options within that price range.

Brand Reputation:

Many brands have built reputations for excellence in quality control and product standards so researching them before buying can help narrow down your choices if you want to guarantee a good product from a reputable company.


Durability is key when selecting drawing pencils because nobody wants their pencils breaking after light use once they’ve already made a purchase; this is why it’s important to purchase pencils from makers that prioritize sturdiness and longevity with their products. Try exploring reviews online or asking family or friends who draw what their favorite brands are so that you can make an informed decision about which pencil will last longest without sacrificing quality of lines or ease-of-use while sketching or drawing.


What are the best pencils for drawing?

The best pencils for drawing are typically made with graphite-based leads and offer a range of stroke widths and degrees of blackness. Quality pencils also have a strong, durable exterior that can withstand long uses and come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different types of drawings.

What brand makes the best drawing pencils?

Some popular brands of drawing pencils that are well-known for their quality and results include Prismacolor, Derwent, Faber-Castell, Tombow, and Staedtler.

What type of lead is used in the best drawing pencils?

The lead used in the best drawing pencils are generally graphite-based, meaning they contain a combination of clay and graphite particles with varying levels of hardness. Most professional artists prefer a lead hardness between 2B (softer) and 4H (harder).

Are there any special features that make certain drawing pencils better than others?

Some features to consider when choosing the right drawing pencils are the lead size/width and degree of blackness. Additionally, certain brands use special proprietary formulas to create extra-smooth laydown of pigment, reduce smudging, or create more intense colors.

Are there any advantages to using softer or harder leads in drawing pencils?

Soft lead creates a darker line with a smooth transition from light to dark, while harder lead creates sharper lines with less variation in tones. This means that softer leads can be great for blending or shading, while harder leads are better for details or hard edges.

Are there any special tips for sharpening a drawing pencil?

One tip for sharpening a drawing pencil is to use a mechanical sharpener that is specifically designed for graphite leads. This will help ensure a precise point without leaving any wood fragments inside the lead tip which could impact the accuracy of your lines. Additionally, it’s recommended to regularly clean out your mechanical sharpener with an old toothbrush or similar tool as buildup can negatively affect performance over time.

How do I choose the right kind of eraser for my pencil drawings?

For erasing small details in your drawings, an artist-grade kneaded eraser is usually recommended since it can be manipulated into any shape and requires little pressure when erasing away mistakes. For large areas or for erasing hard lines, an art gum eraser can be used as it’s slightly more abrasive and can get rid of mistakes quickly without damaging the paper surface too much.

How much do top-of-the-line drawing pencils cost?

Top-of-the-line drawing pencils can range in price depending on the brand and type but generally fall between $10-$20 USD per set or individual pencils. Prices may vary based on factors such as special features or unique designs, so it’s important to do research beforehand to find the right fit for your budget and needs.

Do professional artists generally prefer one type of pencil over another?

Professional artists tend to have their own preferences regarding the best type of drawing pencils based on their specific style or technique, but some generally accepted favorites among experts include Prismacolor Col-Erase, Derwent Graphic Pencils, and Faber-Castell 9000 Graphite Pencils due to their versatility, comfort grip design, rich pigmentation, and long-lasting leads.

What kind of paper works best with certain types of drawing pencils?

For graphite leads, heavy weight cold press paper is usually recommended due to its ability to absorb more pigment from the lead while still allowing for easy blending and shading techniques if desired. For colored leads such as those found in best colored pencils sets, hot press paper works well due to its smooth texture which helps create even color laydown without skipping over any areas when used along with a light touch when pressing down on the lead tip.

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