Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

When learning to draw in pencil, it is important to know the basics. In the following, Lee Hammond gives an expert overview of the basics, which comes from his book, Lee Hammonds All New Big Book of Drawing.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Working With A Graphite Pencil

Graphite has always been my medium for art. It was my first love when I started to learn basic drawing techniques. Because I am self-taught, it was the easiest way to master. It is also the most portable and cleanest support. So it was practical when I raised my children.

In the 80s, I developed the “Lee Hammond Blended Pencil Technique” and started teaching it to small groups. Like me, the students found that graphite was the easiest way to control. I was thrilled in the 90s – and I have written books on it. This technique has changed the way people draw.

With my book, you can draw graphite. Even if you already have experience, projects bring you additional skills and knowledge. I hope the illustrations will inspire you and prove that the graphite pencil is not only a tool for the first sketch, but an independent medium for the visual arts.

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Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Graphite Tools

You cannot create high quality works of art with insufficient art materials. My mixing pen technique requires the right tools to create the look. Do not pinch in this department, otherwise your art will suffer.

I blamed many of my students for not having talent when it was their equipment that kept them from doing a good job. The following tools will help you become a better artist.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101


Mechanical pencils are great for fine lines and details, and you never have to sharpen them. While a mechanical pencil is my favorite pencil, the lead is the most important part. 2B is a flexible yarn that provides a gentle blend. You can also use 4B or 6B with similar results.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Cardboard or Smooth Bristol Paper (two folds or more)

I like the paper which is very smooth (surface of the plate) and which can withstand a lot of friction, scratches and erasures.Gambar5

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Blending Tortillions and Stumps

Both are used to mix the graphite pencil. Twists are pieces of paper wrapped in a spiral that are suitable for small areas. The stumps are pressed on paper and have the shape of a pencil. They are sharp at both ends and are good for mixing large areas.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Kneaded Erasers

These erasers look like plasticine and are essential for a mixed pencil drawing. They gently increase reflections without damaging the surface of the paper.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Stick Erasers

These erasers look like mechanical pencils with a click mechanism to advance them. The erasers are made of vinyl and cleanly erase the pencil marks. The small dot on the eraser removes lines and precise details in your drawing. They are available in various sizes, from large spikes to micro.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Workable Spray Fixative

This is a spray used to seal your work and prevent it from blurring when finished. Accessible means that you can spray on a surface and continue drawing on it. However, I do not recommend it for the techniques that I share in my book. This changes the smoothness of the paper and stops mixing.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Drawing Board

It is important that you tilt your work towards you as you draw. This prevents the distortion that occurs when you work flat. Attach your paper and reference photo with a clip.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101


With rulers you can measure and graphically represent your drawings.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Acetate Report Covers

Use these covers to create graphic overlays that will be placed over your photo references. They help you to precisely scan your drawings.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Reference Photos

These are valuable sources of exercise materials. Collect photos from magazines and organize them into files for quick reference.

A word of warning: do not copy the exact picture; just use the pictures to practice. Many photographers own the copyright to their work and any reproduction without their express permission is illegal. You can completely avoid this problem by using your own reference photos.

Blending Graphite

In the 1980s, when I started teaching my Lee Hammond mixed pencil technique, graphite drawing had a relaxed and more impressionist approach. Uniform mixing has rarely been observed. Over the years, this fluid and realistic approach has been adopted by thousands of people and has become one of the most popular drawing styles.

To get this look, mix your graphite until it appears smooth. It’s not as simple as it sounds, but with practice, you can master this technique.

The following examples show what your transition should look like and not. The smoothness of your mixture depends on the smoothness with which you apply the pen.

It is important that you lay your pencil lines slowly and evenly at the start. If your pencil lines fall into a quick scribble application, they will not be smoothed by any blending.

Do Not Scribble

No mixing process can ever make this scribbling application more fluid.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Smooth Lines from Dark to Light

Here’s what your pencil lines should look like before you start mixing. The individual lines are barely visible. Work from dark to light while pacing back and forth to fulfill the privileges on your way.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Use A Light Touch to Mix

Apply the Tortillion in the same application from top to bottom, back and forth as you used your graphite pencil. Do not press too hard on the paper during mixing, as this will only make the paper rough and jerky. The lighter you feel, the softer your mixture will be.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Pro tip: Always keep your stump or twist slightly tilted when mixing to get the best results for a smooth finish.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

The 5 Elements of Shading

To draw realistically, you first need to understand how lighting affects shape. There are five essential shading elements to realistically represent the shape of an object.

Without a solid foundation of these elements, everything you draw is flat. Your subject will only appear in three dimensions if the effects of light and shadow are placed correctly. Each of the five shading elements can be seen on the sphere below.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

1. Cast Shadow

It is the shadow that the object you draw cast on a surrounding surface. This is often the darkest part of your drawing because it blocks the light completely. It should be drawn as close to black as possible. It becomes lighter when you leave the object. It is number 1 on the value scale.

2. Shadow Edge

This is also known as a rotating shadow. It is not the edge of the object, but the shadow on the object that indicates that it is a rounded surface. It is a dark gray tone that corresponds to number 2 on the value scale. You will find this shadow where an object protrudes and the surface on the other side withdraws.

3. Halftone

It is the true color of your object, unaffected by the light. It has no shadow and is No. 3 on the value scale.

4. Reflected Light

If you look at the ball above it, you will see a subtle edge of light on the edge of the shadow side. It is the light that bounces off the surface and comes from behind. It is the element that is most often omitted from a drawing. However, without separating the edge of the shadow from the projected shadow, your object appears flat.

Be sure to examine your reference for reflected light – it’s always visible on the edges, edges, or lips of an object. Even though it is lighter than shadow, it is still visible on the dark side of the object. It should never be left too white, otherwise it will not be realistic. It is light gray and corresponds to No. 4 on the value scale.

5. Full light

This is the part of your subject that receives the most light. It is number 5 on the value scale, where the tones gently change to the white of the paper.

Matching Values

It is important that you take into account the values ​​of your subject. I always ask my students to analyze and repeat the tones. However, it can be difficult to judge the values ​​of your reference photo and determine if you are nearby.

Use this little trick to compare your tones: take two small pieces of white paper and punch a hole in each. Place one on an area of ​​your reference photo.

Place the other on the same area of ​​your drawing. Look at the two holes and check if the tones match. By isolating the tones in these holes, you can compare them to white and see how dark they are.

Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101

Here are some helpful tips for mixing, shading, and getting even tones:

  • Contrast. Don’t be afraid of getting dark in the shade. Contrast is very important to obtain a realistic look.
  • Application of clay. Always apply your pencil lines according to the contours of your pattern. Mix with long vertical lines to make it easier to touch when entering the light (like a scale of values). You cannot control discoloration in light by discoloration.
  • Edges. Whenever you need to use a line to describe the shape of something, you need to get rid of the appearance of the outlines. The darkness of a drawn line belongs to one surface or another. Hide the darkness of the surface to which it belongs and create the appearance of an edge, not an outline.
  • Uneven tones. Correct uneven tones with a kneaded eraser. Shape the gum into a point and carefully remove the irregularity. Use a very light touch. This is called “reverse drawing”. This way you can also refresh the edges.

Backgrounds and Edges

Graphite is a basic medium. The shades of gray it creates give you the opportunity to fully explore and understand the meaning of value and the five shading elements we mentioned earlier.

One way to get a better sense of depth in your drawings with Value is to add a tint to the background. Notice how the dark backgrounds affect the appearance of the shapes. If these shapes were on a white background, their edges would be very different.

When drawing shapes, there are two types of edges: hard and soft. The hard edges are where two surfaces meet or overlap. They are quite defined because their tones create the appearance of an edge by stopping abruptly. Soft edges may appear in areas where an object bends slightly. The tone changes gradually.

Background Makes A Difference

If the ball is placed on a tinted background, the edges are different from the previous ball on a white background. When drawing, always ask yourself if you are mixing light on dark or dark on light.

Gambar make the difference

Hard and soft edges

This cone has two different types of edges: hard and soft. The soft edge is in the curve of the shadow on the rounded surface of the cone. Hard edges occur when the cone overlaps the background and touches the table.

Keep learning

Now that you know the basics of the graphite pencil, you can start practicing! Lee Hammond’s brand new large drawing book is the culmination of the artist’s 40 years of teaching. It contains more than 80 step-by-step projects and tips for drawing with graphite and colored pencil.

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