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Woodless Graphite Pencils Versus Traditional Drawing Pencils

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My concentration at Liberty University was in graphic design, but I love art of all kinds.

An original composition by the author.

An original composition by the author.

What's in a Pencil?

A pencil is never just a pencil. There are many types of lead and many different bodies. Even beginning artists know that there is a wide range of pencil options. What should be in your artistic arsenal?

Basic Drawing Necessities

First of all, you are going to want a 4H. This is probably the lightest drawing utensil you will need, and it is the lightest I use. After that, 2H, H, HB, B, 2B, 4B, 6B, 8B, and 9B are important. A lot of beginner sets only reach B6, but believe me, you are going to want the darkest dark possible to make that drawing pop. So make sure to get at least that 8B. Something white always looks whiter next to something dark. It is the truth so if you want to be a step above the rest, especially if you are in middle school or high school get that pencil and use it!

An original composition by the author.

An original composition by the author.

My Experience With a Woodless Pencil

So, now that we have briefly gone over just enough of the preliminary information, it is time to answer the true question, "Is woodless truly all it is cracked up to be?" I decided to get a set of woodless drawing pencils. I could not find any with the lower harder and lighter graphites, but the ones I did find I decided to use. I liked the way they felt in my hand. They felt heavier, and I suppose they are denser than their wooden counterparts. I also liked that they were round and seemed to have a good sharp tip to them—a lot of the drawings I do require fine tips for the remaining details. Overall, the first appearances were good.

I started drawing with the new set and still liked the feeling in my hand, although the drawings did seem a bit different. There wasn't that constant need to resharpen my pencil, but the end seemed to get duller faster. While I continued to draw, the edges became less defined than I would have liked because I didn't sharpen my pencils as often. This could be controlled by sharpening the pencil as often as a wooden one. But then, where is the difference? The price is more for the woodless, so there doesn't seem to be much point in sharpening useful graphite away.

My solution and final opinion between the two is this: I do all my detailed portions with my traditional drawing pencils and all the filler parts (where I have to cover huge areas with a single color) with my woodless pencils. The woodless make thicker, bolder lines. While these sorts of lines (and therefore woodless pencils!) have their place in my art, I am not ready to give up the traditional pencil completely.


Dain on June 04, 2016:

I was in an art store one day looking for some good pencils and the lady there said, "here try this" it was a woodless graphite pencil, I was thinking, whatever, it's just a pencil... but no, it's like changing from a ball point pen to one of those fancy gel ink pens. I haven't replaced all my wooded pencils, no way, but the woodless ones are now an integral part of my arsenal... 8B is my favourite.

gielso on April 24, 2016:

nice ariticlel, really shows the j curve effect

jerry on July 01, 2015:

Thanks, I love woodless graphite pencils but agree. They only go up to HB

Jacey on January 04, 2015:

That's way more clever than I was expegtinc. Thanks!

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Jessie on January 03, 2015:

I was really confused, and this answered all my qusiostne.

Monica on September 09, 2013:

You can also roll the tip of the pencils on sandpaper to sharpen the tip without having to sharpen the whole pencil. It will make them last longer (at least in my experience) I love woodless graphite pencils but the only problem is that they shatter if you drop them, which can be pretty upsetting

Artsygal (author) from United States, Virginia on December 07, 2011:

It would be great to see some of your drawings sometime! I love looking at all types of art!

no mac salad on December 07, 2011:

Another useful hub Artsygal, I'm a typing paper No.2 pencil guy. And I sharpen the pencils with a knife. But now, I may need to up my standards and get real pencils and real paper. Thanks for the info... vote^

melafx on December 06, 2011:

Nice hub for beginners. I must agree with Vladi, in my case i don't use pencils harder than 2H, due to the paper i'm now using, extra white canson 200gr. If i use harder pencil, i would damage the paper, it work be all marked up. Even when i use 2h, which is rare, i barely use pressure on it, very light shading is only the worth of it.

Voted up

Artsygal (author) from United States, Virginia on December 06, 2011:

Thanks for the pointers! I appreciate them immensely! I did get the coefficient and hardness backwards didn't I? I tried to edit that and fix it. I probably should have waited until the morning to write this. Thanks for pointing it out! I do agree that sometimes the harder pencils just end up damaging paper if you press down on them to hard. I use Bristol a lot and you can definitely see indentions if you are trying to make a darker line with a harder lead.

Vladi Dorfman on December 06, 2011:

Hey there, really nice article.

A few pointers.

Paper is really important when it comes to what pencils to use, some won't take in one of those hard pencils, such as the 4H (meaning the lines will be very very weak- harder pressure will only damage the paper probably). This brings me to an another point that is of little importance but I thought I should mention it - the pencil's softness or hardness is marked this way - [coefficient][core hardness]. Not vice versa.

Anyway, these standards vary between the different pencil brands, although to my experience only slightly (example: Kooh-i-noor's 2B I found to be harder than Fabercastle's 2B).

Cheers, continue to make great art!