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Pencils Hardness

Pencil Hardness
 
Understanding pencil lead grades is important when choosing the right pencil. Whether you’re a wordsmith or an artist, the correct pencil hardness can enhance your creative process or the quality of your work. Pencils are one of the most common writing and drawing tools that come in various sizes, shapes, and colours. Pencil hardness refers to the resistance of the pencil lead to wear and tear in how it is applied through writing and drawing onto surfaces.

How is pencil hardness determined?

2B or not 2B? Pencil hardness is determined by the type of graphite used in the lead inside your pencil. Graphite is easily moulded into thin rods that are placed into the inside of pencils. The hardness of graphite depends on its composition as a result of the pressure and temperature under which it was formed. This results in different grades of graphite, through the use of both numbers and letters of pencils.

Graphite

The letters are classified as either soft black (B), hard (H), hard black (HB), or firm (F). The degree of soft black, hard, hard black, and firm are then further classified by numbers. The higher the number the higher the intensity. The harder the pencil the longer the mark lasts, as it leaves less lead on a surface. The softer the pencil the darker and softer the mark. Other factors can affect pencil hardness, such as the pressure applied while writing, the angle of the pencil, and the type of paper used.

Pencil Hardness Scale

The pencil hardness scale is important for artists, writers, designers and many other professions. Understanding and choosing the right pencil from the scale ensures optimal results in the application of pencils in professional work.

Best Pencil Hardness for Writing

Harder pencils are most suitable for writing as they produce thin finer lines. Harder ‘H’ pencils produce clear and precise writing. These harder pencils are ideal for drafting and filling out forms. Mechanical pencils can be useful when writing quick notes in a rush as there is no need for use of a pencil sharpener. Mechanical pencils come in the same lead hardness range as traditional pencils.

Best Pencil Hardness for Drawing

The choice of pencil hardness depends on use and personal preference. For example, an artist may prefer a softer pencil for sketching and shading, while an engineer may prefer a harder pencil for precise technical drawings. It is also common for people to use a range of pencil grades for different parts of their drawings. 

Harder pencils (2H-9H) are most suitable for technical drawing, drafting, and fine details. Hard (H) light produces a more precise line that is also easy to erase. Black (HB-9B) pencils are commonly used for sketching, shading, and artistic drawing. They produce a darker and bolder line that is harder to erase. A drawing set containing all pencil hardness ensures you can achieve both fine detail and shading work in your drawings.  

Different industries that use pencils

Pencils are the ultimate tool for those who create. Pencils can be used for anything from marking surfaces, drawing construction plans, solving puzzles, taking notes, writing lists, drawing and sketching to marking carpentry measurements.

It’s not just artists and illustrators who use pencils as a primary tool, many other professions include: carpenters, engineers, architects, students, surveyors, drafters, graphic designers, animators and writers.
 

Industry Application
Automotive For applying to clear coats and painted surface on cars
Writing & journalism For taking quick notes, interviews and writing articles
Carpentry For making measurements and guidelines
Architecture Pencils are used to sketch buildings and create
Engineering For making sketches and technical drawings
Fashion For sketching designs and illustrations
Graphic Design For planning concepts and brainstorming
Art For drawing, sketching and planning paintings

This scale is universal and essential across many industries. Mastering and understanding this scale is important for guiding professionals towards the perfect pencil.

Pencils are used in wide range of industries

Pencils are important tools not just in creative fields but also construction, architecture and engineering. Pencils are a versatile and adaptable tool making it essential across many sectors and industries.

Pencil lead grading scale

The hardness of pencils is rated on a standardised scale known as the "pencil grading scale." This scale ranges from 9H (the hardest) to 9B (the softest), with HB being the midpoint of the scale. The H in 9H stands for "hard" and the B in 9B stands for "black," as softer pencils produce darker lines. The table below lists the different hardness and their uses:
 
Hardness Scale Pencil hardness Pencil mark types

Pencil Uses

9B Extremely soft Very soft, very dark marks Artistic designs
8B Extremely soft Extremely soft, very dark marks Artistic designs
7B Extremely soft Extra soft, very dark marks Artistic designs
6B Soft Very soft, very dark marks Artistic designs and drafts
5B Soft Soft, dark marks Artistic designs and drafts
4B Soft Soft, dark marks Artistic designs and drafts
3B Soft Soft, dark marks Drawing
2B Soft Moderately soft, medium-dark marks Drawing and writing
B Soft Soft, medium-dark marks Drawing and writing
HB Medium hard Medium, standard grade Drawing and writing
F Medium hard Firm, medium marks Drawing and writing
H Hard Hard, medium marks Graphic, technical drawing and writing
2H Hard Moderately hard, medium-light marks Graphic, technical drawing and writing
3H Hard Hard, medium-light marks Graphic, technical drawing and writing
4H Hard Moderately hard, light marks Graphic, technical drawing and writing
5H Hard Hard, light marks Graphic, technical drawing and writing
6H Extremely hard Very hard, light marks Technical drawing, cartography and lithography
7H Extremely hard Extra hard, light marks Technical drawing, cartography and lithography
8H Extremely hard Extremely hard, light marks Technical drawing, cartography and lithography
9H Extremely hard Extremely hard, light marks Technical drawing, cartography and lithography


Many factors are worth considering when choosing pencil hardness. Factors like pressure of use, do you have a heavy hand or a lighter touch? A heavier hand may require a softer lead. Paper type is important, rough paper requires harder pencils and smooth paper works best with soft lead pencils. If you are using pencils for drawing darker and softer pencils are ideal for adding contrast and shadows. Lighter and harder softer pencils are perfect if you wish to plan or map out drawings.

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