Drawing is one of the most accessible art forms – drawing pencil sets are readily available in craft and art shops and the best drawing pencils for beginners are very affordable. It's easy to pick up supplies and get drawing right away!
If you're new to drawing, it's a good idea to look for a small set which includes pencils with a mixture of hard and soft leads. Pencils are graded as H or B: ones with an H on them have very firm leads and are great for drawing fine details, while B grade pencils have softer leads and are great for blending. The H or B grading will also have a number next to it indicating how soft or hard it is – the higher the number, the softer or harder the lead will be. For example, a 2B pencil will be soft and blendable, but not as soft as a 9B. Most sets will also include an HB pencil, which is neither too soft nor too hard.
What pencils are best for drawing? To find the best drawing pencils for you, it's a good idea to look at your style of drawing and go from there. If you're studying graphic design, you should opt for a set with H pencils for precision and a couple of Bs for shading. H pencils have firmer tips and won't smudge as easily as a B pencil. If you like to blend your drawings and have smooth shading, then choose a set with lots of Bs. The best drawing pencils for beginners should include a mix of both – you can always upgrade your pencils at a later date once you've developed a better sense of your own style.
You can often buy drawing pencil sets that have been put together for a particular style of drawing (such as portraiture) and these are worth looking out for if you want to specialise.
When you're buying your drawing pencils, it's a good idea to look out for a well-known brand to make sure you're buying the best quality pencils that you can get. Keep an eye out for bigger brands such as Derwent or Faber Castell – these companies have been supplying artists for generations. Sometimes art shops produce their own drawing pencil brands and these can be good value for beginners.
More like this
Want to improve your drawing skills? Take a look at our pencil drawings for beginners guide to get started or explore our pick of the best drawing books. We've also put together a best colouring pencils guide and a best mechanical pencils for drawing guide to help you stock up on art supplies. Try out your new pencils and have a go at our how to draw a cat easy tutorial. Not a cat lover? Why not learn how to draw a dog or how to draw a tree instead?
If you want to try a new medium, take a look at our how to use oil pastels guide.
Read on to discover the best drawing pencils to buy in 2023…
Best pencils for drawing 2023
1. Staedtler Mars Lumography pencil set
This great little sketching pencil set by Staedtler is a good option if you're new to drawing and don't have a big budget. This sketching pencil set includes a good selection of pencils ranging from 6B to 4H and comes in a sturdy tin, which will help to protect your pencils.
Staedtler is a popular brand and this is a good set for beginners – you can always upgrade to a professional set at a later date if you get really into drawing!
2. WHSmith Pure Graphite pencils
Have you tried using pure graphite pencils? These super-blendable pencils don't contain any wood, so you can use them to draw wider strokes than ordinary drawing pencils. These pencils are brilliant for sketching and very versatile, so they're a great choice if you're planning to get out into the fresh air for a drawing session. This graphite pencil set ranges from HB to 9B, so it's ideal for creating softer, more tonal drawings.
3. Faber Castell 9000 Design set
Faber Castell's pencil range has long been popular with artists and illustrators and this set has been produced since 1905! This set is suitable for artists, professional illustrators designers and amateur sketchers. It contains a good selection of pencils ranging from 5B to 5H and comes in a protective tin. This is an excellent drawing set which is great value for money.
4. Tombow Mono drawing pencil set
Tombow Mono pencils are brilliant quality for the price: these Japanese pencils are made from break-proof, high density graphite that won't smudge. They're beautifully smooth to use and they blend very easily. This set includes six pencils ranging from 2H to 6B, plus a round Mono Zero eraser.
5. Winsor & Newton 490010 Precision pencil set
This pencil set from Winsor & Newton has a selection of soft graphite pencils combined with white and charcoal pencils. It also includes a pencil sharpener, an eraser and a paper stump (for blending). This is a good drawing pencil set for beginners and will allow you to experiment with charcoal pencils too.
6. Derwent Academy Sketching Starter set
If you're looking for the best drawing pencils for beginners, you can't go wrong with this fabulous set from Derwent. It contains absolutely everything you need to begin drawing right away, including an A4 sketch pad, 12 drawing pencils (6B-5H), an eraser, pencil sharpener and a project book with tips to help you get started.
7. Derwent Professional line and wash sketching set
Combine painting and drawing by investing in this handy pencil set. The line and wash technique uses pencils with water soluble leads – you can draw onto paper and then blend your shading with the waterbrush to give your drawing a painted look. You can use your pencils to add lines as well. This little kit also includes a paper stump, an eraser and a pencil sharpener.
8. Derwent Academy colouring pencils and graphic pencils set
If you want to get into drawing, this pencil set is ideal for beginners. It contains a combination of high quality sketching and colouring pencils produced by Derwent, all contained in a beautiful wooden case. As an added bonus, this set also comes with an eraser, paintbrush, pencil sharpener and a project book with tips to help you get started.
9. Derwent Professional pencils set of 24
When you're buying art supplies, it's a good idea to buy the best quality materials that you can afford. If you invest in quality pencils, they'll last for a really long time if you look after them. If you're looking for the best pencils for drawing, you won't go wrong if you invest in a high quality set like this one made by Derwent. It includes a combination of graphite blocks (great for sketching!) and a mixture of sketching pencils including tinted charcoal.
This drawing pencil set includes a great range of materials and will allow you to create very professional-looking sketches.
10. Koh-I-Noor Gioconda sketching set
Koh-I-Noor is a brand that has an amazing reputation for producing professional-standard art materials and this set is no exception: it contains everything you'll need to create incredible sketches including pencils, charcoal and a blending stump. This is a high quality drawing set that will last a long time if you take care of it.
Looking to buy more art supplies? Check out our guides to the best watercolour paints, best acrylic paints and our best drawing tablet for beginners guide. If you're looking for gifts for an artistic friend or family member, take a look at our pick of the best gifts for artists and the best art sets for kids.
Featured image by Unsplash/Dev Asangbam.
Sarah Orme is a UK-based linocut printmaker, digital editor, feature writer and award-winning podcaster. She's been editing the sewing and art sections of Gathered.how – and before that our sister website calmmoment.com – for over 3 years. She’s the host of Gathered’s We’ve Made It podcast and A Calmer Life podcast. She’s a keen crafter and artist and loves creating DIY tutorials for Gathered. Sarah has previously written features for The Guardian, In The Moment Magazine, Project Calm Magazine, countryfile.com, radiotimes.com and yourhomestyle.uk. She enjoys designing her own unique lino prints and dreams of opening her own online shop. She shares her work @sarahormeprints
SALE NOW ON - Save up to 75% when you subscribe!