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How to Sharpen a Pencil the Right Way

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How to sharpen a pencil

There are many pencil brands on the market. They all make marks on paper. Get any reputable brand wooden-case pencils. HB and 2B grades will cover most of your needs. Also, get a good-quality pencil extender. They are great for prolonging pencil life. I use them with new pencils, as well, because a long pencil handle is very convenient when drawing from life.

Most brand new pencils come pre-sharpened, but you have to re-sharpen a new pencil to use it properly. For this, get a crafts knife or, if you already have one, replace its blade so it's very sharp.

How to Sharpen a Pencil the Right Way - Life Drawing Academy

Now, I will show you how to sharpen a pencil the right way. It is an essential skill every artist must have. Unfortunately, many art colleges do not bother to teach this skill. Do not use pencil sharpeners. They are only good for children.

Slice the wooden case carefully, so the cut is even, without bites in it. Get some pleasure from the process. Trees used for pencils were growing for many years, so take your time to cut the wooden case. Enjoy how the knife glides along the pencil. The wooden cone has to be smooth and even. Sharpen graphite lead with a knife. Alternatively, you may use sandpaper to sharpen the tip. Also, you may polish the lead by gliding it along paper's surface. Here is what I call a well-sharpened pencil.

How to Sharpen a Pencil the Right Way - Life Drawing Academy

Now, let's see what proportions it has. If you place your well-sharpened pencil next to a ruler, aligning its tip with zero, ideally, the cone length should be about three centimeters. The lead should be one centimeter. A longer lead might break easily, and a shorter wooden cone will touch the paper when drawing with the "candle grip."


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