Creating art comes with a host of benefits, boosting everything from your mood and memory to your communication skills and ability to be creative in other areas of your life. For some, the idea of investing in a hobby that may not hold their interest for more than a few weeks is hard to get around. Sketching is a great option for those who are looking for an artform with minimal upfront costs. You can jump into at any age, even if you haven’t picked up a pencil since grade school, and you probably have all the basic graphite skills you need to begin working with this versatile medium.
Getting Started: Gathering Your Supplies
To get started with pencil sketching, you need a few tools.
Unsurprisingly, the first tool that you need to begin sketching is pencils. While you’re probably very familiar with standard #2 pencils, a glance at the aisles of your hobby store will quickly make it evident that there’s far more to choose from. Pencils are graded by letter and number. The letter denotes the category, with “H” being for harder pencils and “B” for softer. An HB pencil is roughly at the middle of the scale and is similar to a standard #2 pencil. The letter “F” means that the pencil sharpens to a fine point. Within each letter category, pencils range from hard to soft, which is represented by the number. For example, a 9B is softer than a 5B, and a 6H is harder than an H.
It’s important to note that there isn’t a set industry standard for hardness. Most pencil manufacturers set their own standards for graphite hardness grades. Finding what works best for your needs and preferences may take a little bit of trial and error, and you may end up experimenting with a couple of different brands.
A good pencil sharpener is a must for sketching. Most beginners opt for a manual pencil sharpener that has two openings, which lets them sharpen the pencil to a different type of tip. This gives you a lot of versatility.
Part of the beauty of creating art with pencil is that mess-ups are easy to erase, giving you the opportunity for a do-over without scrapping the whole page. However, erasers aren’t just for clean-ups; they’re also used for special effects and shading. There are several types of erasers to choose from, including soft gum erasers, plastic or vinyl erasers and latex-free PVC erasers. Generally speaking, you’ll pay no more than a couple of dollars per eraser, so you may consider picking up a few different ones to see what you prefer for which applications.
If you’re a beginner, then you probably don’t want to start out with expensive paper. Upfront, you’ll most likely want to invest in two types of paper, including sketch paper, which is very affordable, and archival drawing paper, which is thicker.
Creating art provides a unique outlet for expression and is a particularly therapeutic way to deal with stress and anxiety. Because it’s easy to track your progress over time, sketching is an especially rewarding hobby that comes with minimal upfront costs.