Pencil Games, Part 2


Calla lily-pencil-blackwing- 602

The testing of pencils is great fun!  I am learning new things by playing with the different pencils.  People occasionally tell me what pencils they prefer.  People frequently ask me what I prefer.  Up until this point, the only pencil that I have a particular preference for in a particular situation is Prismacolor’s Ebony pencil for making tracings. I happen to love the smooth, even marks and the stability of the graphite in Prismacolor’s Ebony pencil.  In my experience, other ebony pencils appear more like a charcoal pencil, but I have not put ebony pencils through the test games.  For these games, I am playing for the best pencil to use in a finished drawing for an under-painting of an intended botanical water color.


A participant in one of my workshops told me how she loved Blackwing pencils and particularly the Blackwing Palomino Pearl.  I tested both the Pearl and the 602.  The results can be seen in the photos of the single calla lily. In the 602, I found it to be a nice drawing pencil closer to some of the middle range B pencils, such as a 2B or a 4B, (see photo #1).  It was a nice pencil for drawing would make a great pencil for field sketching. As a general all-purpose drawing pencil, the 602 fits the bill.  It is soft and glides across the paper. For the purpose of an under drawing for botanical watecolor, it is too dark.  602’s as a drawing pencil are great.  I will be keeping some in my travel box of field drawing tools.


calla lily-pencil-blackwing pearl

The Blackwing Palomino Pearl is a wonderful drawing pencil in a midrange close to an HB. However the similarity stops there.  The Pearl is a joy to hold and work with.  Though its tonal value is similar to an HB, its mark making is much more smooth than most HB’s I’ve used.  The Pearl is very light to hold and requires very little pressure to create rich marks.  No hand cramps with this pencil!  I could probably fall in love with the Pearl in the same way that I have with Prismacolor’s Ebony pencil.  The Pearl will find a home in my drawing essentials box.  I do not think it will be the best for an under-painting in botanical watercolor.  I could be wrong and we will find out when the Pencil Games get to the watercolor stage. Being wrong in art, almost always leads to new breakthroughs!  Being wrong can be very right!

calla lily-derwent pencil


Derwent wraps up this group of pencil tests.  Derwent is always a crowd favorite as the quality of Derwent pencils is always topnotch.  It’s hard to go wrong with Derwent.  In this leg of the games, I did three drawings with Derwent 9H, 6H and 4H. All three pencils made a successful soft light under-painting drawing.  The only difference was in the degree of tonal value, as it should be with a high-quality drawing tool.  We will see if any flaws can be found when we get to painting tests. It appears that Derwent is the winner of this round.


Stay tuned for round two where more pencils in the H strengths will be put to the test! Will we have a final winner?  Hard to tell at this point as we only tested one brand in H’s.   Blackwing pencils make great drawing tools for other areas, but I could be wrong in their use in an under-painting. When we get to the painting stage, will we find a new break through in pencil shading?  Or will we find perfection in a pencil brand to beat all others?  We will see!

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