1.2 Sharpening pencils

In this lesson we learn:

  • how to sharpen your pencils
  • Preparation of the easel and starting the first example plate


Please watch Sharpening Pencils video below.

Pencils come in different hardness of graphite. A neutral hardness is HB, we have H 1 - 9. The higher the number, the harder the pencil, the lighter the graphite.

Pencils B1-9 show softness, the higher the number, the softer and darker the pencil is.

We sharpen pencils with a knife, so we have a very sharp point, which is suitable for precision and a long point which is suitable for holding the pencil in a manner that allows for more dynamic in moving our arm. A pencil with short tip forces the hand to limit the movement of the wrist only to small movements.

How to sharpen as shown in the video

  1. Take your pencil in the left hand
  2. Take your hobby knife in the right hand
  3. Carefully slice a thin layer of wood from the pencil by pushing the knife with thumb of your left hand
  4. Turn the pencil a little further and cut again, etc
  5. When 3 cms/1 inch of graphite is cleaned start grinding the tip
  6. Lay a piece of sandpaper on the edge of the table and place the graphite tip flat on the sandpaper. Carefully move the graphite while at the same time rotating the pencil around. This needs to be done with 'feeling' so don't push to forcefully because that might make break the tip.

  • Sharpen all your pencils and grind their tips.
  • Take a ruler and put the pencils next to it so the length of the tips can be judged.
  • (Only if you take WEEKLY COACHING: Make a picture of all your materials listed in the materials page. Send your pictures to [email protected]).

Sharpen your pencils as shown on the movie.

They should look like this:

The Helplines
Many people start drawing just like that, they focus on the subject and try to copy it as good as possible. Helplines are very good helpers to get our drawing in place. Helplines can be put on strategic points in our drawing. The vertical helpline (also called plumpline or leadline) needs to be drawn in a straight 90 degree angle from the top of the board to someplace down the board anywhere on your board.
The horizontal needs to be drawn in a straight 90 degree angle from left to right anywhere you like on your board.

The lengths and the place of you helplines depend on the subject of your drawing. When we are copying the French drawings they already have some helplines included in the original plate, but if you like you can add your own helplines on the original.

In order to make our drawing we also need the same helplines as shown on the original plate on our drawing.

We copy them with the use of our T-ruler and an HB or H pencil with a sharp tip.


Please watch the video and prepare your easel.

Complete and Continue