3. Sharpening Pencils

This lesson is about:

. Sharpening pencils

On the left a good example of a penciltip. The two on the right are not correctly sharpened.

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 graphite.

We sharpen pencils with a knife, this provides us with a very sharp penciltip, which is suitable for precision. A long tip, 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. This is very suitable for writing, but not always for drawing.

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 grafite 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. This needs to be done with 'feeling' so don't push too forcefully because that might make break the tip.


Beautiful penciltips photo

  1. Sharpen all your pencils and grind their tips.
  2. Take a ruler and put the pencils next to it so the length of the tips can be judged.
  3. Make a picture of all your materials listen in the materials page. Send your pictures.
  4. The picture below shows a good tip on the left pencil and wrong tips on the other two pencils.


  1. Take a piece of lined paper.
  2. Slowly draw a short line (3 cm/1 inch) on the line of the paper without a ruler. Mark the line at the start and the end. Then mark in the exact midway point. Give it your utmost concentration and attention. Try to draw the line as straight as you can. We want you to start training your eyes to define distances and to develop exactness in your drawing.
  3. Now draw another line (apr. 6 cm/2 inch) next to it. Again mark beginning and end. Then mark the exact midway point.
  4. Finish with a third line (apr. 10 cm/3 inches) next to the ones you did and determine the exact midway point of this line as well.
  5. Do the same thing as you did above for 10 lines and vary the length of the lines, do short ones and long ones (minimum apr. 3 cm/1 inch, max 20 cm/8 inches). For the long lines you need to take distance in order to see the whole length of the line without moving your head.
  6. Now go back to the top of your page and measure all your lines with a ruler. Is the mark exactly on the midway point? Please correct the marks. (see picture).
  7. Can you see if any discrepancy is always on the same side of the midway point? If there is a pattern, you now know it needs correction in future drawings.
  8. Do another 5 lines of the paper like before and check afterwards with the ruler. Make your corrections.
  9. Now turn your paper and make at lease ten vertical lines in the same way. Again mark the midway points.
  10. Check out with a ruler what your discrepancy is. Is it again on the same side of the midway point? Then you now know how to correct this and repeat the exercise.