Graphite for artists is available in many levels of hardness and methods of delivery. Using pencils or powders, you can create crisp lines, smooth gradients and painterly drawings. Due to the versatility of graphite, it's often the first choice of a budding artist and a medium experienced artists return to time and time again.
Available in a large range of hardnesses, from 8H (hard lead = light, crisp marks) to 9B (soft lead = bold, dark marks), you can draw many different subjects with graphite pencils. Even one pencil can create a stunning range of dynamic contrast! Here, Robert Mielie uses a simple Ticonderoga #2 (2B) pencil to create an almost life-like shell:
Graphite Drawing by Robert Miele
Graphite is also available in a powder form. You can apply it by dry or brushing or rubbing it with paper stomps, merging realism and abstraction. In this drawing, Helene Brunet creates a beautiful, mystical forest scene with graphite powder:
Helene Brunet. Graphite powder and pencil.
Traditional graphite is naturally water repellent, but art supply manufactures have been designing a whole new array of water-soluble graphite products, including pencils, crayons, powders, discs and kneadable putty. Water-soluble graphite can be brushed on wet or applied dry and then manipulated with a wet brush. Painterly effects and a full range of tones can be achieved! In the drawing below, Seana Reilly uses water-soluble graphite to create a dramatic and powerful waterfall image.