This post is a little different to my other reviews. I wanted to provide you with information as to which products I would recommend as an absolute must have in your sketching pencil case. These would be your sketching essentials.
I’ve used many different brands of pencils over the years, but Faber Castell 9000’s have to be my favourite. This is not only because of the way the graphite goes down onto the paper, but the way it feels in your hand. They blend beautifully.
The Faber Castell 9000s come in a set of 6, and two different sets of 12. If you are a sketcher on the go, the set of 6 should be perfect for you. However, if you largely sketch at home or in your creative space, I would recommend the ‘ART’ set of 12 which includes pencil ranges from 2H to 8B. The ‘Design’ set of 12 includes pencils 5H to 5B, and wouldn’t be as useful to an artist as they are for a designer. As artists we want the darkest dark, and I have found that the 9000 8B is perfect and matches, if not exceeds, other brands that claim to be the darkest dark. The other benefit to the Faber Castell 9000 range is that you can purchase the individual pencils. Essential when you love that 8B so much.
I’ve bought so many erasers and I’ve read up on so many more. However, what I’ve learned with all tools of the trade is that there are different types of the one tool, for the multitude of jobs you use them for. So, I wouldn’t recommend simply one eraser.
As I love the Faber Castell 9000s so much, I would recommend the Faber Castell 182402 Sleeve Eraser which works with them beautifully. However, it is important to note that you want to use this for line sketches, not shaded areas.
When you want to start removing shading, whether to erase errors, create highlights, or neaten an edge, I would recommend the Winsor & Newton Kneadable Eraser. There are many kneadable/putty rubbers out there, but this one is definitely a good all rounder.
Then there is the Tombow Mono Zero Eraser. This is a priceless piece of equipment. The Mono eraser is perfect for fine detail work. It is a precision eraser, perfect for fur, hair, tiny highlights etc. Since getting one of these, I would never be without one now.
No sketching essentials would be complete without the sharpener. Sharpeners are like the erasers. There is not one that does everything, however, there are two that can do nearly all.
If you’re out and about, or you simply sketch from home, the Faber Castell F582800 Double Hole Sharpener is perfect. This sharpener sharpens most pencils (though it didn’t like my Derwent graphite pencils – I largely suspect it depends on the wood grade. The lower grade wood, the more likely it is to chew when sharpening). This is a handy sharpener as it captures all the shavings. It is easily my favourite encased sharpener.
However, if you want that super sharp point, if you want a sharpener that you can trust with your expensive pencil crayons, such as Polychromos, then the Mobius Solid Brass Pencil Sharpener is the best. I would still recommend using a hobby knife to sharpen pastel pencils, but otherwise, this worked on every different pencil type I have. And that’s a lot.
These would be your sketching key essentials. Of course, there are more tools you can add to your pencil case, and I will do another post on those kinds of tools. However, here I have listed the key essentials to make sure you have everything you need. Not to forget what you sketch on. You can find my favourite canvas for sketching here.