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What pencil grade do you like to use for logo sketches?

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  • What pencil grade do you like to use for logo sketches?

    Hey again!

    Not sure if this is exactly the right spot for this post but here goes anyway. I'm wondering if anyone here has a preference of pencil grade they like to use when you sketch ideas for logos and why? The reason I'm asking is because I am getting generally dissattisfied with my old standby grade that I always use and want to try a different grade but thought it might be cool, provided people have such an opinion, to get opinions about what might be a good grade to move to next.

    I'm using a 4B for most of my logo sketches, I use it I think because I have always liked it for general sketching, nice dark lines when you want them and nice smooth shading. I also have a couple 2H grade that I use for preliminary outlines when I'm unsure about a shape and also to sketch out baselines, x-height lines etc. when I'm hand drawing a typeface, things that I want to erase easily afterward. I haven't had much logo work for a good little while now but for some reason all the sudden I'm falling into a bunch... other than my own that I'm working on I have 4 other logo jobs at the moment.

    I wanna try something that is a little more versatile than the 4B. It can be nice and dark but it also goes dull quickly and I'd like to be able to get a little more tonal range out of the one pencil without having to switch back and forth. I often find I catch the flavor I like of an idea on the first lines I sketch of a shape when the thoughts still raw and just happening, going back over those lines for clarity sometimes kills the character I liked in the initial shape and switching back and forth constantly or sharpening every 2nd or 3rd sketch kinda distracts me and brings me out of creative mode sometimes too. Anybody have any suggestions for a pencil grade that can be fairly dark as well as reasonably light but hold a point for awhile?

    This probably seems a little OCD over a pencil but I'm, about out of the pack of 4B that I bought last and I would like to buy a pack of some other size(s) and didn't want to waste the money on something that wouldn't work for what I would like. I want to be able to get some nice sharp lines when I need them but also not have to sketch over the same area multiple times for it to be dark enough to see clearly. It's not life or death or anything of course! Just curious if someone has some input about this kind of thing. I used to sketch almost constantly but it's been a loong time since those days and I don't really remember much about the technical side of things like paper weights and pencil grades.

  • #2
    I use a pen. It removes the temptation to be frilly. Plus pens don't smudge.


    • #3
      I think you are overthinking this.

      I use a mechanical pencil. HB. No need for sharpening. It doesn't matter how dark your pencil is. You just need to be able to see it for tracing over.

      I don't shade with pencil for my sketches. My sketches are to get an idea out quickly before I scan and redraw something on the computer. You aren't using pencil sketches as final logo artwork are you?
      It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh


      • #4
        I'm really fussy when it comes to pencils.

        My go-to pencil is always a Staedtler 4H. The B series pencils are just too soft for me unless I'm working on a pencil sketch, and even then they're the last pencils I use to draw in the dark areas. There was a time when I was actually using 7H pencils they rarely need sharpening, but then again, they barely leave enough graphic on the paper to be seen.

        You might try using an HB or a F pencil. Both are good compromises between the B and H hardnesses.


        • #5
          Good ol' Number Two.
          But like Roth, I'd rather use a pen. One of those gel-ink rollerball things.


          • #6
            I like it hard... 2H for light sketches, HB for general line work, 2B for shading (rare). India ink for final mechanicals.
            Seriously, read this.


            • #7
              I use a Staedtler HB for quick sketches and thumbnailing. I have a pack of them, and like <b> said, it's a pretty good compromise. Like buda said, it just needs to be dark enough for you to be able to trace over it.

              No need to get too fussy at this stage, it's supposed to be fairly rough.

              Originally posted by maynardsayswhat View Post
              I like it hard...
              Let's not scare ravenant away just yet!
              Last edited by joe23st; 04-04-2012, 07:28 PM.


              • #8
                I use whats closest to me when i start drawing. Whether it be a pen or pencil. but to get specific you may like enjoy a F or 4H thats specifically what I tend to use.


                • #9
                  For sketching? Why pay the money for 'art' pencils?
                  For Drawing, that's a different matter.


                  • #10
                    Leo Burnett always advocated the use of the biggest, fattest, pencils you could find for concept work. It forces you to think in graphically simpler form without getting lost in the 'detail' trap.


                    • #11
                      Regular No. 2 or a 2B.
                      Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.


                      • #12
                        For sketching (not logos, which I've never done, but just in general), I also just use a regular no. 2 pencil. My only picky aspect is that it has to be real wood, not that compressed wood kind.

                        I've sometimes done a bit of hand-lettering, and for that I might use a hard-lead art pencil, a 6H or something like that.

                        But for just sketch stuff, a good old Ticonderoga or Dixon does me fine. I don't use mechanical pencils because I find the act of sharpening and the smell of the wood/graphite shavings to be rather soothing.
                        People will believe anything, which means I will believe anythingI want to start believing in things that have shapeliness and harmony.
                        -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


                        • #13
                          Thanks for the response guys, definitely some good things to think about... I'll probably try a HB since that sounds like a good compromise which is exactly what I'm looking for.

                          Very good point Bob, for someone like me who is a detail freak that is something very important to keep in mind. I always have a tendency to want to lose the forest for the trees because I'm very detail oriented in pretty much everything in life. I definitely need to keep simpler in mind!

                          I don't have to have a specific pencil or anything like that because I think it will be like magic, it's more that to me the conceptual stage needs to feel very free and enjoyable. Logos especially need that kind of help, they kinda give me nightmares to be honest, not the least because it seems like everything you can possible think of to do, one little Google search reveals that your idea has already been done in about 20 different ways! I don't want the perfect pencil but I do want something that I can kinda forget it's there and just focus on creating.

                          I actually like gel pens for their look and really enjoy cross hatching with a pen but my style is a little too rough for me to do the initial stages in pen. I'll sometimes erase a curve on a letter form for example 5 or 6 times before I feel like it's looking like I want it to, I found with pens I may end up with a line of shapes where I "screwed up" on the page... taunting me out of the corner of my eye every time I'm looking for enough blank space on the page... OCD much! At the concept stage it's all about feel for me, it doesn't have to be technically correct, but it has to feel right, otherwise I'll focus on the fact it doesn't feel right rather than whether the concept is any good or not. The question was more to help me find the right pencil to help keep the technical stuff out of my mind.

                          Haha, don't worry Buda, no shading or using the concepts as finals. I had only mentioned the shading because that is what made me like 4B pencils to begin with. I really like the subtlety of shading I can get with them when drawing and sketching and I guess since I had a bunch I used for that, I just started using them on the logo concepts as well. I actually usually don't use my concepts at all other than as a reference after I or the client has chosen the keepers. Maybe if it's kind of a hard shape to draw or I feel like it came out just right on the concept and HAS to be kept I'll scan one in, but I've become pretty comfortable with the pen tool in Illustrator over the years and will usually just redraw the shapes from scratch, using the concept sketch just as a visual reference to make sure I'm capturing the shape and feel of it correctly. I've also learned just recently how awesome a Wacom tablet can be for logos that need a "freehand" touch. Once you get the settings adjusted correctly I love the way calligraphic brushes come out on abstract shapes!

                          Thanks for all the input guys! I'll be getting some HB and maybe F pencils and see how they feel! And don't worry, no one's scared me away!... people who are such big fans of "The Grail" can't be all bad


                          • #14
                            People kind of chuckle that I use a very crude digital 'notepad' with a thick line pen to do most of my logo rough work. I actually use a Nintendo DS -- it's great because it's so portable and I can 'catch' ideas just about anywhere. I started doing this about three or four years ago and when I look back, it's the crude but simple shapes that have come from this specific process that have worked best. And that's not just for logos, but ad ideas, layouts -- it's the stimulation of taking things away. The less you see, the more you have to imagine.

                            I always think of the first time I realized just how much sexier a naked woman can become just by putting on the right kind of sweater. Too much detail, too much 'light' is not as engaging as something hidden, some possibility in a shadow.

                            Our visual imagination can create fantastic, terribly useful things when it hooks up with our rational minds. But only if you throw in a lot of flirting between the two to literally, keep things interesting.

                            And in sketching, that also includes serendipitous discoveries that often happened when you work with slightly broad, and unfocused rendering tools and media.
                            Last edited by Bob; 04-04-2012, 10:14 PM.


                            • #15
                              Maybe I should hijack my wife's 3DS lol! We bought it (and they're not cheap, at least weren't back then) solely because she just had to play the remake a certain game from her childhood on it... didn't like the remake and it's been sitting in a drawer collecting dust while the battery slowly dies the final death.

                              ... Perhaps it could be resurrected as a tool of creativity?... is it too late to claim it as a tax write of?!






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