“Drawing is the true test of art.” Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
Drawing pencils come in a range of grades, from H for hard to B for soft. The hardness of the lead is determined by the relative proportions of graphite and clay used: the more graphite, the softer the pencil.
Typically, hard pencils range from 9h (the hardest) to H, and soft pencils range from 9B (the softest) to B. Grades HB and F are midway between the two. A very soft lead will produce rich, black marks, and it is an excellent choice for rapid sketches and expressive line-and-tone drawings, especially on textured paper. Hard leads make gray, rather than black marks. They are suitable for precise lines and details because they can be sharpened to a fine point. Although a single pencil of grade HB or 2B gives you considerable scope for expression, many artist use several grades of pencil in one piece of work, creating rich interplay of line and tone.
“Equally capable of producing a quick sketch or a finely worked drawing, the pencil is the most immediate, versatile, and sensitive of the drawing media. It can be used, on one hand, for great subtlety and delicacy, and, on the other, for sticking boldness and vigor; you can produce a soft, velvety quality or a crisp sharpness. One of the pencil’s most attractive characteristics is the ease with which line and tone can be combined in one drawing.”(Notes and quotes from Simon Jennings book –The New Artist’s Manual ((2005)) Chapter two” Drawing Media” Copyrighted to Simon Jennings & HarperCollins Pub.)
So saying, I could never say I have a favorite grade of pencil – even though I enjoy much the 2B for it’s flexibility and shades – but without all the other grades I couldn’t get the desired look I want for each sketch. And lots of times it’s not the drawing that makes “it”, but rather the mediums you use to acquire that desired look in the first place. The paper and utensils are very commonly forgotten as being the most important thing in all of art. The emotional (feeling) of the subject next.
I very much recommend the book mentioned above - superb and amazing facts. I love everything that I am learning.