I had been frustrated with the lack of intensity in my darks regarding my shading. Sometimes, I wanted the extra drama that even my darkest pencils weren’t getting me. Shana Rowe Jackson had made a video in which she made a drawing with some genuinely black shading in it. I looked up that video, found out what pencils she’d used, and ordered them.
Those pencils were the Mars Lumograph Black line. Now, I have to admit, when I opened the box and looked inside, I was skeptical because the pencils went from 2b to 8b, which were grades of pencils I’d been using all along. But these are not like the other pencils I’d been using. I believe the Mars Lumograph pencils each have a bit of carbon mixed in with the graphite so they can get much darker than a regular graphite pencil of the same grade. To prove to myself how different these are, I tested them against my pencils in the Faber-Castell line.
While these pencils are indeed very dark, they don’t cover the paper as well as I was hoping. Achieving the stark black I’ve been going for has required a slow process of layering. It occurred to me that the pencils might not be sharp enough to cover properly. I started looking up “how to get pencils super sharp” on YouTube. That search yielded a video from Leonardo Pereznieto. The method described in the video involves using a blade to remove the wood from the pencil and sandpaper to refine the lead. It’s slow and tiring, but it leaves my pencils sharper than any pencil sharpener I’ve tried.
I was working on a drawing of some ducks, and I’d left it a while ago. I’d wanted darker shading on it than I could get with the pencils I had at the time. I decided to try using the 7b in the Mars Lumograph line. While doing this, I accidentally discovered that these pencils might cover better over other pencil than over blank paper. Unfortunately, if I’ve already started with the Mars Lumograph, it’s too late, as I found when I tried to use my Faber-Castell pencils on the gate posts in my drawing.
Going back to my bird bath drawing, the edges are where I really want to direct my attention for these things to look truly filled in. The edges are where I really want to direct my attention for these things to really look filled in. Going slowly and methodically gives excellent results. All in all these pencils are definitely worth pick up if you're going for dramatically black shading in your drawings.
Painter of portraits and wildlife