Pencils are the most basic art tool used by nearly every medium. For example:
- Painters use pencils to draft quick thumbnail sketches in their journals, and many use pencils to outline the composition on their canvas.
- Sculptors frequently brainstorm ideas in pencil, carefully considering each angle of the sculpture in their sketchbooks in order to work out potential problems before tackling actually the 3-D form.
- Even digital artists typically sketch their designs first on paper using a good old-fashioned pencil. The pencil sketches are often scanned into the computer and digitized, forming the first layer of what is often a complex, multi-layered work of digital art.
We are so used to working in pencil that we often don’t stop to think about how wonderful and versatile a tool it really is. Pencil marks are easily erasable, which gives us the freedom to make mistakes over and over and correct them as many times as we need. Pencils can be sharpened to a fine point – great for detail – and they can also go blunt, which is ideal for shading.
Pencil “lead” is composed of graphite, which is a form of carbon, which is mixed with a clay binder. The grey-black marks made by pencils can be beautiful in and of themselves; some artists use pencils as their main medium, producing sensitive and delicate artworks that are inspiring because they are made with one of the most basic art tools: a pencil.
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