A question often asked by many graphite artists is. “What are the blackest black graphite pencils, and also where can I get them”? Or “how can I achieve dark tones and values without using charcoal or coloured pencil?”
In order to create a very dark background or very dark value, pencil artists need to be able to achieve the blackest black possible. Therefore many artists will choose to use charcoal, ink or coloured pencils to achieve this. However, when deciding what are the blackest black graphite pencils it isn’t always easy to decide nor choose what pencil best suits your requirements. Fortunately, however, there are some good quality reasonably priced graphite pencils on sale that are capable of producing good solid blacks. So with that said, below are some of the blackest blacks as talked about and recommended by other artists.
Staedtler Mars lumograph 12B.
Staedtler’s has always been a good reliable go-to pencil for most artists. Out of it all the ranges the Mars Lumograph is a particular favourite. With a creamy lead, the 12B produces a good solid flat black background, blends well and has a super bonded break-resistant lead meaning that it holds a point well allowing for detailed darker work. However, several artists have commented that the Lumograph pencils are slightly grainy and that there is a slight shine left on the paper. Others commented that the lead is also softer than Faber castell 9000 series.
The Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100-12B is a premium quality pencil. With a wood body sourced from PEFC-certified, sustainably managed forests. Mars Lumograph pencils now range from 12B to a hard 10H offering you a wide variety of tones and values.
Mitsubishi Hi Uni 10B
The Mitsubishi Hi Uni is a soft graphite pencil that is ideal for achieving dark areas in your drawings. Highly rated among graphite artists due to its high quality, consistency and application, most say that it is the darkest 10B on the market. With a lead made from graphite and clay that provides a smooth almost butterlike application it is perfect for both drawing and animation and noted for its almost brush-like quality.
Rated as Mitsubishi’s highest quality art pencil, the leads encased in wood with a hexagonal body. Available in 22 grades from 10H to 10B giving you a huge choice of gradations. Mitsubishi Hi Uni pencils are also supplied unsharpened.
General’s Kimberly Graphite Pencil 9XXB.
The Generals Kimberly 9xxB is an extra soft, extra black, matte graphite pencil that many artists recommend. It produces dark tones and a good strong flat black. Some graphite artists said that they prefer it to the 12B as it can be laid down heavy, creating darker tones without creating shine.
It has a carbon welded lead for extra strength which also allows more pressure to be applied to the paper when building darker blacks.
Made from cedar wood with a hexagonal shaft to prevent it from rolling off your worktop. Generals Kimberly pencils are handcrafted and come in 21 ranges from 9H to 9XXB
Caran D’Ache Grafwood 9B.
The Caran D’Ache Grafwood 9B pencil is a soft graphite pencil and used by many artists looking to achieve the blackest black as they are a very dark pencil. The soft graphite goes on smoothly producing a desirable a matte finish. However, some artists also commented that they found them a little scratchy and a bit shiny.
Made from premium FSC certified cedar wood with a hexagonal body ensuring that it cannot roll from your worktop. They are then varnished to match the gradation of the hardness of the pencil, making pencil selection a lot easier. It’s so easy to see why the Grafwood pencil is so popular among graphite artists. Caran D’Ache Grafwood pencils come in a variety of gradations from 9B to 4H.
Cretacolor Fine art pencil 9B
Another frequently mentioned pencil by graphite artists for achieving black blacks when drawing is the Cretacolor 9B pencil. It produces a good solid black and has a very soft lead providing a smooth finish that blends really well. However, most artists advise the use of a smoother paper when working with them.
With a wood wrapped hexagonal body, it cannot roll off your work area. Available in 20 grades of hardness ranging from 9B to 9H.
Faber castell 9000 8B
Another very popular and highly recommended pencil among graphite artists for creating dark areas is the Faber Castell 9000 series. With a super smooth graphite lead, they are perfect for layering and blending. The range of B pencils including the 8B are capable of producing good blacks and dark values allowing artists to achieve the results they desire. Fully bonded leads make them more break-resistant allowing more pressure to be applied when in use. Also being harder than the Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencil, less shiny than the cretacolor pencils and not to scratchy it is easy to see why they the Faber Castell 9000series is a popular choice among artists.
It also has a hexagonal wood body ensuring that it cannot roll off your worktop. Coming in 16 grades of hardness ranging from 6H to 8B they give you plenty of options to choose from.
So, what is the best graphite pencil for producing the blackest blacks?
All of the pencils listed above are capable of producing dark tones and darker backgrounds. With that said, the choice is yours when deciding what are the blackest black graphite pencils. Different artists gave different opinions depending on their style and the type of paper they were using. I believe it is all down to preference. If you are unsure of what graphite pencil will work best, get one of each that takes your fancy. Experiment with them until you find what works best for you and gives you the end result that you require. Of all pencils listed above, the Mitsubishi Hi Uni 10B and Generals, Kimberly 9XXB appeared to be the most favoured for producing a consistent solid matte black.