How To Sharpen Drawing Pencils

Pencils are used in a variety of applications like writing, drawing and shading. In the world of art, pencils come in many forms, so there will be different ways of sharpening them, unlike regular #2 pencils commonly used in school. Here are the various ways of sharpening drawing pencils.

Using an electric sharpener

An electric sharpener would be excellent for pencils that require a fine tip for optimal use. This is perfect for pencils that would be used to draw straight lines, as well as those that would be eventually used for writing, including the above-mentioned school pencil. Not all pencils need a fine tip, though, so make sure that you're using the right type of sharpener for the right type of pencil.

  1. Insert the pencil into the right sized hole and let the sharpener do its magic on the pencil. You would usually need to apply some pressure, pushing the pencil inside the sharpener. Electric sharpeners are usually quick on the job, so you may check your pencil after two to four seconds.
  2. If you need an extra fine and sharp point, reinsert it again for a couple of seconds more. Most electric sharpeners would stop rotating when your pencil's tip is already sharp, though.

Hand sharpener

A hand sharpener gives you a lot more control than an electric sharpener. Just like the electric sharpener, pencils that are commonly used for writing and making lines are ideal to be used with a hand sharpener.

  1. Pull back on the spring mechanism such that it extends outward. Usually, pulling the sharpener's face outward would also open the clips that keep the pencil in place while sharpening. Insert the pencil that needs sharpening into the teeth of the clip. Turn the sharpener's lever clockwise with minimal pressure for about twenty seconds. Pressing too hard can break the graphite tip, so make sure that you are gentle with the pencil.
  2. Again, you may reinsert and resharpen for a few more seconds to achieve a sharper point.

Sharpening using a razor

Specialty pencils such as charcoal pencils are better sharpened using a sharp razor. This allows for the most control and gives you a tip that is not too fine. However, you would need to master this technique, or else you might end up cutting yourself or cutting too much of the pencil's tip.

  1. Hold the pencil in such a way that the tip is touching the table top.
  2. Position your razor at a 45 degree angle relative to the tip of the pencil and begin sharpening. Bit by bit, shave off the wood and graphite or charcoal. It's easier to go slowly than to try to correct mistakes due to aggressive sharpening later on.
  3. Make sure that you're shaving equally around the pencil.
  4. Sharpen the tip as needed. Most of the time, you would not need a tip that's too sharp, because these kinds of pencils are often used for shading, and not for drawing details.

Sharpening pencils is all about knowing which technique is best for which pencil. Have all the sharpeners ready in case you need to resharpen a pencil tip. When you're drawing or sketching, it might be a good idea to keep on hand a few sharpened pencils so you don't waste your time sharpening while you're working on your pieces of art.


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