Want to try this Exercise?

Check out the about tab below and start learning on CG Cookie today.

Get Started
  • Software:Traditional  ·
  • Difficulty:Beginner

Rules of the Exercise

  • 1
    Follow the practice worksheet for this exercise.
  • 2
    Observe and analyze the subject matter you have chosen. Follow the guides of the instructor notes.
  • 3
    Submit your work for this exercise under the "Submissions" tab for grading!


Pencil labels, numbers, and letters can be confusing and overwhelming if you don't know where to start. This exercise makes it clear what the difference between "B" pencils and "H" pencils is. Let's break it down:
  • HB is the center point on the hardness spectrum. What this means: the higher the number, the further from the center point, HB.
  • H stands for the hardness of the pencil. The higher the H-number, the lighter the result.
  • B stands for the "blackness" (or commonly also "softness") of the pencil. The higher the B-number, the darker the result
How can you remember this? I like to remember that B stands for how "Bold" the result will be: a 9B will have a much bolder and darker result than a 3B pencil. What does this mean in practice? No matter how hard you push a 6H pencil, you won't achieve the same result that your 6B pencil will. Note: if you ever see just a "B" on the pencil, it's the same thing as "1B" and same for "H" is the same thing as "1H". Every now and then, you'll see a pencil labeled "F". This means the pencil can be sharpened to a "Fine" point because of the quality of the graphite and it will almost always be an HB in terms of hardness.

Now let's get started on learning those differences!



  I recommend that you use a high number B and H pencils: anything over 5 will work great. When working on this exercise be sure to choose a subject matter that you feel comfortable drawing. I don't want you to focus on the realism aspects such as proportions or details! Instead, feel the difference working with each pencil and how each one will leave you with a different end result. Make sure you are only using one pencil per drawing until you do the final one, in which you can use all 3. What will you learn? There are advantages and disadvantages to each pencil type. Through isolated experimenting, you'll be able to see and understand the difference all on your own! When you finish the exercise, remember to submit the result to the “Submissions” tab near the top of this exercise. You can see other submissions alongside your own!