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The 5 Best Pencil Sets for Drawing – Review Geek

Woman hand with pencil writing on notebook at coffee shop

Hobbies should be indulged. If you spend a lot of time writing or drawing, a good pencil can be the difference between a relaxing sketch session and frustrating wrist pain.

What Makes a Pencil Good for Drawing

A lot of factors makes certain pencils better than others for drawing. It’s important to consider a few things about drawing pencils before you purchase a product.

  • Hardness: The hardness of a pencil affects how easily the lead can leave marks on the paper and how dark those marks are. Hard pencils need more pressure to leave graphite behind, so they make lighter strokes. Hardness is signified by a capital H accompanied by a number that represents the degree, so a 6H is a harder pencil than a 3H. Softer pencils don’t need as much pressure to leave darker, blacker marks. They’re signified by a capital B for blackness and accompanied by a number that represents the degree—6B is darker and softer than 2B, for example. The standard HB pencil falls right in the middle of the hardness scale, which is why it uses both letters.
  • Blending: The ability of a pencil to smudge well is actually a good thing. Life doesn’t use many straight, defined lines. Reality is smooth and blends together. Because of this, smudging and blending the different sections of your drawing together is an integral part of creating shadows and depth while still maintaining realism. So, for a drawing pencil to be able to blend smoothly is important.
  • Erasability: Half of drawing is going to be erasing, especially when you’re just getting started. You’ll need to erase sketch marks when you’re drawing general shapes and outlines without leaving any smudge marks behind. A good eraser is necessary for this, but the lead itself can be easier or harder to erase. The more pressure you use, the harder it will be to erase, so make sure to use the right hardness for the darkness for what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Feel: Finally, the pencil needs to feel good in your hand and on the paper. Most pencils are made in a similar fashion, but you’ll be gripping these pencils for multiple hours. It’s important that they glide over the paper well and don’t have a ton of resistance and unnecessary strain.

The Best for Most People: Derwent Graphic Drawing Pencils

Derwent Graphic Drawing Pencils

Derwent’s Graphic Pencil set gives you a professional feel and a full range of grades for an affordable price. These pencils are sturdy and comfortable to hold for long periods of time, decreasing drawing fatigue. They are also engineered to blend easily, erase without leaving marks, and sharpen to a fine point.

There are three sets you can order. The hard set ranges from B to 9H; the soft set ranges from H to 9B; and the medium set ranges from 6B to 4H. This makes ordering pencils regularly much easier. If you use more hard pencils than soft ones, you won’t want to waste money on more soft ones every time you order pencils.

Also for a little more money you can upgrade and order a  24-count set that has a huge range from 9B to 9H. On the cheaper side, they offer small four pencil sets for hard, medium, and soft ranges in case you just run out of a select few.

The Best for Most People

The Budget Pick: LYRA Rembrandt Drawing Pencils

LYRA Rembrandt Art Design Drawing Pencils

If you go through pencils quickly, you should consider the Lyra Rembrandt drawing set. This set includes twelve different pencil grades and is fairly cheap, so ordering multiple sets won’t break the bank. The pencils in this set range from 6B to 4H with a pencil for every level in-between, including an F grade pencil, which is a harder pencil that can be sharpened to a fine point without breaking. Using a large range of pencils will give your drawing more contrast and appear more defined. These pencils are also easy to erase with little leftover markings and are easy to smudge on the paper.

The Budget Pick

The Premium Choice: Faber-Castell 9000 Graphite Sketch Pencils

Faber-Castell 9000 Graphite Sketch Pencil Sets

When it comes to high-quality pencils, Faber-Castell has been dominating the market for over 100 years. The green 9000 Art Set includes twelve premium pencils ranging from 8B to 2H. This makes it a softer set that’s better for darker drawings. Faber-Castell also offers a set with ranges from 5B to 5H, in case you’re looking for harder pencils.

The lead is what separates Faber-Castell from the rest of the market. The lead is made in the same general way as for any other pencil, with finely ground graphite and clay, but something about their process just makes these pencils feel different. They are smooth and glide over the paper, leaving consistent marks without ever feeling scratchy or rough. These premium pencils will stay sharp longer and are designed to erase and blend with ease.

The Premium Choice

The Best Woodless Pencils: Cretacolor Monolith Set


Woodless pencils are made entirely of graphite and clay wrapped in either paper or lacquer. The extra exposed graphite on a woodless pencil makes shading large areas of similar tones easier. They can be sharpened to a fine point for detailed work, or left to dull for thicker lines. Cretacolor’s Monolith set comes with six regular woodless pencils ranging in hardness from a standard HB to an incredibly soft 9B pencil. This makes the set good for drawing and blending shadows on backgrounds that require darker tones.

The Monolith Set also comes with one of Cretacolors Aquamonolith water-soluble pencils. This 4B graphite pencil reacts to water like watercolor paint. The pencil can be dipped directly into water to draw vibrant, dark lines or used dry with water applied after by brush to darken and blend the image. Along with the seven total pencils, the set includes a pencil holder for when your pencil gets too short, a kneaded eraser for detailed erasing and highlighting, a protective tip to prevent your pencil’s lead from breaking, and a pencil sharpener for, well, sharpening your pencil.

The Best Woodless Pencils


The Cretacolor Monolith Set includes six woodless graphite pencils, a water-soluble pencil, and multiple other drawing accessories, all for a good price.

The Best Charcoal Pencils: Derwent Charcoal Pencils

Derwent Charcoal Pencils

This set of Derwent Charcoal Pencils are a great choice for when traditional graphite pencils just aren’t dark enough. Graphite, when used too heavily to simulate shadows, will have a glossy tint and a smooth feel that can have the opposite visual effect the artist wants. Instead of darkness, you get a shiny surface that reflects light. Charcoal has a more natural gritty black that gives your drawing a matte feeling. It’s also incredibly easy to blend, sometimes too easy, so be careful not to rub your hand on the drawing.

Charcoal is often used from compressed charcoal or willow sticks which are hard to use for detailed work and will leave your hands completely black, increasing the risk of smudging your artwork. Charcoal pencils, however, have a layer of wood to protect your hand and the artwork. It also means you can sharpen the charcoal to a point and do detailed work in the deepest black. This pack from Derwent comes with four pencils with three levels of darkness—light, medium, dark—and one tinted white charcoal pencil for highlights. These pencils feel smooth to use and erase easily for a charcoal set.

The Best Charcoal Pencils

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Prior To The Advent Of Erasers, People Removed Pencil Marks With?

A loaf of wheat bread with a sesame seed crust

Answer: Bread

When it comes to pencils and erasers, there’s no chicken and egg quandary to sort out: the pencil, a writing instrument that uses graphite to mark paper, first appeared in the 16th century, but rubber erasers didn’t appear until the 18th century. What then, did people remove their pencil marks with before they were armed with proper erasers?

Although there were a variety of early precursors to the modern eraser (like bits of wax), the most widely used tool was the easiest to acquire: bread. A chunk of crustless bread, rolled up into a ball, makes a remarkably effective eraser. By gently rubbing and tapping the paper, you can easily remove graphite marks. Despite the evolution of erasers over the years, some artists still use bread to lighten and smooth their pencil marks.

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Enter Our Giveaway to Win an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Smart Keyboard!

Thought tablets were only for web browsing and watching YouTube? The new iPad Pro will make you think again. This touchscreen beast is more powerful than most laptops, with a high-resolution display that’s perfect for creativity and productivity.

The folks at MakeUseOf Deals have one iPad Pro to give away, along with an Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. Enter now for your chance to win!

iPad Pro Power User

It would be fair to say that the iPad Pro is in a different league from most tablets. Featuring an 11-inch Liquid Retina display and an A12X Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, this remarkable device is made for power users.

Thanks to the upcoming iPadOS, the iPad Pro offers all the same multi-tasking options as a conventional laptop. The difference is, you get access to the App Store and all the great features of iOS. With 512GB of internal storage and a built-in 4K camera, video is also a strong point.

With the Apple Pencil, you can turn your iPad Pro into a high-resolution tablet for digital art. Meanwhile, the Smart Keyboard makes typing long reports more comfortable. No matter what your needs may be, this device has you covered.

Enter Now!

Enter the giveaway now for your chance to win the iPad Pro and accessories, worth $1,457. We wish you the best of luck!

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A $48 Instant Pot Duo Mini, a $70 Apple Pencil, a $108 Nest Thermostat and Google Home Mini Kit, and More – Review Geek

The Nest Thermostat and the Google Home Mini, the Instant Pot, and the Apple Pencil
Nest, Google, Instant Pot, Apple

Today’s a great day to save some money. The internet’s full of great deals and discounts, ranging from a $264 Nintendo Switch to a $50 Logitech Crayon. But as always, we’ve picked out a few of our favorite deals.

Right now, you can grab the Instant Pot Duo Mini for just $48. That’s nearly half-off 2019’s most popular cooking accessory. Of course, not everybody is interested in cooking. If the Instant Pot doesn’t tickle your fancy, you should check out the $70 Apple Pencil (1st gen) or the ridiculously cheap $108 Nest thermostat with a Google Home Mini.

Laptops and Desktops

Grab a new iMac or a cheap Lenovo Chromebook.

  • Apple iMac 8GB RAM 1TB Storage, $1500 ($500 off) [Amazon]
  • Lenovo Chromebook 32GB Storage, $160 ($140 off) [Walmart]
  • Lenovo 2-in-1 Touchscreen Chromebook 32GB Storage, $240 ($40 off) [Best Buy]

Keyboards, Routers, and Other Computer Accessories

Need to upgrade your desktop? We’ve got the deals for you.

  • CanaKit: Raspberry Pi 3 B+ 32GB Kits, $70 ($20 off) [Woot]
  • Logitech G502 HERO High Performance Gaming Mouse, $60 ($20 off) [Amazon]
  • ASUS Lyra Mesh Wi-Fi System 3-Pack, $180 ($20 off with coupon code 43FZST67) [Newegg]
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws 8GB DDR4 SO-DIMM Laptop RAM, $35 ($30 off) [Newegg]
  • G.SKILL Aegis 16GB (2×8) DDR4 RAM, $75 ($20 off) [Newegg]
  • TP-Link AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi Router, $42 ($38 off with coupon clip) [Amazon]

Phones, Tablets, and Mobile Accessories

Grab a new phone or a discounted iPad stylus.

  • iPhone 6S 32GB Prepaid, $150 ($20 off) [Walmart]
  • iPhone 7 Unlocked Refurbished, $200 ($120 off) [eBay]
  • iPhone X 64GB Unlocked, $800 ($100 off) [Best Buy]
  • Logitech Crayon for iPad, $50 ($20 off) [Best Buy]
  • Apple Pencil Model A, $70 ($30 off) [eBay]
  • Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch, $200 ($150 off) [Amazon]

Smart Home Gadgets

Is your home falling behind the times? Right now, you can grab Nest thermostats and Google Assistant products at a steep discount.

  • Google Home Mini, $24 ($26 off) [Massgenie]
  • Google Home Mini 3-Pack, $68 ($78 off) [Massgenie]
  • Google Home Hub, $70 ($30 off) [Massgenie]
  • Portal From Facebook Alexa-Enabled Smart Screen, $100 ($100 off) [Facebook]
  • Nest Thermostat E, $50 ($100 off) [ComEd]
  • Nest Thermostat with Google Home Mini, $108 ($130 off) [ComEd]
  • Nest Thermostat with Google Home Hub, $178 ($240 off) [ComEd]
  • TP-Link Kasa Smart Lightswitch 3-Pack, $90 ($30 off) [Amazon]
  • Tile Key Finder 2-Pack, $25 ($35 off) [Massgenie]

Video Games

Been bored? Maybe it’s time to grab some new games at a discount.

  • Nintendo Switch Console, $264 ($40 off) [Massgenie]
  • PowerA Gamecube Style Switch Controller, $40 ($10 off) [Amazon]
  • Xbox Live Gold 12-Month Membership, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • Xbox One Controller, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • PlayStation Plus 12-Month Membership, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 for PS4 Refurbished, $28 ($10 off) [Rakuten]
  • Sekiro Shadows Die Twice PS4, $45 ($15 off) [Amazon]
  • DotEmu Classics Bundle PC, $2 ($60 off) [Fanatical]
  • RiME Steam Download PC, $3 ($27 off) [Fanatical]

Everything Else

Grab a new instant pot or a heavily discounted toaster oven.

  • Instant Pot Duo Mini, $48 ($32 off) [Amazon]
  • Mia Toro Hardside Luggage 3-Piece Set, $120 ($380 off) [Woot]
  • SureFire 6PX Series LED Flashlight, $40 ($30 off) [Woot]
  • Cuisinart Rotisserie Convection Toaster Oven, $100 ($265 off) [Amazon]
  • Bose QuietComfort Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones, $259 ($90 off) [Massgenie]

Good deals can’t last forever, so be sure to scoop up your favorite deals before it’s too late.

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The Best Apple Pencil Alternatives – Review Geek

The Wacom Bamboo Sketch, the Wacom Bamboo Fineline, and the Logitech Crayon
Wacom, Logitech

If you own a new iPad, then you’re probably familiar with the Apple Pencil. It’s the ultimate stylus for writing notes and creating digital art. Thing is, the Pencil is pretty pricey. Don’t worry, there are plenty of great alternatives.

As soon as the Apple Pencil hit the market, it raised the standard for all tablet styluses. It’s sleek, easy to use, and it’s built for both casual note takers and professional digital artists. But with a $90 to $130 price tag—for the first and second generation Pencils, respectively—buying an Apple Pencil can be painful.

That’s why 3rd party manufacturers are clamoring to create their own Apple Pencil alternatives. Some of these devices are almost identical to the Pencil, while others add extra features, like shortcut buttons. And while you might assume that these styluses are cheap or crappy, they’re actually pretty great. In some situations, a 3rd party stylus could be more useful to you than an Apple Pencil.

That being said, the stylus market is full of crappy brands that want to make a quick buck. That’s why we’ve taken the time to find the best Apple Pencil alternatives, for everyone’s needs.

By the way, if you’re using an older iPad that isn’t compatible with the Apple Pencil, then you’ll want to buy a stylus that uses Bluetooth. It’s an annoying hurdle, but the Apple Pencil relies on special in-screen hardware to communicate with iPads. Older iPads don’t have this special in-screen hardware, so they only work with Bluetooth styluses.

Logitech Crayon ($70)

The Logitech Crayon

The Logitech Crayon is one of the most popular Apple Pencil alternatives, and for good reason. It’s a well-built, easy to use stylus that performs like an Apple Pencil (for $30-$60 less).

The Logitech Crayon is built with Apple Pencil technology, so you don’t have to spend any time pairing it to your iPad over a Bluetooth connection. You just use it, and it works on a whim without any input lag. Plus, the Logitech Crayon holds a 7.5-hour battery life, and it fully charges in less than an hour via Lightning cable.

Really, the big difference between the Logitech Crayon and the Apple Pencil is that the Crayon doesn’t have pressure sensitivity. But, you can adjust your drawing angle to simulate pressure sensitivity (the Crayon’s tip makes thin lines, while its edge makes thicker lines).

Wacom Bamboo Sketch ($75)

The Wacom Bamboo Sketch

If you’re interested in graphic design, then there’s a good chance that you’re already familiar with Wacom’s digital art devices. They’re durable, customizable, and extremely easy to use. Plus, it can work with older iPads that aren’t Pencil compatible.

The Wacom Bamboo Sketch is no exception. It’s a premium stylus that, like the Apple Pencil, has precise pressure sensitivity features, an ergonomic design, and a 15-hour battery life (but it charges via micro USB, not Lighting). In addition to these standard stylus features, the Bamboo Sketch also has two programmable shortcut buttons. These buttons can be programmed to switch through Photoshop tools, alter brush size, trigger keyboard shortcuts, or anything else you can imagine.

When compared to the Apple Pencil, the Wacom Bamboo Sketch only falls short in a few minor areas. For one, its some of the Bamboo’s features (like pressure sensitivity and built-in buttons) require Bluetooth pairing to work with an iPad. Also, the Bamboo Sketch doesn’t have palm resistance features, so you’ll want to grab a graphic design glove if you tend to rub your hand on drawing surfaces.

Adonit Pixel Stylus ($62)

The Adonit Pixel Stylus

The Adonit Pixel is a good, premium alternative to the Apple Pencil. It’s pressure sensitive, it has two built-in shortcut buttons, and it has a palm rejection feature that filters out any accidental touchscreen inputs. It also has a 15-hour battery life, but it’s charged by a peripheral USB device, not a Lightning cable.

Really, the only Adonit Pixel’s only shortcoming is that it needs to connect to your iPad via Bluetooth. But that’s just a minor inconvenience, and it only takes up about a minute of your time. Plus, this Bluetooth feature ensures that the Adonit Pixel can connect to older iPads that aren’t Pencil-compatible.

Wacom Bamboo Fineline Stylus ($48)

The Wacom Bamboo Fineline Stylus

If you’re looking for an affordable, feature-packed alternative to the Apple Pencil, then you should check out the Wacom Bamboo Fineline Stylus. It has a pressure sensitive tip, a programmable shortcut button, and a 15-hour battery life. Plus, it has a retractable tip and a pen clip, so you can keep it in your pocket while on the go.

The Bamboo Fineline Stylus charges via micro USB, not Lightning cable. And, unlike the Apple Pencil, the Bamboo Fineline needs to connect to your iPad via Bluetooth to enable pressure sensitivity features (that being said, it can connect to older iPads). The Fineline also doesn’t have palm resistance features, so you’ll want to grab a graphic design glove if you tend to rub your hand on drawing surfaces.

Xiron Stylus ($28)

The Xiron Stylus

If you’re looking for a super affordable Pencil alternative, then you should check out the Xiron stylus. Like the Apple Pencil, you can use the Xiron stylus without a Bluetooth connection, it just works. Plus, it has a 12-hour battery life, and it charges via an included USB.

The Xiron is a very basic stylus. But for $28, it’s hard to complain about the Xiron’s shortcomings. It doesn’t have pressure sensitivity features or built-in shortcut buttons, but you technically don’t need those features to take notes or create digital art. The Xiron also doesn’t have any palm rejection features, but it does come with a graphic design glove (that’s a $10 value, in case you’re wondering).

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