The Guide to Graphite: Powdered Graphite

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Lesson Description

Learn how to make and use powdered graphite in a drawing. Powdered graphite is used to create an underpainting and to soften the appearance of the drawing. In this lesson, we create a graphite drawing of a dog with graphite pencils.

Lesson Materials

Bristol paper (smooth surface), H graphite pencil, 2B graphite pencil, powdered graphite, eraser pencil, kneaded eraser, vinyl eraser, and nylon brushes.

Lesson Resources

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Lesson Discussion

  1. Hi Matt, I’m about halfway through this course and so eager to do this module. I wish one day to be half as good artist as you are. I’m 57 years old and I just discover this year what a passion drawing and painting is for me. Can’t get enough.

    • Hi Lyne,
      My sentiments exactly, and I’m 68. He’s so right about that graphite going everywhere! Even when you open the bottle very carefullly, as I did. A little black cloud arose from the jar.

  2. Hi Matt, is it okay to use powdered graphite from the hardware store that comes in a squirt bottle that allows a person to dispense it into a keyhole to loosen locks? I think it might be the same stuff. Not sure.

  3. I might try the sandpaper method too but is there any specific coarseness of sandpaper required? Like extra fine, fine, medium or coarse texture?

  4. Hi Matt,

    Thank you for your great tutorials! Could you tell me what the difference would be between using the graphite powder or a soft charcoal pencil to do the rough sketch?

    • Hi Valerie,

      Graphite powder is really better suited for toning areas. You cannot create a line with it, since it is a powder. A charcoal pencil has compressed charcoal material encased within a wooden shaft. It is a different material than that of graphite. It is much darker.

  5. Matt it never fails to amaze me how inspirational your videos are! I wish I had found the website years ago. There are just not enough hours in the day to try all those subjects that inspire me to pick up a pen, pencil, brush, coloured pencil…………………………..! Thank you for rekindling my joy of art.

  6. Hi Matt,

    I’m really struggling to get this level of contrast with my 2B pencil. I also tried adding a 4B to the mix but I’m still really struggling to make my dog look less flat and more realistic. I just keep creating a mess of graphite that I cant draw over due to the tooth of the bristol paper and my burnished graphite application in an attempt to create value. Do you have any advice. I’m currently using derwent graphic pencils and strathmore bristol smooth paper.

    • Hi Bethany,

      You may want to try a paper with a little more tooth if you’re having trouble with the dark tones. You could try Bristol paper with a vellum surface. There’s a little more tooth but the paper is still very smooth.

  7. Hey Matt, I’m Still around lol, I am still drawing when I can, depending on my pain levels, I know it will always be a factor to contend with.
    Or my fatigue days, that can cause me to lose time not drawing, I’ve tried to work through it but I can’t.
    At least with my pain if I can find a comfortable spot, I’ll do okay.
    I know, you know about my long term chronic pain and mobility issues.
    I’ve been working on a drawing for a good while, I’m doing an Elvis Presley portrait, I donated a commission to Elvis fan quiz every week and one person wins fan of the month.

    The lady who won it lives in the US, Salt Lake City !!!
    So a drawing of mine going to the US is pretty cool.

    It’s my 1st portrait and it took me 5 attempts to get him right, it’s in pen and ink mostly ( a very unforgiving medium) lol.
    There are though parts of black, grey and white pencil where needed.
    I guess it is a mixed media.
    I messed up the 1st transfer to a clean Bristol board, now though its going great , it will be ready soon.

    I do want to do this graphite course, I’ve been wanting to do graphite a bit more in depth 🙂 I love this dog, I have a couple of books and the artist uses powder graphite for bases and I like this idea and I’ve done some on my drawing but with a very light grey ink pen.

    I saw that you doing a charcoal course and I’m thrilled about that as I do want to have a good go at it, in secrets to drawing course, I did the one module, an apple.

    I’ve started one of your live lessons tiger eyes, with coloured pencils, I’m also looking to do one with pastel pencils and soft pastels and watercolour painting, I said to you when I 1st started, I didn’t want to paint, just pastels as they classed as paintings, understanbly so.
    Ha ha its your wonderful teaching and I have a bit more confidence, I could maybe do with some more though.

    But seriously Matt, it’s all down to you and I thank y0u from the bottom of my heart ❤️
    I really need art in my life, once Elvis is finished I still have 2 dog portraits plus some of my own artwork that I started and graphite course.
    Thanks Matt
    Christine xxx

  8. P.S.
    I meant to say I do my own graphite powder.
    I had a set of graphite sticks and I did a tub of HB, 2B and 4B.
    I bought this mesh rubbing tool and I tell you what, afterwards I looked like I’d been down in the coal pits.

    Very messy, so I’ll probably just buy a tub. Xx

  9. Pl provide link of mechanical pencil you are using so we can purchase same. I have set but they are thin 0.3, 0.7, 0.9 type of refill unlike yours is much more like actual pencil.

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