The Correct Way to Sharpen a Pencil: Student Examples

I am often asked how to achieve beautiful pencil shading, and it all starts with a correctly sharpened pencil! Here are several excellent examples of some recent students' sharpened pencils:

Pencils sharpened by students Stella Arbelaez and Lindsay Simmons

Pencils sharpened by students Maggie Thompson, Antonio Mateos Pomar, and Leonard King


A common question I get from new students is: Can I use a mechanical pencil instead?

This is why I require my students to sharpen wooden pencils:

Lead The lead in a mechanical pencil has a waxy binder which makes the graphite less sensitive to draw with.

Dexterity Those who struggle to sharpen a pencil also struggle to draw with one. The ability to draw and the ability to sharpen the pencil increase at the same rate.

Patience Learning to sharpen a pencil to atelier standards is a great way to develop the patience you’ll need to complete a classical drawing program.


The first lesson in my program teaches how to sharpen your pencil like this, and the lesson is free! Watch my video demonstration for how to sharpen a pencil correctly here.


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