Sierra writes: What kind of pencil do you find best for sketching out your paintings? I’ve always just used a regular pencil but I know there is a whole world of charcoal and other kinds of lead pencils that I’m not exploring. Thank you! 🙂

It depends on what medium I’m working on.


I never NEVER use a regular graphite pencil to draw out my acrylic paintings. I use one of three methods: transfer paper, a white charcoal pencil, or a water-soluble graphite pencil.

The reason I don’t use a regular graphite pencil is that those lines tend to stay…and show through layers and layers of paint. Even when you try and erase they don’t always erase completely. I HATE having lines show in my work, so I had to find alternatives. In addition to that, with acrylics I generally paint my background first then need to draw my subject over that. Graphite won’t show over that. If for some reason I do want to draw something out in graphite first, I stick to a water soluble pencil so that the lines will wash away as I paint.

What I normally do is either freehand my drawing onto the acrylic background with a white charcoal pencil (this method won’t work well if you’re painting with a high gloss acrylic paint like Liquitex heavy body or Goldens, but it works great with Liquitex Basics), or draw out my image onto tracing paper, then position that paper over my canvas where I want it and use the transfer paper (white for a darker background or the grey/black for the light backgrounds) to get the image onto the canvas. This keeps my work very clean and I end up with no pencil lines later on.

Oil Painting

For oils, I draw everything with a regular graphite pencil. The oils will remove that graphite (really it just mixes into the paint) so I won’t end up with any unwanted lines. I sometimes use the tracing/transfer paper method with the dark transfer paper to get my image onto the canvas as well.


For the water soluble ink, I also avoid a regular graphite pencil for the same reason as acrylics. Those lines can be hard to work out. Here I stick with a water soluble pencil for my drawing. The inktense set comes with a graphite pencil that will stay put as you paint, but I don’t want those lines to stay like that, so I don’t use it.