In this Test Tuesday we are testing graphite, also known as your everyday common pencil. While the material that creates the mark in a pencil is often called lead, it is actually made of graphite. We tested 4 graphite pencils on each of our foam board samples. We used pencils ranging from an HB to 6B. You may be asking yourself right now, what in the world is a 6B pencil? I’ll explain.
The graphite inside pencils come in a variety of hardnesses. The letters H and B stand for hardness and blackness respectively. The harder the pencil the lighter the mark. On average a number two pencil is marked HB. A 4H pencil would be harder and make a lighter mark than a HB, and a 4B pencil would be softer and make a darker mark.
For this series of tests, I used four pencils. From left to right they are; HB, 2B, 4B, 6B. The differences can be subtle when only making a single line, but for the purposes of shading; the right pencil can make all the difference in final results.
On most of the foam board samples, the graphite pencils perform exactly like you’d expect them to. The marks on all the standard Readi-Board, Adams Premium samples, and Readi-Grid were precise and dark (in correspondence to their pencil numbers). One thing I have noticed while working on various projects is that while pencil writes well on the black premium board sometimes it is difficult to see. I believe this is because the paper on the premium board is more glossy than the standard.
Without the paper facer on the foam board, pencils create grooves in the foam. Some of the graphite transfers into the marks, but it is not a medium I would recommend for marking on foam. I’ve included a close-up of my sample piece.
Very little graphite transferred onto the surface of the Readi-Erase sample, as well as the Readi Water Resistant. I did have to be careful while working on the water resistant board, as the sharpened pencil tip could have easily punctured the paper. If you are going to use pencil on the water resistant board, I would recommend a soft pencil (4B or softer) and a light hand.
For the purposes of comparison, I did a quick shaded drawing on the standard Readi-Board white, and our Adams Premium samples. Both samples took the graphite well. Notice that the marks on the premium sample are sharper, and don’t blend together as much as those on the standard Readi-Board sample. This distinction would be good to keep in mind if you were going to use Readi-Board as a surface for rendering pencil drawings.
Overall graphite pencils work great with Readi-Board. I would recommend using a different tool to mark our water resistant, Readi-Erase, and uncovered (no paper) foam board. Please check back for the next experiment. If you have a suggestion for something you’d like to see tested let us know by responding below.