Interested in working with Water-Soluble graphite? Here are the essentials!
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Water-soluble graphite is a relatively new addition to the world of drawing materials. This material allows artists to work with both dry and wet techniques, creating a wash effect when activated with a wet brush. Once dry, layers of graphite wash can be drawn over. Water Soluble graphite makes for a valuable contribution to any artist’s studio. As a drawing instructor and author of the book “See, Think, Draw: An Easy Guide to Realistic Drawing and Beyond,” I’ve tested these products and recommend them to anyone interested in getting started working with water-soluble graphite.
Water-soluble graphite comes in many forms, like sticks, putties, tins, and pans. Pencils provide the best control and versatility when getting started in the medium. Select a set of pencils from a reputable manufacturer like these here. Quality pencils should be smooth and create consistent gradients. They should sharpen easily without breaking. Most importantly, when activated with water, they should dissolve completely and dry permanently.
General’s Pencil Co. Make excellent drawing materials and this is a great set for beginners looking to give water-soluble graphite a try.
Faber-Castell makes a wonderful set of water-soluble graphite pencils. They are resistant to breaking and deliver professional-level results.
You’ll need to have watercolor brushes to work with water-soluble graphite. If you’re ready to invest in the medium long-term, you’ll need a set of quality brushes. Watercolor brushes should be soft, have a large belly, and retain their shape while working.
Set of 5 Round Watercolor Brushes from Arteza make a good option for those looking to get comfortable with watercolor brushes. These synthetic brushes are versatile, durable, and hold their shape well.
Escoda’s Joseph Zbukvic watercolor 3-brush set feature brushes with synthetic hair that combine three diameters and three different lengths to achieve the perfect tip. It has one of the softest synthetic filaments that is able to retain large amounts of paint.
Working with water-soluble graphite requires a surface that is suitable for water, like watercolor paper. Hot-press watercolor paper has a smooth surface, while cold-press watercolor paper has a rough, bumpy surface. These papers come in a variety of weights, which determines how rigid the paper is. A standard, recommended weight for watercolor paper is 140lb (300gsm). Watercolor paper uses “sizing,” which is added to the natural fibers of paper and enables it to retain its structure and support when wet.
This 2-pack of watercolor paper from Arteza is a great place to start for someone looking to begin with water-soluble graphite. While it’s a cold-press paper, it finds a good balance between rough and smooth papers.
Arches Watercolor paper is a premiere product for professionals. With sizing “to the core” and long natural fibers, this is a resilient surface that works for any water-media. Its surface texture is perfectly balanced surface and works for any technique.
When beginning to work with water-soluble graphite, following a demo like the ones featured here can help to reveal the full capabilities of the medium.