The pencil – the oldest drawing tool

Pencils for drawing, sketching and writing

The pencil is probably the oldest and most simple drawing tool in the world. It can be used in any situation and at any temperature, even above your head. When used together with an eraser, you can always redo any stroke at any time. It is therefore the perfect drawing tool for beginners as well as – thanks to its numerous degrees of hardness – advanced users. In many drawing and painting techniques it is employed at the beginning of a work of art, as it is used to sketch the motif. But impressive works can be created from pure pencil drawings too. If you prefer your art to be more colourful, you can use crayons.


2 products



Color pencils made of high-quality wood and finished with elegant varnish. Available in three sorted cardboard boxes, each containing 30 unique colours.
Available in various colours
ZOOM 707 set
Ballpoint Pen

ZOOM 707 set

Ballpoint pen + mechanical pencil ZOOM 707. Timeless classic from the Tombow collection.
Available in various colours

What is a pencil made of?

The classic pencil comprises a wooden body and the pencil lead. This is manufactured from a mix of graphite, clay and impregnating agents such as wax and grease. After the mixture has been mixed together and pressed into thin strands, the pencil lead has to harden in an oven at approx. 900°C. This sets the clay and gives the pencil lead its hardness. The graphite element determines the blackness of the pencil. A good pencil is characterised by an even proportion of graphite. The wood also plays a decisive role in the quality of the pencil. For our MONO 100 range, cedarwood is used as it can be sharpened easily and evenly. Wood is a natural product. The growth, colour, structure and fibre are unique to each tree. For this reason you may notice differences between individual pencils that result from the wood. These differences do not represent a lack of quality.

In addition to the wooden pencil, there are also a large number of mechanical pencils that are not set in wood, but whose lead is encased in a refillable metal housing. 

The composition of coloured pencils is similar, except that instead of graphite they contain various colour pigments and additional mineral fillers such as talcum or kaolin. 

The various degrees of hardness and what they are used for

The various degrees of hardness result from the proportion of clay versus graphite.  More clay gives the lead greater strength and more graphite means a darker mark is left on the paper. The scale of the MONO 100 line ranges from 9H (hard), encompassing various degrees from HB (hard black), F (firm) to 6B (black). As there is no fixed definition for the various degrees of hardness, an HB pencil can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

A different ratio between clay and graphite results in different degrees of hardness.

Extremely hard

For special areas of application such as lithography and cartography.

Very hard

For technical and graphical drawing.


For geometric and technical drawing.


For writing and linear drawing.


For freehand drawing and writing.

Very soft

For artistic drawing, sketching and plans.

Individual degrees of hardness in the use



The low proportion of graphite helps in the removal of the preliminary drawing afterwards.



When sketching for watercolour artworks, it is important not to get too much graphite into the rough fibres of the watercolour paper, otherwise it will be difficult to remove. However, the pencil should also not be too hard so as not to make any grooves in the sensitive paper.


Hatching for copying originals

Here, as much graphite as possible is required, which is why a soft pencil is an advantage. You can find out exactly how to go about this in the tutorial Watercolour Popcorn Lettering.



A pencil with a high proportion of graphite is well suited to exercises that involve variations in pressure. This is how to protect your Brush Pen tip during your first attempts.


Shading of sketches

Thanks to the high proportion of graphite, the pencil is very soft and can be smudged well. This means that you can create flowing shading.

Precise mechanical pencils – ready for use at any time

The mechanical pencil is a further development of the classic wooden pencil. The wooden version needs a sharpener from time to time to reduce the thickness of the lead. A mechanical pencil, on the other hand, has the advantage that the lead is always the same thickness and thus produces a consistent line thickness. This is why it is particularly suited to precise sketches undertaken while on the go. The mechanical pencil is also refillable.

Multifunctional pen for complete flexibility

With a multifunctional pen, you’ll be perfectly equipped for any situation. They combine a mechanical pencil, eraser and a ballpoint pen with three different colours.

IROJITEN – the Japanese colour lexicon

There are a number of terms that are used to describe coloured wooden pencils, such as crayons or coloured pencils. The IROJITEN are high-quality artists’ pencils. Thanks to their composition, they retain their special luminosity of colour. The colour spectrum of the IROJITEN is divided into three different sets, each consisting of three colour spectra.

You will find many examples in our magazine.
Get creative with our pencils.