You’ve figured out your most beloved drawing pencil, and stockpiled 1,000 of them so you’ll never run out. But what happens when you need to sharpen them? Do you panic and throw them out, or use the very best pencil sharpener for your particular pencil?
I vote for #2, but you do you.
You may not have even realized there are more effective ways than others to sharpen different pencils. For instance, I always sharpen my charcoal pencils with a knife. They are more brittle than graphite pencils and the pencil sharpeners are too rough on them.
Read on to see which pencil sharpener to use for each type of pencil.
What Is the Best Pencil Sharpener for Artists?
Sharpeners for Graphite Pencils
I have an awesome Kum sharpener that I use on my graphite pencils, and it works beautifully. Kum sharpeners are a long time favorite of many artists, and I’ve learned a bunch about pencil sharpeners recently!
The Kum long point sharpener is a 2-step sharpener, where you sharpen the wood of the pencil first, and then sharpen the lead. It gives you a nice long point on your lead, which actually helps the pencil last a little longer. Plus, it’s great to have a longer lead on your pencil so you can see what you’re doing better. It just gives you more control over your marks.
Also, let’s hear it for German blades. Hooray!
This little brass bullet sharpener has been on my wish list for years, because of all the great reviews I hear from artists. I’m not sure why I haven’t bought one yet, it’s only $6 on Amazon, but I think it’s one of those things I forget about unless I’m reminded.
It’s small and perfect for throwing in your pocket or bag to take on the go.
Sharpeners for Charcoal Pencils
I enjoy sharpening charcoal pencils with an X-acto knife because I can sharpen them slowly and precisely. Nope, the sides of the pencil tips won’t be perfect and round, but your pencils will last longer because they won’t constantly break inside the sharpener.
I have heard great things about these sharpeners that hold your pencil in place while the sharpener does its work. These would probably work well for all pencils, so might be a good all-around sharpener to have.
Sharpeners for Colored Pencils
Obviously, you will develop your preference for sharpening colored pencils, but I prefer using a knife or a really sharp handheld sharpener. Colored pencils are soft, so they end up breaking really easily. Don’t mess around with a bad sharpener with these; you’ll end up wasting half the pencil.
If you use a handheld sharpener for colored pencils, hold the pencil still and twist the sharpener. This results in less pressure on the pencil, and less chance of breakage.
This Prismacolor sharpener is a great deal, with 2 colorless blenders (just popped one into my Amazon cart), and it’s the sharpener I’ve seen more people rave about for colored pencils than any other.
The sandpaper sharpener is a viable option for colored pencils and charcoal pencils. I cannot use these however, because the sound and feel of pencils rubbing across sandpaper gives me the total willies. Some people swear by these, however, so if you don’t have a weird sandpaper problem like I do, try ’em out.
Sharpeners for Mechanical Pencils
You think I’m kidding.
Actually! You can totally buy a little sharpener for your leads, so you mechanical pencil people, rejoice!
Final art pencil sharpening tip: For the love of all things pencil, don’t use a wall sharpener for your art pencils. I’ve never seen this end well.