Most artists are familiar with the different pencil grades and what they mean. However, fewer are aware of the “EE” pencil grade. If this is your first time hearing about it you may find yourself wondering, what exactly is an EE pencil?
Well, simply put, an EE pencil is made using a mix of graphite and charcoal. However, these pencils are much rarer than others as they are similar to other grades. But, the EE pencil may still have a place in your pencil box.
In this article, we will discuss the brief history of the EE pencil, provide an explanation of pencil grades and explain where the EE fits in, and provide information about the best uses for your EE pencil.
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What Is The History Of The EE Pencil?
The EE pencil was introduced by Staedtler in the 1970s, however, Staedtler was essentially the only company producing this pencil grade. Their competitor Faber-Castell did not even produce an EE-grade pencil.
It is commonly believed that Staedtler dropped the EE pencil in most of their production lines as it didn’t conform to the grading system commonly used at the time. Therefore, although EE pencils are available online or in select countries, they are a little bit more difficult to find.
Staedtler has mostly replaced the EE pencil with 7B and 8B pencils, which are mechanically the same.
If you aren’t quite familiar with the pencil grades we’ve mentioned here, we will answer all of your burning pencil grade questions in the next section.
What Are Pencil Grades?
The grade given to a pencil is intended to tell you how light/hard or dark/soft the lead in your pencil is.
Most graphite pencils are generally given an “H” grade, which stands for “Hard,” or a “B” grade, which stands for “Black.”
H pencils contain more filler than B pencils, which gives them a lighter color and makes the lead a little stronger. B pencils contain less filler and produce a much richer color.
The general grading of pencils is as follows:
- 9H, 8H, 7H, 6H, 5H, 4H, 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9B, 9xxB
As you might note, the EE pencil is not present in this ranking.
Where Does The EE Pencil Fit On The Grading Scale?
EE pencils are not in this ranking due to their lesser-known status, but also because EE pencils are not only made from graphite! EE pencils contain 50% graphite and 50% charcoal.
This means that due to the high graphite content they produce a deep, rich black color. But, the charcoal affects the finish of the mark and causes it to appear matte instead of glossy.
However, if they were to exist on the grading scale they would likely be closer to 7B or 8B grade. This is the grade that Staedtler produces in their place for the most part. The EE and the 7B/8B both produce a rich black color, the finish would just be slightly different.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the two materials used to create the EE pencil lead!
What Are The Materials Used In An EE Pencil?
As we stated, the EE pencil is created from an equal mixture of graphite and charcoal. But, if you aren’t familiar with these materials you may find yourself wondering why this is unique. Let’s explore these two mediums and find out why the EE pencil is great for artists.
Graphite is a naturally occurring, inorganic material and has been used to create pencils for about 600 years.
In order to make graphite into a material that can be used in pencils, it is crushed and combined with clay and water to make a paste; it is then dried partially and then fired at high heat to help them retain its shape and strength.
The rods are then filled with a wax substance which helps them produce a smooth line that sticks to surfaces.
Graphite pencils that have more clay would therefore be higher grade H pencils, whereas those with less clay would be higher grade B pencils.
Charcoal is a completely man-made substance! When organic materials such as wood or bones are burned with minimal airflow they will combust and form what we understand to be charcoal.
Charcoal can be used in powder form, compressed form, or pencil form. The type of form an artist picks will be dependent on the medium they are working with and the vision for their project.
Charcoal also does not naturally attach to the surface it is used on. It can generally be brushed off or smeared easily with your hands.
What Is The Effect Of Using An EE Pencil?
Now that you understand the materials used in an EE pencil you may be wondering how these combine together.
Well, when a pencil has a combination of graphite and charcoal the effect is a deep matte black. This means that EE pencils are particularly great for artists shading the darker areas of their drawing or when creating what is known as tonal modeling.
Tonal modeling is essentially just the process of creating a 3D figure in a drawing.
These unique pencils have their place in your wheelhouse and can be used to complement your singular graphite or singular charcoal pencils. This can give your art more dimension and produce a unique finish.
Where Can I Buy EE Pencils?
After all of this, you may be worried that EE pencils are a thing of the past. Not to worry, EE pencils are still available to purchase, they are just harder to find than other pencil grades.
Luckily for us located in the United States, Amazon still carries Staedtler EE pencils.
- Break-resistant through special lead formulation and super-bonded lead
Final Thoughts On The EE Pencil
We hope this article on EE pencils has given you some important information about a less commonly used pencil grade. Although it isn’t produced as often, this isn’t due to it not being a quality material, and should you go looking for this grade, you will likely be pleasantly surprised.
EE pencils can add another layer of depth to your artwork and should not be overlooked despite their lesser-known status.