February 26, 2015
I´ve recently stopped using wooden pencils in my botanical drawing because I
can´t deal with their constant changing in length. So I´ve had to find good
refills for my Fixpencils. First I tried Mars Carbon: They are superb in the
harder grades, 2H, H and HB. Almost as smooth as Mono 100, lovely pearly grays.
Wonderful. But the softer grades wear down too quickly, the lead is just too
soft. 4B is the only grade of Mars Carbon that gives a decent black, but it is
no good for precision work because of its overly softness. The aforementioned
smoothness just goes overboard. Faber-Castell, on the other hand, holds its
point really well. The harder grades are very hard indeed, not very nice to draw
in. The softer grades from 2B up are lovely, but the problem is that
Faber-Castell only makes 2mm lead up to 3B! So I turned to Uni, and my problems
went away. Really, Uni lead is perfect. The harder grades are delicate and
pearly but smooth, very effortless to draw in. The softer grades give wonderful
blacks, just when you think 2B is the perfect black you try 3B and its even
blacker. And they hold their point better than Mars, which is very important to
me. All in all the only brand of lead one could ever need. Smooth enough, hard
enough, black enough, a good range of grades from 4H to 4B, cheap enough. Nice
retro-looking package of six. Buy them all and enjoy.
By the way, I did some comparing between darknesses in Faber-Castell wooden
pencils and Uni 2mm lead, and here´s what I noticed: FC HB = Uni 2H, FC B = Uni
H, FC 2B = Uni F, FC 3B = Uni HB, FC 4B = Uni B, FC 5B = Uni 2B, FC 6B = Uni 3B.
In both brands the shift from one grade to the next is very even, so that you
always know what to expect.