One of the most common questions that every beginner artist has asked is, “how should I hold my pencil?” The easiest answer to that question would be, whichever way feels the most comfortable for you. But before I even get started, let me first tell you that there’s no way to hold a pencil that will magically make you a great artist. With that being said, the way you grip a pencil can actually help you produce different effects and give you more control while you draw. Let’s go over five common ways to hold a pencil.
The tripod grip is one of the most common ways to grip a pencil, and it happens to be my personal favorite. This grip gives you the most control in your drawings, which is perfect when you need very precise lines and fine details.
There is a downside to using the tripod grip, however. Holding your pencil in this way limits your hand’s range of motion, which is not great for doing large sketches.
*How to use the Tripod Grip
Hold the pencil near the tip with the tips of your thumb, index and middle finger forming a triangle around the pencil.
To explain the traditional grip, think about the way you hold a pencil or pen when you’re writing. The pencil is held between your index finger and your thumb, and rests on the side of the middle finger which feel the most natural for the majority of people.
The traditional grip is very similar to the tripod grip, in that it gives you quite a bit of control with your strokes. One of the great things about this grip is that you can extend the pencil outward a little bit to get more fluid lines, which is perfect for quick sketches.
*How to use the traditional grip
Hold the pencil near the tip with only your index finger and thumb, using the side of your middle finger for extra support.
The extended grip is perfect if you’re looking to do a large sketch, or to quickly put down outlines and basic shapes on your paper. This grip is really just a variation of the traditional grip, however you’re holding the pencil near the back instead of the tip.
Holding your pencil in this way doesn’t give quite give you as much control as the traditional or tripod grips, but what it does do it allows you to create smooth flowing lines very easily. By using the extended grip, you’ll see how your lines are much smoother and not wobbly at all. This is because the extended grip forces you to engage your shoulder rather than just your wrist and fingers when drawing.
*How to use the extended grip
Hold your pencil in the same way as the traditional grip, but hold the pencil as far away from the tip as feels comfortable. Your motion when sketching should come mostly from your shoulder and elbow.
The overhand grip should be your go-to grip when you need to put down a lot of graphite on your paper. Holding your pencil in this way uses the side of the lead rather than the tip, which gives you a larger surface area to draw with. Much like the extended grip, the overhand forces you to draw with your shoulder rather than your fingers, which is a great exercise to do.
Use the overhand grip when you’re shading, or filling large areas with graphite. You can also use this grip when you want to achieve very bold lines.
*How to use the overhand grip
Hold the pencil with your index finger placed on the tip, and your thumb directly on the side of the pencil. Your other three fingers should rest on the opposite side of your thumb to help support the pencil.
The Crab Claw
I debated not even including this one because I don’t think you should ever hold your pencil this way—but I’ll include it anyway just for fun. With the crab claw grip, the pencil rests between your index and middle finger and only the very tip of the pencil touches the paper. This way of holding your pencil arguably gives you the least control, and I really don’t recommend it at all.
The reason this grip is so poor is because it forces your thumb to control the movement of the pencil. And your thumb really isn’t a great artist. But with all that being said, some people swear by holding their pencil this way, so give it a try and see what you think
*How to use the crab claw grip
Place the middle of the pencil between your index and middle fingers. Use the tips of your thumb, index and middle finger to guide your pencil.
Check out this video by YouTube user, My Drawing Tutorials where you can see some of these different ways of holding a pencil in action.
What’s your favorite?
I recommend that you try out each of these ways of holding your pencil and see how each one affects your artwork.
My favorite is the tripod grip because I love the control that it gives me. But everyone is different, and everyone’s art style is different. So what’s yours? I’d love to hear in the comments below what your favorite way to hold a pencil is.
As always, thanks for reading, and happy drawing!