Drawing Pencil FAQ
Do I need a pencil in each hardness?
Not at first. A good range for a beginner is 4B, 2B, B, 2H, 4H. If you're more experienced and are moving into fine art drawing, though, you'll need a full range of leads to create different effects.
What do you think about the ultra small (.5 mm) leads for mechanical pencils?
I don't use them. They don't come in the full range of hardness and, more importantly, I use very sharp leads to create many of the textures in my drawings and these small leads are too blunt for that, and they're too fragile to sharpen.
Graphite is shiny. Is there anyway to avoid that?
No, but there are a couple of things you can do to make it less of a problem. After a drawing is finished, spray it with a matte fixative. That cuts down on the shininess considerably and keeps the work from being inadvertently smeared. Any shininess left after fixing is usually only visible at certain angles so, if the drawing is hung on a wall, shininess is usually not visible at all. For the best possible presentation, fix your drawing, have it matted, and hang it out of direct sunlight. (That's the best way to care for any artwork.)