The Ultimate Guide to 10B Pencils

What is a 10B Graphite Pencil?

The 10B pencil is one of the softest and darkest graphite pencils there is. Artists use it for shading and creating a sense of three-dimensional form by graduations of tone.

In this guide, I will show you shading examples of 10B pencils from the major manufacturers, how they compare against each other, and typical retail prices.

1. What Makes a Good 10B Pencil?

They make the best quality 10B pencils from wood that is easy to sharpen and does not splinter with a high-quality graphite core.

The following five pencils range from very cheap manufactured in India, top-end European pencils to premium Japanese pencils.

It may not surprise you that the Mitsubishi Hi Uni 10B pencil was the darkest and buttery smooth to write with.

However, one of the cheaper brands far exceeded my expectations.

If you are looking for the best 10B pencils, keep reading to find out how they stacked up against each other.

I listed the pencils in alphabetical order and not by rating.

2. Apsara 10B Pencil

Aspara 10B Pencil Shading Test

Hindustan Pencils make Apsara pencils, they are India’s largest pencil manufacturer. They sell these pencils as premium quality manufactured from high-quality wood.

Although there are no details about which type of wood it is.

I picked a pack of 6 pencils containing HB, 2B, 4B, 6B, 8B, and 10B with an eraser for $4.99.

I Sharpened the Pencil using a Kum Masterpiece long point sharpener; the lead sharpened to a reasonable point but nothing outstanding.

After I had sharpened the pencil the join between the pencils slats was visible. So these are not the best quality.

What did surprise me was how well it performed in the shading tests. The pencil wrote smoothly and consistently only bettered by the Mitsubishi Hi Uni for smoothness. It was one of the deeper blacks although there was some graphite shine.

3. Artline 10B Pencil

Artline 10B Shading Test

Artline is a trading name of Shachihata who is a major Japanese manufacturer better known for their extensive range of marker pens. So it quite surprised me when I came across this pack of 6 Artline love art sketching pencils.

There are no details about the pencils It contains an HB, 2B, 4B, 6B, 8B, and 10B graphite pencil and cost me $4.99.

I used a pencil sharpener to produce a long point without any issues and it looks to be of reasonable quality. However, in the shading test, it was unexceptional.

Not the smoothest or darkest of the five 10B pencils I tested.

4. Kokuyo Camlin 10B Pencil

Kokuyo Camlin10B Shading Test

Kokuyo Camlin is an interesting brand as Camlin is an Indian pencil manufacturer that was bought out by the Japanese Stationery giant Kokuyo in 2011.

The company was re-branded as Kokuyo Camlin.

A pack of 6 pencils containing HB, 2B, 4B, 6B, 8B, and 10B cost me $5.40. Marked on the barrel of the pencil is the “Finest Crystalline Graphite Lead”.

There is no lead in pencils so this is a bit of a contradiction.

Of the five pencils that I tested this was by far the worst one. The wooden barrel felt cheap and it was a struggle to sharpen to a good point.

The graphite had a slight resistance to the paper’s surface as I wrote it and did not lay down consistently.

5. Mitsubishi Hi-uni 10B Pencil

Mitsubishi Hi Uni 10B Shading Test

The Japanese-made Mitsubishi Hi-uni pencils have almost legendary status and are regarded as the best quality pencil in the world.

This brings a premium price tag with it and I paid $62.75 dollars for the art set containing 22 degrees from 10H-10B

They make the pencils from Californian Cedar Incense Cedar Wood and their graphite goes through a special grading process during manufacture.

The Mitsubishi Hi Uni 10B pencil may be expensive but it is an absolute joy to use. Its graphite is buttery smooth and glides effortlessly across the paper. It is the darkest out of all the 10B pencils I tested.

This pencil is on par with the darkness of Staedtlers 12B pencil and I feel the Staedtler 10B is slightly lighter than the HI Uni 10B.

If you are looking for the darkest pencil lead, then check out:

The Complete Guide to the Darkest Pencil Lead for more info.

6. Staedtler 10B Pencils

Staedtler 10B Shading Test

Staedtler is one of Germany’s oldest and the largest European manufacturer of wood-cased pencils. Artists consider their Lumograph pencil to be of outstanding quality.

Mars Lumograph is Staedtlers premium quality pencils and I bought a set of 24 pencils from 10H – 12 B for $47.00.

The Staedtler 10B was a solid performer, it sharpened well and although it wrote less smoothly than the HI Uni, it was not too much of an issue.

Staedtler 10B 11B 12B Shading Test

I felt that the Staedtler 10B however is not as dark as the Mitsubishi Hi Uni Pencil. I even tested the Staedtler 11B and 12B pencils and there is not a lot of difference although the 12B is probably fractionally darker.

7. Kohitsu Shosha 10b Pencil

The Kohitsu Shosha 10B pencil is a special type of Japanese pencil with a thicker graphite core. They are available to buy in the U.S but at $7.50 each that is incredibly expensive.

8. How to Sharpen a 10B pencil

Sharpen 10B Pencil

A regular pencil sharpener can Sharpen 10B pencils or a long point sharpener.

When sharpening pencils the most important thing to bear in mind is to use a very good quality sharpener with ultra-sharp blades.

Cheap pencil sharpeners will leave you frustrated with a lot of broken points. I always use a kum pencil sharpener.

Kum is a German company whose sharpeners are unrivaled in terms of quality and performance.

If you would like to know more check out Kum pencil sharpeners ultimate guide.

9. What is the difference between a charcoal pencil and a 10B pencil?

A charcoal pencil is usually blacker than a 10B graphite pencil as graphite pencils can produce an effect known as graphite shine.

They are two totally different substances charcoal is made by burning wood and is quite dusty; it is also quite difficult to mix graphite and charcoal in the same drawing.

10. 10B Mechanical Pencil

Many people search for a 10B lead for a mechanical or clutch pencil, unfortunately, the lead in these types of pencils doesn’t go much darker than 4B.

The darkest that I have found is the Koh-I-Noor 8B 2mm lead refills.

If you know of anything else, please leave a comment.

For more information on mechanical pencils check out our guide:

The Top 10 Drafting and Mechanical Pencils

11. Summary

I tested five of the biggest pencil brands 10B pencils to find out which is the best 10B pencil for blackness, consistency, and smoothness when writing.

I also tested Staedtler 11B and 12B pencils to see how they compared to the 10B pencils.

The Mitsubishi HI-Uni 10B pencil was a clear winner, but it is the most expensive of all the pencils.

Out, of the cheaper pencils, the graphite core of the Apsara 10B pencil wrote smoother and darker than the rest although the wood case could be better.

The Staedtler 10B was not as dark as the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni 10B pencil.

There is not a lot of noticeable difference in darkness between the Hi-Uni and the Staedtler 12B, although the 12B may slightly edge it the Hi-Uni is far better to draw with.


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Peter Warrior: Pen & Pencil Expert

With nearly a decade of experience in the pen industry, I successfully ran an online pen business for 9 years. My deep-rooted passion for pens and pencils led me to become a part-time blogger, where I've dedicated myself to sharing the wealth of knowledge I've amassed over the years. I'm a firm believer in the power of the written word, as echoed by Malcolm Forbes: "Putting pen to paper lights more fire than matches ever will." My expertise is not just rooted in business, but in the genuine appreciation and understanding of the art of writing instruments.

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