|Faber-Castell Castell 9000 in 2B and 4H.|
Like the 4H, the 2B Castell 9000 is a dark green hexagonal pencil with gold lettering. If you're a pencil novice and have ever wondered about what difference the grade of a pencil makes, check out the photo above. There actually is a writing sample from both pencils there, but the 4H (directly below the 2B writing sample) is so faint as to be scarcely noticeable in the photo. It's a bit darker in real life, but not by much. That's what makes the medium-soft grades (HB, B, 2B) much more versatile for writing and sketching.
I compared the Faber-Castell Castell 9000 with three other 2B pencils: the Staedtler Mars Lumograph, Tombow MONO Drawing pencil, and Prismacolor Scholar. Of these, the Tombow MONO was the darkest, smoothest, and softest. The Prismacolor felt the scratchiest. The Castell 9000 may have been ever-so-slightly the hardest. When I compared how well the pencils smudged and blended, the Castell 9000 was the best, the Mars Lumograph and the Tombow MONO were similar, and the Prismacolor was the worst. All the pencils erased well, though the Tombow MONO left the most shadow behind, probably because it was the darkest pencil.
I have to admit that, before I began this post, I expected that the Tombow MONO was going to be my favourite of these pencils, because I thought I liked darker pencils better. But after sketching with all four pencils, I actually think I preferred both the Staedtler Mars Lumograph and the Faber-Castell Castell 9000, and - because it smudged the best - the Castell 9000 may even have been my favourite of all them. My least favourite was undoubtedly the Prismacolor Scholar; I did not like its scratchier feeling on the page, and it hardly smudged or blended at all. This pencil is apparently marketed to beginners, but I think that if I had started sketching with this pencil, I would have been very disappointed.
|My camera apparently hated these sketches and refused to photograph them without either turning them blue or making them look washed out (as above). I actually think they're not that bad. Even that tricky-to-draw stapler turned out okay.|
Overall, I am happy with the Faber-Castell Castell 9000 in 2B. I like it much more than the 4H version, and I think it may even become my new favourite pencil. The Tombow MONO Drawing pencil and the Staedtler Mars Lumograph are also excellent pencils, and I enjoyed sketching with all of three of those pencils. If you like a darker pencil, then the Tombow MONO is the one for you. And any of those three pencils would be a better choice for beginners than the Prismacolor Scholar.
Related reviews: Alan Li Drawings, Pens! Paper! Pencils!.