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Martin Scorsese’s favorite pencil

An LA Times review of Conversations with Scorsese mentions the pencil that the famed director prefers for storyboarding – the Eberhard Faber Ebony 6325.

Eberhard Faber was purchased in the 1990s, and this pencil now exists as the Sanford Design Ebony 14420. I’ve never seen the 6325, and don’t know if the 14420 differs in composition.

Alternate formulation carbon/ebony pencils such as the 14420 were mentioned here in 2009. Note the informative comments.

More recently, Speculator wrote a great review of the Layout 555 (another carbon pencil) at Pencil Revolution.

I have no idea what Scorsese may be using in place of the 6325, but hope he has investigated the modern alternatives.

While graphite and clay are at the heart of what many of us perceive to be a pencil, it is fascinating to see alternate formulations praised.

Any storyboarders out there? What pencil do you use?

14 comments to Martin Scorsese’s favorite pencil

  • Maethelwine

    Off topic, I’m afraid. I’m wondering if any of the regular readers here know anything about the Seaboard Pencil Company. It looks as though they once operated out of the Bronx, and at present there’s a Seaboard Pencil Co. listed in Brooksville, Florida. I’m not even sure to what extent, if any, these are the same two companies. Curious about that, and also whether the Florida company makes its own pencils. It looks like another company reduced to flogging novelty and ad pencils.

  • Jordanepic

    I’m an aspiring Storyboard artist recently accepted to my local film union as an Art Dept. Assistant, so I guess that makes me a “Storyboarder-in-training”. I generally use 2 mechanical pencils for my Storyboards, a Pentel GraphGear 500 0.9mm Drafting pencil with an H lead for the bulk of the work, and then a cheapo Papermate Comformate Ultra 0.5mm with a 4B lead in it for the detail stuff/line work. I’ve been thinking of upgrading the Papermate to a Pentel Graph 1000 0.5mm because I like the other Pentel so much. I stopped using woodcased pencils for my storyboards a while ago because I found that I got less hand-cramp with mechanical pencils, and also more consistency.

  • Jordanepic, thanks for the comment!

  • logan

    I do a lot of storyboarding for industrial films, short-form documentaries and still photos. I used to use Ebony 14420’s but now I only use General Layouts.

    The 14420’s have a creamy feel and super dark line that I really like, but they smear and transfer too much for me when I shuffle the storyboards around or clip them together in flip-book form.

  • Logan, thank you for the comment.

    David, that article is linked to in the post.

  • Odie

    I have a couple 6325’s. One is about a grade lighter than 14420’s and feels the same when writing, the other feels much harder and writes much lighter, almost a slate gray. Maybe it is an anomaly, but if anything changed when Sanford took over E-F’s Design line, I would guess they improved the consistency.

    I’m feeling myself switching to Derwent Sketching pencils. These Layout pencils don’t erase well at all.

  • Michael Lee

    I’m a professional storyboard artist. I mostly do advertising boards, but I also do plenty of features, music videos and concepts. Actually for the past 25 years I’ve used nothing other than various colored Prismacolor pencils. I tend to favor the black pencil for finishes, and the non-photo blue and Indigo blue pencils for layout. Most of my other colleagues use the same materials, unless they’re drawing on a Wacom Cintiq.

  • Michael, thank you for the input.

  • Michael Lee

    You know, I think my last post was kind of off subject. Because I have certainly used the Ebony pencil for storyboard jobs, in fact the last feature I boarded was drawn entirely with the Ebony pencil on printer paper! I do like the pencil a lot because it makes a really brushy line with little smudging.

    Another fun fact about this pencil; one of my favorite cartoonists, Marie Severin, does really terrific convention sketches with the Ebony pencil! Ramona Fredon does too!

  • Thanks, Michael.

    Incidentally, these pencils seem to appear on eBay quite regularly.

  • Michael Lee

    ok. I’ve gone out and purchased one of the new “Prismacolor” Ebony pencils #14420. . . compared to my old stock of Faber Castell Ebony 6325’s I find there is little similarity. The new 14420 is a clearly inferior pencil. The graphite color on the page is similar to the old pencil, but the FEEL of the pencil is entirely wrong. It’s more difficult to make consistent fine lines; but it makes bold lines quite well. The great thing about the old 6325 was that it seemed to do everything well, where as the new version is merely a marking pencil. Can’t recommend this reformulated pencil. They always have to mess with something good.

  • Very interesting details you have noted , thanks for posting .

  • Artist96

    I just got low on my 6325 pencil and started searching to buy it again not knowing about the pencil. I’m an artist who does realistic portraits and I found the EF ebony pencil in my old art supplies I carried back and forth from the hospital. Once I started using it I knew it was special. Now in comparison to the Sanford or Primsacolor Ebony pencils it is harder and a little darker making it nice for details. It also holds a point a lot longer then the new ebony pencil. I would love to order the excat EF ebony pencil but I’m not having much luck finding it but the primsacolor ebony is doing a good job at the moment but there is a huge difference as far as quality is concerned. Oh but when I was getting towards the end of the EF pencil the lead kept falling out which I have no idea why.

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