You should always draw on the egg lightly with the pencil.  The pencil marks are meant to be guide lines or prompts; you should not be tracing the entire design onto the pysanka with pencil.  But which pencil should you use?

The best type of pencil to use is in dispute – while hard pencils (#3 or higher) leave lighter, finer lines, these lines may be somewhat harder to remove.  Soft pencils leave lines that are easier to remove, but the lines also smear more easily.  I’ve settled on using a medium pencil, the good old All-American #2 pencil, and prefer the mechanical ones, as they don’t require sharpening. 

My favorite HB mechanical pencil

FYI, pencil “lead” is nothing of the sort.  It is a blend of graphite, clay and a small amount (an unvarying 5%) of wax.  The more graphite a pencil lead contains, the darker a mark it leaves. In the USA, pencils are rated  #1 through #4, with #1 being the softest and darkest, and #4 the hardest and lightest. 

In the rest of the world, there is a greater range of pencil grades, from 9B (softest) to 9H (hardest).  The infamous #2 pencil, used by generations of students and other test takers to mark their optical scan exam papers, is right in the middle of this international scale, rated “HB.”

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Which Pencil to Choose