Hard pencil marks have very little variation in the range of mark making. They only usually vary through a linear progression. Tone is usually made from a build up of crosshatch effects. Hard pencils are denoted by the letter H. As with soft pencils, they come in a range, comprising HB, H, 2H, 3H, 4H, 5H, 6H, 7H, 8H and 9H (the hardest).

These pencils are mainly for use by designers, architects and people who produce precise technical diagrammatic drawings for which a fine, accurate line is essential, such as perspective or other projection drawings. Although the marks made with hard pencil show very little variation it can be used in an expressive manner. As with soft pencil, tone can be built using a cross-hatching system, although the result is much finer and more formal, the cross-hatching emerging out of a series of linear progressions.