Conti Pierre Noire are excellent for sketching. They pretty much have the qualities of a charcoal pencil except that they are not darker. However, they are smoothier and more fluid to draw with. They come in 3B, 2B, and H, but they are not popular in art stores; what they usually have are the Conti charcoals. I like to use the Noires for quick sketching with the Strathmore newsprint pads. Always keep the tip of this type of pencil sharpened and the best way is by using the sand pads.