Earlier, for past 3 years I used to use at least 7 Staedtler pencils (6H, 4H, HB, 2B, 3B, 4B, 6B, 9B) for a single portrait drawing.
In last 1 year, I reduced it to around 5 pencils (2H, HB, 4B, 6B, 9B).
The main reason was that I felt it a bit overwhelming and complicated to manage more grades (by overwhelm and complicate here I mean I feel it a bit tedious to switch between 7-8 pencils while I draw a single portrait).
Now, I'm about to reduce it to even less. 3 or maximum 4 (HB, 3B, 5B, 8B) from Faber Castell.
Like mentioned before the biggest reason is I want to make it less complicated. I mean managing pencils and constantly brainstorming which pencil to use for different parts.
Now, I know it totally depends on how you use pencils. And it depends on individual skills and mentality. I know people who use a lot more grades and I know people who use only 2-3 grades. I'm also sure I won't be having any end result difference in my own work because of reducing grades.
But I would really like to know one thing. As we know there are around 16-20 grades of pencils available. And different people choose different grades. I really don't know if using more than 5-6 grades is very common or using less than 5 grades is more common.
Are there any disadvantages or pros and cons of using more pencils, say more than 5 for a single portrait drawing?
Or lesser, yet enough, number of pencils make things actually less complicated?
I want to know this, because if someone is a beginner, like I was once, he can make probably make a mistake of unnecessarily choosing more grades (like I chose 7-8 in my initial years). I made that mistake because I just heard what people are doing. I didn't think much about what I need. In last 1 year I realized I really didn't need that much grades for most of my work, whether it's portrait or other object drawing or sketching.
PS: Despite I've tried to be specific, I feel this question might generate some degree of opinions, but if possible please help to improve this question even more so it's less opinion based. I feel it would be really helpful to know if there are any known experiences.