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Following on from our round up of the best graphite drawing pencils we thought that we should also cover those that are looking for something a little more high-tech. So without further ado here is our selection of the best mechanical pencils for drawing. Mechanical pencils are a great alternative to the normal pencil and have some very clear benefits for drawing and sketching. Consistent feel in the hand, in terms of length and weight, and refill as just two key areas we will discuss.
In a hurry? Here are our favorites
- Best Mechanical Pencils for drawing and sketching:
Best Mechanical Pencils for Drawing and Sketching
Pentel Graphgear 500 Automatic Drafting Pencil
The Graphgear 500 is a great mechanical pencil that is worth considering. It is a handsome pencil with a plastic barrel paired with a solid feeling knurled metal grip. This grip is particularly pleasing to hold. The material choice does however gives the pencil a top heavy feel. This means that the weight is closer to the tip, this is a feel that many enjoy (but is obviously not for everyone).
The pen has a sturdy clip which is perfect for holding the pen in a pen loop, or a notebook.
However, as is the case with many of these pencils the tip can be fragile. The Graphgear is particularly susceptible to this as its weight causes it to fall tip first, so be careful of drops.
The pencil also comes with a fairly conventional eraser. This is a clicker mechanical pencil with a robust mechanism for advancing the lead, which along with the general build quality of the pencil means that it is more than capable of standing the test of time.
Uni Kurutoga Pipe Slide 0.5mm
Another great option for those looking for a pencil with a little tech is the Uni Kurutoga. The defining characteristic of all Kurutoga pencils is the rotating lead mechanism. This is a mechanism that very slightly rotates the drawing edge of the lead every time that it touches the page to give a uniform stroke. This is beneficial as this means that you are essentially using a new edge every time you draw a line.
Though innovative and interesting the mechanism isn’t a slam dunk for everyone. Unfortunately, the mechanism is somewhat dependent on then angle with which your pencil touches the page. This means that some people will struggle to get it to work as intended and not gain from the benefits. This issue also rears its head when angling the pencil to shade.
Luckily, as with the rest of the Uni Kurutoga line the Pipe slide comes at a very reasonable price. So if you are looking for a handsome and well built mechanical drawing pencil, this is well worth a try.
Pentel Sharp P205 Mechanical Pencil
The Pentel Sharp mechanical pencil may not be the most inspiring bit of kit. But it enters our list of best mechanical pencils for drawing as it just kinda works. What more could you as for in ask for in a writing utensil.
While the pencil lacks frills, it still has everything one needs. It is constructed from sturdy plastic, with a ridged grip section. A clip and eraser can also be found. While the tip is not retractable, it is not as susceptible to breakage when dropped as the tip is much sturdier than much of the competition.
All in all, these pencils are somewhat middle of the road. A step above the throw-away mechanical pencil, but not of the professional level. This may be an uninspiring position but still has its place. Reasonable value for money and functional they are worth a try.
Tombow Mono Graph Shaker
This is a mechanical pencil from a company renowned in the art world. This mechanical pencil, manufactured in Japan, is of the shaker variety (more details on what exactly that means below, but basically you shake the pencil to reveal more lead). The pencils lead as expected is well built but it is also a surprisingly cool piece of engineering. With lead being advanced by a small weight inside the barrel, once the clip has been moved to the unlocked position. The clip is used to lock or unlock the mechanism as well as acting as a means to advance the lead in the conventional manner. The pencil also has a cool twist release lead.
This is a great exhibition of the shaker style with a few neat tricks. If the idea of not having to readjust your grip to advance the lead is appealing to you then the Tombow Mono Graph Shaker is worth a look.
rOtring 600 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil
This a gorgeous implement with a full metal body to give it a lovely balanced feel in the hand. The pencil has a hexagonal shape to avoid the pencil rolling. The grip area is knurled and cylindrical for the best ergonomics and grip. The pencil also has a little eraser hidden under the cap as well as a handy little switchable grade indicator (which is perfect for artists).
The pencil is available with 0.5mm or 0.7mm lead size and is a great pickup. There hare have been some reports of breakage or damage when dropped, so this may not be the best for the clumsy among you. But if you look after it, the rOtring will look after you for a long time to come.
This is a staple in the pencil world. They are the makers of one or our favourite graphite drawing pencils and make a great option for the mechanical pencil lovers.
This mechanical pencil is great value for money. This a grip that is comfortable in the hand. Ease of use, both in terms of drawing or writing, as well as the replacement of the lead. As in the case with many of the pencils we like, the Staedtler has a metal grip which has a good feel in the hand. The removable end reveals an eraser.
This pencil also has the great feature of having a changeable window to exhibit the grade of lead the is currently loaded. This is a perfect feature for artists. Its a pencil that is well worth a try, especially if you already like the Staedtler feel.
Aviation Magnetic Control 2.0mm Mechanical Pencil
This pencil makes the list just because it is so quirky. This is a pencil which has a very unique styling and mechanism to use. To advance the lead you loosen the tip end and move the magnetic ring down the shaft. This reveals more of the 2.0mm lead. The magnetic ring also allows the pencil to be stuck to metal surfaces as a means of storage.
Having a lead of this thickness is definitely nice for sketching and drawing as it makes the feel more reminiscent of a conventional pencil.
Is the the best mechanical pencil for drawing? Probably not, but it is a fun peica that comes at a surprisingly reasonable price.
Note: due to the very round shape of this pencil it is almost guaranteed to roll off of the table if you don’t utilise the magnet.
High End Mechanical Pencils
As with all things in life there are also some high end options in the mechanical pencil market. These are obviously not a requisite for drawing or something that will be right for everyone, but if you are a fan of the finer things in life, or looking for a gift for an enthusiast these pencils may be what you are looking for.
Tutto3 by O Art International
Ok, so this one is a little special. The Tutto3 is a mechanical pencil that was specifically designed for artist to draw with. So it has some fun tricks up its sleeve.
The tutto3 has three leads (of size 0.3, 0.5and 0.7mm) which are also different grades of hardness. As the size of the lead gets larger, the grade is softer. These leads paired with a bespoke mechanism to reveal the desired lead mean that this pencil can be a single tool to fill all of your drawing needs.
The pencil also has a great feel and build quality -with the pencil being made of brass to give it a pleasant weighty feel in the hand. It also benefits from having a fully retractable sleeve, which makes it more resistant to drops and therefore more long-lived than many of its competitors. This feature set is rounded out with a comfortable and extended grip area, clip and eraser too.
This is a great option for those that want to go mechanical, is is a great option for pencil artists on the go.
Lamy 2000 Mechanical Pencil
Lamy is a company from Germany the specialists in bespoke writing utensils. They have some really fancy looking fountain pens on offer, but also offer the Lamy 2000 Mechanical Pencil. This pencil is a real piece of art. The pencils barrel is made of fiberglass which gives it a lovely wood like grain. I has a brushed aluminium tip (which is not pocket safe), and a robust and springy clip. Removal of the lead advancing plunger reveals a drafting eraser for when you need to erase things in a pinch.
This is a pencil that is weighted very well. It feels great in the hand and has a great click mechanism. Overall it is a wonderful bit of equipment to use.
With a pencil at this price even the slightest issue can be somewhat of a deal-breaker. In this case there are some that find their pencils arrive with a very slight seem in the shaft of the pencil that can be somewhat bothersome in the hand. This is not something that we noticed but is worth a note. Generally, this is a mechanical pencil with a fantastic fit and finish why is as much art as a mechanical pencil.
Benefits of mechanical pencils
There are some very clear benefits in using a mechanical pencil for drawing. These are generally centered around feel in the hand but also have some implications when it comes to cost. When pitted against the conventional graphite pencil the most obvious benefit is the consistency of the feel in the hand. When using a normal pencil the feel changes with usage. With sharpening meaning that the pencil becomes shorter with use as well as the reduction in weight. This is not the case with mechanical pencil were the feel in the hand is completely consistent and the change in weight is minimal as the lead is used.
Another factor that should not be overlooked is the cost. If you are someone who draws sketches and draws regularly then you will find yourself going through pencils quickly. The cost of replacing is much higher than that of buying replacement leads for a mechanical pencil. This problem is exacerbated by that fact the pencils in a set will be used up at different rates (we’re looking at you 2B), meaning that you’ll either end up with a surplus of unused pencils if you continue to purchase sets, or have to shell out for single pencils.
Conventional pencils also have their benefits but their mechanical counterparts are worth consideration, hence this compilation of the best mechanical pencils for drawing.
What to look for in a mechanical pencil for drawing? – Mechanical Pencil Buying Guide
A Solid Grip
This is the most important part of any mechanical pencil as this is the main point of interaction. It’s important to take a good look at the grip area of any pencil you may purchase. Take particular care in the shape of the grip and the degree of knurly. It is not uncommon to have pencils with a range of not cylindrical grip (like triangle grips), these may improve ergonomics for writing but can be a nuisance for drawing and sketching. This also goes for grip material and knurling. Many pencils have metal grips the are highly knurled to improve their grip. This can be harsh on the hands in a long drawing session and a plastic of alternative material be me better in many cases.
Lead thickness is very important for mechanical pencils that will be used for drawing. If you already know what thickness of lead you would like your pencil to have then this is a good way of narrowing down your choices.
If not here are some considerations. The thicker the lead the bolder the lines produced. It is very much a question of style and use case. Leads generally come in 0.3mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 0.9mm and 2mm vartients. A good general rule of thumb is to go thinner for more technical drawing and thicker for rougher sketching.
Weight and Balance
WIth the different mechanism used and the range of different materials used to construct them, mechanical pencils can vary in their weight and in how they are balanced. This is very much a personal preference but should be a consideration when making a purchase.
Refills Easily Available
The main draw of mechanical pencils is the ability to refill the lead. So make sure that the leads used by the pencil you choose are easy to get more of. As long as you get something that uses the conventional lead thickness mentioned above you should be fine, but if you go for something a little more niche you may have a hard time.
Some Other Considerations
Some other things to keep in mind in terms of features include pocket safety. This is primarily an issue for those that with be taking their pencils around with them. If this is the case then you will but advised to look for mechanical pencils with a fully retractable tip. This is the most fragile area of the pencil and therefore the place that is most likely to break. General good construction and durability are also things to consider when purchasing.
Types of Mechanical Pencils
There are a load of different types of mechanisms that are used to advance the lead in mechanical pencils. These mechanisms don’t have a huge bearing on the physical drawing experience when using the pencil but are critical to general usage. This is also an area where there is most likely to be a malfunction so being aware of the common mechanisms and how they work is important. Most mechanical pencils work in the simple manner of a ballpoint pen. If you need more lead, simply click the top to reveal more. There are however some other interesting mechanisms on the market.
The shaker mechanism is an innovative solution to the problem of having to readjust your hand to advance the lead. The mechanism was designed to allow you to advance the lead without removing your hand from the barrel. This is done by simply by shaking the pen. This movement moves an internal weight which advances the mechanisms.
This is a robust mechanism but has some implications in terms of lead breakage. It is more a preference thing. If the need to readjust your hand is annoying, and you find the shake intriguing then this might be a good choice for you.
Check out the Tombow Shaker Mechanical Pencil.
This is a mechanism similar to the conventional clicker. In this case click is replaced by a twist. This is often found in pencils that have come in sets with other matching writing implements.
As the name these pencils incorporate a continuous twist. This is usually in the form of a tip with a screw mechanism. To advance the lead you twist the tip one direction and tip is twisted the other way to retract the lead.
This is a bespoke mechanism designed by Kuru Toga. The mechanism allows for the continuous use of the pencil without the need to manually advance the lead. This is because with every touch of pencil to paper the lead rotates and advances very slightly.
This is an ingenious solution and works well for many when writing. It may not however be appropriate when drawing as the mechanism works best at particular angles.