One of the essential possessions of a professional artist is a high-end pencil. In fact, even a budding artist, if his budget permits, must own one too, as this tool can make a massive difference to the practical ability and results of his masterpiece. If you are searching for the best mechanical pencil for drawing, then you’re in the right place.
Mechanical pens are excellent tools for putting your imagination to real-life details. Compared to ordinary pencils, these are the best equipment for technical drawings, which are commonly done in the fields of engineering, architecture, and industries that require not only relevant sets of skills but some reliable tools too.
This resource article provides all the basics that you need to know about mechanical pencils. These include a few frequently asked questions and their answers, the factors to consider when buying one, and reviews of five of the best options today.
Best Mechanical Pencil for Drawing: Brief Reviews
The availability of thousands of mechanical pencils can be overwhelming. Do expensive brands last longer than the cheaper ones? To make the selection more manageable, we have evaluated some options from popular brands today.
1. rOtring 600 Black Barrel Mechanical Pencil
For professional artists and engineers who are serious about their craft, the rOtring 600 Black Barrel Mechanical Pencil is their best choice. It sports a luxurious design that creates a professional impression.
As seen in its aesthetics, it is quite more expensive than many other mechanical pencils. With a two-year warranty, you’ll have the peace of mind that the quality is backed up. What makes this price worth it?
The rOtring 600 Black Barrel Mechanical Pencil is popular in the world of arts and penmanship for its full metal body that lasts for a lifetime. The shape of the pen is well balanced, so it doesn’t cause fatigue to any writing or drafting activity.
Regardless of the long hours of use, this pen stays comfortable; thanks to the metallic grip that also keeps it in between your fingers as you write.
We loved that this pen is designed in a hexagonal shape, making it stay in place when it’s not in use. Since it doesn’t slide through tables, the quality and performance remain the same.
Moreover, the fixed lead sleeve protects the lead from breakage and allows a better view for particular ruler-based drafts. The 0.5mm lead also comes with a hardness indicator that provides accurate identification for all drafting activities.
The only problem we had with the rOtring 600 Mechanical Pencil is that it is the most expensive option on our list. Nevertheless, the quality and features are worth it. It doesn’t only provide the quality you want for your craft but also the ergonomic comfort even when you use it for long hours.
- Ergonomically designed metallic grip to prevent fatigue
- Comfortable to use even for long hours
- Comes with a harness indicator
- Stays in place
- Backed by a two-year warranty
2. Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Pencil
For a good-quality pencil without breaking the bank, the Pentel GraphGear 1000 is a more affordable option. It is made with indispensable qualities that ordinary pencils do not have, and you can’t find even in other technical pens.
The Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Pencil has a 0.5mm lead that provides superior drafting for both professionals and budding artists. The lead size makes it excellent for drafting with templates and rulers.
This pen comes with a lead hardness indicator that lets you easily identify the lead type you currently use. These basic features ensure that you got your drafting needs covered.
The lead has a built-in retractor that extends and retracts the tip of the pencil to prevent it from breaking. The hi-polymer HB lead that comes pre-loaded with your purchase doesn’t break easily, stays durable, and doesn’t need re-sharpening. This lead also produces brilliant dark marks for better performance and a refillable eraser for quick corrections.
When it comes to comfort, the Pentel GraphGear features a metallic grip tiled with soft pads. The soft pads serve as the pillow for your fingers as you draw. It provides long-lasting protection against fatigue and callouses. This product is genuinely another innovation of Pentel, a trusted brand for over 70 years.
One minor drawback we didn’t particularly like about this pen from Pentel is the fact that the plastic sleeves do not come with any replacement. It would have been better if it could be replaced because the sleeve wears easily.
- Comfortable metallic grip with latex-free pad
- Lead has a dual retractor and a hardness indicator
- With refillable eraser
- Also available in other lead sizes
- Comes with a limited lifetime warranty
- No available Pentel replacement plastic sleeves
3. Pentel Twist-Erase III Automatic Pencil
Another quality product from Pentel is the Pentel Twist-Erase III Automatic Pencil. For a more affordable price than the abovementioned Pentel product, it comes in a pack of two assorted colors.
Compared to the first two products, the Pentel Twist-Erase III comes with a 0.9mm lead. Some variants come with 0.5mm and 0.7mm, depending on the size of the pencil. This Super Hi-polymer lead produces a continuous dark line.
This pen features the kind of lead that does not require sharpening and stays durable even on repeated use. The tip design also protects the edge from breakage.
The Pentel Twist-Erase III also comes with a latex-free grip. This portion ensures comfort and provides you with complete control over your draft. With the Pentel Twist-Erase, you will experience less fatigue and more focus on your job.
One best feature of Pentel Twist-Erase III is the twist-up eraser. It is a latex-free eraser that completely removes pencil marks and smudges without tearing the paper. This kind of eraser is longer than many other pencil erasers, and you can replace it with a refill piece available from Pentel.
Overall, this was a good buy. However, it would have been extra-thoughtful of the company if a case was included to store the refill erasers. We also noticed that the cap comes off almost too easily, which is why you have to be very careful if you don’t want the leads to come out and spill all over. There’s also no lead hardness indicator.
- Comes with refillable twist-up eraser
- Comfortable, fatigue-free grip
- Available in different lead tip and pen sizes
- The edge of the lead doesn’t break easily
- Comes in a pack of two in affordable price
- No lead hardness indicator
- Cap comes off easily
- No storage for extra erasers
4. Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil
Staedtler is also a famous brand in the world of pencils. One of its best products today is the Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil. It is a fantastic value that will meet most of your tasks, whether you’re an engineer, artist, or graphic designer.
The Staedler Mars 78 is a classic mechanical pencil. It features a 2mm no. 2 lead that provides significantly thin markings. Although the build and design are not flashy, it produces fine lines and bold marks similar to the expensive brands. It also has the darkness suitable for scan test sheets and other critical documents.
One notable feature of Staedler Mars 780 is the compact design that can easily fit in small pockets. It comes with a metal clip so that you can conveniently pin it on your clothes for easy access. This clip also serves as a push-button for advancing the lead when necessary.
Because of these features, engineers, architects, and many others love it. It is portable enough to be used when working outdoors. Staedtler also considers comfort. The grip is made of a metal mesh that gives not only comfort but also a controlled drafting experience. It also combines perfectly with the blue barrel that gives it a unique design and easy identification.
While this is a good buy, when you compare it with its competitors, it may seem lacking. For one, it doesn’t come with an eraser like the Pentel Twist-Erase III does. It is also not available in any other size.
- Comes with a small metal clip
- Portable for outdoor use
- Suitable for use in scan test sheets
- The 2mm lead provides significantly thin marks
- Doesn’t come with an eraser
- Available in only one size
5. Pentel GraphGear 500 PG525A Automatic Drafting Pencil
Last but not least is another quality product from Pentel. Although it is the least expensive one on this list, it has indispensable qualities comparable to high-end options.
Available in four different lead sizes, this pencil best matches all your drafting needs. Each pen is color-coded, so you will be able to identify it quickly and not get confused. The tip is 4mm in size, which is suitable for use with templates and rulers.
Similar to the other mechanical pencils in the list, the Pentel GraphGear 500 PG525A also comes pre-loaded with Super Hi-Polymer HB lead. This kind of lead produces satisfying dark marks, and it stays durable and sharp that it does not require sharpening. Paired with a Z2-1 eraser and a cap, it provides instant correction when you need it.
What we liked the most about the Pentel GraphGear 500 PG525A is the metallic mesh on the handle grip. This portion provides a sleek design on the overall construction of the pen. More than that, it puts the weight adjacent to the fingertips, so it allows for more control and comfort.
Again, this is yet another product that is worth the purchase. However, if you’re looking for a pencil with an eraser that would last many uses, then this is not the choice for you. Aside from its rather small eraser, the tip is also not retractable, and the clip is rather flimsy.
- Available in four color-coded sizes
- Weight on the fingertips for control and comfort
- Delicate mechanical action
- The most affordable in the list
- Comes with an eraser with cap
- Handle grip is made of metallic mesh
- Flimsy clip
- Small eraser
- The tip is not retractable
This section is a little guideline that we used in evaluating the best mechanical pencil for drawing listed above. Since there are hundreds of mechanical pencils in the market, you might want to look at other brands too. To do so, here are some essential details to consider:
The most crucial consideration in mechanical pencils is the grip. The grip can be made of different materials such as metal mesh and latex-free pads. Any kind of grip material is fine as long as it provides you comfort when drafting.
Generally, the latex-free grip is more comfortable because it works like a pad for the fingers. Some mechanical pencils are well-balanced, which means that the weight is evenly distributed throughout the pencil’s length. In other mechanical pens, the pressure is situated on the grip, which allows for more control.
Choose the material of the grip according to your intended use and personal comfort. Comfort varies among users, which is a reason why it is smart to get a good feel of the pencil before you buy it.
Mechanical pencils are available in various lead sizes from 0.2mm up to 0.9mm. Since sketching involves experimentations on what is suitable for a particular piece and personal flair, the style of the mechanical pen you buy is essential.
The standard size of 0.5mm is versatile for artistic sketches and technical purposes. For rough sketches, thick leads are suitable; the softer ones are usually good for bold, straight lines.
Aside from the lead size, style refers to the aesthetics of the mechanical pencil. Some appear to be too technical, while others have a cheap-looking plastic body. Some pencils look like expensive accessories; these kinds are usually given as a gift or worn as a status symbol.
Wooden pencils are labeled according to the thickness of the lead. However, they have a significant drawback. As ordinary wooden pencils get shorter, they produce an uneven tone and a thicker line width. This reason makes mechanical pencils the better choice.
Mechanical pens provide consistent thin lines and shade of darkness as you use it. The lead stays sharp and only needs one push of the top button to ‘reload.’ This consistency is vital for professionals because it makes a massive difference in the craft.
Similar to wooden pencils, mechanical pencils come in different lead sizes. Lead size varies from 0.2 up to 0.9 mm. Thinner sizes are suitable for test sheets, while the thicker ones can be used for many different tasks.
Mechanical pencils are specially designed with different parts that work together to deliver a smooth process and functionality. While they come in hundreds of designs and models, the selection becomes easy when you determine your preferred mechanism.
Mechanical pencils are categorized into three: twist-click mechanism, continuous twist, and shaker mechanism. Let’s discuss each one briefly to know which type is perfect for you.
- Twist-click mechanism
The most common is the twist-click, a function commonly found in ballpoint pens. It works by twisting the upper portion of the barrel, causing the lead to click forward.
Compared to the ball pen, the lead forwards another length every time you turn it. To push the lead back in, you need to twist and hold the top of the barrel.
- Continuous twist mechanism
Another mechanism is the continuous twist mechanism. It is made of a screw on the inside that twists the lead as you use it. When you finish a lead, you remove the small stub, push in another length of lead into the screw mechanism, and turn it back to the upper part of the barrel towards the screw.
Manufacturers rarely use this mechanism nowadays, but you can find a few in the stores, like the Faber Castell e-motion pencil.
- Shaker mechanism
The shaker mechanism requires a few sharp flicks of your wrist to push the lead down. With a firm shake, the weight located inside strikes the bottom. It is fun and takes a few seconds off from your activity.
Mechanical pens are arguably eco-friendly because they come in refillable containers. When it runs out of the lead, you keep the stub and refill it with another. Considering that you use the pen for long years, you help preserve the environment. That is why it is important to choose a high-quality mechanical pen that will stay durable even after repeated use.
Some mechanical pencils come with a refillable eraser. While this feature adds convenience to the pencil, make sure that it doesn’t cause further damage to your piece. Sometimes, erasers smudge the pencil marks, while others scratch the paper a little too hard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Mechanical pencils seem to be a simple tool for technical drafting and artistic sketching. However, as you look for the brand suitable for your needs, you come up with a few questions. Sales assistants share some of the questions buyers frequently ask them in stores.
1. Are mechanical pencils better for drawing?
The answer lies in the artist’s personal preference. Generally, wooden pencils are more preferred for drawing because they have the natural smoothness of strokes, which gives the artwork an authentic touch. These have a perfect balance with the paper as they don’t leave sharp traces. Plus, some users enjoy taking an occasional break for sharpening the pencil.
However, wooden pencils do not maintain the consistent thickness of the lines necessary for some technical drafts. For this purpose, the mechanical pencils are better. These are best used for drawing architectural plans and scan tests because they have excellent sharpness for bold objects and thin lines.
As compared to the wooden pencils, the thin leads of mechanical pencils maintain clear visibility and control when used with rulers and templates.
2. What is a pencil used for in technical drawing?
Technical drawing involves precise, sharp lines that aim to visually communicate how an object or process works or is constructed. It is usually done in the fields of engineering and design.
Typically, mechanical pencils are used in technical drawing as they provide the consistency required for creating clear visuals. These come in various thickness of leads, and the edges stay sharp as you write. They don’t need sharpening as compared to wooden pencils.
3. What grade of pencil is used for mechanical drawing?
Pencils for drawing are categorized according to the softness or hardness of the lead. Here is practical information to keep in mind: the softer the lead is, the harder the line, and vice versa. Pencils are marked with numbers from one to nine and a letter H (harder) or B (softer).
Pencils labeled as H has more clay on the core. These produce lighter and more delicate lines. Compared to the B-grade pencils, they leave fewer blemishes on papers.
B-grade pencils are made with more graphite. These produce bolder and darker lines and are a little smudgier than H-grade pencils. These features make them more suitable for artistic sketching as they create authentic-looking shades.
Since the objective of mechanical drawing is to provide detailed information on a structure or process, it involves thin, sharp lines. Therefore, pencils labeled with 7B, 8B, or 9B are suitable for mechanical drafting.
4. What is a F pencil?
F is a classification of pencil lead. The other ratings that the manufacturers in Europe use are H, which usually denotes “hardness,” and B for “boldness.” The F pencil, together with the HB, is in the middle of the spectrum.
F-grade pencils are the kind generally used for standard writing because these are dark enough and create minimal smudging. Although it is interpreted as the fineness, the F pencil is not delicate nor is easily sharpened compared to any other grade.
5. Which pencil is dark H or 2H?
A lot of users come across the dark H and 2H, which are both confusing. As stated in the answers above, H means hardness. H pencils produce light shades but create some scratchy impacts on the paper. Erasing the pencil marks is easy, but getting rid of the pressure marks on paper is quite impossible.
On the other hand, 2H is a lighter shade but also creates a harder impact on the paper. The difference between the H and 2H is not evident unless you exert full pressure, which will leave a devastating effect on the paper. If your work requires hardness, use mechanical pencils instead because they are more comfortable and friendly on paper.
The general rule of thumb for choosing the right pencil is identifying your purpose. Mechanical pencils produce dark, fine lines best suitable for drafting detailed plans and structures. They are commonly used by professionals such as engineers, architects, and general contractors.
Today, we featured a few of the best mechanical pencil for drawing, and one product stood out—the Pentel Twist-Erase III Automatic Pencil, which comes in an affordable pack of two. The lead does not break easily and provides consistent thinness and shade. Although it does not come with an eraser, this minor drawback is compensated by other notable features that are unique to this mechanical pencil.