A reliable pencil is a must-have tool for every creative. While some artists prefer the look and feel of traditional wooden pencils, others prefer the more consistent and controlled marks of mechanical pencils. Refillable and made from plastic or metal, these utensils are ideal for those who prefer long-lasting tools.
If you're new to the world of mechanical pencils, there are a few things to know before you delve in. Unlike wooden pencils, where you sharpen the body to reveal a lead point, mechanical pencils have to be filled with small sticks of graphite. The thickness of the graphite determines the size of the pencil, such as 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, and 0.7 mm. Additionally, these tools often include a refillable eraser, which you can switch out when it becomes too used; sometimes, there's even a cap you can place on top to protect the eraser from getting dirty.
While the best size is up to personal preference, most artists prefer to draw with 0.5 mm mechanical pencil lead; this size allows for detailed work and minimizes lead breakage. Similarly, a thicker lead will produce smoother and bolder marks. So, while you may pay more upfront for a high-quality mechanical pencil compared to wooden ones, purchasing the extra lead is very economical. Fortunately, due to the construction of these utensils, they also eliminate the need for other tools like a sharpener.
Want to choose your next drawing tool? Check out our selection of the 7 best mechanical pencils for artists and designers.
Searching for a great mechanical pencil? Check out our picks!
Koh-I-Noor Mephisto Profi Mechanical Pencil (0.5 mm)
This lightweight plastic body mechanical pencil by Koh-I-Noor provides great control for artists, draftspersons, and designers. The clip on the side allows you to attach this utensil to your sketchbook, or secure it to your pocket. It is also available in a 0.7 mm size.
Tikky Mechanical Pencil (0.7 mm)
The Tikky Mechanical Pencil by Rotring is a high-quality 0.7 mm lead pencil with a sleek and lightweight design. Its rubber grip allows for comfortable drawing time, and the bright green color makes it easy to find amongst your other utensils. Just use the push button mechanism to dispense lead into the nib.
Kurutoga Pipe Slide Mechanical Pencil (0.5 mm)
The Kurutoga Pencil is famous for its lead rotation mechanism that prevents the lead from becoming too slanted from drawing. This function also protects the lead from breaking when it is pressed against the paper.
Alvin Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil (0.5 mm)
Alvin Draft-Matic pencils are a great drafting utensil for artists of all skill levels. Its simple, practical design features a stainless steel barrel and a knurled grip, making it a reliable tool for many different sketching projects.
Staedtler Mechanical Pencil Night Blue Series (0.5 mm)
Staedtler's Night Blue mechanical pencils feature a full metal body that is both sturdy and lightweight. The rubber grip includes a textured finish that helps you comfortably hold onto the pencil. In addition to the popular 0.5 mm size, the same design is available in 0.3 mm, 0.9 mm, and even 2.0 mm.
Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Pencil Set (0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, 0.9 mm)
Pentel Graph Pencils are beloved by professionals for their sleek and comfortable design. Available in 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 0.9 mm, each size features a chiseled metallic grip with soft, rubber pads. There is also an all-inclusive pencil set if you'd like to try all four sizes.
Sakura SumoGrip Mechanical Pencil (0.5 mm)
For artists who seek comfort above all else, there's the Sakura SumoGrip pencil. Recommended by physical therapists for those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, these ergonomic utensils feature a cushioned grip that fits naturally with the hand, so shading and sketching won't tire you out It comes in 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm.