Are you sick of having to replace your graphite pencils?
Do you wish you could find a pencil that would last you for years without breaking or wearing down and needing sharpened constantly?
We hear you, and we’re pleased to tell you that your sketching sorrows and drawing disappointments are over!
The mechanical pencil is the ultimate solution to so many problems graphite artists face on a regular basis, from the breakages consistent with low-quality wooden pencils to the inconvenience of constant sharpening.
We’ve compiled a list of the 5 best mechanical pencils for drawing to see you on your way to a new, stress-free drawing experience.
In a hurry? Be quick on the draw with our top pick:
- Metal construction with plastic parts
- Pre-loaded with lead
- Works with Pental’s Hi-Polymer lead
- Latex-free padded mesh grip
- Dual-action retractor and advancer
- Includes eraser
- Sizes: 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 0.9 mm
The Best Mechanical Pencil For Drawing
OUR TOP PICK
Pentel’s GraphGear 1000 mechanical pencil is clearly a superior drawing instrument, from the quality of its construction to its ergonomic comfort levels.
This mechanical pencil is made mostly of metal, which takes the extra durability of mechanical pencils to a whole new level compared with other all-plastic models.
The only plastic component of this pencil is a tube under the grip (see below), which is the only weaker point of the construction.
The grip area of the pencil is surrounded by metallic mesh, with latex-free pads positioned to provide the most comfortable and anti-allergenic grip.
The pencil is pre-loaded (and also refillable) with Pentel’s patented Super-Hi Polymer lead, which never needs sharpening and produces clear, pigmented marks.
The lead is adjustable in length using the dual-action retractor, which lets you easily extend the lead to the length that suits you and then retract it back into the pencil for protection when you’re finished.
There’s even an eraser concealed under the metal cap at the end of the pencil, for which replacements can also be sourced.
You can purchase the GraphGear 1000 pencil in several sizes, ranging from 0.3 mm to 0.9 mm, which covers the majority of the size spectrum for most standard pencils.
- Solid metal construction so this isn't going to break or wear out.
- Pre-loaded with lead that never needs sharpened.
- Takes high-quality polymer lead
- Latex-free grip padding which is easy to use and gives a lot comfort.
- Dual-action retractor
- Sizes 0.3 - 0.9 mm
- Eraser included
- Plastic tube under grip is fragile
MozArt Supplies’ mechanical pencils are of incredible quality and produce artwork of the same high standard.
Each pencil is made of metal for durability. Just from looking at them, you can tell that they’ll stand up to reasonable wear and tear, but the quality is even clearer once you hold them.
While these pencils don’t come with any extra soft or padded grip, their construction is so smooth that they remain comfortable to hold for hours at a time.
The smooth barrel is also non-slip, so even without the extra grip, you won’t find it sliding around in your hand every few seconds.
A metal cap is fixed to the end of the pencil to protect the eraser. This cap can be removed using the spring mechanism.
Meanwhile, you can extend and retract the lead at your convenience using the twist closure.
Unfortunately, some users have reported instances of these twist closures locking up and not dispensing the lead.
However, one really great thing about the MozArt Supplies mechanical pencils is that you don’t have to buy them one at a time!
The included sizes are 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 0.9 mm, so a good portion of the standard pencil size spectrum is represented here.
The pencils are contained in a clear, lightweight pencil case, which is great for students or those who regularly travel or commute with their art supplies.
Also inside the case are 30 lead refills for each pencil size, as well as eraser refills.
- Set of 4 should you want multiple or lose one.
- Metal construction means it's super sturdy.
- Smooth, non-slip barrel so it's easy to hold and comfortable.
- Sizes 0.3 - 0.9 mm depending on what you need.
- Case included because it's always nice to have a stylish storage case.
- Includes lead and eraser refills
- No padded grip
- Some reports of lead mechanism locking
Uni’s Core Keeps Sharp Mechanical Pencil is one of the more technically advanced mechanical drawing pencils on the market, and it produces results consistent with its advanced construction.
The body of the pencil is made of durable plastic resin with a knurled grip to ensure the pencil stays firmly in position in your hand while you draw.
A Kurutoga engine is built into this mechanical pencil and actually rotates the lead as you use the pencil.
This ensures that the lead is never worn down more on one side than another and maintains overall sharpness so that it never needs to be done manually.
This is especially useful when drawing since it helps to maintain consistency in your linework.
A small eraser is included on the end of the pencil, protected by a plastic cap.
The lead of the pencil itself can be retracted, but the metal tip of the pencil cannot, meaning extra care may have to be taken to ensure it doesn’t get damaged.
A downside to this mechanical pencil is that it only takes 0.5 mm lead, so it’s not the most versatile option for artists who like to use varying line thicknesses in their work.
However, artists who typically use a medium pencil size for most of their drawings will get good, long-lasting use and impressive results out of this pencil.
- Durable resin body
- Kurutoga rotating lead
- Non-slip knurled grip
- Retractable lead
- Eraser included
- Only for 0.5 mm lead
- Metal tip not retractable
Uni has pulled it out of the bag again with another highly functional and advanced mechanical pencil. This time, we’re talking about the Kurutoga Pipe Slide Mechanical Pencil.
Like the previous Uni pencil model we reviewed, this pencil is part of the Kurutoga series, which means it also uses a core rotation engine to keep your lead consistently sharp and even on all sides.
However, this model also features a pipe slide system.
This system shortens the guide pipe around the lead in accordance with the rate at which the lead shortens during use.
This is a more effective way of keeping the whole length of lead protected at all times, preventing breakages that may make the pencil less functional or even litter your work with lead debris.
Although the construction of this mechanical pencil is plastic, it’s still a highly durable tool that won’t be easily broken.
While there’s no padding to the grip, the smoothness of the resin makes for a comfortable grip, nonetheless.
Unfortunately, once again, this pencil only comes in a 5 mm size, so while it’s more or less perfect for drawing fine, consistent lines, other pencils will be required for lines of other sizes.
We also see the same issue where the lead is retractable, but not the whole tip.
- Kurutoga rotating lead
- Pipe slide lead protection
- Retractable lead
- Strong plastic body
- Eraser included
- Only for 0.5 mm leads
- Full tip not retractable
Rotring’s 600 Mechanical Pencil is a simple, understated drawing tool that lets its artistic results speak for itself.
Thanks to its all-metal construction, this pencil will hold up to years of use while remaining just as functional as it was on day 1.
Part of this pencil’s durability is also due to its hexagonal body.
Which helps it to remain stable when set down on a surface, reducing the risk of it rolling onto the floor and becoming damaged.
A hexagonal pencil might not sound very comfortable to use, but the knurled grip is rounder in shape and provides good hand support to avoid fatigue.
The pencil lead is protected by a brass lead advancement mechanism, which allows the lead to be advanced and retracted through the fixed lead guidance sleeve with minimal risk of breakage.
This mechanical pencil is available for purchase in sizes 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm.
This means that artists do have some flexibility of choice when buying this pencil and can either select the line thickness they work best with or buy both for extra versatility.
However, smaller and larger sizes are not available, so artists wishing to work with extra thin or thick lines may wish to choose a different pencil.
- All-metal construction
- Hexagonal body prevents rolling
- Brass lead advancement mechanism
- Fixed lead guidance sleeve
- Knurled grip
- Available in 0.5 and 0.7 mm
- Not suitable for very fine or thick lines
Best Mechanical Pencil for Drawing Buying Guide
All of the pencils we’ve showcased in this article are superior art tools with high levels of customer satisfaction.
However, that doesn’t mean that each pencil is guaranteed to fit every artist’s needs.
Don’t leave things up to chance and risk drawing the short straw - check out our buyer’s guide to learn how to choose the best mechanical pencil for your requirements!
Single or Set?
Your selection process for your perfect mechanical pencil(s) will need to start with the decision of whether you want a single mechanical pencil or a set.
To determine whether an individual pencil or a set would best suit your needs, you should first consider how varied your drawing style is.
Do you tend to work mainly with one line thickness, or do you like to vary your lines? If you answered yes to the first option, you might be perfectly fine with just the one mechanical pencil.
However, if you like to express yourself and portray the subjects of your art using different kinds of lines, you may wish to consider investing in a set.
Buying a set of mechanical pencils often comes with added bonuses. For example, many pencil sets come in a handy pencil case that you can use to keep your pencils safe when they’re not in use or carry them easily from location to location (e.g., school or work).
Just like traditional pencils, mechanical pencils come in a range of sizes to suit all the different drawing needs of artists.
Therefore, something to consider when you’re in the process of choosing your ideal mechanical pencil is what sizes they come in and how well these will suit your drawing requirements.
The most common sizes for mechanical pencils are 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 0.9 mm. You can get smaller or larger sizes, but these will mostly be available from specialist art supply stores.
One advantage of getting a set of pencils is that you’ll be able to purchase multiple sizes at once. However, if you’re after a single pencil, be sure to pay close attention to the size so that you can produce lines of the thickness you want.
Some pencils only come in one size (typically the medium 0.5 mm). In these cases, you’ll need to decide whether the ergonomic design of the pencil or its size takes precedence for you.
The material a mechanical pencil is made from is typically an excellent indicator of its durability.
Logically, it makes sense that metal mechanical pencils are generally more hardwearing than plastic ones.
However, this doesn’t mean that plastic mechanical pencils aren’t worthwhile investments. A plastic pencil can still be highly durable as long as a resin is thick enough and of good quality.
What we will say, though, is that some mechanical pencils can be deceptive in the sense that they seem to have an all-metal construction or will be described as a ‘metal’ pencil despite having some plastic parts.
Again, this isn’t necessarily a problem, but you should be aware that metal mechanical pencils (I prefer the Zebra brand) can have slightly less durable components in places such as underneath the grip.
If this is the case, you’ll just need to make sure that you don’t apply too much uneven pressure in the more delicate areas.
There are 2 main body shapes you’ll come across frequently in mechanical pencils: cylindrical and hexagonal.
Smooth, cylindrical pencils often look more appealing and feel smoother to touch, but they have one fatal flaw, which is an annoying tendency to roll off the table as soon as you set them down. This is one of the main causes of mechanical pencils breaking (You cannot use mechanical pencils on ACT or SAT tests.)
Hexagonal pencils, on the other hand, are much less likely to roll when put down. The downside to this shape is that it’s not as smooth or comfortable to hold, which is where our next feature comes in...
Most graphite artists will be familiar with the physical discomfort of a pencil digging into your hand for hours on end - and the stress of having to keep repositioning your pencil as it inevitably slips.
Thankfully, a good pencil grip can put an end to all of this.
Knurled grips are one popular style of grips for mechanical pencils. They provide a thick, non-slip surface and can be rounded on hexagonal pencils to make them more comfortable to use.
Another common type of mechanical pencil grip is a mesh grip, which can also feature small pads for extra comfort.
These pads tend to be more comfortable overall than knurled grips, although many are made of latex, so if you have a latex allergy, be sure to select a latex-free grip option, as featured in our top pick.
Technology is becoming more and more developed, and (almost) gone are the days when a mechanical pencil features nothing more than a simple ‘click-to-advance’ lead mechanism.
These days, mechanical pencils are fitted will all sorts of engines and mechanisms to make them more functional and extend the longevity of the pencil.
For example, the Kurutoga mechanism used by Uni enables the lead to rotate inside the pencil during use. If you regularly struggle with your pencil leads (traditional or mechanical) getting worn down more on one side than the others and producing uneven lines, we would recommend choosing a mechanical pencil with a Kurotoga mechanism to solve this problem.
Even lead advancement mechanisms have become more advanced, with systems being built into mechanical pencils to prevent lead breakages. An example of this is Uni’s Pipe Slide system, which shortens the lead guidance sleeve along with the lead for more effective protection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are mechanical pencils worth the money?
We can conclusively tell you that mechanical pencils are definitely worth the money if you’re a serious artist or even a hobbyist who draws frequently and burns through a lot of pencils.
Mechanical pencils can definitely be expensive, but high-quality regular pencils can also cost you a surprising amount. This is especially true when you factor in how often regular pencils need replacing.
A mechanical pencil will last you much longer, and the lead refills are cheaper than buying new pencils.
Another benefit of mechanical pencils is that they don’t need sharpening. This will save you time, which is a perfectly good reason to shell out a little extra, and it also eliminates the need for a sharpener (another tool that can be expensive and eventually needs replacing).
Is mechanical pencil lead dangerous?
The reason why so many people find themselves asking this question is probably down to a common misconception surrounding the composition of pencil lead.
Although the core of a pencil is referred to as the ‘lead,’ it’s actually made of graphite and doesn’t contain any lead. However, because of the misleading name, many people continue to worry about whether touching or ingesting pencil graphite could be harmful.
As a result, this fear has become attached to mechanical pencils as well as traditional ones.
Graphite is mildly toxic, in the sense that you might give yourself an upset stomach if you ingest enough of it. However, chewing on a pencil or other mild forms of ingestion aren’t likely to produce any adverse effects.
Since mechanical pencil lead has the same composition as traditional pencil lead, this applies to mechanical pencils as well as to regular ones.
So, in summary, no, mechanical pencil lead is not dangerous.
Last update on 2021-08-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API