The mechanical pencil has been a popular drawing tool since its creation in 1822. It consists of an outer mechanical case and a strip of lead is inserted into it and wears away over time.
Unlike regular pencils, you don’t have to worry about sharpening the pencil and can change the thickness of the lead or color when it suits you. Mechanical pencils help to give more control of the lead and keep its evenness, making it ideal for any kind of drawing.
Whether you are a professional designer or a hobbyist wanting to explore a new medium, mechanical pencils are fantastic because they can be used by anyone of any ability.
Providing beautiful and accurate drawings, mechanical pencils can be more convenient than standard pencils as any size lead can be fitted into the case meaning that you don’t have to walk around with a bunch of pencils that are at risk of breaking.
Whether you have only started doing your research or are just wanting to find out some more information on whether mechanical pencils are for you, we have got you covered.
In this article, we’ll be running through the best mechanical pencils on the market followed by a Buyers Guide and an FAQ so you can be assured that the decision you make is a fully informed one.
Too busy to read the full article? Find our top pick here:
Our top pick is from BIC which is one of the biggest stationery brands in the world and is their Xtra-Sparkle Mechanical Pencils. Their multipack set of 24 refillable mechanical pencils are a fantastic choice for those who draw a lot and want to buy quality pencils at a great price point.
The number 2 size lead is the most commonly used width which is suitable for any kind of drawing, making it a perfect choice for beginners at the start of their drawing journey.
Smudge-free and easy to erase, these mechanical pencils are hugely convenient for users of all ages and come in a variety of fun colors which is great for those who like to incorporate color into their work.
What makes this our winner? A proven hit with people of all ages and abilities, the BIC Xtra-Sparkle Mechanical Pencils are great for any kind of project. At a great price point, they are fantastic for beginners who want to delve into using mechanical pencils.
They are sturdy and easy to refill making them easily accessible for those who are unfamiliar with mechanical pencils.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
The Xtra-Sparkle is our top pick because it is fantastic for all artists who love to add color to their work.
Containing a multipack of 24, you’re not going to be running out of these soon and the variety of colors within the set is ideal for those who work in cartoons, particularly.
A great starting point for those who want to see if they want to include color into your work. BIC are a brand that are used by people around the world and are trusted for their quality and great price point.
Their mechanical pencils are refillable so you can use them again and again, making it perfect for those who want to adjust to using the same pencil.
With 4.8 stars from over 22,200 reviews, the BIC Xtra-Sparkle set is a great choice for all ages and abilities and the huge number of reviews only highlights this.
Ideal for those starting out into drawing and want to see if mechanical pencils are for them. These pencils come in beautiful colors and can help aid the imagination and inspire new projects
- Comes in a variety of colors
- No black option so wouldn’t be good for professionals
Our second pick is from Pentel and is the best choice for professionals by a mile. The Pentel GraphGear 1000 is a beautiful metal pencil that feels weighty and is most suitable for those who want a quality mechanical pencil that will last a long time.
The stylish metal structure gives the artist more control of their drawing and the 0.5mm thickness will give a more accurate result.
Equipped with inlay pads for comfort, this is a pencil that is made to be used a lot and the duel action retraction makes it easy to use. Pentel has designed this pencil with architects in mind and that precise design result has been achieved.
With 4.7 stars from over 12,500 reviews with many artists and designers praising the outstanding quality of the product and the results that come from this.
Definitely a pencil used by professionals and people who are familiar with using mechanical pencils on a regular basis, the GraphGear 1000 comes in a variety of sizes and features but the 0.5mm is the most popular because of its strength and quality, making it a long lasting favorite for many customers.
- Ideal for professionals and architects in particular
- Made from metal making it sturdy and controlled
- Easy to use
- High price point
Our third choice is another option by Pentel and is their GraphGear 500.
Acting as a cheaper alternative to the GraphGear 1000, the 500 is a great way for people to try Pentel’s product but don’t want to use a metal pencil.
The GraphGear 500 is made from polymer which is much lighter than metal and its 4mm tip length is ideal to use with rulers which is great for engineers and architects.
The mesh barrel at the end assists in giving you the control needed for projects, especially when measurements are crucial and results have to be to scale.
With 4.7 stars from over 6,200 reviews, the GraphGear 500 model is hugely convenient for taking around as the metal cap at the top covers and eraser meaning you don’t have to fret over any mistakes.
Although it is lighter, it doesn’t feel cheap because of the structure of the pencil and the quality of the materials that have gone into the manufacturing of it.
- Ideal for architects and engineers
- Made from polymer with a mesh metal barrel at the tip for control
- Great price point
- Can be tricky to push the lead out initially but should be fine afterwards
Our penultimate choice is from Papermate and is great for those looking for a thicker pencil for a wider line.
Papermate’s Clearpoint Mechanical Pencil set comes with 4 refillable pencils which is great for those who will be drawing a lot.
At a great price point, these pencils have a grip near the end so you can retain control of your drawings.
The twist eraser at the top means you can correct any mistakes with ease. This is an ideal pencil for designers, drafters and artists because of the versatility it provides.
Its features are hugely convenient such as the side click advance meaning you don’t have to stop drawing should the lead run out.
With 4.7 stars from over 5,300 reviews, the Clearpoint Mechanical Pencil is a go to for so many people who have been using them for years.
Reliable and fantastic quality, they are hugely versatile and can be used for all sorts of projects. The lead is formidable and doesn’t crumble on impact meaning that it is a durable product made to last a long time.
- Comes as a multipack
- Great for all kinds of artists and designers
- Has a convenient side click for advancing
- The eraser can get dirty quickly
Our final choice is from MozArt and is the perfect option for those looking for a varied choice in lead thickness.
The Mechanical Pencil Set with Case is the ideal choice for those who are always on the go and need to take their tools away without damaging them.
With a variety of lead thickness and spare erasers, you have everything you need to work on small and big projects whatever your profession.
This is a particularly great choice for illustrators and artists who may need to work with a variety of different sizes in their work to create different tones and textures.
If you are a beginner and unsure of what thickness works for you then this is the perfect choice for you as well.
With 4.6 stars from over 7,600 reviews, artists around the world have found their creativity thriving thanks to the Mechanical Pencil Set.
The quality of the product and its longevity makes it a fond favorite for illustrators and artists of all mediums.
The metal structure means you’ll have more control when drawing and don’t have to worry about the lead crumbling or losing grip.
MozArt have garnered a loyal following since its inception due to the quality in their products and the dedication that they have towards making tools for artists that will provide top notch results.
- Comes with a full kit of refills and eraser replacements
- Variety of size options
- Ideal for artists and illustrators
- Can become uncomfortable to use after a while
Best Mechanical Pencil for Drawing Buying Guide
Looking for mechanical pencils needn’t be a stressful experience. With a huge range of brands offering different lead thickness, colors and effects, you want to make sure that the drawings you want to do will have the best results.
This is all reliant on ensuring you have the proper tools as the wrong choice can give a lacklustre result. That being said, the recommendations we have provided in this article are the best of the best so whatever your project and lifestyle, you’re bound to find the pick for you here.
With so many different kinds of mechanical pencils on the market for all kinds of drawing projects. Whether you need tools for architectural design or are venturing into manga drawings, there is a mechanical pencil out there that will fulfill your needs.
Always consider what kind of drawings you plan to do with the pencil, the mechanical features of the pencil, what comes with the pencil and the budget. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a clearer idea of what to look for and can make a fully rounded decision as to which one to choose.
What kinds of drawings you’re doing
Firstly, you’ll need to consider what kind of drawings you plan on doing. Whether you’re a professional using it on a regular basis or a hobbyist getting into drawing for the first time, you want your mechanical pencil to suit your lifestyle.
A professional architect or designer may want to use an extremely sturdy and precise mechanical pencil with precise features and longevity whereas hobbyists are probably wanting to focus more on multipacks and sets so they can begin to experiment with what one works best for them.
Next you want to think about the features that the mechanical pencil has.
More advanced mechanical pencils tend to allow for more lead thickness and more control in its structure making it a great investment for professionals whereas other cheaper models allow for simply refills and eraser replacements.
Making sure that the pencil can provide the top results you are looking for is important so always bear in mind what features and materials it is made from.
What comes with the pencil
Thirdly, you want to consider what comes with the pencil. Some mechanical pencils come as a multipack such as our top pick which contains 24 pencils whereas others may come with various lead sticks of differing thickness and erasers.
It’s all dependent on what brand and cost you go for and what you want to get out of the pencils. Some people may prefer to use one mechanical pencil only so don’t want to purchase a multipack whereas some people may want a multipack, especially if they’re prone to losing things.
Lastly, you should consider your budget as there are mechanical pencils at all price points to suit whatever your needs are.
A professional is more likely to invest in a more expensive mechanical pencil that may have more features and longevity in its structure whereas a hobbyist may prefer to look for something cheaper, especially if they are starting their drawing career.
It’s always important to consider how much you’ll be using your pencil as well as how drawing is used in your day to day life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is 0.5 or 0.7 lead better?
It completely depends on what kind of drawings you want to do. 0.7 lead is wider than a 0.5 but the latter is a tougher lead. This means it is entirely dependent on what kind of drawings you want to do.
If your drawings call for realism such as portraits then a 0.5 lead is probably better whereas a 0.7 may provide stronger lines for cartoon drawing.
Why are mechanical pencils better?
They’re better because they stay the same length throughout its life span.
As mentioned previously in the article, mechanical pencils allow for more control thanks to the lead remaining the same length as well as the small eraser that can prevent any excessive erasing or mistakes from happening.
Because you will be using the same mechanical pencil, you’ll also be used to the same tool no matter the thickness or color of the lead.
How long do mechanical pencils last?
Mechanical pencils can last for decades if taken care of properly. The simpler the mechanics of the pencil, the more long-lasting it will be.
Metal mechanical pencils tend to have longer lives due to the durability of the material and its resistance to breakage.
Plastic pencils on the other hand are vulnerable to snapping or breaking easily. It’s all dependent on the treatment that the pencils are given when it comes to their durability.