Best mechanical pencils for drawing
Mechanical pencils are popular with artists and graphic designers. Discover the best mechanical pencils for drawing in our handy guide
Mechanical pencils are an essential tool if you want to do detailed or graphical drawings. They allow you to draw finely and in great detail – and the best part is that they don't need to be sharpened constantly! These pencils are best for precise drawing and some of them can also be blended like more traditional drawing pencils.
Mechanical pencils can be used for both writing and drawing. They are essentially a woodless pencil and you replace the lead inside whenever you need to – it feels more like you're drawing with a pen than a pencil and some people prefer that. Be careful not to press too hard when drawing with a mechanical pencil as the leads often snap easily – you may find it easier to draw with a 0.5mm tip rather than a finer 0.3mm tip if you find you're breaking leads all the time.
Mechanical pencils range in thickness from 0.3mm (super fine) to 5.6mm (thick and great for sketching), so it's a good idea to try different kinds and see which suits your drawing style.
When drawing with mechanical pencils, you can created a shaded effect using crosshatching (drawing lines in different directions).
There are a great selection of mechanical pencils out there and some of them are specifically designed for artists. For example, Derwent makes a wide range of pencils for artists including mechanical pencils.
Read on to discover the best mechanical pencil for drawing that suits your needs.
Want to improve your drawing skills? Take a look at our pencil drawing for beginners guide, explore our pick of the best drawing books, learn how to draw a flower step by step or try our how to draw a cat easy step by step tutorial. Not a cat lover? Try our simple how to draw a dog tutorial instead.
10 best drawing mechanical pencils
Derwent mechanical pencil
This Derwent mechanical pencil has a fine 0,7mm lead and is great for precision drawing. It includes some extra leads and a built-in eraser. The pencil nib draws smoothly and it's retractable, so it won't snap off in your bag or pocket. It has a graphite lead that won't break easily while you're drawing, which is always annoying. Like most Derwent products, it's good quality and not as expensive as many brands aimed at artists.
If you're looking for something finer, you can also buy a Derwent mechanical pencil with a 0.5mm tip.
Koh-I-Noor mechanical pencil set
The Koh-I-Noor brand has a reputation for producing some of the best mechanical pencils for drawing and this set won't disappoint you. The set includes six mechanical pencils with rich colours, which will apply smoothly to the paper with very little pressure needed. This set is ideal for sketching when you're out and about.
The pencils are very good quality and, although they're more expensive than other brands, they'll last for a long time if you take care of them.
Faber Castell mechanical pencil
Like Derwent, Faber Castell is another brand that's renowned for producing high quality drawing pencils. This mechanical pencil has a fine 0.5mm tip, which is ideal for keeping your drawings neat and accurate. This pencil comes with three leads, so you won't need to order any replacements for a while.
Tikky mechanical pencils
Tikky mechanical pencils are great for drawing. They have a rubber grip so they're comfortable to hold and they're available in a range of thicknesses and colours. Tikky pencils come with a built-in sharpener and eraser, which is very handy! It has a hi-polymer lead, which makes it very durable.
These are a good buy – not overly expensive, but still excellent quality. They're available in a selection of colours too!
Uni Kurutoga mechanical pencil
Looking for a mechanical pencil that always stays sharp and crisp? This is the one for you! When you use normal mechanical pencils, they tend to wear down on one side, but this mechanical pencil has a lead that twists slightly whenever you lift it from the paper. This ensures that you always have a sharp tip whenever you draw. It's very light to hold and will sit comfortably in your hand as you draw.
Pentel P200 automatic mechanical pencil
This pencil is a good all-rounder. It's lightweight with a comfy rubber grip and produces even 0.5mm lines when you draw with it. The automatic part of the name refers to a mechanism inside: you can store numerous leads inside and when the lead you're using runs out you can replace it automatically by clicking the button at the top a few times.
Some reviewers have commented that the lead seems quite fragile, but it's possible to replace it with Pentel 0.5 hi-polymer super refills in 2B to make it more suitable for drawing.
Rotring 600 mechanical pencil
Do you have a bigger budget? If so, you could invest in a Rotring 600 mechanical pencil. This one is pricier than the others on our list, but it's a high-quality mechanical pencil that will last a long time. This is a good one to buy if you use your mechanical pencils all the time.
The Rotring 600 mechanical pencil has a metal body, so it's slightly heavier and more sturdy than other pencils we've mentioned. It sits nicely in your fingers and is still comfortable to use after a few hours of drawing. This model also has a handy indicator to show what kind of lead is currently in the pencil.
Koh-I-Noor 5.6mm diameter mechanical pencil
Mechanical pencils are usually chosen for precision drawing, but they also come with chunky 5.6mm tips! This mechanical is excellent quality and won't break the bank. This is a great choice if you're looking for a robust mechanical pencil for sketching and drawing. They're particularly good for shading large areas of a picture.
You can use graphite leads in these pencils or you can use chalk, so it really is a very versatile mechanical pencil to buy.
Kaweco Sketch Up 5.6mm mechanical pencil
Kaweco is a well-known producer of mechanical pencils for graphic design and drawing. It's considerably more expensive than the Koh-I-Noor equivalent, but Kaweco mechanical pencils are professional quality stationery. These pencils have a vintage look and are also available with metallic holders. There's a built-in sharpener you can use whenever you need it too.
These mechanical pencils are very hard-wearing and will last a long time. There's also a selection of different colours available from Kaweco, which can be used with this pencil holder.
Koh-I-Noor 5.6mm magic mechanical pencil
Want to add a bit of fun to your stationery collection? This colourful mechanical pencil from Koh-I-Noor comes with a rainbow tip – have fun using it on your artwork! When it runs out you can replace it with other tips in the Koh-I-Noor range and keep the beautiful marbled holder.
Featured image from Unsplash/Florian Krumm
Sarah Orme is a UK-based linocut printmaker, digital editor, feature writer and award-winning podcaster. She's been editing the sewing and art sections of Gathered.how – and before that our sister website calmmoment.com – for over 3 years. She’s the host of Gathered’s We’ve Made It podcast and A Calmer Life podcast. She’s a keen crafter and artist and loves creating DIY tutorials for Gathered. Sarah has previously written features for The Guardian, In The Moment Magazine, Project Calm Magazine, countryfile.com, radiotimes.com and yourhomestyle.uk. She enjoys designing her own unique lino prints and dreams of opening her own online shop. She shares her work @sarahormeprints