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  • Writer's pictureKonstantin

Can You Draw With A Mechanical Pencil? - What To Pay Attention To

Updated: May 27, 2020

Have you used mechanical pencils for drawing yet? I work with them every day at my office job and I've never really thought about drawing with them, to be honest. A little while ago I found out why every pencil artist needs to have a mechanical pencil to draw.

Can you draw with a mechanical pencil?

It is possible to draw with a mechanical pencil. This drawing tool even comes with a lot of advantages. For example, you don't have to sharpen it, it barely wears off at all so you can draw with it almost eternally and with its thin leads you are always able to draw very precise lines.

Of course, there are caveats to everything in life and so does also a mechanical pencil have its own issues. Let's get detailed in this article.

I. Advantages Compared To Wooden Pencils And Pens

Since I'm using the mechanical pencil now to draw sometimes I always say that it is some kind of mixture. If a technical pen and a wooden graphite pencil had a child, it would—without a doubt—be the mechanical pencil.

What are the advantages of pens and wooden pencils that the mechanical pencil combines?

1. Durability Of Pens

A pen obviously doesn't need to be sharpened, it merely needs to be refilled with its ink or you buy a new one. Buying a new pen is a regular thing to do but it is different when it comes to mechanical pencils.

Usually, you buy a lot of extra separated leads to refill your mechanical pencil. This is extremely easy, but how you exactly refill a mechanical pencil will be mentioned at the end of today's article.

Mechanical pencils don't wear off as fast as wooden pencils, you don't just throw them away like regular pens and they really almost don't wear off at all. A mechanical pencil is extremely durable because it is refillable like a pen (although you don't do it that often with pens).

2. Erasability Of Pencils

One clear advantage of a regular graphite pencil in comparison to a technical pen is, for example, the erasability. If you scribble something at work with a common ballpoint pen this doesn't matter but if you seriously want to draw with a pen and you make a mistake you certainly have a problem.

If you make your marks with a graphite or charcoal pen you can always easily undo mistakes by just using an eraser. The lead for mechanical pencils always consists of regular graphite which makes it able to be erased.

Additionally to that, the lead for mechanical pencils contain a lot of binders, so they are good to create light values and bright lines on your paper. These are always easier to erase than 8B pencils for example that create very dark marks on a surface.

3. Rotation Technology

Besides these great advantages so far, that the mechanical pencil combines from the ones of pens and regular wooden pencils, some of the mechanical drawing tools also have their own advantages, which I'm going to tell you more about right now.

The uni-ball Kuru Toga mechanical pencil, for example, provides drawing artists using a mechanical tool with a fascinating technology. I am not a partner of that company or get paid for saying that.

If you've already been using a mechanical pencil for some time you probably know the issue of the tip getting worn off on one side but remains sharp and precise everywhere else. I always have that problem in the office. Always.

For drawing this is definitely a huge disadvantage we'll talk about in the next section of this article today. The Kuru Toga pencil, however, has a technology integrated inside the pencil, that turns the lead a little bit every time you lift the pencil.

This way you are able to wear off the sides of the lead evenly. By that, you also sharpen the tip consistently while drawing because you are always rubbing off a little bit of the tip in the perfect angle to draw.

I don't understand Japanese and I can barely read a few things but the pictures are really saying everything about this technology on the Amazon site.

This is definitely one of the best inventions that have been made for drawing artists until now. As soon as I found this pencil I immediately had to order one for myself including a few extra refill lead packages.

Is a mechanical pencil good for drawing? In general, yes but it depends on what you really want to achieve with your drawing. There are types of drawings where you could consider rather using a normal wooden pencil.

Generally, you can really draw anything only using a mechanical pencil.

Also, besides all the advantages there are some disadvantages as well. Let's talk about them in the second section.

II. Disadvantages Of Mechanical Pencils

We've already quickly mentioned one disadvantage in the previous section which has been bothering me a lot since I started to use mechanical pencils at work in 2016. The uneven abrasion of the lead is the first disadvantage.

1. Wear And Tear

A few weeks ago, I started to experiment with mechanical pencils in my drawings and this is still one of the most annoying disadvantages these tools have. Especially in drawing, this is a crucial point.

If you create a precise architectural drawing on a large piece of paper you don't want your pencil to be worn off all the time. You don't want your pencil to change the thickness of its lines all the time, do you?

This is a problem, the Kuru Toga pencil solves with its automated rotation technology inside the tool.

By now, you must have already noticed that this pencil is my absolute favorite mechanical pencil since I've started to use them regularly. If you're interested in buying it, you can go to their Amazon shop site here.

2. Fragility

You should never drop a regular wooden graphite pencil on the floor. That's something we've normally already been told in kindergarten more than enough times. It could break the tip of the pencil and also the entire graphite core inside.

Mechanical pencils are even more sensitive to external impact. Only letting the pencil touch the paper slightly too hard by loosely playing around with it can cause damage to the lead inside.

The tip of the lead that sticks out at the front, that you're drawing is extremely easy to break off. You must only use a little bit too much pressure while making marks on your paper and this part of the lead can break off.

Even if you find that tiny piece of graphite again you can't use it again because it will fall out immediately after you've put it back inside...

The conclusion of this is, that you have to be extremely careful with your mechanical pencil and treat it like a baby. Only exert a small amount of pressure on the pencil to draw smoothly without problems.

III. What Lead Size Is Best?

There are multiple different thickness gradations in terms of leads for mechanical pencils. From 0.3 mm to 0.9 mm you can really get anything and the belonging pencil along with the leads. But what is the best lead thickness for drawing?

Once again, the answer is that "it depends". Do you aim for precise construction or architectural drawings or do you want to create beautiful portraits or figure drawings?

Thinner lead sizes are usually suited for almost every kind of drawing you can do. If you want to create these precise architectural drawings that I love so much, thinner leads like 0.3 mm to 0.5 mm are perfect.

For realistic portrait or figure drawings, you can also use slimmer leads to roughly sketch the outlines of your subject. If you want to get darker and create depth by inserting more darker values, you will want to use either thicker lead or switch completely over to using a regular 6B wooden pencil.

IV. Related Questions

1. Which Pencil Is Good For Shading?

For shading, you can use every pencil you want to. Best are blacker or softer pencils on the B scale. From 4B to 8B every graphite and charcoal pencil is perfectly suited to shade and add dark values.

3. How Do You Refill A Mechanical Pencil?

You take out your refill lead from the package. You now have to press the button on the end of the mechanical pencil and put the tip of your lead inside of the pencil at the front. Push the lead gently completely inside.

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