Best metal mechanical pencil: 10 Best Mechanical Pencils For Writing

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10 Best Mechanical Pencils For Writing

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We know that a classic pencil is a great experience but a mechanical pencil is something else entirely, especially when it comes to writing; whether is caligraphy or rapid writing during a client meeting or university course, the best mechanical pencils for writing are here!

We understand it can be tiring to work with wooden pencils and their need for constant sharpening whenever they snap or simply become dull. This problem gets even worse when you don’t have a sharpener nearby or when you’re rushing to get that recently-developed idea noted down before it slips from your mind.

For this and many other reasons, mechanical pencils are here to save the day. In our list today, you’ll find 10 of the best picks. From best grips to finest shades, our guide includes some of the best premium-grade mechanical pencils in the market today. 

Best Mechanical Pencils For Writing

Whether it’s for work, school or hobbies, these pencils will not fail you. So with that in mind, let’s take a look!

1. Pilot Dr.Grip Limited Mechanical Pencil

This mechanical pencil accounts for the smoothest experience one can have, whether it is for writing, sketching or drawing.

If you are confused about the type of pencil you should purchase, go for one which is long lasting and can provide you with a hassle-free experience like the Pilot Dr.Grip Mechanical Pencil.

Experience

In our experience from using the Pilot Dr. Grip Limited Mechanical Pencil, it is a trusted fact that this retractable pen gives you the smoothest experience you will ever have. 

It is a single pencil which comes with a platinum metallic barrel which gives that extra added support to all your writings.

It comes with an extraordinary ergonomic grip which provides a good amount of support without any risk of breakage. This ergonomic support also implies that your experience will be prolonged and you will not be tired because of putting an extra effort into writing.

Pros

  • Has a luxurious finish to it, the metallic barrel tip is painted and refined to give it a polished look
  • It has a good support system which means that you will not get tired and can have a prolonged experience

Cons

  • An extra pair of sharpener and eraser is required because it does not come with the pen

2. Zebra M-701 Mechanical Pencil

This range of metallic pens will give you a very good writing experience because of its sturdy nature. The sturdiness accounts for a better grip and a fantastic writing finish. The Zebra range is exactly what you need to ensure perfect writing or drawing experience. 

The Zebra M-701 Mechanical Pencil is also great for sketching and making rough drawings. 

Experience

The Zebra M-701 Mechanical Pencil with a metallic finish is voted better than the plastic pencils we use on a daily basis. The metallic barrel provides for a sturdy experience which is not prone to any sort of breakage unlike other plastic pencils. The durable nature of this pencil is one of the reasons why it has made it to this list.

It is composed of a stainless steel barrel which provides for greater stability while you are writing or doing any other activity with the pen. It’s durability and the entire look which it sports deems it  to be the best source of investment. 

The range that this model comes with has a touch of ruggedness to it, providing better grip as well as an antique finish, great for defining your aesthetics.

Pros

  • It has a stainless steel finish which provides for greater durability and counts as a better option than investing in plastic pencils
  • The metallic finish that this pencil sports, provides for endurance and stability while you are using it

Cons

  • It requires an extra set of erasers and sharpeners

3.

Pentel GraphGear 500 Mechanical Pencil

This mechanical pencil provides you with an amazing experience because of its wide grip. The wider the grip, better is the endurance and stability while using it. Classiness meets durability with the Pentel GraphGear 500 Mechanical Pencil because of its mesh-like finished tip. The mesh fibers provide for better grip and a better experience while you write, draw or sketch.

Experience

The Pentel GraphGear 500 Mechanical Pencil comes with a 4mm fixed sleeve which is a wider stance than other plastic pencils. The wider tip allows you to undertake a variety of activities which wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

This model comes with a top click and an eraser so you don’t have to spend much time in hunting for your eraser when you can just use it from the pen itself.

The best part about this metallic pencil is that it can be refilled using the Pentel Super Hi-Polymer Lead and Z21 refill. This ensures that you have made a sound investment on this durable product.

Pros

  • This pencil is refillable with  Pentel Super Hi-Polymer Lead and Z21 refill
  • 4mm wide tip to give you a better experience with drawing or sketching
  • Comes with an eraser as well as sports a top click look

Cons

  • It is slightly on the expensive side, but is a sound investment given the number of essential features it sports

4. Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Pencil

This mechanical pencil is a delight for writers and artists who are looking to satisfy artistic vision for their clients or businesses.This artistic pencil comes with a 4mm wide tip for rulers and templates which creates an aesthetic look to the entire painting. Loaded with extra protection to breakage, this pencil is a durable product and definitely does justice to the money you invest in it.

Experience

The 4mm wide tip that this pencil sports is easily usable on rulers and templates for technical and mathematical measurements. The high quality lead with which this pencil is loaded, is extra protection by a dual action retractor. 

This retractor supports the lead inside the pencil which is the Pentel Super Hi-Polymer HB Lead, a leading industry producing lead. In addition to this, it has latex-free pads to provide a cushion to your fingers while you are using the pencil and a metallic grip for sturdiness.

The Pentel GraphGear is also weighted at your fingertips to provide you with the proper support and angle you need while completing your tasks.

All in all, this pencil is a great investment because of its innumerable properties and durable nature.

Pros

  • Comes with extra latex padding on the sides, and a retractable tip which protects the lead from any kind of breakage
  • Loaded with the industry-leading lead, which is the Super Hi-Polymer HB Lead
  • Weighted at the tip to provide optimal support while you are writing or sketching 

Cons

  • Does not come with and eraser or sharpener, so you have to invest in that separately

5. LAMY 7mm 2000 Mechanical Pencil

This stunning mechanical pencil exactly what you need in your stationary box. This pencil is extremely economical and easy to use because of the extra protection it provides to the lead inside. 

This lead is protected by a conical tip and is easily retractable which prevents the lead from breaking when not in use.

Experience

This LAMY 7mm 2000 Mechanical Pencil comes in a wide 7mm wide lead, which can be used for any type of sketches or drawings. The conical tip to this pencil provides an extra layer of protection in addition to the metallic barrel, for a better grip while working on projects or artwork.

It has an inbuilt eraser which is also replaceable. So once, you use up the entire eraser which comes with the mechanical pencil, you can change it with a Z10 eraser. 

It is important to note the perfect replacement for the worn out eraser because if you end up purchasing another model, it will not fit the pencil.

This pencil comes with a guaranteed durability because of its brushed stainless steel trims and clip which provides for optimal grip while in use.All in all the LAMY 7mm 2000 Mechanical Pencil is a great source of investment, because of its several features and durability.

Pros

  • Comes with a conical tip which is retractable, saving the lead from any sort of damage when not in use
  • Inbuilt eraser which is replaceable once it wears off
  • Made of brushed stainless steel trims and clip, providing optimal support and sturdiness

Cons

  • Slightly on the expensive side, given its features and durable properties 

6.  rOtring Rapid PRO Mechanical Pencil

This absolutely rapid PRO mechanical pencil has all the properties to make you want to purchase it. It is long lasting and has a retractable tip, which means that it is not prone to any kind of breakage or damage when it is not in use. 

Surely, other pencils break all the time when they are lying around, but with a retractable tip, that problem will be put far behind you.

Experience

In addition to it being a retractable pen, it has been designed with a cushion lead. This cushion-like presence gives a subtle look to the pencil and provides for a much smoother writing or sketching experience. 

This cushioned layer protects the lead from any kind of unwanted breakage and is also a great feature for durability.

It also has a sliding sleeve which makes the retractable action smooth. It comes with a special push mechanism which is something you use when you want to make use of the pen. You need to basically push on the end of the pen and the top of the lead will pop out. 

In addition to the lead protection, it comes with a cushioned lead and a sliding sleeve to make your experience smoother.

Pros

  • Comes with a built-in sharpener which is something which you don’t get in any other mechanical pencil
  • Retractable and is very durable because of its lead-protecting properties 

Cons

  • Spite of it having an in-built sharpener, it does not have an eraser

7.

Pentel Kerry Mechanical Pencil

This exotic mechanical pencil resembles an ornament from the classic era. This is because it is carefully and precisely handcrafted with the tools used in making watches. This implies that watchmakers are behind this extraordinary design and classiness which this pencil poses. 

The Pentel Kerry Mechanical Pencil has met the demands of utility as well as style and definitely a great source of investment.

Experience

It is extremely economical and space-friendly because it can be easily fit into pockets and purses so you can carry it around everywhere you go. It becomes extremely handy in case of meetings and client business get together for a certain project or product launch. You can easily take down notes and correct them later with the in-built eraser that it comes in.

It comes with a removable cap, almost like your regular pens. This feature makes it easy to protect the lead of the pencil when not in use. 

This Pentel Kerry Mechanical Pencil also comes with a refillable lead as well as an inbuilt easer. The model you should be searching for to refill the lead is Hi-Polymer Lead and for the eraser, Z2-IN does the job.

This multi-tasker is very useful for aspiring artists and designers because it has helped them reach out to their creativity and embrace change and progress. 

Pros

  • Pencil gives out a very classy vibe because of it being handcrafted with watchmaker’s tools
  • Comes with a removable cap, which provides good lead protection
  • The lead, as well as the in-built eraser is refillable
  • Pocket-friendly and transferrable

Cons

  • The dangers of the removable cap being misplaced is inevitable

8. Uni Mechanical Pencil

This extraordinary mechanical pencil comes in a 0.5mm lead range which is very easy to locate because of its abundance. The best part about this pencil is its unique design and classiness because of which you can carry it around on business meetings, client meetings, educational institutions, etc.

Experience

With the innovative technology, the Uni Mechanical Pencil sports a twist and turn opening system which cannot be found in any other mechanical pencil. It is due to this unique feature that the Uni Mechanical Pencil has made it to this list.

The twist and turn technology effectively allows the pencil to not be prone to any sort of breakage. The main motive of a mechanical pencil is to protect its lead from breaking, and this range takes care of this purpose. 

Another striking feature which is pencil sports is maintaining a continuous sharp age throughout its usage in order to avoid continuous sharpening. 

Pros

  • The twist and turn technology that it comes with prevents any sort of lead breakage while in use
  • Maintains a continuous sharp point with the lead and avoids any extra work during its usage 

Cons

  • Does not sport an in-built eraser

9. Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil

This piece of artwork is admired for its beauty and classiness. It is handcrafted with the watchmaker’s tools which can light up the entire pencil by adding in details on its sleeves which cannot be located in any other mechanical pencil.

Experience

The pleasant experience with the Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil can be justified due to it being made with watchmaker’s tools which adds to its beauty and appearance.

It has been made extremely beneficial for people on the go because of its removable cap which should be put on when not in use. This prevents the lead from breaking and the mechanical pencil can be of use for a longer period of time.

It is extremely travel-friendly because of its size and the fact that it can be fit in anywhere. This feature makes it a very good purchase.

Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil has been loaded with Z23-1 eraser, so you do not have to keep purchasing them everytime the initial one wears off.

Pros

  • A removable cap prevents the lead from breaking when not in use
  • Travel-friendly because of its size and can be fit anywhere while you are on-the-go
  • Classy look to it due to it being handcrafted with the watchmaker’s tools 

Cons

  • Slightly on the expensive side

10.

Jimmida Mechanical Pencil

This new model sports a metal threaded head, a design so unique that it cannot be located in any other mechanical pencils. The design itself makes it a very good investment because of the classy and sultry vibe it exposes. 

Experience

The most striking feature about the Jimmida Mechanical Pencil is its adornment with metal thread like a spiral binding all along the top portion of the pen.

It has been crafted with an anti-skid design which prevents the pencil from slipping from your fingers and creating a mess on what you are working. It has been inbuilt with grips to give you a smoother and a more professional experience.

It is made with extensive care to provide you with the best of experience which you can expect from a mechanical pencil. 

It is available in sizes 0.5mm and 0.7mm, both very easy to locate.

Pros

  • Crafted with a metal thread, giving out a classy vibe
  • Travel-friendly and can be fit in anywhere
  • Pencil is made with a special anti-skid design which prevents the pencil from slipping from your fingers while you are working with it

Cons

  • It does not come with an inbuilt eraser or sharpener so you need to keep purchasing them

Conclusion

Finding the right pencil for specific requirements does not need to be hard and that is why we present you with this list of the 10 best mechanical pencils based on our experience and careful research. So, be sure to take your pick and let the pencil handle your next projects smoothly. 

With that, we’ll wrap up today’s guide and hope to see you next time!

Happy writing!

 

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The best mechanical pencils for artists and designers

In this article, we’re going to walk through the best mechanical pencils available right now. Whether you’re a traditional artist looking for a different type of pencil for your toolkit, a web designer looking for a precise pencil for sketching wireframes, or any kind of creative seeking a neat way to take notes, a mechanical pencil could be the answer. They’ve been around for years, and you never need to sharpen them: That’s because the graphite, or lead, is not bonded to the outer casing, as in a traditional wooden pencil. Instead, you pop your lead into a well built into the pencil, and click to extend it as you wear it down. Simples!

In this guide you’ll find our picks for the best mechanical pencils. You can also find an explainer on the benefits of mechanical pencils, which you can skip to here, and what to look for when choosing one; find that guide here.

Not sure if you’re after a mechanical pencil or not? Take a look at our more general list of the best pencils around right now. And if you’d rather get your hands inky, see our essential pens for artists roundup.

Mechanical pencils for drawing

Whether you use them for quick sketches, technical draftsmanship or completed artworks, mechanical pencils have a lot to offer. Here we present our pick of the best mechanical pencils for drawing purposes. While you’re here, you might also want to check out our top pencil drawing techniques, to help you make the most of your purchase.

(Image credit: Amazon)

01. Uni Kurutoga Pipe Slide 0.5mm

The best mechanical pencil for drawing overall

Weight: 18.1g | Dimensions: 19.2 x 10 x 1.6cm | Lead diameter: 0.5mm | Mechanism: Pipe slide

Self-sharpening

Special versions for Ghibli fans

0.7mm pencil rare outside Japan

Protective cap can come loose

Our pick for the best mechanical pencil for drawing overall is the Uni Kurutoga Pipe Slide. There’s one big difference that sets this pencil apart from its rivals: when you use a regular mechanical pencil, the lead wears down on one side, forming a slanted, wedge-shaped tip. This can potentially cause variations in line thickness as you draw. The Kurutoga avoids this through a clever mechanism that continually rotates the pencil lead as you write. 

A spring-loaded clutch twists the lead a tiny degree every time you lift the pencil from the paper, and this allows for a uniform wearing of the lead, and cleaner and more consistent lines as a result.

(Image credit: Pentel)

02. Pentel 200

The best cheap mechanical pencil

Weight: 10g | Dimensions: 0.89 x 14 x 0.89cm | Lead diameter: 0.5mm | Mechanism: Push-top button

Cheap

Good all-rounder

Nothing exciting about it

Included eraser doesn’t last long

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good mechanical pencil. There are some excellent models out there that are surprisingly cheap, and our favourite budget-friendly model has to be the Pentel 200. It’s cheap enough that you don’t have to worry if you lose it (or someone walks off with it), and a great option as a backup mechanical pencil, but good enough to be your main option if you want.

(Image credit: Amazon)

03. Rotring 800

The best luxury mechanical pencil

Weight: 90.7g | Dimensions: 5.1 x 15.2 x 0.5cm | Lead diameter: 0.5mm | Mechanism: Twist and click

High-end engineering

Luxury feel

Expensive

May be overkill for most purposes

We’ve established that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a decent mechanical pen for drawing. But if you do want to splash out, and buy something really special, we’d highly recommend the Rotring 800. This top-of-the-range model is infused with high-quality engineering and aimed at serious artists or draughtsmen. 

With a good weight (almost 91g), the metal body feels solid in the hand. And the non-slip metal grip ‘twist and click’ retractable mechanism means it’s very easy and comfortable to use, even over lengthy sessions. Its hexagonal shape also makes it less likely to slide off your desk, or even a slanted surface. In short, if you’re working on something special, working for long periods, looking for a gift, or just want a pencil that’s super-nice to use, the Rotring 800 is a good bet.

04. Pentel Graphgear 500 Automatic Drafting Pencil

The best mechanical pencil for technical drawing

Weight: 22.7g | Dimensions: 0.9 x 14.7 x 0.9cm | Lead diameter: 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 or 0.9mm | Mechanism: Button

Lightweight but functional

Wide range of lead diameters

0.3mm lead can be tricky to source

Included eraser not the best

Featuring a 4mm fixed sleeve for template work and technical drawings, the Pentel Graphgear 500  is the perfect pencil for technical drawing. With its metallic-mesh grip and a barrel weighted at your fingertips, it’s designed to help you draw precisely and stay in full control of the line.

It works with a variety of lead thicknesses, and there’s also a built-in lead hardness indicator to help you identify your lead type quickly and easily. The weight feels good in the hand, and it’s light enough to make it comfortable to use over long sessions. In short, this is the best mechanical pencil for drafting and precision work, and it comes at a very affordable price.

Mechanical pencils for writing

The best mechanical pencils for writing

If you primarily want to use your mechanical pencil for writing, then among your main considerations will be comfort; no one wants an aching hand after a long stretch of writing. But as with drawing, you’ll also want your writing to look nice, and that demands a pencil that can produce clean, consistent lines. Here are the four best mechanical pencils for writing.

(Image credit: Amazon)

05. LAMY 2000

The best mechanical pencil for writing overall

Weight: 18.1g | Dimensions: 1. 2 x 1.2 x 13.7cm | Lead diameter: 0.5 or 0.7mm | Mechanism: Button

Produces smooth, beautiful lines

Highly durable

Expensive

May be overkill for some purposes

If you want a mechanical pencil for writing, then we recommend the LAMY 2000. Based on the well-known fountain pen of the same name, designed by Gerd A. Müller in 1996, this is nothing less than a modern classic. It’s light enough to be flexible, but solid enough to feel dependable. It’s comfortable to hold and use, and produces smooth, consistent handwriting. And its build quality is also impressive; this is a pen that you can expect to last for years. 

Its makers focused on doing one thing, and doing it well. The LAMY 2000 is, in short, a delightful pen to use for writing, as well as being supremely reliable and durable. And while it might cost a bit more than rivals, it’s certainly a case of you get what you pay for. 

06. Uni Kurutoga Roulette

The best value mechanical pencil for writing

Weight: 13.6g | Dimensions: 0.99 x 14.62 x 1.29cm | Lead diameter: 0.7mm | Mechanism: Button

Self-sharpening

Low price

Included eraser is not great

Lighter weight than the LAMY 2000

The Uni Kurutoga Roulette comes in at a surprisingly low price given its high quality, making it the best value mechanical pencil we’ve found for writing. This pencil is comfortable to hold, with a nicely balanced weight and a knurled metal fingerplate for better grip. Its clever design, matching that of the Uni Kurutoga Pipe Slide (our number one mechanical pencil for drawing, above), means that it sharpens the lead as you write. As with its sibling, that means you get a super-even stroke width that helps make your handwriting neat, polished and attractive. 

07. American Classic Mechanical Pencil 0.9mm

The most durable mechanical pencil for writing

Weight: 7. 8g | Dimensions: 15.24 x 5.84 x 1.78cm | Lead diameter: 0.9mm | Mechanism: Button

Trusted brand

Super-tough lead

Expensive

Included eraser not great

This model from American Classic is a little pricey. But if you want a mechanical pencil for writing you can truly rely on, this has a lot to recommend it. Popular for decades amongst the armed forces and public institutions of the US, the American has a strong reputation for its reliability, durability and clean lines. The thick 0.9mm lead is also super-tough and rarely breaks. So long as you take proper care of it, this should last a lifetime, which puts the slightly higher cost into perspective.

(Image credit: Amazon)

08. Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm

The best mechanical pencil for professional writing

Weight: 9.07g | Dimensions: 1.9 x 3.2 x 15.2cm | Lead diameter: 0.5mm | Mechanism: Button

Precision engineering

Lead rarely breaks

Pricey

Pencil cap doesn’t fit perfectly

Handcrafted using watchmakers’ tools for precision, beauty and accuracy, the Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm is another quite pricey, but very high-end mechanical pencil. The tip of the pencil is solid and well-made, which means that breakage of the lead is a rare occurrence. The removable cap makes it super-portable. This mechanical pencil has been in production for many years now, for one good reason: its impressive consistency and quality. That makes it an excellent choice for anyone wishing to produce professional looking writing.

Benefits of mechanical pencils

When the lead runs out on a mechanical pencil, you just insert a new one. This not only saves you a lot of hassle and mess, it also means mechanical pencils can provide more consistent lines, enabling you to create more precise drawings and neater handwritten notes. That makes them the obvious choice for technical draftsmanship, of course, but that’s not all they’re good for.

Many artists prefer using a mechanical pencil even for more expressive and imaginative work, because a mechanical pencil’s size and weight remains consistent, whereas a wood pencil gets finer the more you sharpen it. The finer lines produced are usually easier to erase. 

Finally, whether you’re using a pencil for writing or drawing (see our how to draw tutorials for some tips), mechanical pencils are typically more cost-effective in the long run, because you only need to replace the lead once it has run out, not the whole pencil. And it’s also convenient not to have to tout around a sharpener with you at all times.

How to choose the best mechanical pencil

There is a wide range of options on the market, and so there are certain things to consider when choosing the best mechanical pencil for you.

The first is the diameter of the lead you wish to use. If you wish to draw very fine lines, you’ll want to go for a 0.3mm lead. For writing and most drawing, you’ll probably prefer a 0.5mm lead. A thicker, 0.7mm lead, meanwhile, may be better for sketching and non-detailed drawing. Other sizes are also available for specialist uses.

Another consideration is the hardness of the lead. A soft lead will be darker and more prone to smudging, while a hard lead is better for leaving light, fine lines. Softness is represented by a number followed by ‘B’; the higher the number, the softer the lead. Hardness is represented by a number followed by ‘H’; the higher the number, the harder the lead. Finally, ‘F’ and ‘HB’ leads lie in the middle.

Also think about the mechanism used to extend the lead. The three most common mechanisms are a push-button, which may be on the side or the top of the pencil; a twist operation, which is more often seen in older models; and a ‘shake’ advance. 

Weight is also important, as is grip: some pencils have special features, such as a bumpy texture, to improve this and make your mechanical pencil more ergonomic.

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Top 22 Best Mechanical Pencils

Putting together a list of the essential albums to own on vinyl is not only impossible, it’s hugely stressful. I’ve done at least 30 variations; adding albums, taking off others, rearranging bits and pieces, or changing my mind altogether and taking it from the top.

There are sure to be some controversial takes, and there’s a swath of genres, records, and artists who didn’t make the cut, but I’ve only got one set of ears, a personalized palate, and a tight deadline.

Before you take a look at the list, here are some rules: these are in no particular order, there are no live performances or compilations, no more than one appearance by an artist, and the album has to physically sound good on vinyl. I’ve made it this far, but now I need a drink and a lie down. 

 

1. Paul Simon – Graceland (1986)

 

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This is my favorite album. I remember dancing around the lounge room with a literal boom box, and a massive set of headphones listening to The Boy in the Bubble, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, and You Can Call Me Al, picturing the film clip with Chevy Chase.

Out of all of my father’s albums, Graceland is my favorite, both for its scope and its sheer enjoyment. Whether it’s the Ladysmith Black Mambazo Orchestra singing together perfectly, or the amazing South African session musicians involved in its creation, Graceland is a fantastic album and a must-own for any music lover.

 

 

 

2. Led Zeppelin – IV (1972)

 

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Sprawling, decadent, and powerful, Led Zep’s untitled fourth studio album is their best. It features a short little ditty called Stairway to Heaven, the sexually charged Black Dog, Mordor LOTR–style The Battle of Never More, and epic Misty Mountain Hop.

Most superstar bands don’t have four songs as good as this in an entire career, let alone on one album. Now, please excuse me, I’ve got 7.5 minutes to kill listening to Stairway

 

 

 

3. Nas – Illmatic (1994)

 

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Nas was a 17 year old still in high school when his debut album Illmatic dropped. The record is widely considered one of the greatest rap albums of all time (it’s firmly in my top three) and was announced as one of the 2020 recordings selected for inclusion on the National Recording Registry.

It turned Nas into a star and brought attention back to the East Coast after the dominance of gangster rap in the West. 

 

 

 

4. Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)

 

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You can’t make a list of essential vinyl albums without Michael Jackson, and Thriller is all killer, no filler. It’s disappointing the way things ended for the King of Pop, but Thriller reminds us that we were lucky to hear the brilliance of Michael Jackson.

There’s a reason it’s the greatest selling album of all time.

 

 

 

6. Sade – Diamond Life (1984)

 

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Honestly, you could pick any of Sade’s six albums for this list, but for mine, it has to be their debut Diamond Life. Merging soul with R&B and jazz elements, it’s got a bit of everything that’s great about 80s music.

Smooth Operator and Hang On to Your Love are incredible compositions, with Sade Adu’s vocals completely mesmerizing.

 

 

 

7. Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

 

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These days, you could release this cerebral Beach Boys album by saying: “There are goats on the cover,” and make a badass meme campaign.

Pet Sounds revolutionized recording music, although nobody in 1966 seemed happy to spend their money on it, given that it was vastly different from the 10 Beach Boys albums that came before.

It wasn’t until the UK got a hold of it that the production and sound engineering side of the Pet Sounds record got its due respect, and everyone realized the music was awesome too.

 

 

 

8. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971)

 

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1971s What’s Going On is arguably the greatest album of all time from any genre. Rolling Stone has it at the top of their 500 Greatest Albums, and for good reason.

What’s Going On is a narrative concept album that tells the tale of a man’s return from Vietnam. If you’re unfamiliar with the brilliance, pain, and tragedy of Marvin Gaye, take 53 minutes out of your day to watch this documentary. It’s time well spent.

 

 

 

9. NWA – Straight Outta Compton (1988)

 

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I scored this on cassette from my big brother when I was going into high school (on the other side of the 90-minute marvel was 2 Live Crew). A decade older than me, he didn’t say anything much about it except for, “Listen to this and don’t tell mum. Ever!”

Straight Outta Compton ushered in the gangsta rap era. Without NWA, the rap landscape would be very different; less realistic and raw, less creative, edgy, and honest. It certainly wouldn’t have been better.

 

 

 

 

10. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

 

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Bowie ushered in a new era of rock and pop fusion by creating different characters in his music and an amazing level of theatricality to his work.

Ziggy Stardust helped bridge the gap between the declining hippy culture and stadium rock with a burgeoning live music scene where the show was just as important as the music.

 

 

 

11. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

 

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She might have gone off the rails, but Lauryn Hill is still one of the greatest female vocalists I’ve had the pleasure of hearing live. While that’s highly unlikely to happen anytime soon, I can always put this album on and remember how talented she is. 

A melting pot of hip-hop, soul, R&B, and pop, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a phenomenal record from a once-in-a-generation artist. 

 

 

 

12. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (1966)

 

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Not being able to incorporate a greatest hits compilation album is hardest here. Folk legend, visual artist, and bourbon bottler Bob Dylan is not only brilliant but also prolific.

Any of 10 studio, live, or compilation albums could take this space, but for pure end-to-end quality, his seventh studio album Blonde on Blonde may be the finest.

 

 

 

13. Outkast – Stankonia (2000)

 

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“They are threateningly talented individuals” – Cee Lo Green

Outkast’s Stankonia took rap music and threw out the rule book. They turned hip-hop into something interplanetary (and the South into a stronghold), where freedom of expression, musical innovation, and pure enjoyment melded with traditional rap bangers and everyday struggles.

 

 

 

14. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (2012)

 

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I’m not much of a dance music guy, but Daft Punk is cool, whether the helmets are on or not. If you throw this on the Technics (careful, it’s hard to get in non-collectible form), things are going pretty well.

Twan’s cool vlog about the making of Random Access Memories – Daft Punk’s most critically acclaimed album recorded over the course of four years – is well worth a watch for anyone who wants to know more about this chart-topping album that gave us the massive hit Get Lucky.

 

 

 

16. Radiohead – Kid A (2000)

 

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I’m going to come clean: I AM NOT a Radiohead guy. I can appreciate their music, its complexity, skill, and vision. But it’s just not my thing. I’m sorry. 

This clip explains brilliantly why Kid A is so vital and so vivid for many music fans, something I could not articulate.

 

 

 

17. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

 

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This one might be a little controversial, but this is Kanye at his artistic peak. Coming off the poor reception of 808s & Heartbreak (an underrated album and my second favorite Kanye record) and dealing with problems in his personal life, Kanye hit studios across the world and created a masterpiece. 

All of the Lights. POWER. Runaway. Blame Game. Monster. This album is not only chock full of hits but features some of the best rap verses Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross have ever spit.

This is a reminder of a time when Kanye was the center of the world for his musical abilities and not his private life. 

 

 

 

18. Bjork – Post (1995)

 

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Another choice some might not agree with, but Post is an exceptional album from Icelandic goddess Bjork. 

It’s hard to describe what this album sounds like, but if you imagine every genre of music baked in a cake and topped with Bjork’s fascinating soprano as the icing, then you have Post

While known for spawning the hit single It’s Oh So Quiet, there is much more to this album.

 

 

 

19. Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers (1993)

 

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The debut studio album from the New York Collective is a stone-cold classic. Wu-Tang Clan announced themselves with gangsta rap’s signature braggadocio, plus a fusion of spare beats from the RZA threaded with Kung Fu samples.

Nine distinctly different voices and perspectives from inner-city New York can be heard, all with amazing lyrical flow and a willingness to experiment with beats, tempo, and personality.

The album gave birth to the highest-grossing hip-hop group of all time and ushered in an era of merchandise, film, and music production that still sees the group active and innovating today.

 

 

 

20. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)

 

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The Rumours album from Fleetwood Mac showed that copious amounts of drugs, sex, and alcohol, and relationship breakdowns (there were two couples in the group who both split before recording), could be great for creativity. 

Rumours sold more than 10 million copies in the first month alone, while singles Go Your Own Way, Dreams, You Make Loving Fun, and Don’t Stop all made the US top 10 charts.

Disfunction has never sounded so good. 

 

 

 

21. Prince and the Revolution – Purple Rain (1984)

 

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While the film doesn’t quite hold up, the album remains an absolute banger that mixes power-pop, shredding guitars, funk, and psychedelic influences into an almost perfect tracklist. This is Prince at the peak of his powers.

Game, blouses. 

 

 

 

22. The Clash – London Calling (1979)

 

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London Calling is what happens when a punk band develops their music into a force that reflects the uncertainty, angst, and disaffection of an entire generation. London was a mess in 1979, with heroin, unemployment, political, social, and racial tension ripping through the city (and all of Great Britain).

While their classic punk sound was still readily apparent, The Clash’s third album harnessed reggae, roots, rock, ska, and heavy metal elements into a soup of powerful, politically, and socially aware set of tunes.

 

 

 

23. The Roots – Things Fall Apart (1999)

 

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The Roots (yeah, Jimmy Fallon’s Band) proved you could make a killer hip-hop album with a live band. Things Fall Apart is a socially conscious album that still found resonance with the gangsta rap set and old school b-boys, which at that time was difficult to accomplish.

It features Black Thought’s lyrical dexterity and boxer’s delivery, mixed with great production and special guests like Mos Def, Erika Badu, Jill Scott, Eve, and Dice Raw.

 

 

 

24. Pearl Jam – Vs. (1993)

 

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Pearl Jam, along with Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and lesser-known bands such as Mudhoney and Temple of the Dog, brought Seattle’s grunge sound to the rest of the world. After the commercial success of their debut Ten, Pearl Jam opted to mix harder and more aggressive rock with Eddie Vedder’s iconic vocal range on their sophomore album.

They eschewed releasing any singles despite having a handful that would’ve certainly made it into the top 10. It remains their most influential album and one that moved beyond grunge into another realm.

Fun fact: They wrote Daughter on the tour bus!

 

 

 

25. The Beatles – White Album (1968)

 

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Another band where their entire back catalog could have appeared on this list, The Beatles White Album gets the nod. 30 tracks including classics Back In The U.S.S.R., Helter Skelter, Blackbird, and George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps make up this influential double album. 

 

 

 

26. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

 

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If I didn’t put this album on here, my sister would kill me. While many contemporaries looked outside, Pink Floyd focused on inside the mind with intense and dystopian fervor.

Dark Side of the Moon, much like Pet Sounds, transformed record arrangement, production, and recording, while the music itself was damn good to listen to as well.

Dark Side took out a lot of the long instrumentals and solos Floyd was known for while still maintaining a cinematic quality. Their audio innovation added the sonic effects that bands ever since have been copying.

 

 

 

27.

Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012)

 

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“It ain’t nothing but a Compton thang.”

I don’t have too many contemporary musicians on this list (let’s face it, music now is made for a digital age, and I’m considered OLLLLLLD), yet Kendrick Lamar is an exception.

Lamar mixes old school gangsta sensibilities with furiously developed production on this coming-of-age concept album. To Pimp A Butterfly may be a stronger album, but I’ll argue forever that Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City is more influential and essential.

 

 

 

28. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

 

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I can still remember, nearly 30 years later, exactly where I was when I heard that Kurt Cobain had died.

If I hadn’t heard Nevermind, and especially Smells Like Teen Spirit, I wouldn’t have paid attention to the hype this band created. It’s hard to put into words just how much Nevermind impacted not only music but youth culture. 

 

 

 

29. Eric B and Rakim – Paid in Full (1987)

 

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The rap game changed once Rakim took the Mike and Eric B got on the turntables. Other rappers focused on changing things (KRS One), talking tough (Big Daddy Kane), and the drug epidemic in New York (Slick Rick) – Rakim focused on being better than everybody else

They took the socially conscious early hip-hop and added elements of cool that to this day remain unchanged, and gave us Paid in Full, which is still firmly inside the top 10 rap albums of all time.

 

 

 

30. (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

 

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Seriously, if this album came out now – with all that media stoushing with fellow Brit Pop legends Blur – the internet would have broken. While Liam has turned into an epic storyteller and entertaining parent, for most of their career the Gallagher brothers have been considered complete and utter knobs (Noel still is).

The fact remains, though, that with the possible exception of dance music stars such as Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, and the Chemical Brothers, no one had a bigger impact on British music than Oasis did throughout the 1990s, which has carried over into pop-rock music today.

 

 

 

31. Metallica – Metallica (The Black Album, 1991)

 

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While old-school metalheads point to this as the moment Metallica sold out, in reality, it’s the band taking the next step in their evolution and proving heavier music has its place in pop culture. 

The album is full of classic tracks. Enter Sandman is a grinding stadium rock offering. The Unforgiven a heartfelt ditty. Through The Never a reminder of Metallica’s thrash past. Then there’s Nothing Else Matters, an emotional power ballad about expressing and opening yourself up to others.

It might have pissed off their core fans, but Metallica topped the charts and has gone on to sell over 25. 2 million copies worldwide, turning the band into the face of modern metal and gaining them more fans than they lost.

 

 

 

32. The Highwaymen – Highwayman

 

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Waylon Jennings. Willie Nelson. Johnny Cash. Kris Kristofferson. Four of country music’s greatest stars joined forces as The Highwaymen, a country supergroup.

The result is a fantastic outlaw country album showcasing the distinct qualities of each man’s voice. Opener Highwayman sets the scene for a collection of country covers (including two Cash originals) perfect for a road trip through the great US of A. 

 

 

 

33. Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine

 

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Few political bands have managed to sell millions of albums and sell out stadiums without deviating from their beliefs like Rage Against The Machine. 

Despite their success, or possibly because of it, the LA foursome has been a driving force in alternate rock for almost three decades. Merging rock with rap before nu-metal was a thing, Rage has a distinct sound thanks to vocalist Zac de la Rocha’s biting lyrics and Tom Morello’s unconventional guitar playing.

Rage Against The Machine is a Molotov cocktail of hard-hitting raps, brain-damaging guitar licks, slick bass lines, and thumping percussion. I can still remember headbanging in my room to Killing in the Name. Good memories. 

 

 

 

34. The Prodigy – Music for the Jilted Generation

 

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Before becoming household names with the release of Fat of the Land, The Prodigy lit up clubs and raves with tracks from their sophomore release Music for the Jilted Generation. The record is a big “fuck you” to new laws introduced against rave culture that fuses elements of trance, techno, and jungle. 

The album contains a raft of eclectic samples, from films such as Star Wars: A New Hope, Poltergeist III, and Smokey and the Bandit, across 13 tracks fueled by Liam Howlett’s production. Their Law, Poison, and Voodoo People are all huge tunes, but for me, it’s No Good (Start the Dance) that showcases the brilliance of The Prodigy. 

 

 

 

35. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

 

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Both Joy Division albums should be part of any vinyl record collection, but if you had to choose one, I lean towards the Manchester group’s seminal debut Unknown Pleasures

Four decades on and this album remains one of the greatest releases of all time. It’s responsible for creating the post-punk genre and has influenced almost every modern rock band ever formed.

Every song is a hit, from the droning bass of Peter Hook on opener Disorder to vocalist Ian Cutis’ fractured vocals on She’s Lost Control. This is an album addressing themes of angst, industrialism, epilepsy, and heartbreak brought together by Curtis’ pained baritone. 

 

 

 

36. The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St.

 

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Recorded mainly in a villa in France, the making of Exile on Main St. is the stuff of legend. Keith Richards was in the depths of heroin addiction and Mick Jagger often missed sessions, but somehow when the band did manage to get together they created magic. 

The Stones’ 10th album is chock full of incredible songs that merge rock and blues with soul and country, resulting in arguably the Stones greatest ever record.

 

 

 

37. Dr. Dre – The Chronic

 

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After finding success with gangster rap group NWA, Dr. Dre proved he was a master of the art form with the release of The Chronic

Creating the blueprint for g-funk, Dre blessed hip-hop fans with a classic album all about blunts, 40s, and attractive ladies. He also introduced the world to a then 18-year-old Snoop Dogg on hit Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang.

While the lyrics pose a problem in the current world, the beats still hold up, with Dre cementing his status as a hip-hop legend. 

 

 

 

38.

Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

 

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Besides Adele, Amy Winehouse is the greatest female vocalist to come out of the past two decades. Possessed with a deep, soulful croon, you can feel Winehouse’s pain and sorrow on tracks such as Rehab, Addicted, and the glorious title track Back To Black.  

A troubled figure who couldn’t beat her demons, Back To Black stands as Winehouse’s legacy – an emotional collection of soul, jazz, and pop songs that’s the biggest insight into her life we will ever get. RIP. 

 

 

 

39. Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town

 

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You could put any number of Springsteen albums on this list, but for mine, it has to be Darkness on the Edge of Town. This is an exploration of the working class in America, with Springsteen fully embracing his love of rock and roll. 

From the driving opener Badlands to the sax-heavy The Promised Land and the tale of a down on his luck loser on album closer Darkness on the Edge of Town, this 10 track record is a compelling masterpiece. 

Springsteen would go on to release records that charted better and produced bigger hits, but this remains a touchstone in his career. 

 

 

 

40. Black Sabbath – Paranoid

 

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The godfathers of metal, Black Sabbath have released 19 albums over a 50-year career. Picking their best isn’t easy, but Paranoid stands the test of time. There’s not a bad song on it, from the demonic War Pigs to lo-fi Planet Caravan, this album highlights everything incredible about this band. 

If you only own one metal album, make sure it’s Paranoid

 

 

 

The Best Mechanical Pencils | Reviews by Wirecutter

Although the novel lead handling is genuinely useful, we’ve found some notable flaws in the Uni Kuru Toga Pipe Slide—and in the rest of the Kuru Toga line. For one, the erasers are small and not well-liked. The Pipe Slide, like most Kuru Toga pencils, has a plastic cap covering the eraser, which means keeping track of your eraser cap while you’re writing. “If I’m using a pencil instead of a pen, it’s usually because I want ready access to an eraser,” wrote one Wirecutter tester. Another tester described the Pipe Slide eraser as “squishy,” while still another said the eraser “dips in and out” under pressure against the paper, making it inconsistent. It’s also shorter than the eraser on our other pencil pick.

If you do a good amount of erasing, and especially if you usually draw or diagram with a pencil, consider buying and packing a separate eraser. JetPens recommends the Sakura Foam Eraser as an all-around performer. A number of the expert pen and pencil bloggers we read and consulted, including those behind The Pen Addict, Dave’s Mechanical Pencils, and The Well-Appointed Desk, like the Tombow Mono Zero for making precise erasures.

The auto-rotating mechanism of the Kuru Toga’s lead requires a bit of looseness (play) so that the lead can rotate when you let your hand off the page. Some reviewers, such as Brian Greene of OfficeSupplyGeek, note this. None of Wirecutter’s testers complained about this looseness in their written comments, but some people may notice it and find it bothersome.

Since the rotation mechanism on Kuru Toga pencils engages only when you lift your hand off the page, if you write in cursive the lead rotates less often since the pencil stays down for much longer periods. In this case you still get some of the sharpness benefits, but it isn’t as noticeable if as you were writing in block lettering.

The clip on the Kuru Toga Pipe Slide is a standard metal clip. If you want something that pivots, look no further than our upgrade pick.

A few testers complained that the Kuru Toga Pipe Slide advanced its lead in smaller lengths than the Pentel models they tested, requiring more clicks to get as much lead out. Most people come to learn the quirks of their mechanical pencil as they use it, gaining an instinctive muscle memory for how many clicks they’ll need as they move through a page. But our upgrade pick advances more lead per click.

The Best Metal Mechanical Pencils for Drafts, Sketches, and More

Having a good mechanical pencil can make working much easier. One thing to consider about mechanical pencils is their weight. A heavier pencil will usually mean you can have a looser grip, so you will be less fatigued. The same can be said for the lead width a heavier line — such as a 0.7 mm lead rather than a 0.5 mm lead — might make it easier to work for longer hours.

Whether you’re an architect, artist, graphic designer, someone who takes a lot of notes, or all of the above, a high-quality metal mechanical pencil rather than a traditional mechanical pencil is a great investment. It might seem small, but it will have a big effect. With that in mind, here are our top picks for the best metal mechanical pencil.

rOtring 600 Mechanical Pencil

Best for Technical Work

A good metal mechanical pencil will offer convenience that ink pens simply cannot. The rOtring 600 mechanical pencil is a classic. True to the original rOtring design, the 600 model has an ergonomically enhanced structure that helps with balance while writing or drawing. Plus, its brass mechanism ensures a consistent lead feed.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Pencil

Most Durable

If you’re an architect or a designer, being able to change lines and drafts quickly can be a lifesaver, especially if you’re working on something complex, where you might need to make modifications. Pentel’s GraphGear 1000 is sure to last a long time — the union of Japanese scientists and engineers even awarded Pentel for its commitment to quality. The 1000 model allows you to refill both the lead and the eraser, so you can keep using your pencil longer.

Uni Mechanical Pencil Kuru Toga Roulette

Best for Sharp Lines

Innovation can appear anywhere, even in mechanical pencils. Kuru Toga pencils exhibit just that with its built-in rotating mechanism for its lead cores. Basically, the core is made to rotate as you write, preventing slanted edges and resulting in a consistently sharp and crisp line all throughout. 

Looking for more great stuff? Find all your work and classroom needs on our office supplies hub.

Editors’ Recommendations

15 Best EDC Mechanical Pencils of 2021

Usually, when we talk about everyday carry writing utensils, we’re talking about pens. But we realize that the permanence of ink isn’t for everyone — especially creatives, those prone to mistakes, or some combination of the two. In that case, we tend to lean more toward pencils.

Unfortunately, standard wood pencils are not exactly efficient. Not only is their usefulness tied directly to how much of them you’ve used, but they require you to carry around a sharpener of some sort in order to keep them in working order. Mechanical pencils, by contrast, are refillable, can be more compact, last far longer, and come in a wider range of styles. That’s why, if you’re going to incorporate a pencil into your everyday carry, we suggest one of the following 15 best mechanical pencils for EDC.

Zebra M-701 Mechanical Pencil

The pencil version of one of the best EDC pens of all time, Zebra’s M-701 mechanical pencil is practically unbeatable. Not only is it incredibly budget-friendly, but it’s also durable — constructed from stainless steel — comfortable to hold and use (thanks to a knurled grip), easy to carry in your pocket due to its integrated clip, and it is useable with standard-sized 0.7mm lead.

Lead Size: 0.7mm
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Eraser: Yes

Purchase: $6

Pentel P205A Sharp Mechanical Pencil

Pentel has been in the pencil game for a long time and their P205A Sharp mechanical pencil is their all-time best-seller — that should tell you something about its overall quality. The example above is compatible with 0.5mm lead, but there is also a trio of alternative size options for thicker or thinner lines. It also has a 4mm tip that’s ideal for drafting purposes (like using it with a ruler) and it comes with a pocket clip.

Lead Size: 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 0.9mm
Barrel Material: N/A
Eraser: No

Purchase: $7

Staedtler Lead Holder Mechanical Pencil

Most mechanical pencils rely on ultra-thin lead refills that are prone to breaking — especially if you’re a bit heavy-handed or you write/draw at an angle. The Staedtler Lead Holder, however, houses a thicker 2mm lead that acts more like those found in standard wooden pencils. This allows for better sketching, shading, and more resistance to pressure than its thinner counterparts — making it perfect for anyone who likes to draw. It also has an integrated sharpener to keep the tip pointed.

Lead Size: 2mm
Barrel Material: N/A
Eraser: No

Purchase: $10

Alvin Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil

Designed specifically with professionals in mind, Alvin’s Draft-Matic mechanical pencil is remarkably durable and long-lasting to the point that you might never need to buy another mechanical pencil again once you have this one. It’s also available in a quartet of different lead sizes for all your needs, comes with a pocket clip for easy hauling, and has a hideaway eraser under the tail cap.

Lead Size: 0.2mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 0.9mm
Barrel Material: N/A
Eraser: Yes

Purchase: $10+

Uni-Ball KuruToga Mechanical Pencil

You probably recognize the name Uni-Ball for the brand’s legendary lineup of pens, but it turns out they also make mechanical pencils — with the KuruToga being perhaps their best. This unique translucent offering is a state-of-the-art writing utensil available in either 0.5mm or 0.7mm lead sizes, it comes with a hideaway eraser, and it has a rotating lead mechanism to keep the tip sharp and help prevent breakage.

Lead Size: 0.5mm, 0.7mm
Barrel Material: Plastic
Eraser: Yes

Purchase: $11

Rite In The Rain All-Weather Mechanical Pencil

It’s fairly unlikely that you’ll need the ability to use your pencil in a downpour. However, if you pick up the Rite in the Rain All-Weather mechanical pencil, you can. That’s because, like their pens, this utensil has a special lead designed not to suffer any ill effect at the hands of the weather. It’s also ultra-durable, has a patented tip to help prevent breakage, and it comes in multiple colorways for your styling pleasure.

Lead Size: 1.1mm
Barrel Material: Resin
Eraser: Yes

Purchase: $13

Autopoint Jumbo All-American Mechanical Pencil

One of the things missing from a lot of mechanical pencils is the ergonomic feeling you get from the faceted barrels of traditional wood pencils. Luckily, Autopoint specifically made their Jumbo All-American mechanical pencil with that same geometric styling. That makes it comfortable to hold and keeps it from rolling off your desk once you set it down. Mate that to a pocket clip and jumbo eraser and this is a solid option for any everyday carry loadout.

Lead Size: 0.9mm, 1.1mm
Barrel Material: N/A
Eraser: Yes

Purchase: $14

Parker Jotter Mechanical Pencil

If you want your mechanical pencil to be a bit sleeker and modern than the competition — something you can be proud to bring into an office meeting or keep on your desk — then you might want to have a look-see at the Parker Jotter. From the legendary company that makes everyone’s favorite ink cartridges, this less-permanent utensil is crafted entirely from stainless steel, houses 0.5mm lead, and still has a pocket clip.

Lead Size: 0.5mm
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Eraser: No

Purchase: $15

FastCap Fatboy Extreme Mechanical Pencil

For those looking for the ultimate shading capabilities out of a mechanical pencil, the FastCap Fatboy Extreme simply cannot be beaten. That’s because, while all the competition is messing around with lead that’s fractions of a millimeter in thickness, this one comes with a whopping 5.5mm piece of lead — which is even thicker than most traditional pencils. For artists and sketchers alike, this might just be the best mechanical pencil out there.

Lead Size: 5.5mm
Barrel Material: Aluminum
Eraser: Yes

Purchase: $15

rOtring Rapid PRO Mechanical Pencil

Sleek, stylish, and built to last, the Rapid PRO mechanical pencil is one of the best ones on the market for those who are frequently on-the-go. That’s because it has an added bit of safety and security in the form of a retractable tip — meaning you don’t have to worry about bending or breaking it while you’re in transit. It’s also available in matte black or chrome silver, has a knurled grip and pocket clip, and comes with a 2-year warranty against defects.

Lead Size: 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 2.0mm
Barrel Material: Metal
Eraser: No

Purchase: $35

Everyman Grafton Mechanical Pencil

Everyman’s Grafton Pen is one of our favorite permanent writing utensils of all time and, as it turns out, they also make it in a mechanical pencil version. And yes, just about everything that made the pen great remains in the mechanical pencil, save for the ink. That means it’s still got the same styling, an integrated pocket clip, an aluminum construction, and a well-balanced body. It also works with both 0.5mm and 0.7mm lead — two of the most popular sizes available. Our favorite difference, however, is probably the tail-mounted eraser on the clicker mechanism.

Lead Size: 0.5mm, 0.7mm
Barrel Material: Aluminum
Eraser: Yes

Purchase: $35

Lamy 2000 Mechanical Pencil

There is something to be said for the styling of pens. Namely, they’re typically sleeker and more refined than their lead-loaded counterparts. Lamy seems to be keen on this fact, which is probably why they made their 2000 mechanical pencil with pen-like styling. Truly, unless you write with it, you’d probably not even guess that this is a pencil at all — which is a good thing in this case. It’s also made from resin and stainless steel for plenty of durability, works with 0.7mm lead, and has an eraser on its tail end.

Lead Size: 0.7mm
Barrel Material: Makrolon Resin
Eraser: Yes

Purchase: $66

Ystudio Mechanical Pencil

If you like the look of traditional yellow wood pencils, but you want a lead-filled utensil that will last a good deal longer, the Ystudio Mechanical Pencil is the pick for you. This absolutely beautiful everyday carry tool is made primarily from solid brass, has copper accents, and has phosphor bronze hardware. Because of the materials, this pencil will also age with use — giving it a unique patina reflexive of its usage. It’s a pricey investment, but it has the potential to last for generations with proper care.

Lead Size: 0.7mm
Barrel Material: Brass
Eraser: No

Purchase: $100

Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil

At first glance, you might be wondering what, exactly, makes the Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil worth nearly $200. But have a closer look and the reasoning begins to reveal itself. For starters, the pen is crafted from your choice of stainless steel, phosphor bronze, tellurium copper, or titanium. It also comes with an interchangeable mechanism to allow it to house 0.5mm, 0.7mm, or 0.9mm lead. And finally, it has both an eraser on the tail end and a retractable tip. Essentially, this handy utensil was built to last a lifetime or two.

Lead Size: 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 0.9mm
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel, Copper, Bronze, or Titanium
Eraser: Yes

Purchase: $180+

Porsche Design Tec Flex Mechanical Pencil

While the greater brand is best known for their impeccable sports cars, they also have a sub-brand called Porsche Design that makes everything from hi-fi home speakers to everyday carry gear. In that latter category, they’ve crafted this absolutely breathtaking mechanical pencil from seemingly-woven stainless steel. Yes, this is by far the most expensive offering on our list, but it’s also the most exclusive and possibly the most beautifully crafted mechanical pencil of all time. It’s made for the elite — and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t want to count ourselves amongst them.

Lead Size: 0.7mm
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Eraser: Yes

Purchase: $230+

The 15 Best EDC Pocket Notebooks

An EDC mechanical pencil isn’t going to do you much good if you don’t have something on which to write, sketch, draft, or draw. Fix that problem by adding one of the best pocket notebooks to your everyday carry loadout.

The Best Mechanical Pencils of 2021

We spent weeks testing 16 of the top mechanical pencils and found that the Pentel – Quicker Clicker is the overall best mechanical pencil. This attractive higher-end mechanical pencil, which costs just a few dollars, is easy to refill and a pleasure to use. We especially liked its side-click lead advance feature. The Uni-ball – Kuru Toga was an extremely close runner-up that features a unique rotating mechanism to keep lead consistently sharp.

Table of contents

How we selected finalists to test

To find the best mechanical pencil, we scoured forums like r/mechanicalpencil and blogs like The Pen Addict (Brad and his friends also love pencils) and Bleistift to get an idea of the pencils the obsessives like best. We also consulted Wirecutter’s and Wired’s reviews of mechanical pencils. Then, we took to Amazon to find the most popular and highly-rated pencils loved by consumers.

We mostly chose pencils sized 0.5 mm to 0.7 mm, but we also tested some larger sizes for those who like range. We know that different people are looking for different levels of quality (and “keepability”) in a mechanical pencil, so we also tested a range of price points, from around 15 cents to 25 dollars per pencil. We tested brands known for their mechanical pencils (like Pentel) and the big two technical drawing brands, as well as some traditionally cheaper brands like Paper Mate.

Compare the best mechanical pencils

Product + Size Cost Available Sizes (mm) Features
1. Pentel – Quicker Clicker (0.5mm) $ 0.5, 0.7, 0.9 Side-click lead advance
2. Uni-ball – Kuru Toga (0.5mm) $ 0.5 Rotating lead mechanism
3. Paper Mate – 34666PP Clearpoint (0.5mm) $ 0. 5 Side-click lead advance
4. Zebra – M701 (0.7mm) $$ 0.7 Professional grade stainless steel
5. Pentel – Sharp Kerry (0.5mm) $$ 0.5, 0.7 Pen-like cap
6. rOtring – 600 (0.7mm) $$$ 0.5, 0.7 Hexagon-shape prevents rolling
7. Uni – Kuru Toga Roulette (0.5mm) $$$ 0.5 Rotating lead mechanism
8. Pentel – GraphGear 1000 (0.5mm) $$ 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 0.9 Chiseled metallic grip
9. Staetdler – Silver Series (0.5mm) $$$ 03, 0.5, 0.7, 0.9, 1.3, 2.0 Push button lead advance

Why use them?

A good mechanical pencil can create smooth, consistent lines (without the need for sharpening). It’s convenient for travel, and is guaranteed not to stain your pocket with ink. There are plenty of studies that show that handwriting engages your brain better than typing, and some would argue that the more tactile experience of graphite on paper connects you even more to your writing.

A mechanical pencil is refillable and looks more professional than a traditional pencil. Best (and most obvious) of all, its lead is erasable. So you can leave the correction fluid in the drawer. Tradition dictates that pencils should be used for rough sketches, arithmetic, and any other time that you might need to erase or change the marks you’ve made.

A high-quality mechanical pencil will almost always cost you less than a high-quality pen. And lest style be a concern, rest assured that there are plenty of attractive (and even pen-like) mechanical pencils on the market these days.

Important features to consider

Lead size and grade: Most people will like a 0.5mm or 0.7mm width pencil (the width refers to the size of the lead and the line it creates), but there are smaller and larger widths available if you prefer. Lead can also vary in hardness, which changes the shade and the strength of the tip. If you’re a heavy-handed writer or don’t want smudging, you may want to go with a lighter and harder lead; mechanical pencils often use different grades than regular pencils so they can make the leads stronger so interpreting the grades is tricky.

Cost: Mechanical pencil costs can vary dramatically. But just like we learned testing pens, the most expensive isn’t always the best. You should be able to find a mechanical pencil you love for just a few dollars or less.

Grip: A pencil grip won’t necessarily make your pencil more comfortable to use, and some people actually find them cumbersome. But if you want a pencil with a big, squishy grip, we know the perfect one for you. Surprisingly, our testers found the grips on some of the higher-end mechanical pencils more uncomfortable — perhaps because they’re designed to keep your grasp firmly in place, but not cushion your hand.

Lead advancement: The classic mechanical pencil model requires you to click the top to advance the lead. Some newer models have a side-click mechanism instead. Others still have a twist advance. What’s best for you comes down to preference, though the idea behind a side advance pencil is that it’s quicker and disrupts your writing flow less.

Retractable vs. capped: Standard mechanical pencils are retractable, but if you want to look more polished in the boardroom, Pentel makes a capped version.

Lead cushioning: Some mechanical pencils use a lead cushion or guard that reinforces the lead against rougher writing styles. If you’re aggressive with your writing utensils, you may want to consider it.

Materials and aesthetics: Just like other writing utensils, there are an array of colors and styles of mechanical pencils available. You can get ones that resemble a pen or a conventional woodcase pencil, or you can get something bright and colorful. As a general rule, don’t assume that the quality of the pencil’s “look” is equal to how well it writes.

How we tested

We recruited the same group of illustrators, hand lettering artists, bullet journalers and designers that we used for our best pen testing to test mechanical pencils. We gave them several weeks to use the pencils throughout their everyday lives, jotting down work notes, writing grocery lists and sketching designs. For quick notes and sketches like this, our testers found that almost all of the mechanical pencils were acceptable. The one exception? The Pilot – Eno pencils, which came with lead that broke immediately upon use.

Then, we conducted a focus group in which our testers used each pencil to write assigned sentences (that used every letter of the alphabet) and doodle their own whimsical creations. After that, each tester gave detailed feedback on the experience of using each pencil. From there, we did a qualitative analysis to determine which mechanical pencil was the best.

Unsurprisingly, our testers had much stronger opinions about each pencil after being forced to write for minutes on end with each one. Also unsurprising, most feedback had to do with comfort rather than how the pencil actually wrote.

The best overall: Pentel – Quicker Clicker

By a narrow margin, the Pentel – Quicker Clicker (0.5mm) took first place in our tests for best mechanical pencil for writing. We liked its slick design and its smooth feel, and at just a few dollars, it’s high quality for a low price. Refilling it was easy, and so was advancing the lead.

Pentel is a Japanese-held company that has been innovating in the stationery industry since the mid-forties. They’ve come up with a lot of “firsts,” including the Quicker Clicker mechanism — Pentel says it’s the “original side-advance mechanical pencil.” It comes standard with Pentel lead and eraser, a strong metal clip and a transparent barrel so you can see the status of your lead. You can purchase it in a myriad of colors, and we especially like the classy look of the sky blue.

There are many a loyal Quicker Clicker devotee out there. Unfortunately, many who have been using it for years don’t like the new and “improved” model with the rubber grip. Our testers weren’t bothered by the grip, but some didn’t like the side advance as much as a “traditional” mechanical pencil that requires you to click the top.

Top Pick: Pentel – Quicker Clicker

For a high-quality mechanical pencil at a reasonable price, you can’t go wrong with the sleek and smooth Pentel – Quicker Clicker. With smooth lead and a slick aesthetic, the Pentel – Quicker Clicker is both a joy to write with and attractive enough to leave out on your desk.

See Price at Amazon.com

Though the Quicker Clicker has fine lead, it didn’t break when we were writing — even when used by a heavy-handed writer. It also required very little pressure to write with, which will save you from hand cramps if you’ll be writing for a while. The Quicker Clicker, which our testers described as “smooth and reliable,” comes in three line widths: 0.5mm, 0.7mm and 0.9mm. You can get its lead in the traditional graphite (No. 2 grade), or in shades of violet and blue.

The eraser on the Quicker Clicker is high quality, as far as attached mechanical pencil erasers go. In our testing and regular use, we didn’t notice a lot of residue or “smearing” left from erasing mistakes. One thing to be aware of: Some Amazon users complain that the eraser refills for the Quicker Clicker are hard to find in brick-and-mortar stores. That being said, they’re readily available online.

The runner-up: Uni-ball – Kuru Toga

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Uni-ball Kuru Toga (0.5mm) was a standout in our tests. Uni-ball is one of the most highly regarded brands in the stationery world, and the Kuru Toga is one of the most frequently discussed (and recommended) mechanical pencils by the aficionados. We can see why. The lead is high-quality and doesn’t break when you write with it. It’s got a hardy plastic body and clear grip, and feels balanced in your hand.

Runner-up: Uni-ball – Kuru Toga

The Uni-ball – Kuru Toga is a popular mechanical pencil for a reason. Only narrowly missing the first place mark due to its hard-to-refill lead, the Uni-ball Kuru Toga impressed us with its high quality and virtually break-proof lead.

See Price at Amazon

Uni-ball was founded in Tokyo, so it’s no wonder that its name is Japanese. The Kuru Toga was named with a Japanese portmanteau of “rotating” and “to become sharp.” This aptly describes the pencil’s rotating lead mechanism which keeps lead, you guessed it, consistently sharp. For this reason, we think it’s one of the best mechanical pencils for writing longform.

Like with a traditional mechanical pencil, you click the top of the Kuru Toga to advance the lead, and from there it flows nice and smoothly. So why isn’t the Kuru Toga our first-choice pick? Changing the lead is a little more difficult than usual, due to the very small opening the pencil provides to insert the lead.

Even so, the Kuru Toga beats every other pick in terms of quality and smoothness of writing. And in those respects, it’s also right on par with the Quicker Clicker.

The budget pick: Paper Mate – Clearpoint

If you’re looking for something that feels good to write with, but doesn’t cause a panic if you lose it, we recommend the Paper Mate – 34666PP Clearpoint. At less than $1.50 per pencil, it delivers quality and value all wrapped up in an erasable package.

Budget Pick: Paper Mate – Clearpoint

The Clearpoint is proof that low cost doesn’t mean low quality. For less than two bucks, you get something that feels good to write with.

See Price at Amazon

Our testers found this pencil comfortable and easy to use. One tester even went so far as to say that it was his favorite to write with — even more so than the expensive pencils. The only concern with the Paper Mate? The eraser doesn’t erase very well. But with the ubiquitous and cheap auxiliary erasers available on Amazon, we don’t consider this too big a problem. In fact, you could purchase one of these mechanical pencils and a separate eraser for less than the cost of some of the other pencils on our list.

Like our top pick, the Paper Mate requires you to click the side of the pencil to advance it. It’s got a clear barrel so you can see the status of your lead, and it has a textured grip that some users will like. It’s worth noting that this one also comes in a colored pencil version with an array of rainbow leads available.

Others finalists we tested

Pencils we recommend

Zebra – M701: Zebra is a big name in writing utensils, and we’re generally impressed with their products. The M701 is not an exception. It’s got the weighted, smooth feel of a high-quality pencil and it encourages neat handwriting. Plus, while the grip isn’t smooth, it also doesn’t dig into your hand. The Zebra lost points because it felt especially heavy, which can tire your hand out over time. Still, some writers may prefer a weightier pencil. At over five dollars, it’s more expensive than most of our pencil picks, but we also think it’s one of the best quality mechanical pencils out there.

Pentel – Sharp Kerry: There’s no doubt that the Quicker Clicker is the best Pentel mechanical pencil, but the Sharp Kerry is probably the classiest. It looks exactly like a capped pen until you remove the cap and see its point. Some testers found it a bit slippery and hard to hold on to. Nonetheless, it can’t be beat for its sophisticated look, and when all is said and done, it writes well.

rOtring – 600 Series: This is a classic design that has an avid following among designers; we’ll call the rOtring a luxury mechanical pencil. At more than 25 dollars, it’s certainly an investment. As we would hope, it performed well on almost all accounts: smooth, break-free lead and controlled writing included. If you want a pencil that doesn’t get in the way when you’re using a stencil or ruler, this is a great pick. The only thing we didn’t like was the tiny hole you’re forced to fit the lead through when you refill it. It’s a minor complaint, but for a pencil this expensive, we expect near perfection. The rOtring comes pretty close.

Uni – Kuru Toga Roulette: Similar to our runner up, but with an upgraded metal body and knurled grip. Our testers found the Uni – Kuru Toga Roulette to be “light and efficient” and an overall joy to use. There’s not much to pick on with this pencil — we love its performance. This is a good thing, since one will cost you about ten dollars. If we had to pick something to dislike, we’d say the eraser on this pencil is a little small.

Pentel – GraphGear 1000 Automatic Drafting: Our testers found the GraphGear 1000 to be delightfully “futuristic,” and they also liked that the top clicks into place like a pen when you advance the lead. It’s nicely weighted (not too heavy or too light) and writes well and smoothly. The only downsides? Some testers found the lead filling process a little cumbersome and the lead itself a little weak.

Staedtler – Silver Series: A pencil with the name “Silver Series” (and a price point of over ten dollars) invites some big expectations, and for the most part the Staetdler didn’t disappoint. It’s available with an extra-sharp 0.3mm size and writes precisely and smoothly. Like the rOtring, this is a technical pencil well-known among architects, planners, and designers. Our testers’ biggest complaint with this pencil was the grip; most found it somewhat uncomfortable. If you’re not writing longform content though, this pencil might still be for you.

Paper Mate – 1.3mm Mechanical Pencils Paper Mate markets these as an alternative to the traditional woodcase pencils, and they do look like a fat and colorful version of the original. The 1.3mm are targeted toward young children who are just learning to write — the larger width of these utensils makes them easier for little hands to control. However, there were plenty of user comments from full-grown adults who love these pencils and the thick lines they create. Are they right for you? It comes down to taste. Most of our testers found them very comfortable to write with.

Pencils we don’t recommend

BIC – Xtra Sparkle: With a name like “Xtra Sparkle,” we didn’t expect this BIC to deliver high-octane pencil performance. Still, with nearly 2,000 Amazon reviews, we had to give it a go. Unsurprisingly, it was sub-par in almost every way. When asked to describe it in two words, one tester said “meh” and “whatever.” For quality, we give this one a 50 percent. For jazzing up your kid’s pencil box? A solid 100.

Pilot – Color Eno: The Color Eno are the only “colored pencils” we tested, again due to their high number of reviews. Their primary tester, a designer, actually loved their hues. However, he found that the lead broke easily and that the pencils were overall “not super reliable.”

Pentel – Sharp Automatic: The Sharp Automatic is another pencil that probably lands somewhere in the “meh” and “whatever” zone. It doesn’t stand out for much except its uncomfortable grip and the distinctive way it makes you feel not-in-control of your own writing.

Pentel – Twist Erase: The Twist Erase has a cool name, but the lead is too light, thick and dull. Our testers found that you have to press harder than is comfortable to use it. Another complaint: It doesn’t allow for very good control of your writing.

Pentel – GraphGear 500: We loved the GraphGear 1000, but its little brother didn’t make the same impression. We found the 500 to be dull and fragile, with lead that breaks too easily and a lead changing process that’s too time-consuming. This one isn’t worth paying over five dollars for.

Alvin – Draft-Matic: The Alvin, another “luxury” pencil at over ten dollars for one, disappointed us. It’s sleek and cool looking, but it’s uncomfortable to hold, it’s too hard to change the lead and it made our writing uneven and scratchy.

The bottom line

We tend to treat mechanical pencils like they’re disposable, but really, a good one should last you a long time. For one you’ll want to keep around, we recommend the all-around impressive Pentel – Quicker Clicker. If for some reason you can’t get your hands on that one, the Uni-ball – Kuru Toga is also a good bet. And if you do want one you can treat like a disposable, then choose the Paper Mate – 34666PP Clearpoint. It’s great quality for a very low price.

Top Pick: Pentel – Quicker Clicker

You can’t go wrong with the Pentel Quicker-Clicker. It’s smooth and reliable with fine lead that isn’t prone to breaking.

See Price at Amazon.com

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Nicole is a Senior Content Specialist whose writing passion ranges from national recycling initiatives to how to find the perfect Christmas tree. She loves her dog more than most people, and she subsists almost entirely on iced coffee. When she’s not copy editing and researching for Your Best Digs, she’s usually curled up in bed with a good book or outside exploring nature.

90,000 6 best pencils for designers and artists

A quick overview of the best pencils for professional designers and artists.

Whether you’re roughly sketching an illustration or just learning how to draw, it’s helpful to know which pencils are considered the best for the job. Fortunately, a good set of pencils isn’t the most expensive tool in a designer’s job, so you can afford to try out different brands and find the pencil that’s right for you.We have selected six of the best pencils to start your search with.

1. Rotring Rapid Pro Mechanical Pen

Rotring Mechanical Pencil – for true professionals

  • Estimated cost: 3000–3500 rubles.
  • Ideal for : graphic design and decoration

This fine mechanical pencil is one of the best tools for professionals. Hexagonal metal body and round collet. Equipped with a special mechanism that protects the lead from excessive pressure and prevents possible breakage. There is a built-in clip and an eraser under the lid. The pencil is ideal for contouring and shaping.

2. Pencil Faber-Castell Grip 2011

Mechanical Pencil Faber-Castell Grip with rubber dots for a comfortable grip and precision

  • Estimated cost: 800–1200 rubles.
  • Ideal for : graphic design and decoration

This mechanical pencil has received several awards and popularity. All thanks to the beautiful triangular body, covered with rubber dots, which provide a confident and comfortable grip. In addition, the pencil has a very long twist-out eraser and a 0.7 mm HB-rod.

3. Derwent Pencils

Derwent Sketching Pencil Set in Metal Case

  • Estimated price: 600-800 rubles.(set of 6 pcs.)
  • Ideal for : outline

The Cumberland Pencil Company has been making some of the finest pencils since 1832, a quality now known as Derwent. These pencils leave soft, light lines on the paper. They are great for rough sketches with thick strokes as well as quick sketches.

4. Albrecht Dürer watercolor pencils

Albrecht Dürer pencils are made of high quality materials

  • Estimated cost: 4700-5700 rubles.(set 36 colors)
  • Ideal for : illustrations

This set is named after the famous German painter Albrecht Dürer, who created beautiful illustrations and watercolor paintings. They are made of high quality materials with bright pigments and a unique binder, due to which they are resistant to fading for more than 100 years.

These pencils are ideal for drawing and watercolor techniques. They come in sets of 12, 24, 60 and even a full spectrum of 120 colors. These kits will suit any artist.

5. Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

These pencils do not break, you can take them with you wherever you go!

  • Estimated cost: 5700-7000 rubles. (set 72 colors)
  • Ideal for : illustrations

This pencil set is suitable for both learners and advanced artists. The soft, thicker shaft leaves a soft color mark. In the manufacture of these pencils, very stable pigments are used that are not afraid of water and light.

The colors are easy to mix, suitable for all surfaces, capable of creating a variety of shades. Their dense core is resistant to kinks, so they will withstand even rough handling.

6. Staedtler Graphite Mechanical Pencil 925

The body provides a comfortable grip, which is important for drawing accuracy

  • Estimated price: 900–1100 rubles.
  • Ideal for : drawing

Aluminum body, Staedtler design fits comfortably in the hand and provides a secure grip.Equipped with a retainer, softness indicator (from 3H to 2V, including F), removable clip and eraser under the button cap. Models with different rod thicknesses are available to choose from: 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm or 0.9 mm (the size is indicated on the top of the button).

And who would have thought.?

Graphite dust – an interesting alternative to reliable pencils

As an alternative to pencil, graphite dust can be used for sketching and illustration. Cretacolor coal dust is produced using a special combustion method to create a dense, saturated charcoal.Great for working on large paintings or for mixing with water and binders to create tones.

Graphite dust creates lustrous light and dark shades of gray that mix, blend and wash easily like regular charcoal. At the end of the work, you can use the lock. Coal dust is suitable for “dry” and “wet” techniques on paper and canvas. Artist Calvin Okafor creates beautiful work with coal dust, you should check out his portfolio.

90,000 How to choose pencils for drawing and writing

For thousands of years, people have used graphite to create and capture ideas. And now graphite is the main element of the pencil. Although for the sake of accuracy, the lead should not be called graphite. Because a mixture of graphite and clay is used to make a pencil shaft. The class of the lead depends on the ratio of the components of this mixture. The higher the graphite content compared to clay, the darker and softer the lead will be.

It is important to pay attention to the value of the class when choosing a pencil for both drawing and writing. The hardness of the lead determines its strength, the smoothness of the track, the ability to shade or darken. If it is important for an artist to use pencils of all types of hardness, then only a few classes are suitable for writing.

Lead hardness classification

There are two systems for classifying the hardness of the lead – European and American. In the European system , a combination of letters and numbers is used for designations. The letter B (abbreviated from the English blackness – darkness) means that the rod is soft, with a high content of graphite. The higher the number that accompanies B, the softer the lead is and the darker and richer the mark it leaves.

The letter H (abbreviated from the English hardness – hardness), indicated in the marking of the pencil, has the opposite meaning and informs about the high content of clay in the lead.Class H rods leave a light mark.

In the American system, only numbers are used to mark pencils. In the middle of such a scale is # 2½, which is equivalent to the European F (short for fine point – perfect, excellent). American grade # 2 leads usually correspond to European HB (short for hardness-blackness). The ratio of the European and American systems is shown in the photo.

Additionally, I would like to note that there is no single standard for lead hardness.Different brands of pencils of the same grade may be slightly harder or softer. For example, Japanese leads always leave a darker footprint than their European equivalents. Although they use the same classification system.

In this article, we will refer to the European system because it is more extensive and sophisticated than the American one.

Leads, class H

Grade H rods show extreme resistance to smudging.They leave clear, light lines. What makes such pencils indispensable when you need to create contours, drawings, sketches, sketches for watercolors. They are suitable for left-handers, because the trail of such leads does not smear. The disadvantage of H-grade pencils is that they are too hard, which causes the tip to scratch the paper. And the higher the number that accompanies the letter H, the greater the likelihood of scratches and grooves.

Leads class F and HB

Class F rods (intermediate between hard-soft and hard) are central to the European classification.The HB class (hard-soft) is one step lower. Pencils of both grades are ideal for writing. They are dark enough to easily read what you write, and they barely smudge.

Leads, class B

Grade B pencils smooth lines when writing and drawing. They smudge easily, but at the same time the eraser removes them without a trace. They are ideal for creativity as artists need to create feathering and shading.Leads with a higher B value are especially suitable for this purpose. Animators love to use 10B grade pencils when creating cartoons, because the leads slide on the paper like wax crayons, allowing them to quickly draw pleasing, deep and rich drawings.

Pencils, especially H grade, are suitable for writing and drawing on textured paper. Gel pens and ink pens on such a surface will not be able to provide good adhesion to the sheet, so clear, correct lines will not come out.

If the surface is glossy or rough, rough, then only with the help of a pencil can smooth lines and clear drawings be applied to it. Such paper is often used in sketchbooks and books to create manga (anime).

How to choose a pencil?

The wooden pencils are handy in that they make available a full range of hardness grades. With them, you can change the thickness of the tip of the lead at any time using the usual sharpening.Indeed, without adjusting the thickness of the lines, the artist cannot achieve the perfect result.

The mechanical pencil is convenient and economical. Great for taking notes. But due to the fact that the pressure on the tip is too small, artists cannot use it for dynamic shading.

Collet pencil is the strength and dynamism of shading, like a wooden pencil, and a comfortable body, like a mechanical one.Collet pencils have one, but significant, drawback: leads for them are sold in only a few hardness grades.

We have compiled guidelines to help you choose any type of pencil.

Wooden pencils

Writing pencil

As we said, F and HB leads are ideal for writing. They leave a rich and smooth finish that is virtually smudge-free. Other classes (H and B) are also in demand, because someone likes a darker or lighter version.But it should be borne in mind that when choosing pencils of class B, it is undesirable to use for writing those whose softness exceeds 2B. They can smudge a lot and make the text look sloppy.

Best choice: Faber-Castell Grip

The sleek Faber-Castell Grip helps you create fine, filigree lines. The triangular shape and raised points in the grip area make the writing process extremely convenient, even for left-handers. The pencil is available in hardness grades 2B, B and HB. This means that the written text will look quite clear and contrasting. The trace from the lead of this brand of pencils is not smeared.

Creative pencil

Artists use both soft and hard pencils to create various effects. They usually have pencils of all hardness grades in their arsenal. Aspiring artists probably don’t need a complete set. Therefore, it is better for them to buy pencils of different softness as they master new drawing techniques.Wooden pencils are ideal for drawing with graphite dust. Because the leads of other types of pencils will have to be broken for this, and the wooden pencil leaves the necessary graphite chips during the sharpening process.

Best choice: pencil sets KOH-I-NOIR 1502

KOH-I-NOIR 1502 standard hexagonal pencils are available in sets of three types of 12 pencils each: HB to 10H, 5B to 5H, 8B to 2H.This means that artists will be able to match tones for aerial sketches, intense shading, and deep shading. It should be borne in mind that the tone of pencils from this manufacturer is slightly darker than that of other brands of similar hardness classes.

Mechanical pencils

The main problem with mechanical pencils is the small selection of leads of different hardness. The fact is that it is almost impossible to make a rod of high softness with a small diameter, because it will be too fragile.For writing, a mechanical pencil is the best choice. To draw, you still have to buy wooden pencils. It should be noted that 0.2 mm thick leads are in demand among artists. Because they allow you to draw the smallest details and contours without the distraction of sharpening, as would be the case with a wooden pencil.

Although mechanical pencils have a significantly smaller selection of leads than wooden ones, some brands have an impressive variety of assortments.For example, Pentel leads are available in 10 hardness grades from 4H to 4B, as well as Pilot leads.

Collet pencils

Artists who want to do dynamic shading and deep shading like a wooden pencil, while maintaining the convenience of mechanical pencils, should take a closer look at collet pencils. In such models, a significant lead diameter is usually 2 mm or more. This allows the use of rods of high softness.Another advantage of collet pencils is that they can be set to the same long working length as wooden pencils. This makes a large number of drawing techniques available.

Best choice: KOH-I-NOOR 5311

The KOH-I-NOOR 5311 collet is impressively durable and versatile. The model has a reliable metal case, designed for many years of service. The strong grip of the lead allows the use of 3 to 5 shafts.6 mm, including those with high softness. The pencil is convenient for shading when a long working length of the rod is required. You can write with them if you sharpen the tip of the lead with a sharpener located in the button at the top of the case. KOH-I-NOIR 5311 is indispensable during repair work when specialized markers cannot cope. They make markings on bricks, concrete walls, silk-embossed wallpaper.

Author: Lyudmila Kameneva

Mechanical pencil Uni Kurutoga

Purebred Japanese for real samurai.

If you don’t mind spending 12 bucks on a regular pencil – welcome to cat.
For others, very briefly:
– No, he doesn’t make sandwiches in the morning
– Handwriting will also remain the same
– If desired, can be used for self-defense
– They can write on paper

The reason for the purchase was curiosity, and my old love for good stationery.

At work, I often have to do handwriting on paper: draw various design solutions, put down dimensions and write down data.
For these purposes, I have always used the stub of the cheapest ikea pencil. And suddenly, after reading another review on Muska, I realized that you can’t live like that. It’s time to radically change something! At a time when spaceships ply the vastness of the universe, in an age when you can recognize the device of an atomic bomb with the help of your phone, or even throw a drawn bird at a pig, I still have a product in my hand that is outdated by several hundred years of technology!

A Journey through History

The modern pencil was invented on October 26, 1794 by the talented French scientist and inventor Nicolas Jacques Conte.

At the end of the 18th century, the British Parliament imposed a strictest ban on the export of precious graphite from Cumberland. For violation of this prohibition, the punishment was very harsh, up to the death penalty. With the help of processing at high temperatures, high strength was achieved, but even more important was the fact that changing the proportion of the mixture made it possible to make rods of different hardness, which served as the basis for the modern classification of pencils by hardness.

Polymers are used in modern leads, which allow achieving the desired combination of strength and elasticity, make it possible to produce very thin leads for mechanical pencils (up to 0.3 mm).
The hexagonal shape of the pencil case was proposed at the end of the 19th century by Count Lothar von Fabercastle, noting that round pencils often roll off inclined writing surfaces.

Almost 2/3 of the material that makes up a simple pencil goes to waste when sharpening. This prompted the American Alonso Townsend Cross to create a metal pencil in 1869. The graphite rod was placed in a metal tube and could, if necessary, be extended to an appropriate length.
This invention influenced the development of a whole group of products that are used everywhere today. The simplest design is a mechanical pencil with a 2 mm lead, where the rod is held by metal clamps (collets) – a collet pencil. Collets open when a button on the end of the pencil is pressed, resulting in an extension that is adjustable by the owner of the pencil.

Modern mechanical pencils are more advanced. Each time the button is pressed, a small section of the lead is automatically fed.These pencils do not need to be sharpened, they have a built-in eraser and have different fixed line weights.

As you already understood, the hero of the review became the solution to the problem. Please welcome!

But you can’t just take and buy a pencil! He should be somehow different from others, the same, arouse the envy of colleagues, and increase the Sense of His Own Greatness.

So, a little information:

The body is made of real luminium, and with a clear conscience I assign the title “tactical” to the pencil and add it to the “self-defense” section.In the event of a nuclear war, it is an irreplaceable thing.

Rod thickness – 0.5mm

Length – 147mm, diameter – 9.75mm in the place with a notch

The main difference is that when you press the rod (when writing), the entire collet clamp rotates at a small angle around its axis, which ( as it were) allows you to evenly grind the lead along its diameter.
How this happened in practice – I’ll tell you a little later. It’s time to move from lyrics to review.

Packaging – more than reliable.A thick layer of pimples reliably protected the plastic blister from our valiant mail. Was thrown out on the spot. We remember. We grieve.

A blister is … just a blister. No more, no less.

Photo of packing

The pencil looks good.
Brushed aluminum with chrome accents. The translucent white strip in the photo is a rubber ring. No practical use. purely decorative element.

Round hole Technological hole is used for visual control of the rotation of the rod during writing. Sounds clever, it’s easier to compare two photos.

In practice, this function works pretty badly. Well, how … It seems to work, but not always, and almost without effect.
// UPD I’ll try to replace the rod with a harder one. Perhaps the point is that the “native” lead is too soft.
Rotation occurs only when the spring-loaded rod is pressed.On a soft surface (a stack of paper), the effort of pressing the pencil was not enough to turn the collet , but it was enough, but every other time.
On a rigid (table) – it really rotates, but the rod grinds off much faster than the collet rotates at any significant angle.

Maybe my hands are crooked, and for someone this feature will work as it should. Especially for the demonstration, I crossed out a whole sheet of notebook. As you can see in the photo, the lead is sharpened at an acute angle. (although this, as it were, should not happen)

However, the pencil still performs its functions.
As the saying goes: “I didn’t really want to.”

At the opposite end there is a clip and a button, decorated with a rubber ring.

2 rods are already loaded inside.

Lies well in the hand, does not slip. Easy.

ACHTUNG !!! _Very_ bad handwriting !!!

I warned …

As a result – you can take it. But there are analogs and cheaper ones, without the “super useful function” of the rod rotation.
Photographed on a packet of chips. I confess.

I will answer your questions.

Faber Castell Mechanical pencil TK®-FINE 9715 – “Faber Castell TK-FINE 9715 0.5 mm eraser. What to look for when choosing a mechanical pencil. Replacing the lead (Photo) “

I love this brand シ, it has its own characteristics and most of them are positive.

There are important nuances that will become apparent only with prolonged use.Highlights will help you navigate the pricing space. You will avoid a more expensive purchase if you don’t have a good reason to do so.

This model is basic, designed for sketching and graphic works.

✔ High-quality plastic case of dark green color, glossy, round shape turns into a polyhedron in the grip area (grip) and ends with a screwed metal tip. All information is printed with durable gold paint.

The plastic grip section can be slippery if the pencil is held for a long time, which creates obvious inconveniences. The capture zone can be with transverse grooves or other relief. Metal or silicone, sometimes a metal insert with a relief and additional windows for a silicone substrate.

✔ The pencil is equipped with a metal clip for attaching to a folder / clothes. The clip is quite hard, with frequent use, I think it can spoil the body of the pencil.

The window that forms this clamp is a rotary indicator of the hardness of the lead.A number of letters indicating the hardness of the inserted rod 2B, B, HB, H, 2H are located on top. The designation can be changed by turning the clip around the pencil. It is convenient if there are a lot of pencils of the same type, but they differ in softness.

✔ Under the metal button cap, there is a small eraser.

✔ The design feature is a thin tube that protects the lead and increases the viewing area. It makes it easy to use templates and stencils because lengthens the tip of the pencil by telescopically extending the shaft.Its length is 4 mm. The tubular guide retracts inside the case and will not ruin your bag or clothes.

A fixed guide is preferred when there is constant pressure on the pencil and unexpected rod failures are possible. No such troubles were noticed in this model.

Faber-Castell details Guide & Collet

✔ Holds the lead in position the collet is the most important interior (judging by inexpensive brands) of any mechanical pencil.If the rod does not advance progressively or falls out, then the reason is most likely the fragility of this part. In this model, it is plastic, it consists of two petals.

The rod is fed in portions at a fixed length, the lead does not get stuck and does not slip.

In the more expensive professional mechanical pencils, this mechanism is metallic.

✔ Mechanical pencils differ in the thickness of the shaft. It is marked on the case with numbers 0.35; 0.5; 07 and 1.0 – only the corresponding lead is suitable for this model.

Marking the thickness of the refill on the pencil and the case of spare leads

✔ For ease of orientation between the same pencils, a colored plastic tip is provided on the metal button cap, it visually shows the thickness of the refill. At 0.5 mm it is brown, at 0.35 mm it is yellow, blue at 0.7 mm and orange means 1.0 mm.

The lids of the cases with the corresponding Faber-Castell Polymer lead diameter are color-coded.The rods are sold separately in twelve pieces in a plastic container. Three leads are in pencil at the time of purchase.

If you use a lead from another manufacturer, the difference in hardness / softness will have to be taken into account. The H of one brand may differ significantly from the H of another brand. Faber-Castell has a clear tonal difference in the aisles of the line, graphite is somewhat harder and resistant to accidental smearing, and the rods are strong.

Replacing the lead in a mechanical / automatic pencil

This is the most frequent question.Many people try to push the thin rod from the side of the writing head. With this method, sometimes, the lead breaks.

The reservoir opening is wider and is located in the button below the removable eraser slot. Faber-Castell details:

Faber-Castell pencils Lead change in mechanical pencil details

The body can store several spare leads at the same time. There is no through hole under the eraser – spare refills will not fall out.

A needle for cleaning a thin guide tube is built into the bowl under the eraser,

Manufacturer: Faber-Castell

Article: 136500

TOP-6 of the best color pencils 9000 for drawing 2021 of the Year choose only the best colored pencils, which can be watercolors or pastels.In this rating, we analyzed the merits and demerits of the most popular tools on the market. Having studied them, you can choose the best quality, good and suitable option for you. TOP is compiled based on real customer reviews.

Which company is better to choose colored pencils

There are hundreds of companies on the market offering stationery and products for schoolchildren. Among them, Czech, Austrian, German, and British manufacturers hold the first places.It is they who offer the highest quality products, but mostly they are talking about premium tools.

Here are the products of which brands were included in the rating:

  • Faber-Castell is a German company that produces pencils, pens and other stationery. She also has quality products for professional artists. Its products have a durable lead, protected from breakage using a special technology, are environmentally friendly and safe, and also stand out favorably against the background of competitors with a convenient shape.Products do not roll off the table, which is very important, since this distracts the child’s attention and prevents him from concentrating properly.
  • Derwent is an English stationery company that started its work back in 1832. Her products are created for both professional artists and amateurs, including children. Pencils are sold in cardboard, wood and metal packaging, so they are often bought as a gift. They are easy to find in the store and the reviews about them are mostly positive.The products of this company are chosen both for students of ordinary and art schools.
  • Koh i Noor is a Czech manufacturer of stationery and products for schoolchildren. The company was founded in 1790. His soft colored pencils are considered good because they are of high quality, are environmentally friendly and are suitable for both hobbyists and professional artists. They are made on the basis of natural rubber. Products are distinguished by the hardness of the rod, which excludes its breakage even under pressure.They are relevant for drawing both thin and thick lines, depending on the chosen model.
  • Lyra – pencils of this company are distinguished by ease of use due to the fact that they do not roll off the table, they are easily sharpened and their shafts slowly lose their sharpness. The company’s products are premium class and have bright colors that can be easily mixed with each other. He has quality colored pencils available at a good price. They serve for a long time, almost never break even with careless handling and are easy to use.
  • Cretacolor is an Austrian company that produces quality pencils from environmentally friendly materials. She cares about the environment, creating products that are safe for her and for humans. There is a product for both artists and amateurs, including schoolchildren. Its tools give a beautiful effect on paper and are easy to use, even for non-professionals. They are sold in many stores and exhibit excellent pungency.
  • Crayola – the brand’s colored pencils have a hard lead, which increases their lifespan.It is convenient to draw with them due to their practical shape and non-slippery body. They are made from environmentally friendly materials. The brand has both sets and individual sale, which allows you to choose the most necessary colors. It is very convenient that these shades on paper can be easily combined if necessary.

This ranking includes both good inexpensive soft colored pencils and premium tools often chosen by professional artists.

Rating of colored pencils

To compile this TOP, we took into account many criteria, but first of all we took customer reviews as a basis.Here are the parameters we paid attention to:

  • Value for money;
  • Affordability;
  • Availability in stores;
  • Sold individually or as a set;
  • Number of pencils included;
  • Color depth;
  • Ease of use;
  • Possibility of shading;
  • What kind of paper should be used;
  • Type – Pastel or Watercolor;
  • Ease of sharpening;
  • Blunt rate;
  • Lead thickness;
  • Suitable for both amateurs and professionals.

A special parameter for the selection of suitable nominees for inclusion in this rating of the best colored pencils was the ratio of their price and quality, since a high cost does not always guarantee impeccability.

The best colored watercolor pencils

These pencils also have the advantages of watercolors. Most often they are bought for professional or aspiring artists. If there is an opportunity to purchase such a product that is not cheap, then this will be an excellent option for children who are far from this type of creativity.

Faber-Castell

These pencils are considered one of the best among the colored pencils, because they draw bright, rich and high quality. They are easy to use, do not rub your fingers, and are consumed slowly. Such a stationery is versatile, as it allows you to blur the color, creating beautiful effects. They are easy to erase from paper, so even if a child draws wallpaper, nothing too bad will happen.

Dignity

  • Sharp;
  • Neat shape;
  • Price availability;
  • Clear strokes;
  • Presence of a brush;
  • Easy to grind.

Disadvantages

  • Not a large selection of colors.

Derwent Coloursoft

Manufactured in the UK, these colored pencils are sold in a set of 48 colors. Their wide range helps to paint in a varied and effective manner, from still lifes to landscapes. Numerous shades allow for soft transitions. These pencils are considered one of the best among the colored pencils due to the fact that they fit comfortably in the hand, which does not get tired of holding them even for a long time.They are sold in a metal box that protects them from mechanical damage.

Advantages

  • Draw softly;
  • Not smeared;
  • Easy to grind;
  • High quality;
  • Long;
  • Slowly consumed.

Disadvantages

Derwent Coloursoft colored pencils do not get your hands dirty, they can be used to draw both thin lines and thicker ones.

Koh i Noor Mondeluz

This option is suitable for both adults and children over 5 years old.Such watercolor pencils can be safely bought in kindergarten for both girls and boys. It is also a great choice for art school students. Their body is cedar, pleasant to the touch, not slippery and resistant to mechanical stress. The lead has a diameter of 3.8 mm, so it allows you to make lines thin and neat. They are good not only to draw, but also to decorate. They work great on both paper and cardboard.

Advantages

  • Convenient cardboard packaging with a handle;
  • Sharp;
  • Czech production;
  • 36 pencils per set;
  • Saturated colors;
  • Create a unique watercolor effect.

Disadvantages

According to reviews, these colored pencils are good because they can be used effectively for drawing a wide variety of subjects, from portraits to landscapes.

The best pastel colored pencils

The peculiarity of these pencils is to sell them both individually, in 1 piece, and in a set. On average, it includes 12 pieces. Usually, products are made of cedar, so they are safe for humans, including a child.This ranking presents the three best sets of pastel pencils.

Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor

… I bought Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor colored pencils for my child in art school. Drawings are beautiful, professional, bright …

Expert opinion

Pencils from the famous brand Lyra are made of eco-friendly materials based on cedar. They fit easily on paper, as they are oil-based, suitable for both children and adults. They are characterized by a high degree of lightfastness and different colors are well mixed here within one set.By the way, the shades here are deep and rich. According to customer reviews, it is convenient that they can be purchased separately. In total, there are 72 colors in the collection, both dark and light with medium.

Advantages

  • Rich color palette;
  • Easy to use;
  • Reminiscent of soft pastel crayons;
  • Will not smudge on paper;
  • Thick, hard lead;
  • Non-slippery surface.

Disadvantages

  • Not suitable for thin lines.

Cretacolor Fine Art Pastel

This is a set of professional colored pencils for drawing portraits, still lifes and landscapes. It includes 24 shades that give a soft, pastel, velvety touch. This option is perfect for long-term drawing of small details due to the high-quality lead and a convenient round shape. The coating can be easily smudged with water for a vivid artistic effect.

Dignity

  • Large set;
  • Bright and saturated colors;
  • Colored bar diameter in 3.8 mm;
  • Easily mixes with each other, giving you plenty of room for imagination;
  • Good density;
  • Easy to use, no pressure required.

Disadvantages

  • Require textured paper to hold pastels;
  • Must be combined with fixative varnishes.

Crayola

These are the best colored pencils in the ranking of the inexpensive ones, and despite this, their quality is quite high.They are chosen for use in both ordinary and art schools, although, of course, this is not at all professional level. They are sold in a set of 12. and made from environmentally friendly materials. Brush strokes are easy to blend, making them smooth and beautiful. They do not contain toxic substances, which makes the use of such products safe.

Advantages

  • Availability in stores;
  • Not thick;
  • Draw softly;
  • Grind down slowly;
  • Easy to sharpen;
  • Do not crumble;
  • Strong base.

Disadvantages

  • Not a large selection of colors.

Pencils from the Crayola brand allow you to accurately and accurately draw faces, plants and other objects. As a result, they turn out to be “lively”, rich and bright.

Which colored pencils are best to buy

For children under 3 years old, it is best to choose pencils with three edges, since a child at this age does not yet know how to place fingers correctly. Such models are convenient due to the fact that they do not roll off the work surface.For those over 3 years old, you can buy hexagonal products, but it is advisable that they have a thickened lead, since it can break as a result of strong pressure. It is more convenient for a child to draw with pencils marked “M”, which means their softness.

Here are the best colored pencils to choose according to the situation:

  • Faber-Castell pencils are ideal for portraits.
  • Fine lines and details are best drawn with Derwent tools.
  • Experienced artists find it easier and better to work with Koh i Noor
  • For landscapes, the Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor set is ideal.
  • If you need to paint a still life, you should pay attention to the Cretacolor Fine Art Pastel model.
  • You can safely take Crayola goods with you to kindergarten and regular school for drawing lessons.

This video provides some good tips for choosing crayons:

When choosing the best crayons, attention should be paid to both quality and efficiency.That is, the drawing as a result should be beautiful, bright, with deep colors.

How to Choose the Best Mechanical Pencil

Mechanical pencils fill the shelves of schools and classrooms. These are inexpensive, commercially produced products sold by the dozen. They are often designed to be attractive, sugar-free chewing gum and disposable. Unsurprisingly, many artists never thought about them seriously, but high quality mechanical pencils can now be found in abundance in art stores.It’s all too easy to dissolve their potential and overlook their impact on drawing.

An assortment of some of the many mechanical pencils available today. On the left is a disposable, disposable pencil. In the center are several clickable, reusable pencils with features such as removable erasers, storage for extra lead, and soft, comfortable pens. To the right and top are claw-shaped holders with features such as built-in sharpeners and tilt wheels.

3 Reasons to Use Mechanical Pencils

Mechanical pencils offer artists many benefits such as:

  • They are easy to control .
  • Subtleties are often so subtle that they do not need to be sharpened .
  • Lines are always thin, dark and sharp (compared to traditional pencil marks, which will vary in width and value even with the slightest change in pressure) .

Read on to learn more about the history of these handy drawing tools and the wide range of designs and features available.

The History of Mechanical Pencils

The origins of mechanical pencils are related to the discovery of graphite. It was a dark and stormy night, as the story goes, in Cumberland, England, in 1564. A violent storm knocked down a huge old oak tree, roots and all. The event changed history.

The next morning, curious peasants came to investigate.Deep in the huge hole where the roots of the tree were, they found something dark and hard. To their surprise, they found that fragments of it could be used for labeling, among other applications. It soon became apparent that the newly discovered “black lead” (also called “pack” or “plumbago”) was better for writing and drawing than anything else available. Its tracks were less fleeting than those of coal or chalk. They didn’t fade like ink. And, unlike lines with metal dots, they could be erased – rubbing with breadcrumbs made traces of black lead as if by magic.

Collection of vintage mechanical pencils from Mabie, Todd & Co., circa 1870. A wide variety of historic mechanical pencils can be viewed online at the Mechanical Pencil Museum (legendaryleadcompany.com).
Photo: Jonathan A. Veley

Soon the material was mined and sold. The fragments were carved into sticks and wrapped with thread so that they could be unraveled if necessary. Thin ribbons were coated with wax, placed in hollow tongues, or wrapped in wooden or metal tubes, which made them cleaner and easier to work with.Just a year after the storm, Konrad Gesner, a renowned Swiss scientist, wrote about the existence of a new lead retention device, the predecessor of both wooden and mechanical pencils. He suggested that the black lead in the core of the pencil could be antimony.

The actual composition of the material remained a mystery until the late 18th century when it was discovered to be neither lead nor antimony, but rather a form of carbon. The substance was renamed “graphite” (from the Greek for “write”), but even now the terms “lead” and “graphite” are often used interchangeably, and mechanical pencil shafts are still called “leads”, a source of occasional confusion.

Class 54
John Whalley, 2007, graphite (mechanical pencil), 43½ x 56½.
© 2016 John Wally.

In the 18th century, port pencils, fillers with metal claws, designed to be gripped with chalk or graphite sticks, became fashionable writing and drawing tools. They were followed by countless variations that evolved into the diverse family of mechanical pencils available today. Some projects were rough, others brilliant.Examples of all kinds of mechanical pencils can be found in antique stores, not to mention old desk drawers.

At the end of the 18th to th century, Nicolas-Jacques Conte (1755-1805) began to combine powdered graphite and clay to produce pencil leads with various levels of hardness. Nowadays, plastic polymers are added to the mixture, which makes it possible to produce very thin wires with sizes from 0.2 to 0.9 millimeters. With these thin, durable graphite sticks, modern mechanical pencils were born.

Selecting and Using Mechanical Pencils

Today mechanical pencils are available in a variety of designs, sizes and even colors. Whatever the model, mechanical pencils differ from other pencils in that their shafts are not tied to their outer shells, allowing the shafts to be manually or mechanically manipulated, lengthened, removed, removed and replaced.

Man’s Best Friend (Studying Dog Skulls)
by Sherry Camhy Graphite (mechanical and wood pencils), 16 x 20.
Work in progress.

Some mechanical pencils push or retract wires through the fine tip. Others grip the wires with metal claws, while others use side clickers that push the wires forward at comfortable lengths. Many have hollow bodies to store additional leads. Some have attached erasers. Simpler and less expensive designs have fixed dimensions, while more complex pencils can be adapted to different wires using systems for specifying different sizes and grades of graphite.”Extension cords” with metal pencils that can securely hold large wires thicker than 0.5mm that require special sharpeners may not fit the more limited definition of “mechanical pencils”, but many artists use these larger wires in combination with smaller ones for great work.

Like traditional drawing pencils, mechanical pencils have a hardness of 9H (hardest) to 9B (softest). HB lead falls in the middle of the scale.Note that some pencils designed for writing rather than drawing use a different scale, from 1 to 4, with the higher numbers being more difficult. Also keep in mind that the exact hardness of any pencil will vary by brand.

Self-portrait
Mark Gonzalez, 2016, graphite (mechanical pencil 0.7 mm 2B), 7 x 5.

Artists may use mechanical pencils exclusively, or may alternate with traditional pencils with great advantage.The strengths of mechanical pencils are their subtleties, which in many cases are so thin that they do not need to be sharpened, unlike traditional pencils. No standard pencil, no matter how well sharpened, can match a 0.2mm nib. With mechanical pencils, small details like the pupil of the eye are easy to defeat.

A mechanical pencil is easy to operate, and its lines are always thin, dark and sharp, while the marks of a traditional pencil will vary in width and value with the slightest change in pressure.This uniform quality line has a unique beauty and can help maintain the integrity of the plane image. And while mechanical pencils are often considered an essentially linear medium, they don’t have to be. In my research on Man’s Best Friend, the thin, light lines of 0.3mm lead helped me develop the foundational unity of composition. For the finished drawing, I patiently lined up large dark areas of tone using 0.7mm and 0.9mm wires, which allowed me to complete the drawing without smudging areas.

Daria XX
Costa Vavagiakis, 2015, graphite (mechanical pencil with 0.9 mm HB lead), 17 x 14.

Many experienced contemporary artists use mechanical pencils, both as their primary tool and in combination with others. Costa Vavagiakis, for example, uses the 0.9mm HB pin hatching technique to precisely control carefully shaped areas and luminous shadows that are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in any other way. He says he likes never to stop and sharpen a pencil.

It can be difficult to determine which artists used mechanical pencils because very often the medium is simply referred to as “graphite”. But from the variety and quality of mechanical pencils available today, and from the examples provided here, it is obvious that serious artists are serious about mechanical pencils, with remarkable results.

Mechanical pencil: what to look for

Like many other drawing materials, pencils have their own types and characteristics.Plain, graphite pencils made from wood are the most popular. The second, in terms of the popularity of use, I would call a mechanical pencil. It can be divided into two main types: automatic pencil and collet pencil. What to look for when choosing a mechanical pencil, we’ll talk in this article.

Definition of “mechanical pencil”

The definition “ mechanical pencil ” can be given to us by GOST, and it sounds like this: a hand tool for writing or drawing, which can change the graphite rod.It was invented in 1869 by the American Alonso Townsenda Cross , when he noticed that two-thirds of a simple pencil, after sharpening, simply went to waste. However, you can read about the history of the pencil here.

Collet and pencil automatic

All mechanical pencils are mainly divided into two types:

  1. collet pencil;
  2. automatic pencil.

Collet pencil is so named because the holder for a graphite rod (lead) is called a collet.If we turn to Wikipedia, it says that collet (from German Zange ) is a device for clamping cylindrical or prismatic objects.

The collet pencil has a wide purpose, it is used by everyone, from a first grader to a seasoned engineer. It is also convenient for artists, as it allows you to draw a line “in the most intimate parts of the picture”, the width of which is from 0.2 to 1 mm. It is because of the multipurpose purpose that the choice of such pencils is very diverse.

When choosing, it is worth paying attention to the main quality criterion for collet pencils – this is the number of petals for clamping the lead. The maximum number of petals is five. But in the cheaper ones, three are used, which do not give reliable fixation.

The automatic pencil can have the following pen feed mechanisms:

  • screw mechanism – when a graphite rod is fed by rotating some part of the body;
  • lazy pencil ” – pencils with a side button located next to the girth area.

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