Drafting pencil lead: Drafting Pencils and Leads


The Best Lead Grade For Every Application

For thousands of years, people have used graphite to exercise creativity and bring ideas to life. Graphite is the key component of modern day pencil lead—in fact, lead is a misnomer, as it’s actually made up of a mixture of graphite and clay. The formulation of this mixture determines its lead grade. A higher proportion of graphite compared to clay will create a softer, darker lead; increasing the clay proportion creates lead that’s harder and leaves a lighter mark.

Lead grade is an important consideration for both the artist and writer. The hardness of a lead affects its strength, smoothness, smudge resistance, and pigmentation. Writers can fine tune the darkness of their lines by moving a step up or down in lead hardness, while an artist can employ the full range of lead grades to achieve different effects. Watch the video below or keep reading to learn more about lead grades.

Grading Scale

There are two systems for grading lead hardness: European and American. The European system uses a combination of letters and numbers. B denotes soft leads, or leads with greater graphite content. The higher the corresponding number, the softer the lead and the darker the marks produced by the lead. At the other end of the spectrum, H designates leads with higher clay content. H leads become lighter as you work up the scale.

The American system uses numbers, with #2 ½ in the middle of the scale. The American #2 pencil usually lines up with the European HB grade, as seen in the graphic above. There is no industry standard for the hardness of a lead grade and results vary from brand to brand. Japanese leads tend to be darker than their European equivalents, though they use the same system. We reference the European grading system for the remainder of the article as it is more comprehensive than the American system.

H Grades

H designates harder leads.

H leads are extremely smudge-resistant and give cleaner lines, making them useful for things such as outlines, technical drawings, light sketches, and even watercolors. Left-handed pencil users can also take advantage of smudge-resistant H leads. On the downside, hard leads tend to be scratchy, especially as you move up the scale.

F and HB

F and HB are great for everyday use.

The lead grades in the middle of the spectrum are F and HB. HB (American #2) is the standard lead grade used for writing because it’s dark enough to be read clearly while having minimal smudging.

B Grades

B grades create bold, dark lines, perfect for art.

B leads are smooth to write and draw with. They smudge easily, but are readily erased. They’re perfect for pencil drawings as artists can take advantage of the brush-like expressions, especially in the higher B grades. Animators in particular enjoy using 10B over animator paper because it writes like butter, creating nice, quick, heavy lines with no friction.

Pairing any lead grade—H leads especially—with toothy paper will give you a better writing or drawing experience, as the graphite can adhere more effectively to the textured surface and be seen more clearly. The tooth of a paper refers to its surface finish, or how rough or smooth it is. The toothier a paper, the rougher the surface and the better a medium will grip onto the paper. Some of our favorite toothy papers are found in these sketchbooks: Stillman & Birn Premium Sketchbook – Delta, Maruman New Soho Series Sketchbooks, and Maruman Zuan Series Sketch Books.

Choosing a Writing Instrument

Pencil leads are housed in a variety of ways. The wooden pencil offers the most extensive range of lead grades, and its thicker lead allows you to fully appreciate the expressions of each lead grade. On the other hand, the mechanical pencil is a clean, convenient, no-fuss tool that is great for writing. However, because most mechanical pencils have such a small tip size, they’re unable to produce the dynamic expressions of a wooden pencil. Lead holders are the solution to this problem, as they marry the expression of a wooden pencil with the convenience of a mechanical pencil. However, lead grade offerings in lead holders are also limited compared with wooden pencils. Which you choose boils down to personal need and preference, and we have recommendations for all three categories below.

Wooden Pencil Lead Grades

Lead Grades for Writing

As stated earlier, leads in the middle of the spectrum (HB, F) are ideal for writing—they have a good level of pigmentation and smoothness with a relatively low level of smudging. Surrounding lead grades (H, B) are also suitable for writing depending on your preference for darkness. If you prefer something even darker, 2B may be used, but we wouldn’t go higher than that because of the notable amount of smudging. For a more comprehensive look at wooden pencils, see our Guide to Wooden Pencils.

This may look like the number 2 pencil of your elementary school days, but don’t write it off just yet. With three lead grades (B, HB, H) available, you can choose the level of darkness preferred. This pencil is great for the careful writer and note-taker—the pencil grips the paper firmly, giving nice control while writing. We love the gentle sound of it scratching away as we write, but if you want something less distracting, consider the Uni 9850 below.

Not too grippy and not too smooth, the Uni 9850 is, as Goldilocks would say, just right. This pencil is pleasant to write with and with just one lead grade to choose from, you don’t have to spend a long time deciding between lead grades. The eraser on this pencil is surprisingly good, and the lead itself erases cleanly and easily.

Lead Grades for Art

Artists use both soft and hard leads to achieve different effects and styles, and many have every single lead grade available already in their arsenal. Those who are just starting out can choose a pencil line they enjoy and pick alternating lead grades to achieve similar effects without having to invest in a complete set. Wooden pencils are perfect to use for techniques such as shading because they can be used on their side without breaking.

Beloved by beginner and expert artists alike, the Lumograph has a wonderful range of lead grades that are great for anything from quick, light sketching to dynamic pencil drawings. They’re smooth with a slight grip for artists to draw and sketch comfortably.

With an impressive number of 22 lead grades to choose from, the Hi-Uni pencil line has everything that an artist needs, whether you’re an animator, comic artist, or watercolor painter. In the soft B grades, the pencils are buttery smooth, almost paintbrush-like in the expressive way they lay down graphite. The harder H leads are fantastic for watercolors and light sketching, but do get scratchier in the upper range.

Mechanical Pencil Lead Grades

Lead grades in mechanical pencil leads are more limited as it’s quite difficult to make soft leads in thin tip sizes that don’t crumble. While not a problem for writers, artists may have a difficult time finding the lead grade they need. However, artists can take advantage of these fine-tipped mechanical pencils to draw details and outlines without the hassle of sharpening a wooden pencil. While mechanical pencil lead grades may be more limited than in wooden pencils, we’ve managed to curate several lines of mechanical pencil leads that have impressive lead grade offerings below. For a deeper dive into this topic, peruse our post on the Best Mechanical Pencil Leads.

The Pentel Ain Stein has an astonishing selection of tip size and lead grade combinations. It’s available in a tiny 0.2 mm tip size, great for those who have miniscule writing. The leads feature a silica core that minimize breakage, even in the 0.2 mm tip size. Artists can also enjoy the sizable amount of lead grades (4H to 4B) in the 0.5 mm size.

Uni NanoDia leads are infused with tiny diamond particles.
Due to its nano-diamond infused structure, the Uni NanoDia has less slip than the Pentel Stein when writing and is perfect for those who enjoy grippier pencil leads. We experienced the least amount of breakage with these leads in comparison to the Pentel Stein and Pilot Neox, which is a definite plus for both writers and artists.

Uni has also innovated new Uni Smudge-Proof Lead. Infused with the same nano-diamond particles, Smudge-Proof lead in the same grade as NanoDia writes with a softer, more buttery feel. We recommend it in the HB or B grades for the most effective smudge prevention. The 2B grade doesn’t quite overcome the natural limitations of soft lead and remains a little smudgeable.

The Pilot Neox is the smoothest among the three lines mentioned and uses lubricating graphite crystals to create a pleasant writing experience. This lead glides effortlessly across the page and is great for artists doing quick sketches or dreamers whose pencil can’t keep up with their thoughts and ideas.

Click below to see all tip size and lead grade options for the three mechanical pencil lead lines mentioned above.

See Mechanical Pencil Lead Grade Table

See Mechanical Pencil Lead Grade Table

The Top 10 Drafting & Mechanical Pencils

The difference is clearly explained between a drafting & mechanical pencil with our top 5 recommendations for each pencil type.

Having been asked recently what the difference between Drafting & Mechanical Pencil is, I thought it would be an idea to explain what features that drafting pencil tends to have compared to mechanical pencils and list some of the more popular examples.

Drafting pencils are often used for technical drawing. They can be placed very close to templates giving a clear view of the page with less of the pencil getting in the way; they generally have a longer sleeve than mechanical pencils measuring between 3 & 5mm. These pencils were widely used by architects & draughtsmen until the late 19’70s, but use started to decline as CAD came into its own.

However, they still have a place as some artists & designers require varied lead sizes through the course of their work. It also considered that drafting pencils distribute less lead than a mechanical pencil when advanced giving the user more control.

Mechanical pencils are ideal for writing & drawing; check out this post comparing them against wooden pencils to see how they stack up. They usually have a shorter sleeve than a drafting pencil measuring around 2.0mm in length & generally come in 0.5 or 0.7mm lead sizes.

1. Top 5 Drafting Pencils

As we have already mentioned, a drafting pencil tends to have a longer lead sleeve than a mechanical pencil, which can be either fixed or retractable.

As architects and draftsmen can often have several pencils in different lead grades, there is usually a built-in adjustable lead grade indicator.

Drafting pencils are often more expensive than mechanical ones as they are manufactured from more costly materials and require more precision engineering during the manufacturing process.

Our Top 5 drafting pencils are among the most popular available and some of the most highly reviewed and rated pencils online.

1.1. Ohto Super Promecha Drafting Pencil 1500

The Ohto Super Promecha is one of the best drafting pencils available to buy. It may not be as well-known in the U.S and Europe as Pentel & Rotring, but they are a seriously good piece of kit and packed with features, making them super customizable.

The first thing you notice about this drafting pencil is the build quality of the all-metal design with its aluminum barrel and knurled grip area. But what makes it really stand out is that you can adjust almost everything on it to your own preferences.

Simply twist the grip to adjust the length of the lead sleeve from 0 – 5mm.  Just above the grip is an inset rotary lead control. By turning this, you can adjust the lead length that comes out of the lead sleeve each time you click the push button. This can be set from 0. 2 – 2.0mm.

Inset into the push button is a lead grade indicator from B – 4H, and underneath the push button is an eraser and clearing pin.

I have seen drafting pencils with a retractable lead sleeve but none where the sleeve can be adjusted, and as far as I know, this is unique to this pencil.

The Ohto Super Promecha Drafting Pencil 1500 is available in the following lead sizes:

PM-1503P 0.3mm

PM-1505P 0.5mm

PM-1507P 0.7mm

PM-1509P 0.9mm

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1.2. Rotring 600 Drafting Pencil

The Rotring 600 is a fantastic piece of functional German engineering that is a joy to behold. It is an all-metal drafting pencil with a knurled grip that feels perfectly weighted & balanced in your hand. When you push the button to advance the lead, there is a reassuring click, and it just works time after time after time.

There is a lead grade indicator at the top of the pencil and underneath the push button is an eraser. The pocket clip can be removed, and it has a fixed 4mm lead sleeve. For many people, the precision of engineering makes this their number one choice.

The top of the range Rotring 800 has a retractable lead sleeve but no lead grade indicator, which is a deal-breaker for some. We don’t feel that for the extra cost, there is enough difference in features and its quality to make it worth choosing a Rotring 800 pencil over the Rotring 600 pencil. This is why the Rotring 600 makes the top 5, and in many ways,  you could argue it is the best of the five drafting pencils featured here.

The pencil is available with 0.5mm, and 0.7mm lead.

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1.3. Pentel Graph 1000 for Pro

The Pentel Graph 1000 for Pro is arguably their best drafting pencil and a firm favorite of professionals who require a drafting pencil for their work. It is made of a combination of metal and rubber in the grip area, and the upper body is a robust and lightweight plastic.

This combination gives the pencil an outstanding balance making it comfortable to use when writing and drawing. It has a fixed lead sleeve, a removable pocket clip, and a lead grade indicator inset into its push button.

There is also an eraser underneath the pushbutton. The pencil is available with 0.3mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm. 0.7mm and 0.9mm lead diameters.

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1.4. Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Drafting Pencil

Pentel makes great pencils, so there are two in our top 5, the pentel Graph Gear 1000. This is an all-metal pencil, and the knurled grip area has rubber inserts for added comfort and control. Above the grip is a lead grade indicator, and there is an eraser underneath the push button.

The wide pocket clip is great for attaching to slightly thicker objects, and the lead sleeve can be fully retracted by pressing down on this clip. The pencil is available with 0.3mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm. 0.7mm and 0.9mm lead diameters.

There is much debate amongst users about which is the better pencil, the Graph Gear or the Graph 1000 Pro. The Graph 1000 Pro probably slightly edges it, but like all things in life, it is down to personal preference, and they are both great drafting pencils.

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1.5. Staedtler 925 35 Drafting Pencil

The Staedtler 925 35 Drafting pencil was made initially for the Japanese market, but they are widely available in the U.S and Europe. It is beautifully made and has a nice weight, with its metal barrel giving it a premium feel.

The pencil is available with 0.3mm, 0.7mm, 0.9mm, or 2mm lead, and the size is marked on its push button. It has a fixed lead sleeve and underneath the push button is an eraser with a clearing pin (except for 2. mm). There is also a lead grade indicator to quickly identify which grade of lead is in pencil.

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2. Top 5 Mechanical Pencils

Our top 5 Mechanical pencils have something to suit everyone’s needs. There is the practical Pentel Twist Erase with its large eraser. For those who require a more ergonomic grip, the Pilot DR Grip is one of the finest of this type.

If you love your pencils with a sharp lead, then the super clever Uni Kuru Toga self-sharpening pencil is just the thing. Or, if you need something more robust, then you will not go too far wrong with the Zebra Stainless Steel mechanical pencil.

For those looking for an elegant, sophisticated and refined mechanical pencil, then the Cross Century is a gorgeous pencil from a premier brand.

2.1. Cross Century Chrome Mechanical Pencil

The Cross Century is the most expensive mechanical pencil in the top 5 but has the build quality and craftsmanship you expect from a premium brand such as Cross and has a lifetime guarantee.

The slimline profile of this pencil may not suit everyone, but visually this is a joy to behold with its shiny chrome barrel subtly inset with horizontal lines along the length of the barrel.

Another unique feature is the lead is extended by twisting the top of the barrel, and underneath the cap is an eraser.

Quite simply, if you are looking for a premier mechanical pencil with a touch of class, The Cross Century Mechanical pencil is a superb choice.

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2.2. Pentel Twist Erase Mechanical Pencil

Pentel is a Japanese manufacturer who is perhaps best known for its superb Energel range of pens also makes great mechanical pencils. The standout feature of the Twist Erase pencil is its oversized eraser.

A lot of built-in pencil erasers are pretty small and great for the odd error, but many people end up carrying a dedicated eraser. This is where this pencil excels; not only is the eraser a good size and very practical, but at 35mm in length, it is also very long-lasting. When it does need replacing, Pentel E10 eraser refills are widely available.

The other note with these pencils is that it has a wide barrel with a latex-free rubber grip. That is quite comfortable, making it easy to use for extended periods of writing. The build quality is also good; it is made of robust, lightweight plastic that doesn’t flex and feels like it will break on you anytime soon.

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2.3. Pilot Dr. Grip Mechanical Pencil

The Pilot Dr. Grip mechanical pencil is renowned for its wide barrel and super soft rubberized grip that is very comfortable to hold for long periods. This makes it a great pencil not just for people who write for prolonged periods but also for anyone who may have difficulty holding a slim barrelled pencil.

The pencil has a shaker mechanism which means that you can advance the lead traditionally with the push button. Or by shaking the pencil, which is way more fun than it should be, just to extend the length of the lead.

There is also a rubber underneath the push button cap, which quickly pulls off to reveal it. The pencil is available with 0.3mm, 0.5mm. 0.7mm and 0.9mm lead diameters.

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2.4. Uni Kuru Toga Self Sharpening Mechanical Pencil


The Uni Kuru Toga is the world’s first self-sharpening pencil; some clever techies in Japan invented a revolutionary rotating clutch mechanism. Its brilliance is in its simplicity of operation; each time you press the pencil to the paper and lift it off, a spring-loaded clutch rotates the lead a little bit.

This means that the lead wears down evenly, retains its conical shape, and produces a consistent line width.

There are several versions of the Kuru Toga available, including the Standard Model, High Grade, Roulette, Pipe & Advance.

The Uni Kuru Toga Roulette is the one we are featuring in our top 5; I just love the knurled metal grip, which the others don’t have. The rest of the body is plastic, and there is an eraser under the cap. It is one of the best-selling Kuru Toga models on Amazon.com, although bizarrely, it is described as a Uni Core Keep Sharp Mechanical Pencil Gun Metallic.

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2.5. Zebra M-701 Stainless Steel Mechanical Pencil

Those who don’t know Zebra are a Japanese manufacturer who makes excellent quality products at affordable prices. The M701 pencil is no exception; it is nearly bulletproof made from stainless steel with a knurled grip.

This is one pencil that can handle the everyday rigors of life, i.e., chucked into a drawer and bags, etc., or if it falls off your desk, in the worst case, you have broken the lead but won’t need to buy a replacement.

The weight of the all-metal construction gives it a solid feel. This will be appreciated by those who prefer something that feels heavier in their hand compared to the lightweight plastic that most other pencils are made from. It has a sprung metal pocket clip and underneath the push button is an eraser.

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3. Replacement Pencil Lead

It does not matter if you are using a drafting or mechanical pencil; the lead diameter is the same for both. i.e., 0.5mm lead will fit any drafting or mechanical pencil listed as a 0.5mm pencil.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Mechanical Pencil Lead Sizes for More Information.

The only thing that does change is the lead grade; here is a quick explanation of the different lead grades.

If you look at the image and take HB as the starting point, which is probably the most common grade of lead for writing.

Then everything to the left of HB is B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B & 8B; the lead is getting increasingly softer and blacker.

Conversely, Everything to the right of HB,  F, H, 2H, 3H, 4H, 5H & 6H. The lead is getting increasingly harder and lighter grey in color.

A drafting pencil or mechanical pencil is only as good as the lead that you use with it. It goes without saying that cheaper lead breaks easily and does not give consistent lines.

Check out our Guide The Best Mechanical Lead to see our top 5 mechanical pencil lead refill recommendations.

3.1. Pentel Super High Polymer Lead

Pentel Super High Polymer lead is ideal and highly recommended for a general-purpose lead that is great for everyday use.

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3.2. Pentel AIN Stein Lead


Pentel AIN Stein lead is widely regarded as the best lead available it is more expensive than Pentel Super High Polymer Lead. This is because it is smoother, darker, and more robust than nearly all other lead brands.

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We have a more in-depth article that explains what makes a good children’s mechanical pencil and has our top recommendations for those of you with children.

You may also be interested in our guide, The Top 3 Mini Mechanical Pencils.

If you currently use any of these drafting pencils or mechanical pencils, or maybe you are using one that is not in our top ten, let us know your views in the comments.

I Can Never Have Too Many Mechanical Pencils

People who write notes in ink must be very sure of their thoughts. I write notes in pencil: It seems more polite. Penciled notes are always provisional and erasable. But the apparent humility—or, perhaps, smug performance of humility—in my choice of penciling is counterbalanced by the fact that I eschew the humble wooden pencil. I must have a mechanical pencil, the kind you click to advance the lead. And when I say “a mechanical pencil,” you should know that I mean “lots of mechanical pencils.”

Cheap, plastic mechanical pencils; expensive polycarbonate mechanical pencils; tiny, slim aluminum mechanical pencils; and finely-engineered mechanical drafting pencils: I have them all. I use them to write in my notebooks, in the margins of printed books, and on manuscript paper for musical composition. I am an incorrigible mechanical penciler. I will never have enough mechanical pencils.

A good mechanical pencil is a beautifully-made object. Architects have long sworn by the original German model of my prized Rotring 600, now manufactured in Japan: Its all-metal barrel is hexagonal, so that it doesn’t roll down the drawing-board, and it is an instrument of exquisite heft and balance. (The tactile positivity of its lead-advance button mechanism is a perpetual delight. This pencil is, quite literally, clickbait.) But a mechanical pencil is also, simply, more practical. The existence of pencil sharpeners or pencils shrunk to tiny stumps through long use are just foolish rumors of a bygone age. The ordinary, dumb wooden pencil is, in the poetic words of Henry Petroski—author of The Pencil: A History (1989)—“designed to be destroyed.” A mechanical pencil doesn’t require sharpening and is always the same length, so that its weight and handfeel remain constant. It is obviously an improvement, a superior piece of gear.

When you look into the matter, though, you discover a curious fact: The first known illustration of any pencil depicts something that resembles a mechanical pencil as much as it does the wood-cased kind, in which the lead is permanently bonded to the wood that encloses it. In 1565, the naturalist Konrad Gesner published a book about fossils that featured a drawing of a new kind of writing implement for taking notes in the field, apparently of the author’s own invention. “The stylus shown below,” the accompanying text explains, “is made for writing, from a sort of lead (which I have heard some call English antimony), shaved to a point and inserted in a wooden handle.” So the “lead” (actually graphite) is separable from the handle. But there is no clever mechanism to advance the lead, as one finds in a modern mechanical pencil, so it remains a primitive device.

A good mechanical pencil is, simply, more practical. The existence of pencil sharpeners or pencils shrunk to tiny stumps through long use are foolish rumors of a bygone age.

While the wood-cased pencil soon became commonplace, more sophisticated versions of a rigid sleeve in which the lead could move independently took longer to appear. In one 1636 example, a brass holder used a spring to push out the lead. Henry Petroski thinks this may deserve the title of “the first propelling pencil.” But mechanical pencils really took off only in the 19th century. An English engineer named Sampson Mordan patented his “ever-pointed” pencil in 1822, and the American watchmaker James Bogardus patented his own “forever pointed” pencil in 1833. By the late Victorian era there was a craze for “magic” pencils in brass or gold, disguised as lucky charms and sometimes sold along with matching toothpicks and ear spoons. Such pencils, though, had thick leads, and slack machining tolerances meant that there was a disturbing amount of play in their tips. They were not yet reliable tools for serious writing or drawing.

We still await an ear-spoon revival, but the mechanical pencil enjoyed a second, and permanent, revolution in 1915. In Japan, Tokuji Hayakawa produced a nickel-bodied device, the “Hayakawa Mechanical Pencil,” with an internal lead-propelling mechanism of brass and a rifled shaft. Later iterations were christened the “Ever-Ready Sharp Pencil” and then simply the “Ever-Sharp Pencil.” It was such a success that Hayakawa eventually renamed his corporation Sharp—the same company that today is known mainly for its electronics. Similar improvements were made by the American Eversharp pencil, introduced in 1916. Within five years, 12 million Eversharps had been distributed throughout the U. S. The mechanical pencil was promoted as a cost-saving and efficiency-improving measure for office work, since no time was wasted in sharpening it. With advances made by manufacturers in Germany and Japan, it was later enthusiastically adopted by engineers and architects, especially once very fine lead (the now-familiar 0.5-millimeter diameter) became available in specialist drafting pencils in 1961. By the 1970s, more than 60 million mechanical pencils were sold worldwide every year.

In an early example of how office work can be made to sound more exciting by likening it to military adventure, one early-20th-century advertisement boasted: “Eversharp leads are smooth, strong, and fit Eversharp like ammunition fits a gun.” Yet even a premium metal-jacketed mechanical pencil, for all its military-tool bravado, has a crucial weakness. For the mechanical pencil is an exoskeletal organism. Its epidermis provides the structural rigidity within which the vital organ, the lead, is protected. And yet at the same time this thin spindle of graphite must protrude from the body to enable the user to make a mark with it, creating a point of extreme vulnerability.

If the mechanical pencil were a videogame boss, this extrusion of its intestine would be the weak spot the player should target. Here is where the lead so often breaks. This breakpoint has even been subjected to physical analysis by Henry Petroski in another of his books, Invention by Design. Consider the protruding lead, he suggests, as a Galilean cantilever beam. Assuming no flaws or nicks in the lead, it will break precisely at its junction with the pencil’s metal tip.

Many mechanical pencils have another vulnerable part. If the barrel has a clip, it is usually designated a “pocket clip.” But I for one don’t limit my pencil-clipping to pockets. I clip a mechanical pencil to the inside pages of a book I am reading, where it acts as a bookmark as well as a handy instrument of marginalia. I clip mechanical pencils to the rigid covers of Moleskine notebooks. The clips usually tear a few of the inside pages. But it is worth it, to have a notebook with a pencil always attached.

Always, that is, until the clip fails. And it always does. I have many mechanical pencils with broken-off clips. They haunt my desk, mute witnesses to my abuse. Moleskine itself makes a mechanical pencil designed to be attached to its notebooks, with an apparently sturdier clip. But this pencil has a rectangular cross-section. Perhaps it feels comfortable to the notebook, lying flat to its cover. But it is certainly not made for human hands.

What new ideas might remain to be discovered in mechanical pencil land?

What new ideas might remain to be discovered in mechanical pencil land? It was only in the 1980s that manufacturers invented what Henry Petroski calls “truly automatic pencils—ones that feed ultra-thin lead by the action of writing itself.” And to this day, the use of mechanical pencils entails regrettable waste: You have to throw away the last bit of lead when it has become too short to protrude from the tip while being gripped by the pencil’s internal mechanism. This is, as Petroski notes sternly, “one definite shortcoming of mechanical pencils that cries out for improvement.”

Yet other ingenious enhancements have appeared. You can now buy several models of mechanical pencil known as the “Kuru-Toga,” invented by Uniball. The problem its designers noticed was this: If you don’t hold your pencil exactly perpendicular to the page but at an angle, like most people do, then even the fine lead of a mechanical pencil will wear down more quickly on one side. This results in a softer, chisel-shaped point that draws a thicker line. So Uniball’s engineers dreamed up a pencil with an internal geared mechanism that rotates the lead slightly every time it is lifted off the paper. Now the lead is worn down equally on all sides and the chisel-point never appears.

It was only on first trying a Kuru-Toga that I realized I had for decades been unconsciously compensating for the chisel effect myself by turning the mechanical pencil in my fingertips every so often. That there was now no need to do so felt like a weird shift of perspective, a tiny Copernican revolution in my mechanical penciling. A Kuru-Toga, whether in smoky gunmetal plastic or aluminum, feels special enough that when someone in the library walks off accidentally with your branded transparent library bag instead of their own, you feel sad when you remember that you had a Kuru-Toga in that bag.

But this is a general truth: The better your mechanical pencil, the more forlorn you feel when you lose it, as you will inevitably do, for pencils of any kind fall into that class of objects—along with umbrellas, cigarette lighters, and, perhaps, sunglasses—that are somehow more often lost than found, and so never quite permanently the property of any one individual. To spend tens of dollars, then, on a single pencil, let alone hundreds or even thousands (which is eminently possible, should you require a barrel of solid silver or a more precious metal), might seem a quixotic form of tool fetishism. Yet by the same token it is also an act of aesthetic defiance, in the face of the pencil-swallowing Absurd.

Whatever finessings of stationery engineering remain to be dreamed up for the mechanical pencil, you might wonder whether it is already an archaic instrument, suitable only for those with a dissident mania for the physical. Who needs a mechanical pencil, after all, in an age where writing and drawing increasingly take place in frictionless electronic media, where no substance rubs off on another in the way that graphite flakes off onto paper? (Unless we consider flakes of human skin rubbing off onto laptop keyboards and touchscreens.) In apparent response to such a challenge, the newest model by Rotring, the 800+, attempts to live in both worlds simultaneously: to be both old-fashioned mechanical pencil and newfangled electronic accessory.


The 800+ is a thoroughbred writing appliance in solid, brushed aluminum, with red lettering on one facet of its heavy, hexagonal body. Around the top of the barrel, just below the lead-advance button, is the company’s signature red ring (hence the German “Rotring”), here framed in brass. The pencil’s writing tip, also in brass, is retractable, which makes it agreeably “pocket-safe.” (It won’t tear the lining of your blazer’s inside breast pocket, if that is where you keep your mechanical pencils. It is where I keep one mechanical pencil.)

To extend the writing tip, you twist the top of the barrel below the red ring. The metal is knurled here, like the cylindrical grip section of the barrel, to signal that it is a control surface. When the tip is retracted, however, the rubberized black end of the barrel becomes a “stylus,” designed to operate the touchscreen of a tablet or other touch-sensitive device. Thus the semantic atavism, or perhaps nostalgia, of the modern age: Just as a “tablet” was once made of stone or clay, a “stylus” was once just a pointed object used to gouge meaningful trenches in a yielding substance.

The Rotring stylus-pencil represents an ambitious and even witty mashup of functions. And yet, to operate an iPad using the 800+’s fat rubber stylus, which is essentially a prosthetic fingertip, feels more like being a child or a caveman than like living in the future. It mainly helps you to appreciate anew the delightful precision of the pencil’s traditional mode, when you twist the barrel to unsheathe the fine metal writing tip and click the button—once? twice?—to advance the nano-engineered rod of graphite by a millimeter or two. This is a little ritual of sensual mechanics, repeatable dozens of times a day without risk of boredom; an act of prologue and preparation, like a martial artist saluting the judges before his demonstration or a concert pianist adjusting his stool and flicking his coat-tails behind him; a micro-play of reassuringly predictable physics that signals both to the pencil and to its thinking operator that now, yes now, it is time to begin writing again.

An ongoing series about the hidden lives of ordinary things

The Architectural Student: Tutorial: Pencils and Leads

Pencil Grading Chart

Pencil cores are generally made of graphite mixed with a clay binder which creates easily erased grey or black marks. Graphite pencils are used for both writing and drawing which provides a durable mark, resistant to moisture, ultraviolet radiation, and aging.

Pencils come with either numbers or letters on them. From the image right, we can see that the letter B signifies the blackness of the pencil, the letter H signifies the hardness, and the letter F stands for ‘fine.’ In the United States, we use a different system using numbers to identify pencil hardness, ranging from #1 to #4. A #2 pencil, all to familiar to those that grew up in the US is the equivalent to the European HB.

The B‘s get darker and as you get to 9B they become more
and more charcoal like. B‘s are tougher to erase than H leads so remember what type of sketch or drawing you are doing. Quick sketches using a B lead are very vibrant with more emotion then with an H lead. H leads are harder and make then easier to erase. Just remember that the harder you press down, they will indent the paper making them tough to erase, just watch the amount of pressure you use. I tend to use an H lead, such as a 2H, 4H, or even 6H to start my drawings, sketch it out, and use an HB or a B lead to go over it, just remember B leads are tougher to erase. You can always use as many leads as you want and layer over it. You can even use the leads to color your drawing or sketch using the leads. A 4H lead for example is very grey, I sometimes use this for metal, while an HB can be used for shadows with a 6B can be used for deep shadows or whatever you want to be black. Look at the image above again and you will see what I mean.

I recommend buying a cheap electric pencil sharpener and a few pencil sharpeners to make sketching easier. A scrap piece of paper can also work well to help keep the ideal edge or point on your pencil. Using conventional leads to draft can be difficult, but not impossible. It is better to use a lead holder and sharpener, as the leads are much sharper which gives you a cleaner, sharper drawing. You can also use lead holders for sketching and drawing. Mechanical pencils can also be used for drafting, however I prefer to use them to do homework as they don’t need sharpening.


If you are just starting to draw, you might one to pick up just a few pencils to get a feel for them. You don’t necessarily need pencils of each type, opt to get a few: 4B, 2B, HB, 2H, 4H will suffice and will save you a little money. A combo pack or starter set gets you the best bang for your buck, just be sure you check which leads they come with. As an architecture student, you probably want ones in the middle (6B through 4H), though a 9B you might like for some quick sketches now and again.


The last thing that you should be aware of is pencil quality. If you buy pencils that are not high quality, the leads are more prone to break with a wood casing of questionable quality. I have been drawing for about 30 years and I recommend using Staedtler pencils, they are my favorite brand. However, Koh-i-Noor, Faber-Castell, Derwent, and Turquoise are all my second choices. General pencils I found not too be too great however they make great charcoal pencils. To start, buy a pencil set of some sort and play with them. Once you figure out which leads you prefer, you can always buy replacement pencils later as you use them up.

Staedler Pencil Set

Jumbo Pencils

Other then the standard type of pencil, they do have thick lead pencils. They might look like they are the kind that children use to learn to write since they are thicker and easier to grip. I find this type of pencils quick comfortable to use and great for sketching. The thick leads are great for sketching, especially quick sketches aimed at capturing the feeling of what you are drawing. Koh-i-Noor makes triangular ones which are very comfortable to hold but you will need to sharpen them with a knife. Faber Castell makes some that are round and thicker referred to as their Jumbo pencils.They are designed to be used with those jumbo pencil sharpeners we used as kids.

Koh-i-Noor Triograph Pencils

Faber Castell Jumbo

Woodless Pencils

Another type of pencil is the woodless pencil. Instead of having wood, the whole pencil is a lead. They can be expensive, though they are similar to using charcoal and you can use the edge of it for gestures. They can be messy to use, I recommend buying something in the 4B to 2H range. If you get a 9B, it will be tough to use as it will smudge easily. These type of pencils are great for quick sketches. Careful how you store them, they can break much easier than a wood pencil.

Woodless Pencils


Personally, I have all my pencils in a Yasutomo Niji pencil Roll. This way I have easy access to whichever pencil I need while working. I have many types of pencils, a set of Staedtler pencils, some woodless pencils, some jumbo pencils, blenders, a few erasers (pink, white, wood and mechanical eraser) and a mechanical pencil for good measure (i.e. for taking notes, doing homework ), or writing something down). Check out my pencil roll below.

You can also store them in a pencil bag or case. You can also just keep them in the original tin, if you purchase a pencil set. Use whatever works for you. Hunt around your local or online art supply store to see what might work for you. I use Amazon myself.


Drafting leads are a bit different and you’ll need some additional supplies. Check out our Tutorial on Drafting Necessities. If you are looking for information on drafting techniques and workflows, please see our Hand Drafting Tutorial.

Pencil Textures

Now that you know all about pencil leads. Check out the following video that will show you how to use your pencils to create basic textures in your drawings.

I hope you found this post informative. Please post any questions or comments below.

A guide to pencil lead grades

Graphite originally became popular in England in 1564, and as the mineral was so soft and brittle that it required a ‘holder’. From here, people began wrapping graphite in string and later began inserting the graphite into wooden sticks, which is how the pencil was created. Pencils are a perfect form of expression, and whether it be writing or drawing, the pencil can aid some impressive work.

When you’re looking at buying new pencils, the letters and numbers on a pencil can be a little confusing. ‘’2B or not 2B’’ is a well-known saying in the pencil industry, and knowing your pencil lead grades is important. In this article, we will help you understand pencil lead grades and how to choose the perfect one for you and your projects.

The numerical scale

In the USA, pencil manufacturers often use a numerical scale. The scale is based on numbers, which represent the level of lead hardness in a pencil. The higher the number, the harder the lead and the lighter mark that will be produced.

The HB scale

The majority of pencil manufacturers in the UK use the HB grading system; this is based on three letters (H, B and F). However, they are often accompanied by a number to indicate the level of hardness, blackness, or fineness.


The letter ‘H’ indicates a hard lead. Hard lead is known for being smudge-resistant and giving clean lines, which makes it a great choice for outlines or technical drawings.


The letter ‘B’ indicates the blackness of a pencil’s mark (soft lead). A softer lead is often used by artists as it can create quick and heavy lines.


The letter ‘F’ indicates a pencil that sharpens to a fine point.


A combination of letters, for example, ‘HB’ means the pencil is hard and black. ‘HB’ pencils are considered the middle point of pencil lead grades.


Today, most pencils using a HB system and lead grades will be designated a number and letter combination. For example, a ‘4H’ is quite a hard pencil but will give a rather dark mark on paper due to the softness of the core. Another example is ‘7B’, this pencil is soft and has a ‘B’ next to it, which means it will create a really dark mark when using it.

Which instrument to use

Choosing the correct pencil for your writing or drawing is just as important as selecting a lead grade. Pencils are extremely powerful instruments and can have a transformative effect on your work, so ensure to be comfortable with what you’re using.

Mechanical pencil

Mechanical pencils can be used for both drawing and writing. Mechanical pencils come in two main types, the ‘clutch’ pencil, and the ‘propelling’ pencil.

A ‘clutch’ pencil has a gripping mechanism, which is released by pushing the end button. This allows the lead to slide out of the pencil. ‘Clutch’ pencils are mainly used by artists, designers, and engineers for drawing.

‘Propelling’ pencils allow the lead to extend a small amount each time the mechanism is operated, the lead is never free to fall out. ‘Propelling’ pencils often have a guide tube to support the fine lead and reduce breakage.

You can view our wide selection of mechanical pencils here.

Lead sizes

Pencil leads for mechanical pencils and clutch pencils are available in a variety of standard diameters and grades of hardness.

A diameter of 0.3mm is considered relatively thin, whereas 0.9mm is a thicker lead. Each diameter of lead can be used for different purposes. For example, 0.3mm lead may be used for drawing outlines or work requiring minute detail.

Mechanical pencil

technical pencils for students, architects, fine artists

Mechanical pencils are frequently used because they are reliable, erasable, cheaply refilled and therefore a very sustainable product.
Fine lead pencils can be used for drafting, sketching and drawing or writing quick notes. Many illustrators are using mechanical pencils for drafting their art before finishing it with india ink.
In the wide assortment of mechanical pencils you also find propelling pencils which are as easy to write with as with normal mechanical pencils.

More Information about Faber-Castell’s mechanical pencils

TK Fine mechanical pencils

The proven mechanical pencil TK-Fine is ideally suited to precise drawing. They had been developed for architects and artists with the highest demands on precision and quality. You can choose between four line thicknesses: the 0.35 mm lead for extra fine drawing, the 0.5 mm lead for fine drawing, the 0.7 mm lead for particularly break-resistant drawing or the 1.0 mm lead for extra wide drawing. The lead can of course be fully retracted.

Design mechanical pencils

Our premiun finewriting range also contains fine propelling pencils in different shapes and premium materials including pencils with a wooden barrel. The length of the lead can mechanically adjusted by twisting the endcap of the pencil. The lead can have different thicknesses: While the AMBITION propelling pencil comes with 0,7mm leads, the e-motion mechanical penil contains a 1,4mm lead, which is more robust.

Best mechanical pencils for writing, drawing & sketching – archisoup

Our favorite mechanical pencil is the rOtring 600 Series. So far this pencil has lasted almost 10 years, and there’s no sign of it giving up!

However there are still a lot of other products to choose from, and we hope the buyers guide that follows the below recommendations helps to narrow down the huge variety of other products our there.

Recommended Products

Firstly for speed and efficiency the below products form a list of what we consider to be some of the best mechanical pencils currently available:

Best overall: rOtring 600 Mechanical Pencil

Most Durable: rOtring 1900184 800+ Mechanical Pencil

Most Cost Efficient: Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Mechanical Pencil

Best Customizable Options: Caran D’ache Metal Mechanical Pencil

Best Professional Feel: rOtring 800 Mechanical Pencil

Best For Tight Budgets: Staedtler 2. 0mm Mechanical Pencil

  1. STAEDTLER 2.0mm Mechanical Pencil
  2. Staedtler drafting pencil featuring all-metal construction with a satin chrome finish to the barrel, polished chrome trim and a knurled metal grip section.

    Fixed point, lead grade indicator, removable pocket clip, replaceable eraser with clearing pin under the push button.

    Check Price on Amazon

  3. rotring 800 With Clutch Knock System
  4. The highly sought after pencil has a weight and feel that represents what a professional drafting pencil should be.

    It has an all metal brass body with gold accents, traditional knurled grip and knurled top piece, and a sturdy metal clip.

    The Rotring 800 lead holder has a very technical look and will appeal to engineers and artists for its solid construction and lead advancement mechanism.

    This 2.0 mm lead holder has a clutch system, allowing you to extend lead in small amounts with each click of the top knock button.

    Check Price on Amazon

  5. Pentel GraphGear 1000
  6. The Pentel GraphGear 1000 mechanical pencil is a superior drafting pencil for architects, draftsmen, artists and enthusiasts.

    The 4mm tip design makes it ideal for use with rulers and templates.

    A unique, dual-action retractor advances and retracts the pencil tip to protect lead from breaking.

    The built-in lead hardness indicator allows you to easily identify your lead type.

    It comes pre-loaded with Super Hi-Polymer HB lead, which never needs sharpening and produces a clear dark line.

    Check Price on Amazon

  7. rOtring 1900184 800+
  8. Premium mechanical pencil, combining both modes at the same end with a unique retractable mechanism.

    Precision stylus tip for high accuracy, control and speed. Soft tip glides smoothly and is compatible with all capacitive touchscreens.

    Ideal technical writing instrument for all sketching, writing, drawing and touchscreen applications.

    Featuring an ergonomically enhanced full metal body, the 800+ offers an ideal weight balance and a comfortable non-slip knurled grip, so you can work for long periods without experiencing discomfort or fatigue.

    Check Price on Amazon

  9. rOtring 600 Mechanical Pencil
  10. The iconic rOtring 600 Mechanical Pencil is the ideal professional tool for technical writing, drawing and sketching.

    True to rOtring’s original design, the 600 features a full metal black hexagonal body and comfortable non-slip knurled metal grip.

    The pencil’s unique hexagonal shape means it won’t slide when you set it down, so it’s there when you need it.

    For precise ruler-based drawing, the sliding sleeve provides a high level of break resistance and an unimpeded view of the page.

    Check Price on Amazon

What is a Mechanical Pencil

A mechanical pencil is a pencil that has an extendable pigment core, also known as the lead. Their cores are mechanically extendable and replaceable. The main component of the lead is usually graphite. Unlike traditional pencils, the graphite can be extended when its tip gets worn as it is not attached to the outer casing of the pencil.

There are two basic types: those that only hold the lead in position and those that, apart from holding the lead, can also propel the lead forward.

Those can propel the lead forward are known as screw-based pencils. They function such that when the screw is twisted, a slider is moved down the barrel of the pencil.

Options that only hold the lead in position are known as clutch pencils. They tend to use leads that are thicker than those of screw-based pencils and they basically hold one piece of lead at a time. Common clutch pencils are activated when the eraser cap at the top is pressed, this opens up its tip allowing the lead to fall through from the barrel to replace the old worn away lead.


  • Do not require sharping.
  • Leads produce consistent, clear and thin lines.
  • Increased comfort.
  • Can be readily refilled.
  • Exhibit modern and stylish designs.
  • Have integrated erasers.

Choosing the right mechanical pencil

Build quality

A mechanical pencil needs to balance perfectly in your hand, and as a result be comfortable to use. A lot this is a result of its stiffness and weight, and there are many cheaper and lighter products that available that fail to provide these aspects.

Lead quality

The quality of lead is very important and sing the right type can make a big difference since it is the lead that determines how the pencil writes. When choosing lead, it is important for you to take the hardness grade into consideration. Leads that are softer are smoother and softer compared to harder leads. Softer leads also get used up faster as they erode quicker during use.

Lead advancement quality

Push button – Mechanical pencils have different mechanisms that they use to advance the lead. The most common type of lead advancement technique is the push button mechanism. This type of lead advancement mechanism have a push button that when clicked pushes a fixed amount of lead through the nib.

Most commonly the push button is located at the top of the pencil, but some have a button built into its clip or on the side.

Shaker – Another lead advancement mechanism is the shaker technique. The shaker technique works in a way such that when the pencil is shaken, there is an internal click mechanism that is activated by a sliding internal weight, which then advances the lead.

This technique has caught on since you are able to advance the lead without changing your grip.

Twist – Thirdly, a twist mechanism. This technique allows you to make continuous adjustments to the advancement of lead through twisting and turning of an adjustment located at the top of the pencil to advance and retract the lead. This mechanism allows you to choose your preferred length of lead.

Bend/body knock – The bend or body knock mechanism is another lead advancement technique that advances the lead when a specific joint in the grip section is squeezed.

Automatic – Lastly, this method advances more lead when a ratchet mechanism is activated by the pressure of lead on paper.

Lead size

Leads come in a large variety of widths and levels of hardness that generally speaking define the purpose they are used for.

Mechanical pencils with different lead sizes are used for different purposes. The thinnest leads (0.2mm – 0.4mm) are ideal for the most compact equations requiring small spaces and for adding the finest of fine details to artwork. They are also best suited for people with small handwriting.

All-purpose leads are the most common lead size (0.5mm – 0.7mm) since they provide a wide range of styles and features. All-purpose leads are suitable for writing at most sizes and drawing details at most sketching sizes.

Thick leads (0.9mm – 1.3mm) are uncommon and are best suited for people who make bold sketches, have extra large handwriting, or press with a very heavy hand. Thick leads feel smoother compared to smaller lead sizes and they do not dig into the paper.


Most mechanical pencils usually come with a built-in eraser. However, the erasers are often very small. In some instances, once the eraser has been completely used up, it cannot be replaced. It is therefore important to choose a model with an eraser that is replaceable if you intend to use it on regular basis.


Mechanical pencils that are ergonomic have been designed to reduce fatigue and minimize the stress on your hands allowing you to use them for longer periods of time.

Lead cushioning

Lastly, lead cushioning is another very important factor to consider. Several mechanical pencils have different ways of preventing the leads from breaking. The most common way that the lead is protected from breakage is by use of a sliding leas sleeve. The sliding sleeve protects the tip of the lead while you write. The sliding sleeve is constantly pushed back by the paper surface as the lead wears down.

Hardness of simple drawing pencils. Correspondence table of hardness scales of the USA, Europe, Russia.

What pencils are used for sketching.

The address of this page (nesting) in the dpva.ru directory: main page / / Technical information / / Technologies and drawings / / Symbols and designations of equipment in drawings and diagrams. / / Hardness of simple drawing pencils. Correspondence table of hardness scales of the USA, Europe, Russia. What pencils are used for sketching.


Hardness of simple sketching pencils. Correspondence table of hardness scales of the USA, Europe, Russia.

The hardness of the pencil lead (determines the color) is indicated by the letters M (or B – from the English. blackness (lit. black)) – soft and T (or H – from the English.hardness (hardness)) – hard. In Europe, a standard (hard-soft) pencil, in addition to the TM and HB combinations, is denoted by the letter F (from the English fine point). Unlike Europe and Russia, the United States uses a numeric scale to indicate hardness.

The following types of pencils are used in sketching:

  • H = T = # 3 (hard) – for thin lines, drawing preliminary drawings, extension lines, etc.etc.;
  • HB = TM = # 2 (medium hardness) – for the finished drawing;
  • B = M = # 1 (soft) – frames, thick lines (practically not used)
  • other types are for drawing and other activities 🙂
Brightness / hue Europe Russia US Used for:
B M # 1 frames, thick lines (not used after school 🙂
HB TM # 2 finished drawing
F # 2½
H T # 3 for fine lines, drawing preliminary drawings, extension lines
2H 2T # 4

Table of correspondence of pencil color to hardness scale:

9H 8H 7H 6H 5H 4H 3H 2H H F HB B 2B 3B 4B 5B 6B 7B 8B 9B
Hardest Medium The softest

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Drawing tools – Encyclopedia of Mechanical Engineering XXL

from “Drafting

Pencil techniques. At first, the drawing is performed with thin, clear, sufficiently bright lines. With pale, gray lines, vision quickly becomes tired. Obtaining the desired lines is due to the correct sharpening of the pencil and the selection of the hardness of the lead in accordance with the type of paper.

The pencil lead should be sharpened into a long taper as shown in fig. 1.8. With a short taper, even slight abrasion of the lead will result in significant thickening of the lines. After roughly sharpening the pencil with a knife, the lead should be sharpened on a fine skin (with longitudinal movements, since the transverse risks reduce the strength of the lead), and then sanded on a piece of drawing or writing paper.[c.10]

During preliminary preparation of the drawing, it is necessary to ensure that the pencil does not cut into the paper under any circumstances, but leaves only a superficial trace of graphite. The lines made in this way can be easily and quickly removed with an elastic band, without damaging the surface of the paper.

It is recommended to set the needle of the compass towards the paper with a blunt end equipped with a small point. The shoulders of the needle contribute to a stable position of the compass, and when drawing a series of concentric circles, the center hole in the paper is not developed as much.[c.12]

The point of the compass, closed by the shoulders, is difficult to set exactly in the center indicated by the intersection of the pencil strokes. Therefore, the center should be pre-pricked with a gauge needle or caliper.

When drawing a circle, the compass should be held with two fingers on the grooved head. In this case, the needle of the compass and the pencil leg should be as perpendicular to the plane of the drawing as possible (this is achieved by bending the composite leg of the compass and turning the holder with the needle).[c.12]

With the other hand, hold the compass by the hinge of the extension cord and rotate the compass.

If you have to draw a large number of concentric circles, then in order to avoid the development of a center hole, a centric should be used. It is injected into the drawing after pre-pricking the paper with a needle. When working with a centric, the clip of the needle in the compass is turned over and the sharp end of the needle without shoulders is used.

The lead in a compass during operation must be frequently ground down, preventing it from becoming blunt.[c.12]

Work with calipers. When working with calipers, the index finger of the right hand lies on the head of the needle, pressing the needle to the paper and holding it in a position perpendicular to the plane of the drawing, the middle or ring finger and the thumb of the right or left hand rotate the movable part of the caliper. A caliper lead should be sharpened in the same way as for a regular compass.

The calipers must be handled carefully so as not to bend the needle, which is very difficult to straighten.When the needle is bent, the circles are located eccentrically relative to the needle point. With a small circle, the eccentricity is very noticeable to the eye.

Working with patterns. Curves are used to draw lines of variable curvature that cannot be drawn with a compass. Patterns are made of wood, plastic, rubber, they have various shapes and sizes. There are flexible patterns, equipped with various devices for fixing them in a certain position, necessary for tracing a given curve or its section.[c.12]

The curvature is drawn as follows. If it is necessary to draw a curve through points I, 2, 3,4, etc. (Fig. 1.12), then first, through these points by hand, draw an approximate smooth curved line. Then, a piece is applied to the points, starting from the extreme, so that as many (at least three) specified points as possible fall on its edge.

In fig. 1.12 shows that the edge of the piece coincides with four points.However, the curve is not drawn over the entire section 1—2—3—4, but rather is not brought to the point where the edge of the piece begins to deviate from the outlined curve. In order not to disrupt the smoothness of the curve being drawn, it is necessary, with each subsequent application of the edge of the piece to the marked line, to capture a part of the already outlined section of the curve and again slightly not bring the curve to the point where the edge of the piece leaves the marked line.

In some cases, it is useful to make pencil marks on the pattern and, for example, when tracing symmetrical curves, turn the pattern from one side to the other.[c.13]

The rulers of the device should be located at an angle of 90 ° to each other.

Working edges of horizontal rulers – top, vertical – left.

If there is no coincidence, then you need to loosen the screws for fastening the vertical ruler, set the edge of the ruler along the drawn line, fix the screws.

If there is a slight backlash in the head, it is necessary to exclude its influence by choosing the backlash always in the same direction (for example, clockwise).[c.14]

In the process of work, you need to move the rulers only with the head, holding it with your left hand so that your thumb is on the latch lever (without pressing it).

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Pencils | Welding world


The word “pencil” is of Turkic origin (“ kara ” – black, “ tash ” – stone).The first pencils appeared in Russia in the 17th century.

Pencils are usually divided into simple and colored. A simple pencil writes, as a rule, in gray.

Pencils have a hard writing graphite core – a lead, and are sharpened (wood and plastic) and non-sharpened (mechanical with a replaceable lead).

Pencils differ in the hardness of the lead, which is usually indicated on the pencil and denoted by the letters M (or B – for blackness ) – soft and T (or H – for hardness ) – hard.A standard (hard-soft) pencil, in addition to the TM and HB combinations, is denoted by the letter F ( for fine point ). The numbers in front of the letters indicate the degree of softness or hardness (table 1).

Table 1 – Classification of leads by hardness

Shade Europe Russia US
7H 7T
6H 6T
5H 5T
4H 4T
3H 3T
2H 2T # 4
H T # 3
F # 2½
HB TM # 2
B M # 1
2B 2M
3B 3M
4B 4M
5B 5M
6B 6M

The hardness of the pencil is matched to the paper.The denser and harder the paper, the harder the pencil lead should be. If the rod is too hard, then when the line is erased with an eraser, a trace of deformation of the surface of the paper from the strong pressing of the pencil remains. If the shaft is too soft, the line will smear when you slide your finger or rubber band over it.

Sharpening of pencils is carried out on a cone or with a “spatula” (Fig. 1). The first way of sharpening is for drawing various kinds of lines, and the second is for tracing them.

Fig.1. Pencil Sharpening

Sharpening is done with a knife or a special machine (sharpener). Then the lead is brought on a fine emery cloth. It is recommended to sharpen from the side where there is no marking.


  • GOST 19445-93 Mechanical pencils. Part 1: Classification, dimensions, specifications and tests
  • GOST 50249-92 Mechanical pencils. Part 2. Black leads. Classification and dimensions
  • Drafting / V.V. Stepankova, L.N. Anisimova, L.V. Kurtsaeva, A.I. Shershevskaya. – M .: Education, 2001 .– 206 p.
  • Drawing / N.S. Briling. – M .: Stroyizdat, 1989 .– 420 p.
  • Fundamentals of drawing / L.A. Baranova, A.P. Pankevich. – M .: Higher school, 1982 .– 351 p.
  • Engineering graphics / A.I. Camp, E.A. Kolesnikov. – M .: Higher school, 1985 .– 176 p.

Drawing tools: cheat sheet

Drawing tools: a short cheat sheet for the lecture of the same name on drawing

By the way, you can watch the lecture on the website free of charge – after registering your Personal Account.

This article tells you step by step what tools you will need for your drawing lessons. All other details about the advantages, rules and tricks of using tools and so on can be seen in the video lesson “Tools” (Basic video course on drawing, Lecture 1).

For convenience, purchases (after all, high-quality tools are expensive) can be divided into 2 parts: those that you cannot do without from the very beginning, and those that can be purchased later.

Before starting drawing lessons, it is mandatory to have:

  1. Pencil. I prefer regular pencils with a 2T – 4T (or 2H – 4H) hardness, although both mechanical pencils and collet pencils can be used.
  2. Paper. A3 folders for drawing: best of all from Goznak. The same paper, by the way, is also suitable for drawing.
  3. Eraser. In the process of work, it was empirically found that the best eraser for work is the Koh-i-Noor elephant cut diagonally.
  4. Pencil eraser. There are those who remove even a line drawn in ink. A very convenient tool for many, the main thing is not to overdo it with the hardness of the elastic.
  5. Compass. You just don’t need to buy a ready-made product! A good cookware is very expensive, and you never use most of the items from it. The compass can be purchased separately, the suitable one has the following qualities: contains as few plastic parts as possible; legs of its monolithic section, and not made of stamped parts; the leg with the lead should be unscrewed, and the one with the needle, ideally, should have an extension cord inside; the compass should not shake, but it should not be too tight.An important detail: do not buy compasses with a locking wheel between the legs – this is an extra waste of time on the exam. For the compass, you need to buy replaceable leads (preferably not soft) and it is better to immediately an adapter (adapter) for ink stroking. The adapter must be of the same brand as the compass. Check compatibility on site! Examples of good compasses include Koh-i-Noor, Rotring, Domingo Ferrer. I attach a photo of my favorite compass, which has served faithfully for 15 years, to this article.
  6. Elbows. They need 4: two medium squares (one with angles of 45 degrees – his leg will be around 16-18 cm, the second 30/60), one very large (preferably 30/60 and a long leg about 40 cm) and one small to work out small details. They mainly use squares from two companies: Rotring and Domingo Ferrer (DfH – always in gold letters). If you can afford it, splurge on the latest luxury models. These rulers are indestructible.
  7. Tablet. Don’t buy short-lived, crooked boards.The most common wooden stretcher is best. We plan to enroll, so it is better to immediately choose the 55×75 cm format. This format will be needed in the first year of the university.
  8. Flight bus. This is a long ruler that attaches to the tablet and produces parallel lines. For our stretcher format and so that later it will be useful at the institute, a ruler is needed 50 or 70 cm.There is a DfH tire (on each side there are two wheels, which is more stable), there is a usual transparent ruler of domestic production (one wheel on each side) …More expensive, but also more convenient – the first, because it has divisions, and it is transparent, which significantly saves time on the exam. And at the institute you will use it for another couple of years. To tighten the tire, you need 4 nails, 3 large buttons and a strong thread.
  9. Breadboard knife. For sharpening a pencil (and useful for drawing). Choose the one that fits best in your hand. Buy spare blades for him immediately. Some people additionally use sandpaper to finalize the tip of the pencil.
  10. Masking (paper) tape. It is better to buy it on the construction market.

Purchase of second order drafting tools:

  1. Isographers (or ink liners). Needed for ink strokes. Buy 4 isographs: 0.13, 0.2, 0.35, 0.6 for axial, invisible, visible and cut lines, respectively. The isographs of Rotring and Faber Castell are widespread. It is not necessary to buy exactly these thicknesses, it is important to observe the gradation. The isograph for hidden lines is about 2 times thicker than for centerlines.For visible ones – 2 times thicker than invisible ones. So the thicknesses of 0.13, 0.25, 0.4, 0 7 are also quite suitable for themselves. Opinions differ on the best firm. I have always bought Rotring isographs as more reliable, but since I have not used them all the time for a long time, I am not aware of the “current” situation on the market. Some use a drawing pen, but it takes a lot of practice, not everyone has time for it. I advise you to buy isographs. Some desperate people replace them with liners. They are cheaper, but the main thing to remember is that their line thicknesses do not coincide with the isograph, you have to select them right in the store, using the “neighbor’s” isograph of the required thickness for comparison.For the 0.13 isograph, you need to buy a spare stylus. By the way, the site has an article on how to choose an isographer / ink liner, how to store it and how to use it.
  2. Black ink. Special, better from the same company as the isographer. Not the cheap Gamma!
  3. Blades. “Rapier” or “Sputnik” for cutting irregular lines in carcasses.
  4. Cloth. Absorbent mascara cloth for trouble.
  5. Wide brush. You will need a brush to brush the spools from your work.

All this wealth can be purchased in specialized stores in Moscow. The easiest way to buy everything at once in one place is in the shops of the Moscow Architectural Institute: inside the institute or next to it. Further options are possible – if you want to save money, then elbows, rails, stretchers can be bought from used hands. New stretchers are cheaper in the Krasniy Karandash chain of stores. If you don’t want to travel far, then maybe you have a Peredvizhnik store nearby. A good way to save money is to shop online.

Nonresident people have several options, if they do not find everything they need in their city: an independent visit to Moscow or help from friends from here, as well as delivery from an online store to your city.

Review of simple pencils – Art materials – LiveJournal

A simple pencil is something so familiar, than in childhood they drew on wallpaper, at school they made notes in textbooks and drew triangles on geometry. Most people know that this is just a “gray” pencil, those who had a drawing at school know a little more about it, artists and representatives of several other professions who use pencils in their work know its real beauty.

A little about simple pencils.
In the usual sense, a pencil is graphite in a wooden sheath. But it’s not that simple. After all, a “gray pencil” can have different shades, depending on the degree of softness of the lead. The lead consists of graphite with clay: the more graphite, the softer the tone, the more clay, the harder.
The pencils themselves are also different: in a typically wooden case, collet and solid graphite.

Let’s start with wooden ones.
I will describe the pencils and other materials I have and use regularly.Not all of them look like a showcase, but understand that this is quite real =)
So, a set of pencils “Koh-i-Noor”, 12 pcs. The company is familiar to everyone, these pencils are in any stationery store and you can buy them both in boxes and by the piece. Their price is quite democratic and affordable.
Pencils are good, but by the piece you can buy a fake with bad wood and lead.
This is kind of a set for artists from 8B to 2H, but there is also the same one for drawing, it is dominated by hard pencils.

DERWENT pencil set, 24 pcs. Tones from 9V to 9H, some of 2 pieces of the same type (below I will write why it is convenient). In fact, I practically don’t use pencils that are softer than 4B and harder than 4H, since “DERWENT” pencils are much softer than the same “Koh-i-Noor”, so I don’t even know what to draw, for example, with a 7B pencil, if it is so soft that it leaves behind graphite chips.
The pencils are of high quality, sharpen well, do not break, however, at first you need to get used to their, hmm, smell.However, after two weeks it disappears.

Pencil set “DALER ROWNEY”, 12 pcs. Very soft pencils from 2H to 9B (see below pic. Comparison of markings) in a compact pencil case.

The pencils are laid out in two rows, so you have to remove the top row while drawing

And, of course, “Faber Castell”. There are no complaints about these pencils, but the increased softness is not inferior to “DERWENT”.
We do not have boxed versions for sale, there are only two series of piece.
Cheaper series

And recently a slightly more expensive, but very stylish series has appeared. The “pimples” are quite voluminous, and thanks to them and the triangular shape of the pencil, it is very pleasant to hold and draw with them.

The softness of a pencil can be seen not only by the markings, but also by the color of the head, which matches the tone of the lead.

In addition to these manufacturers, there are many others (such as “Marco”, “Constructor”, others) that for some reason do not suit me personally, but this is not a reason to ignore them, so you can try everything.
In addition to the sets, I buy the most used pencils from the same brand and the same markings as in the box.
I always have two pencils 2B, B, HB, F, H and 2H. This is necessary because a sharpened pencil is not always needed during drawing, so one pencil, for example, 2H I have a sharp one, and the second with a blunt rounded tip. “Blunt tip” is needed when you need to dial tone, while not leaving a clear trail of the stroke. This was not taught in an artist, but, as practice shows, it is very convenient and many artists, masters of a simple pencil, do this.

Collet pencils. About them has already been written a little earlier. I repeat again that they are good in all kinds of field conditions or on the road, and in the workplace it is better to paint with wooden ones.
An indisputable plus of collet pencils is even in the thickness of the rod, more precisely in the variety of this thickness.
Pencils are available for a shaft from 0.5 mm (07, 1.5, etc.)

And up to a very impressive thickness of soft techniques

Solid lead pencils. Completely and completely composed of graphite in a thin shell so as not to get your hands dirty.
I have “Koh-i-Noor” pencils here, I can’t see the others on sale. In principle, I use them even less often than collet ones, because they are not very convenient to sharpen and in few places there is a need to draw with the entire thickness of the rod. Another significant disadvantage is that they fight …

A little about marking.
Let’s start with the fact that each company has its own. That is, the marking seems to be standard from 9V to 9H, but, as you can see in the figure below, HB “DALER ROWNEY” and HB “Koh-i-Noor” are two different HBs.That is why, if you need pencils of varying degrees of softness, they must be taken from the same company, it is better in a set.
“Faber Castell No. 1” – the series is the one that is cheaper.
“Faber Castell №2” – with “pimples” (in fact, I don’t have “F”, it just would be like that somewhere).

Actually, about the softness and hardness of pencils.
Hard pencils are H-9H. The larger the number, the harder / lighter the pencil.
Soft pencils – B-9B. The larger the number, the softer / darker the pencil.
Hard / soft pencils – HB and F.With HB, everything is clear – this is the middle between H and B, but F is a very mysterious marking, this is the middle tone between HB and N. only “DERWENT” or “FC”, “Koh-i-Noor” has a very light).
There is also a Russian marking “T” – hard, “M” – soft, but I don’t have such pencils.
Well, just to compare

Bottom line – DALER ROWNEY, the darkest pencils.
The penultimate line is Loki’s set “DERWENT-sketch”, it is slightly different from mine (top DW).
Third from the bottom – some Marco pencils. They have the most alternative markings because 6B is darker than 8B and 7B is lighter than HB. Therefore, I do not have them.

As an example of use – my drawing “Curious Fox”

The lightest tone is snow, it is drawn with a pencil 8H (DW)
Light fur – 4H (Koh-i-Noor) and 2H (FC # 1)
Medium tones – F (DW and FC # 1), H (DW and FC # 1), HB (DW), B (FC # 1 and FC # 2)
Dark (paws, nose, eye and ear contours) – 2B (FC No. 1 and FC No. 2), 3B (FC No. 1), 4B (Koh-i-Noor)

Review of erasers – “Eraser, nag and others”
Notebooks for drawing

Other reviews:
Drawing LeoJJ
Group VK


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