9 Reasons to Draw with a Mechanical Pencil

Why Do Artists Use Mechanical Pencils?

After learning about these 9 reasons to draw with a mechanical pencil, you should have a better understanding of why so many pencil artists prefer mechanical pencils over traditional ones. Some artists are hesitant to use mechanical pencils and prefer to use old fashioned ones, and there's nothing wrong with that. As an artist, you should use any tool that you're comfortable with. 

What you shouldn't do, though, is to allow preconceived notions of what a mechanical pencil can influence your decision making. Instead of assuming that mechanical pencils can or cannot do something, your best option is to try them to see what they're capable of. Once you do, there's a good chance that you'll see that mechanical pencils are a valuable tool with unique attributes that can enhance your artwork.

The trick to getting the most out of mechanical pencils is to use them for what they excel at. What is that? It's precision lines and details. Can you use a mechanical pencil to put down a lot of graphite over a large area? 

Should you? Probably not. A mechanical pencil is a tool, and it's best to use a tool in the most efficient way possible. Many artists find that using both mechanical pencils and traditional pencils works best for them. Click Here to View the Best Mechanical Pencils at Amazon.

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The Weight And Balance Of The Pencil

Reasons to Draw with a Mechanical Pencil
Reasons to Draw with a Mechanical Pencil

There are quite a few reasons that many artists love to use mechanical pencils, and chief amongst them is the weight and balance of the pencil. What is the one thing that all traditional pencils have in common? They have to be sharpened. 

First of all, this is inconvenient because it means that you have to stop what you're doing and sharpen your pencil. It's a minor inconvenience, but it still causes you to break your concentration for a minute or two to sharpen your pencil. 

But that's not the only problem that you're going to run into when you have to sharpen your pencil. What happens every time you sharpen your pencil? Sure, it gets sharper, but what else does it do? It gets shorter. So, when you have a drawing instrument that continually changes in length and weight, it will force you to have to adjust your grip. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but it can impact your concentration and make you worry about one more thing while you're working.

On the other hand, a quality mechanical pencil will be explicitly designed for an artist's hand. Not all mechanical pencils have the same weight and dimensions, there are slight variations, so you'll have to spend a bit of time choosing the right pencil for your grip. 

Once you've chosen that pencil, it's never going to change in weight or dimension. That means that the more you use it, the more you'll get used to it, which will help you become more comfortable.

Ability To Produce Detailed Drawings

Is A Mechanical Pencil Good For Drawing?
Is A Mechanical Pencil Good For Drawing?

If you're looking for a great reason to give mechanical pencils a try, how about they are ideal for detailed work? The sharp point on the lead in a mechanical pencil is ideal for anyone attempting to draw in detail. With a traditional pencil, you have to sharpen it regularly to maintain a sharp point. 

It's not a significant inconvenience, but it's still something that you have to be aware of as you work. If you aren't careful, the lead on your pencil could become too dull, then before you know it, some of the fine details that you've worked so hard to create will be lost. With a mechanical pencil, you have no such concerns. 

The lead will remain consistent, allowing you to work without having to worry about sharpening your pencil. They also come in different lead widths, allowing you to choose the right pencil for your current project.

No matter what you're planning on drawing, mechanical pencils should be one of the tools that you keep on hand. One of the great things about mechanical pencils is that they are ideal for drawing fine lines. 

If you're working with a harder lead, you can actually produce effects similar to what you could create using pen and ink. Of course, you won't have lines that are quite as dark and crisp, but you'll still be able to capture the feeling of an ink drawing using graphite.

Mechanical pencils are favored by artists and work in detail, especially artists who do any technical drawing. A mechanical pencil's fine point is perfect for drawing any type of machine, building, or any other type of artificial construct. What about artists that draw portraits is a mechanical pencil, something that can help them as well? 

Absolutely. You can use a mechanical pencil to create a portrait with a lot of texture using hatching and cross-hatching techniques. You can also use it with a harder lead to do the rough outline, then move onto using traditional graphite or charcoal pencils to render in the image and add shading.

Draw And Sketch Fine Lines

No matter what type of subject matter you prefer drawing, every drawing should start out with a solid sketch that you can build upon. The sketching portion of a drawing should start out with loose, free-flowing lines that capture your subject's rough shape. 

If you start adding details too early, you'll lose some of your drawing's energy, and it will end up looking static and boring. So start out every drawing using light, sketchy lines, then slowly start to add details. Anyone that's spent any amount of time drawing with graphite will tell you that the best way to ensure that you can erase lines or cover them up is to work with a light touch. 

This is where mechanical pencils are an invaluable tool. When using harder lead, and sketching lightly, you can produce lines that are solid enough to work as a guide for you, but still light enough for you to erase or cover them up.

While using mechanical pencils to draw and sketch fine lines to work as a guide for a completed drawing is one way to use them, it's far from the only way. You could use them to create an initial light sketch, then after using traditional pencils to add shading and value, use mechanical pencils again to go back and add fine details. Mechanical pencils are a very versatile tool that every artist should experiment with. Once you spend some time working with them, you should see how they give you another option to work with when you're sketching or drawing.

Mechanical Pencils Are Safer

How can a mechanical pencil be safer to use than a traditional pencil? That's simple, you never have to sharpen them. Many artists prefer to sharpen their pencils with an Exacto knife. 

This provides you with a nice, long, and pointed lead to work with. Unfortunately, it also subjects you to the risk of cutting yourself when sharpening the pencil. You may not think that you'll have an accident and cut yourself, but how many get up in the morning and think that today will be the day that they have an accident?

They Are More Economical

If mechanical pencils cost more than traditional pencils, how can they be more economical? They're more economical because, in the long run, they are less expensive than traditional pencils.

We're not just talking about the kind of cheap mechanical pencils that you can find in most stores, we're also talking about more expensive mechanical pencils designed for artists to use. How can these types of pencils be less expensive? When you buy traditional pencils, they will definitely be less expensive than a quality mechanical pencils. 

Those same lead pencils will become shorter and shorter over time as you sharpen them, forcing you to replace them. Mechanical pencil lead gets shorter as well, but buying replacement lead for your mechanical pencils is less expensive than buying new pencils. 

Sure, it's not a huge difference, but it's enough of a difference that using mechanical pencils will save you money. If you plan to keep drawing for a long time, and hopefully you do, then using a tool that will perform better while saving you money is a no brainer.

Mechanical Pencils Will Last Longer

Mechanical pencils have a much longer life than traditional pencils. This will save you money, allow you to become more comfortable when using them, and be better for the environment. Mechanical pencils, when cared for, have a very long shelf life. 

If you buy a quality pencil and don't abuse it, there's no reason it shouldn't last you for many years. How many traditional pencils last that long? None. So, mechanical pencils may cost you more money upfront, but their less expensive lead refills and greater longevity make them a better value than traditional pencils.

Comfortable And Easy To Grip

Traditional lead pencils are okay to work with, but a well-designed artist mechanical pencil is so much more comfortable. They have grips designed on their surface to make it easier to hold onto them. This may not seem like this critical of a feature, but if you think about how many hours you'll spend drawing in your life, the value of a more comfortable drawing instrument should quickly become apparent.

You Can Drop It Without Breaking The Lead

How many times have you bought some expensive drawing pencils only to accidentally drop them and ruin them? When a traditional pencil is dropped, it frequently causes the graphite inside of them to crack. It's incredibly frustrating when this happens. You could be working on a drawing, and everything seems to be working out correctly. 

Then, when the lead on your pencils needs sharpened to take out your Exacto knife or pencil sharpener, and proceed to put a fine point on it again. Then, after sharpening your pencil, you prepare to start drawing again only to have the lead fall out of your pencil. So, you sharpen it again, only to have the lead fall out again. That's when it sets in, the pencil is ruined.

Mechanical pencils don't have the same vulnerability to being dropped that traditional pencils do. Their metal and plastic construction makes them more resilient, so if they have dropped the lead is less likely to break. If the lead does happen to break, you can simply replace the lead. This certainly beats having to throw out an entire pencil over an accidental dropping.

Built-In Eraser

Many pencils designed for artists lack an eraser on the end of them. Keeping a separate eraser on hand when you're drawing isn't much of an inconvenience. But, what happens if you're out sketching somewhere instead of drawing at home? 

Sketching in public allows you to see new things and challenge yourself. Working from a photo, or still life, or any other type of set up you have at home, you have a lot of control. You can control the composition, the lighting, and just about anything else that has to do with what you're drawing. 

You even have a lot of control when working from a live model in a studio. Now, when you're sketching in a non-static environment, where people, things, and lighting changes, it forces you to draw things that you may not usually have attempted to draw.

This is where having a drawing pencil with a built-in eraser on the end of it is such a valuable tool. When you're sketching away from home, having a pencil with an eraser prevents you from carrying a separate eraser with you. 

It's a little thing, but it's still an advantage. What about when you're drawing at home where you have access to your tools, including your erasers? Having an eraser on the end of your pencil is convenient, and it also gives you a small, precision eraser for small areas. The only real issue that you'll run into with mechanical pencils that have erasers are erasers that don't work well when used on large areas.

Is A Mechanical Pencil Good For Drawing?

Is a mechanical pencil good for drawing? In a word, yes. A mechanical pencil can do just about anything that a regular pencil can do, and they offer a lot of advantages that make many artists prefer to work with them. The most important thing to remember is that a mechanical pencil is just a tool. Click Here to View Mechanical Pencils on Amazon

Using one won't make you the most celebrated artist in the world. To be able to draw well, you need talent, experience, and practice. With that being said, the advantages of mechanical pencils will make your life easier as an artist. You'll be able to work with more precision, allowing you to draw fine details that are difficult to depict with a regular pencil. They can also be used for sketching out light underdrawing before you start the rendering process.

Mechanical pencils also have some practical capabilities that make them easier to use than regular pencils. They never have to be sharpened, which is a huge bonus. With mechanical pencils, you never have to stop what you're doing to sharpen them, you just click, and you have more lead ready to go. 

Not having to sharpen them also means one less thing to carry with you when you're sketching away from home. The built-in eraser offers another advantage in this respect because you won't have to carry one with you. The last practical advantage is that mechanical pencils are more durable than their traditional counterparts. If you drop one, it rarely damages the lead, and if it does damage the lead, you can easily replace it.

How Long Does A Mechanical Pencil Last?

A mechanical pencil will last practically forever when you take care of it. We're not talking about the cheap mechanical pencils that you buy at grocery or drug stores, we're talking about quality, artist mechanical pencils. 

They require virtually no maintenance, all you have to do is replace the lead in them when it runs out. If you're thinking about making the switch from traditional pencils to mechanical pencils, make sure that you do your homework first. It's also not a bad idea to buy a less expensive pencil to get started with. This allows you to experience what mechanical pencils are capable of, without having to invest a lot of money into buying a high-quality one. 

While we don't think that you'll find drawing with mechanical pencils distasteful, there's always the chance that they just aren't a good fit for you. So, risking less money on a less expensive pencil should eliminate any hesitation that you feel when thinking about giving them a shot.


Ian Walsh is the creator and author of improvedrawing.com and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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9 Reasons to Draw with a Mechanical Pencil