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Art Pencils: Cheap Mechanical Pencils

Updated on November 29, 2011

Mechanical Pencils

Mechanical pencils have been my main art tool box addition, as sometimes they are just great to draw some technical details with the right set of stencils, but lately I have just been using them to sketch with, as they only require lead refills, which cuts down on sharpening your sketching pencils.

For many artists they may use some form of mechanical pencil in some form or another, like a stick of graphite which is fixed to a holder of some sort, which is similar to a mechanical pencil, this enables the artist to prevent smudging on their work, by providing a small bit of distance from the artists hand to the drawings that they are trying to accomplish, but again this could also be prevented with a sheet of paper, so really a mechanical pencil provides the ease of sketching and drawing, by removing the need for a pencil sharpener, but if you lost the pencil lead refills, what then?

Well that is the only thing that you could find annoying with a mechanical pencil, that and the fact they can can snap easily under certain amounts of pressure if your shading for example, it's happened to me, when I am busy shading an artwork, only to have the lead break right when I have done some great shading built up in layers and then a pencil line goes across your fine tonal work.

But if you be careful, there is no reason why you can't achieve some brilliant results with a simple mechanical pencil, there are some cheap mechanical pencil brands out there today and they reflect the quality that they have been manufactured to attain.

The Bic mechanical pencils was one of the first ones I can ever remember buying, as I recognized the brand from their range of biros, which I also sketch with, often times many mechanical pencils have been redesigned to provide a good rubber grip and most of the Bic range have that, which I like, although it is noted that some of the different Bic pencils don't come with the lead refills which is rather poor, but there are some ones that do, so seek out them ones that do.

The Bic range is just one of the classic mechanical pencil manufacturers as they also produce great gel ink pens and ball point pens, the best mechanical pencils are the ones with spring loaded pump action, just in case you are going to do battle sketching against someone else.

Cheap Mechanical Pencil

A cheap 7p mechanical pencil.
A cheap 7p mechanical pencil.

Bic Mechanical Pencils Various Pencil Designs To Buy On Amazon

The Mars Staedtler Mechanical Pencils

Some of the Mars range of mechanical pencils you could almost mistake for ball point pens, but that is the only design flaw, if you can call it that, like many mechanical pencils they all really play the same way, either a twist or a spring button to load the lead for sketching.

Mars Mechanical Pencils are like the sketching pencils from Mars Lumograph, made from an already established brand over 100 years old that has diversified it's range completely in the last 3 decades, there are two main ones that I like using for their great grip when sketching and these are the clutch action drafts and the Mars Draft pen which are by far the best ones for my types of artwork and drawing ways, you may however feel different, because an artists tools are a personal choice.

Mars (Staedtler) Mechanical Pencils To Buy On Amazon

Mechanical Pencil Bargains On Ebay

Sometimes on Ebay there are some great deals and bargains to be had for any art materials, but even with mechanical pencils ther are vast ranges and varieties to choose from certain vendors and art retailers who use ebay for an extra selling outlet.

I once found 4 boxes of Monte Blanc Mechanical pencils for $30, which doesn't sound too impressive, but each box retails at over something like $80 or so and within each box there is one mechanical pencil that is apparently a limited edition...which is nice!

Just have a look on ebay and find some bargains at different times of the year like I did and you will get some discounts on some art stuff people want to get rid of or for retailers to start a new product line.

Cheap Mechanical Pencils

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    • waynet profile image

      Wayne Tully 8 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      Yeah dollar stores and pound shops are great for finding cut price cheap art materials and I do this all the time and plus I order stuff online too which can be discounted from it's retail price.

      I'd say I've got more mechancial pencils than sketching pencils...

      cheers now Robert!

    • robertsloan2 profile image

      robertsloan2 8 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Mechanical pencils are handy. Don't forget the Dollar Stores -- various dollar stores also carry bags of mechanical pencils. If you're not fussy about color or brand they can be as cheap as a dollar for a bag of them. I picked up some half length kids' ones in candy colors for 3 for a dollar once, got them as part of a package of art supplies for my granddaughter but kept a little packet of five in my drawer for when I want them handy.

      Regular mechanical pencils are great if you like sketching with HB, the hardness of a standard No. 2 pencil. The nicer ones are refillable. But if you want to be able to use the hard H range leads and soft B range leads, it helps to look for something called a Lead Holder. Blick carries the Alvin Lead Holder and I've seen a Mars version with bright blue barrel plus other brands. They are all the clutch type and have thicker leads than the writing-type mechanical pencils.

      While these thicker leads do need pointing, a rotary Lead Pointe gives me a much thinner fine point for details than I can get with any conventional pencil sharpener. So I've always loved lead holders and their thick leads. I keep meaning to pick up packs of leads in a full range of hardnesses and several lead holders, one of these times I'll replace my old setup and have a full graphite range in a much more compact form.

      I could take the leads out of one of the packets they come in -- sturdy plastic carrying containers -- then reorganize with 12 leads in it of different hardness. I got a bunch of them in 3H and 4H years ago and used to keep one set like that with H range harder to the left on one side and B range harder to the left on the other. It was so convenient, like having a tin of art pencils in my pocket.