Short Drawing Tip #5: Mechanical vs Wood case

Mechanical pencil (also known as clutch pencils) or wood case?

Not sure how to tackle this vast subject and give it it all it is due so I'll base it on my experience and nothing more.

When starting out, all I used to draw with was a 2B wood cased Derwent pencil.
With the one grade of pencil, I taught myself to draw all the tones, shades and contrasts.
(psst: I was totally oblivious to the fact that you could fill a mechanical clutch pencil with anything other than a 0.5mm HB lead!)

This was an invaluable lesson and still find today that I will complete most of a drawing with a 2B.
Relying too heavily on different leads to achieve a desired effect can take away from the spontaneity of your drawing.

Since those early days, things have changed: my heart has taken a shine to the mechanical cousins.
They are able to give a consistency in quality of leadweight, length and sharpness unrivalled by the wood cased pencils.

I have three Staedlers Mars Technico filled with 2mm  2B, 4B and F leads, two BFH Totiens filled with 2mm 6B & 4H leads and my old faithful Faber Castell filled with a 2mm 2H lead.
Also in the mix are my two experienced techniclick Pentels filled with 0.5mm 2B & F.

... and the there where 8 - all "Scribble Friends"gathered

I keep them sharp thanks to my faithful blue sharpener with a fancy name (Staedler 502 Mars 2mm Lead Pointer)
Important to note: A sharp point = detail.
Therefore blue mister fancy name is crucial to the success of the drawing.
This is definitely where the quality of the sharpener plays a key role.
Longevity and reliability are necessary. I can definately vouch for it, having never had to try another leadholder sharpener... ever.

"Blue mister fancy name" alongside the most used of my clutches: my 2B Staedler technico.

I also collect the graphite dust, which I store in an airtight container. I use the dust for added effect when drawing sand and dirt.
Blue mister fancy name has the point cleaner missing, so in order to clean excess graphite off the tip, I carefully spear wee lumps of Blu-Tack which sit stuck to my drawing board.

Speared Blu-Tack on drawing board

SDT #5
Try out both a 2mm 2B mechanical and 2B wood case pencil , you will 

very quickly where your preference lies, what you feel comfortable with and which you enjoy holding and using the most.Keep the 2B lead and draw one drawing using only the one lead. You will learn so much, in a very short time, about the power of pencil :D
Keep your point sharp for added detail and don't forget to collect the

graphite dust for finishing touches. Clean excess graphite off tip with BLu-Tack.

P.S: If you're interested in knowing more about wood cased pencils, I have reviewed my pencils in detail The full page post can be found in my pages.

Discover more of my Short Drawing Tips (SDT):

Short Drawing Tip #1: Paper Choice
Short Drawing Tip #2: Warm-Up
Short Drawing Tip #3: Protect your Paper
Short Drawing Tip #4: Dust don't Blow


Em Parkinson said…
Mechanical for me Sheona and I'm particularly fond of an F....
Hi Em, mechanical works so well doesn't it. Love an to F especially for skin not so fond of it when I need darker darks; just can get the edge I'm looking for ;)
Peggy said…
I use both mechanical (just discovered a while ago but love ) and wood encased (Staedtler Mars Lumograph). Sometimes 2H but mostly 2B with a little 3B and 4B on occasion.
jean knight said…
as the situation i used both for betterment
Anonymous said…
Helpful tip for fellow 502 pointer owners that have worn out the cleaning tip.

A cut down filter from a new cigarette works as a perfect replacement for the one that is missing in your Staedtler 502 lead pointer. Just halving the filter makes it a touch too high, you need to cut out a few mm if you want it to fit flush. You can even flip them as they fill up with lead dust and use the other side.
Excellent suggestion! Thank-you :D Off to find me a smoker ;)

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