Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sketch Pencils

Sketch pencil is the name often given to those mechanical pencils that use very thick leads - by that I mean leads like 3.2mm and 5.6mm. Personally I don’t normally include 2mm clutch pencils in the ‘sketch pencil’ category because they were usually used for draughting and other purposes, whereas the thicker leads are really specifically for artists to draw with. At least that’s my view of things.

Actually perhaps “leadholder” is a more appropriate term than “mechanical pencil” as most, if not all sketch pencils are clutch mechanism pencils.

I’m no artist and I don’t really have many sketch pencils, but here are a few photos of two that I do have.

The Koh-I-Noor ‘Versatil’ 5347, 5.6mm clutch pencil

You can see how thick the 5.6mm leads are, pictured here with an ordinary wooden pencil. They are huge!

Some 3.2mm Kaweco leads – graphite and coloured. There doesn’t really seem to be a lot of coloured leads available, certainly not compared to ordinary wooden coloured pencils.

5.6mm and 3.2mm pencils.

The Kaweco “Sport” bunt 3.2mm clutch pencil is short and wide, of octagonal cross-section. It is 104mm long x 13mm wide across the flats, that’s about 4 x 1/2 inches.

Now, for the artist who likes a pencil with a stratospheric price tag, there is the Montblanc Leonardo Sketch Pen (it’s a pencil), as reviewed over at Paper and Pencil.

“Ladybug” and “Butterfly” in graphite and coloured pencil, by one of my young relatives. The Leonardo is definitely beyond her price range, but if she grows up to be a famous artist…


Anonymous said...

5.6mm????? Wow! I can honestly say I have never seen such a thing over here. And having haunted a number of "office supply stores" (even worked for one of the "big boys") I think it's safe to say those aren't common here. Very, very cool...

Anonymous said...

Hey, nice subject and review!

I really like these pencils, (and not just the Leonardo), though they aren't always the most practical.

They're great for rough flowcharts and process diagrams as well as drawing - they can easily fill a double-letter size (A4) pad with a diagram.

Art supply stores are the place to find them - and some come with a built-in sharpener in the cap. You can even get a ball-point refill shaped to fit either the 3.15 or 5.6mm clutch mechanisms. (Of course you then need a place to hold the loose lead!)

These are not the limit either. The Lyra 1772 "Graphitkreide", a paper wrapped graphite crayon also found at art supply stores, is perhaps 12mm in diameter!

Julia said...

I use a 5.6mm Graphiti Grande (I think that's the name) as a highlighter -- or drylighter, as the catalog copy called it. It makes a good highlighter because the color doesn't bleed through even thin pages, but it's not so good on glossy pages, because the type smears, I find.

Kiwi-d said...

Julia - now thats interesting. I vaguely remember seeing these drylighter things before. I see Levenger has them, and also coloured leads by the same Graphiti Grande. What leadholder / pencil do you use them in? Or just hold them (bare) in your hand?

Julia said...

I bought it from Levenger, actually -- it is a Graphiti brand leadholder with a wooden barrel and steel-colored clutch and clutch-release button. It's quite chunky in diameter, but very comfortable to hold. I should try to get a picture of it for you. I bought it during an outlet sale, and it came with a little wooden holder and a sharpener.

I don't think Levenger is selling them anymore, but I noticed in the latest catalog that they are selling their own branded version that appears to be similar mechanism-wise. Seems like it's a fair bit more expensive than the one I bought, though.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
Great blog!
I´ve found 5.6mm leadholders here in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in art supplies stores, from brands Koh i Noor and Cretacolor. I´m not an artist or designer, but I want one of them for fun. There´s a Cretacolor which "body" is made of wood, not avaliable here at the moment. Because I´m travelling to Europe next month, I´ll seek for them there.
But I bought one for my wife, called Koh i Noor Carnival, that holds a mix coloured lead, that writes in different colour, depending on how you hit the paper!! Very interesting.
5.6 is something!
Milton, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Milton
I've seen these "carnival" type leads in woodcase pencils, but not in thick mechanical leads - I'll keep an eye out for them.

Anonymous said...

I made a comparison article of colored leads on Wikipedia here:

It probably wasn't a good idea, as it was nominated for deletion as soon as I submitted it and it's still very incomplete.

So if anyone will find some use out of it, please take a look before it gets deleted. :) (though if it does, I'll probably just maintain it on another wiki)