Posted on

Tool Fetishes

It really doesn’t matter if you’re a chef, a programmer, a makeup artists, a file clerk, or an illustrator; the potential to geek out over tools is a thing. Post a photo on Instagram that includes a unique pencil or the corner of a mechanical keyboard, and you’ll get questions; ‘Tell me about that “illustration Pen Pencil Marker”, or what keyboard is that bro?’ In certain circles, the pen you use or the watch you wear tells more about you than your resumé ever could; tools are integral to what we do; as students, we buy what we can afford; as professionals, we buy what we want.

Pencils: the most basic of tools, or so it would seem, but pencil fans tend to fall into two camps; Woodcase pencils, or Mechanical Pencils, the former being the wooden pencil you probably used in school (and I’m going to generalize for brevity) the latter being any pencil that isn’t Woodcase. Last time I checked, there were about 8,000 members in on Reddit; if you scroll through the posts there – you’ll see a pencil to scratch every possible itch. 

In my opinion, these are the standouts:

Palomino Blackwing 602: This pencil is the quintessential woodcase pencil; it’s got dark smooth lead, a great eraser, and cult status as the best woodcase pencil money can buy, I can attest these are lovely pencils, also pricey, but it’s dreamy to use, if you can tolerate the steep price grab one.

Sanford Col-Erase Carmine: I know a few dozen other illustrators who also swear by these red pencils; unlike so many other colored pencils, this one holds a sharp point, erases cleanly, and doesn’t smear, making it an excellent choice for almost everything, Sanford also make this pencil in blue, the two combined are great for refining and revising sketches.

Rotring 600 Black Barrel Mechanical: This black mechanical pencil is actually the lower-end version of the Rotring 800; the primary difference between the two is that the 800 has a retractable tip, which is only a selling point if you plan on carrying it loose in your pocket, Aside from that they look and feel pretty much the same, they’re both solidly built, comfortable to hold, daily workhorses. They come in 0.5mm, 0.7mm, and 0.9mm depending on your preference.

Pentel Graph Gear 800: If you were looking for a slightly lighter, slightly more comfortable mechanical pencil than the Rotring 600 Pentel has you covered, the Pentel Graph Gear 800 is both of those things; it comes in 0.3mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm, and 0.9mm and is IMHO the best Mechanical pencil you can get for $11.00 USD.

Kaweco Sketch Up 5.6mm : This pencil is geared towards sketching; unlike the two traditional mechanical pencils listed above, this one uses a mechanism called a clutch to hold a thick 5.6mm stick of graphite, it’s made of solid brass, and it feels incredible in your hand, but this isn’t the kind of pencil you’d use to write the grocery list, it really is a sketching pencil, it uses a stick of graphite that you’re not going to find at a Staples, so buy extra, but if you’re a loose sketcher who likes a little heft in your hand – this is the pencil for you.

So that’s a pointed look at pencils; I’m going to follow up with Markers, Paper, Erasers, Mechanical Pencil Lead, IPad Drawing Apps, and Procreate Custom Brushes; if any of those topics interest you, subscribe in the footer or follow me on Instagram or Twitter, so you don’t miss an update.

Have something specific you think I should try? Let me know.