Review-Leda Art Supply Mechanical Pencil Set with 12-piece 5B lead refill and sharpener #LedaArtSupply #ArtReview #Hahnemühle_USA @Hahnemühle_USA

Do you go Urban Sketching? Plein air? Like drawing on the go, and wish you didn't have to carry all those colored pencils everywhere?

The Leda Art Supply Mechanical Pencil Set with 12-piece 5B lead refill and sharpener might just be what you need.  I won a Leda Art Supply Easter contest and one of these sets was part of the prize.  It's pretty cool, so I thought you needed to know about it, if you don't already.

Look & Feel - The Pencil
The set consists of :

  • one mechanical pencil (propelling pencil in the U.K.) 
  • Twenty-one leads - one black graphite, and two leads of each color - 
    • Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Purple, Brown, Orange, Grey, White
  • two plastic case holders for the leads
  • a Pencil Sharpener

The upside is that the whole set is small enough that you could fit it in a pocket. The downside is that you have to remove one lead and insert another every time you want to change colors.  More about that later.

The pencil is six-sided, with a polymer body, and brass finishing for the grip and push button.

To change leads or change how much lead you have sticking out, you click the push button and hold it down. A tube extends from the tip and opens apart - kind of like those jaws in the game machines where you try to grab a stuffed animal.

It looks kind of cool.  If you're a nerd, you might spend some playing spaceships and trying to pick up things to be taken aboard.  I wouldn't do that, of course.

When you've got the length where you want it, you release the push button, and the tube goes back into the mother ship... er ... the pencil.

The steel clip doesn't have a lot of flex. I never use these as intended, but do play with them until they break.  The design of this clip keeps me from doing that.

The pencil is nicely balanced, the brass finishing giving it some weight, but the polymer keeping it from being too heavy.  The only thing I didn't like was the lip where the polymer meets brass.  It's right where I grip the pencil, and cuts into my fingers after a while.  I don't think this will be a problem for everyone, though.

Technically, these are clutch pencils rather than mechanical pencils because of the extendable tube. That's fairly useless trivia, except it does mean that you can use leads of different sizes.  If you have leads from other mechanical pencils, they will probably fit in this one.  

You can also fit cotton swabs in it, for blending.  Don't ask me how I know that...

Look & Feel - The Leads and Cases
The cases are clear plastic with black plastic lids.  They're super slim, with just enough room for the leads.  They'd fit in a shirt or jacket pocket easily.  They'd fit in a back pocket too, but the first time you sat on one, it would crack.

Each case comes with nine 2 mm colored leads. They're are 3.5 inches long and you get Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Purple, Brown, Orange, Grey, and White colored leads, plus the black 5B lead that comes already loaded in the pencil.  Note: The refill cases also come with a tan lead!

The graphite lead that comes in the pencil is longer than the colored leads.  There is only room for nine leads in the cases.

That means when you switch to color, you must either set the graphite lead where you won't lose it, or put it where you just took out the colored lead. But then you can't put the lid back on the case, because the graphite is too long, and you risk spilling out the leads.

The leads are small enough that you don't need to sharpen them, though you do have a sharpener and can make the point smaller for those extra, extra small spaces.  The leads are somewhat fragile, though, especially if you leave too much lead extended.  Sharpening can make them even more fragile.

Look & Feel - The Sharpener(s)
The set comes with a small sharpener.  It's thin, but made of a sturdy plastic.  It kind of reminds me of those clicker things you use to train dogs, and is about the same size.

You actually have two sharpeners, because there is one built into the push button on the pencil.

I was surprised at how well both sharpeners worked.  As manual as they come, but they shave the leads smoothly, fitting both the colored leads and the larger graphite lead.

If you think you'll use these sharpeners, you'll need to carry something to dump the shavings into, because neither sharpener has a place to store them.

As you can see, having read all of this, the Leda Art Supply Mechanical Pencil Set is a super-handy size, but there are sacrifices that were made to get this size.  I think they were reasonable sacrifices.  I wouldn't want this to be the only set of colored pencils that I had, but now I wouldn't want to be without it, because there are situations where they'll be perfect.

Smooth bristol-type paper

I chose this smooth, hard-surface paper tile, knowing that the pencils probably wouldn't work super well.  Pencil needs some tooth and the pencils that perform well are usually very soft (and not so good for travel for that reason) and usually have a high price point.

Having said that, I was able to get three or four layers of color and bright, solid color.  It's when I tried to color lightly that I ended up with streaks showing.

Watercolor Paper - Cold Pressed
When I used the colored pencils on cold-pressed watercolor paper, I was able to get soft gradations of color.  This was done in about 15 minutes, while I was waiting in a dentist's office.  I could have continued to work up layers and get deeper color.  But this is a set made for travel, and most likely to be used for situations and time frames like this. So I left it to show you what you can do under those circumstances.

Leda Art Supply Perfect Premium Sketchbook
The pencils perform excellently when used on the paper in a Leda Art Supply sketchbook. I did use a technical pen to draw this first, and I spent about an hour and half, working layer over layer to get a variety of soft and bold color.

The sketchbook has off-white paper, and feels smooth to the touch, but definitely has enough tooth to pull the pigment from the lead.

Leda Art Supply Mechanical Pencil Set with 12-piece 5B lead refill and sharpener is a great set for Urban Sketching, Plein Air or just to have on hand for any drawing or doodling you'd want to do on the go.  The compact lead cases allow you to have 9 colors plus a 5B graphite lead, yet you only need one pencil, all of which could easily be carried in a pocket or purse.

The are some downsides - having to switch out leads, and there is a lip where the body meets the grip, that I found uncomfortable.  I don't think it will be a problem for everyone though.

Leda Art Supply sent me this Mechanical Pencil Set with 12-piece 5B lead refill and sharpener as part of prize package when I won their Easter Contest.  They did not ask me to review the set.  I have received no consideration, other than the prize package, and all opinions expressed are my own.