I heard Jim Lee (THE top comic artist of the last 20 years) speak long ago about non-photocopy blue pencils. You sketch in pencil, then pick out the best lines in non-photo blue and erase, only the blue lines will remain, allowing you to have a nice wire frame for your drawing that can easily be removed upon scanning. These days, you can even do it with a mechanical pencil: Like this Pentel Sharp 205 with 0.5mm non-photo blue lead.
I spent years using the trusty Pentel Sharp P207, but a couple of years ago, my favorite mechanical pencil became the Pentel GraphGear 800. The 800 has everything the P207 has, plus a more solidly mounted eraser, a raised grip where your fingers touch, and a sturdy, all-metal, tip that can withstand almost anything. I’ve used all of my GraphGear 800s until the names have rubbed off. You cannot go wrong with this pencil, I’ve spent so much time with the GraphGear 800 that we’re legally married in Kentucky.
The Pentel Sharp P207 is one of the finest mechanical pencils ever made. It’s weight is perfect, the grip is optimal, the clip is removable (which I usually do), and it’s so rugged you can use it to get a rock out of your tire tread and go back to drawing without skipping a beat. With that being said, it has one fatal flaw: The eraser. I’ve been using this pencil for years and would rank it probably my second favorite mechanical pencil of all time, but it has a design flaw that’s never been fixed in its long life time. The metal sheath that holds the eraser in is too thin, causing the eraser to sink back into the pencil every time you use it. Granted: You probably should be using a plastic or gum eraser anyway, but there are always points where you can save time by not switching from the pencil in your hand. As the eraser recesses, the metal sheath is exposed, if you’re not careful, it can actually gouge and tear your paper.
So, it works perfectly until every twentieth line when you have to erase something tiny. I would give Pentel more of a break if they had improved it once in all this time, but, as it stands, I have a new favorite, which I will reveal in a future post. You could do much worse than the P207 (I still keep one with me as a backup), just be careful, and practice safe-erasing.
I’m a big fan of the Pilot Precise V5 and I picked up a few of these Vison Needles thinking that Uni-Ball might be able to take a similar setup to the V5 and offer some improvements. It’s not without question that one of my favorites will get dethroned, it generally happens every 5 years or so. Uni-Ball’s Vision Needle has a perfect size, fits great in one’s hand, and has a nice 0.7mm rollerball tip that glides fairly effortlessly, the feel on paper is similar to some of the better 0.5 or 0.7 mm rollerball pens out there: Unfortunately, the Vision Needle has an ink problem. The “waterproof,” “fade-proof” ink boasted by Uni-ball takes longer than usual to dry, still managing to smudge after a full 5 minutes of drying. The ink also tends to run and “spit” while writing or drawing, I try to elevate my hand off of the paper as much as the next guy, but there are still limits to how much active smudging I will take in a sitting. I’m afraid the running and smudging ink is enough to keep me from considering this pen one of “the greats.” Though the price was extremely reasonable, I will not be buying any more after this pack runs out.