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Interview with a lens-cowboy.

Interview with a lens-cowboy.

This is one of my favourite interviews so far and I have literally been waiting for a stable internet to upload this one.

 

We feature VFX legend, Bradley Stilwell. I met Bradley at Knead in Kloof a couple of years ago and he really gave me a lot of good things to think about over the conversations we had.

 

He’s also been a great inspiration to my personal work and today, you get to read about this amazing man.

Now, not to name drop, but…

This awesome man has worked on titles like Lego Batman, Ninjago, Hotel Mumbai, Mad Max Fury Road, Legend of the Guardians: Owls of Gahoole and Black Sails.

 

So without geeking out too much about what Bradley has worked on, let’s get into the article and learn more about this man’s journey so far.

Do you have a specific art piece you are fond of and why?

There is a great deal of art I enjoy but some of my favourites include Rodin’s the Kiss & Winged Victory at the Louvre. I guess I have a thing for wings.

My favourite painters are John Singer-Sergeant, Alphonse Mucha, Klimt, Seurat, Picasso, Goya, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec and others too numerous to mention here. I had an amazing trip to Barcelona and
fell in love with the work of Gaudi as well. In addition I love comic art so have plenty of contemporary artists that influenced me as a youngster growing up without even realising it: https://www.widewalls.ch/comic-book-artists-popular-culture/

 

There is a lot of great digital comtemporary work that I like too. One just has to check out Artstation.com. I’m currently loving Paul Chadiesson and Jama Jurabaev’s work. Very Inspiring.

 

What is your favourite element about your work? Why?

Three things: Story, technology and people. It’s the convergence of these three things that make my work a joy. I love working with creative people. They inspire me, challenge me and bring a colour and variety to my work that I just love!

 

When did you realize this is something you would want to do fulltime?

I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker, since high school. Fate directed me to post-production but the love of film and story still lies at the heart of what I do. I still have dreams of being the next Spielberg. I can’t see myself doing anything else really.

What is your favourite pastime outside art?

My family is my greatest love so they get most of my time. But when I get the time i enjoy cycling, gym, travel, the ocean or a good movie with my wife. I also love South Africa especially Cape Town so as a family we often visit town around the Cape. It’s really is a special place.

 

If you had all the time in the world and unlimited financial means – would you create the same art you create today?  Or would you create something different?

Good question. To think what we could create with unlimited resources!
I guess there are a lot of things that I would create if I had the means to produce them, but some of the most exciting creative experiences, for me, have been using whats at my disposal to the best of my ability, even if the materials are meager. So to answer the question, yes I probably would create something grander but i think I would still enjoy the creative journey just as much as I have to date.

 

What has been your biggest stumbling block in your journey, and how did you overcome that obstacle?

My biggest regret is holding back, not making the most of the time I had in my twenties. I was cocky and, like most young people, sure I had all the time in the world. I grew up in the old SA and I always felt like places like Hollywood just weren’t for kids like me. I think that’s another tragic consequence of the Apartheid era: shackled beliefs. I sometimes get given the opportunity to talk to young students and the one thing I try to impress on them is to never hold back! Just go for it! Time flies and every day is a chance to realise your dreams! Apply for that job at Lucasfilm or Weta or Pixar or whatever!
I also wasted a lot of my time and energy in nightclubs, getting drunk, doing drugs and getting caught up in the wrong crowd. Don’t do it! The first thing to go will be your professional reputation and your career. Shortly thereafter, your sanity, followed by your life. Save yourself the trouble. Rather spend your money on popcorn and movies.

 

How do you avoid burning out?

The film industry is a marathon, and it requires stamina, especially long form work. You can be the fastest, you might even be the best, but on large, complex, highly collaborative projects, I feel the person consistently producing reliable, predictable, quality work, will be not only the most sought after, but also the happiest. Ironically these people often turn out to be some of the best at their craft.
So make a life of it. Don’t overwork. Go home to be with your family or friends at the end of the day. Eat well. Sleep well. Do plenty of exercise or sport. Find enjoyment in areas outside work. Whatever brings a healthy balance to your life. Move away from the computer regularly. It’s not going anywhere!

 

What’s your favourite show to watch?

I’m currently watching 12 monkeys on Netflix and The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair on Showmax. I like a sci-fi and fantasy but my wife doesn’t. This is a good thing. In meeting her halfway I’ve been introduced to a lot of shows I wouldn’t otherwise see. Like good rom-coms!

How would you describe the work you do, to someone outside of the creative industry?

These days I simply call myself a digital artist or a VFX supervisor. If somebody pushes me for more info I can get into details quite passionately. I love what I do but I often have to stop myself when I catch them staring at me glassy eyed scanning the room for a refill. Then I quickly sum up by saying those two magic words: ‘Pixar Films’. If somebody’s in finance then I stop at ‘digital artist’.

What has been your most frustrating moment in your career, working on something, where you just put everything down and left the room?

I have made a point of never walking off a job. I have come close and I have dropped the ball many times but I have never stormed off a job. There was a recent project that saw me crack and lose it with somebody but I will always regret it. Once that’s out it can’t be taken back. However it’s not an easy industry, especially when large budgets are involved and jobs are running over. I try to learn from those experiences and hope that others will cut me some slack for my shortcomings.

 

How did you overcome this frustration to be able to return to the work?

The great thing about this industry is that people are very open-minded. We’ve all been there: bad day, trouble at home, feeling like a failure. The important thing to remember is that we’re not the only ones who feel like this at times. Most of the time it’s a simple matter of sitting down and having a good honest heart to heart. 90% of the time it’s a simple communication issue. People are incredibly gracious if you give them the chance. (They won’t be if you insist on being a dick though.)

On the other hand, after taking time to weigh up all factors, one might have to make the decision to move on. There are times when I realised that the project has run it’s course or that perhaps this particular work culture just isn’t for me. I believe it’s a mistake to expect each and every experience to produce a golden result. Don’t jump from one ship to another too often but don’t be afraid to have the confidence to value yourself enough to stand up and walk out if you feel you being genuinely compromised. As a younger man I made this mistake. It cost me dearly and I won’t do it again. You’re nobodies doormat.

 

If you could go anywhere in the world, on an all-expenses paid trip, where would you go?

Italy. I have never been but my wife has. It’s my eat, love, pray. Art, food, history, romance… they all seem to converge in Italy. One day… 😉

 

Every artist of any kind should make at least one trip to the Louvre in Paris.

 

What helps you to stay motivated when you feel depleted and you really need to meet a deadline?

Money! Make sure you get paid. I worked for free as a young man and it is so counter-productive. Don’t do it young people! You will never do your best work for free, unless it’s for yourself of course.
Other than that, make sure you believe in the project. We often have to take work without knowing what the film or series will be about but if you can try to land jobs that you agree with, that you believe in, then you will put your heart and soul into it, and the work will sing. It’s very disheartening to findout halfway through a project that it’s a personal or moral compromise.

What would you say is the most important thing an artist should do, when they approach you for portfolio feedback?

 

In terms of film and animation, I find lighting and colour the two things that can help a project most. If you spend some time on Artstation you will quickly discover that simple mastery of these two arcane disciplines are what set the men apart from the boys.
The greatest take-away from my time spent at Animal Logic was the countless hours spent in dailies with Craig Welsh and Grant Freckleton. I wouldn’t be a fraction of the artist I am today without them, and I am still only scratching the surface.

 

What do you think, is the most important discipline to develop that will help carry you in any of the career paths available to you?

 

That’s a life lesson in one question right there!
As I grow older I feel it’s becoming more important to be patient and tolerant with people. I think I feel this way because I suck at it! But my wife and kids, and my experiences with the many wonderful people I have worked with, have revealed to me that if I can grow in this regard, then it’s a good thing. It’s ironic that it’s not those I’m being tolerant with that stand to benefit most. That would be me.

As I move into more into supervising and directing, I think this is a key to successful team building. Is this not what collaborating is all about? It’s also a huge challenge for me, so stay tuned. 🙂

 

Where can we follow you online?

www.bradleystilwell.com and www.lenscowboy.com

 

Artist Interview Ben Winfield

Artist Interview Ben Winfield

We have a rather special interview today in the sense that this specific artist is one of those who you meet at a bar and you think, wow this guy is really cool… until he shows you his artwork and your first thoughts go to “WHAT THE HELL!? WHY HAVE I NEVER SEEN YOUR WORK?! IT’S AMAZEBALLS!”

I met Ben at the CTIAF a few years back and had the privilege of hosting a panel discussion with him and two other artists, Caroline Vos and Remi Abrahams, about Digital Colouring. It was a good discussion and we had a packed room.

Well, now we also have an interview with him and this is where we dive right into the meat of things.

Do you have a specific art piece you are fond of and why?

 

No one piece really, but there are a couple that I am happy with how they turned out. I would say those are the Medieval Stormtrooper, Skull Knight, and the Biker Gramps dude. For the stormtrooper, it was the marrying of two themes together which I think worked well. For the Skull Knight it was getting the metal and atmosphere right that I enjoyed. There is always something that can be learnt from each piece.

 

What is your favourite element about your work? Why?

 

I definitely do enjoy light. There is a lot of theory there that is interesting and there is always a lot to learn in that regard. I love doing line work as well, but I feel more free when I do digital painting.

 

How did you find your way into this field?

 

After I received my degree in Fine Art in 2010 my first job was for a travel accessories brand in Rome designing pens and wallets. From there in early 2012 I began working in video editing and educational videos back in Cape Town, all the while practicing my digital painting. Then one day in 2014, Caroline Vos approached me to ask if I would be interested in helping out as an intern on a project that she was busy working on. When I came into the studio it turned out to be Shy The Sun and they were working on an animation for Riot Games called The Curse of the Sad Mummy. After the project ended I kept up my relationship with the studio and at the beginning of 2016 I was hired to work full-time for them.

 

When did you realize this is something you would want to do full-time?

 

I knew I wanted to be a concept artist back in 2003 when I was still in high school. I didn’t know how to get there, so I studied fine art at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. However, once I had graduated I realised that I had lost focus on what I wanted to do with my art so in mid 2011, I began teaching myself digital painting with an aim to be hired as a concept artist or illustrator one day.

What is your favourite pastime outside art?

There isn’t much time outside of art as my hobby is also practicing art and doing tutorials, but I am very much into running. I’ve entered a number of marathons and ultra-marathons over the years, with my highlight being the 75km PUFfeR that I ran in 2017.

 

If you had all the time in the world and unlimited financial means – would you create the same art you create today?  Or would you create something different?

 

I have thought about this before, and I would like to think that I would still make art. However, I would definitely focus more on developing my own fantasy worlds and ideas.

 

What has been your biggest stumbling block in your journey, and how did you overcome that obstacle?

 

I would say it is the desire to be better right now. That I need to acknowledge that growth takes time, and that getting better in art is not something that happens over night.

The other is being inundated with so much amazing art online. There are a lot of crazy good artists out there that it can be demotivating. However, the trick is to see the skill and growth in other artists as a way to motivate yourself and your own artistic practice.

 

How do you avoid burning out?

 

I haven’t experienced burnout per se, but if I am on the same project for a long period of time it can be difficult to stay motivated. Especially if it’s a project you don’t really enjoy. I think it’s good to always have different projects going at the same time so you can jump between them and to stay fresh. This also helps when one has one’s own personal projects that can be worked on as a way to stay motivated.

Doing exercise, and making sure that I spend time hanging out with family and friends is also a good way to avoid burning out.

 

What’s your favourite show to watch?

 

I’ve watched True Detective season 1 quite a number of times, and it’s great to have playing in the background whilst I work. The Wire is also really great.

How would you describe the work you do, to someone outside of the creative industry?

 

To set the scene. I sit at a desk and work on a Cintiq 27QHD which is essentially a computer monitor that you can draw directly onto with a stylus. In terms of my work, there are a number of different things I do, but I mainly get to use my imagination to visually develop the ideas from a client’s imagination, or lack thereof. This can include developing and digitally painting characters, environments, and assets to be used in developing animation or video games.

 

What has been your most frustrating moment in your career, working on something, where you just put everything down and left the room?

 

I’ve luckily never experienced something so dramatic as that. There are moments though where I’ve wanted to pull my hair out with ridiculous client requests, or doing hundreds of changes or iterations on the same design.

 

How did you overcome this frustration to be able to return to the work?

 

Unfortunately when you’re paid a salary you have to come back to work the next day. This is actually helpful because if you say you’re stepping away from a project at say 6 pm, it allows you to come back the following day hopefully fresher and less frustrated. Going for a run is also helpful. After work though haha.

 

If you could go anywhere in the world, on an all-expenses paid trip, where would you go?

 

Somewhere with an incredible landscape. The Patagonian region in South America looks like it could be amazing. Iceland looks like it could be beautiful to visit as well.

 

What helps you to stay motivated when you feel depleted and you really need to meet a deadline?

 

Taking a break from the computer helps. Going outside for a run is also good. I do try plan my deadlines so that I don’t get to a place where I have to work all night. So setting realistic deadlines is a good idea.

 

What would you say is the most important thing an artist should do, when they approach you for portfolio feedback?

 

Firstly, one has to be open to criticism and feedback. This is key. If you aren’t willing to hear someone’s advice, then you shouldn’t be asking for it.

Have an idea as to what you are struggling with, and where you would like to improve. Everyone has different goals artistically that they’re aiming for so this is helpful when providing feedback. For example I am interested in imaginative realism, so I like to focus on realistic lighting and rendering, but I still need to have an understanding of anatomy.

 

What do you think, is the most important discipline to develop that will help carry you in any of the career paths available to you?

 

Always be willing to grow and improve in your practice and being open to change.

 

 

Where can we follow you online?

Instagram: https://instagram.com/ben.winfield

Website: http://benwinfield.com

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/benwinfield

ArtStation: https://www.artstation.com/benwinfield

Twitter: https://twitter.com/benwinfieldart

Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/benwinfieldart

Email: ben@benwinfield.com

Top 10 Military Fonts 2019 (Army, Navy & Stencil)

Top 10 Military Fonts 2019 (Army, Navy & Stencil)

Military fonts are something almost any graphic designer or digital artist has searched for at some point in their lives. From classic military stencil fonts to futuristic-looking dystopian fonts, there’s a surprising range of uses for these styles, past a simple Call of Duty montage title.

There are, however, a lot of really cheesy and badly designed military fonts out there. It’s a territory in which you’ll easily find fonts which are a little lackluster, underwhelming, or just plain badly designed. This is why we’ve put this guide together – to help you find some fantastic artisanal military fonts, which you can use in a whole variety of designs and styles.

We’ve chosen a whole host of different styles, and looked at the many takes on the classic military font, from stencils to Cyrillic, covering a range of style-eras such as WWII or Vietnam-style fonts. This is your all-in-one guide to the best 10 military fonts currently available.

Our Overall Favourite Military / Army Stencil Font

Targo 4F Stencil was the best stencil font we could find. Apart from their fantastic color choice in their demo images, Targo stood out to us for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it encompasses the classic military stencil feel quite well. Secondly, it’s multilingual meaning you can use it with alphabets from different languages, such as Cyrillic, Baltic, and Thai. Finally, it’s got a very slick, modern and versatile design which is easily adaptable to a variety of uses outside of standard military font use. It’s a great addition to any designer’s library.

The Top Navy Font We Found

While very stereotypical, the Old Navy font was our favorite Navy-style military font. It’s probably exactly what you need if you’re looking for a navy-style stencil font, being simple, classic and eye-catching giving you an instant Navy vibe. There’s not much more to say than this, as it’s a simple, concise and effective font set.

The Best Military Block Font

Manufaktur is a Soviet-inspired military block font, which was the best one we found by a long shot. One can tell it’s been designed with great care and taste, firstly from a design perspective and secondly from a usage perspective.

The font has 61 total variations, all different in weight and spacing combinations, offering a wide array of options to get some blocky Soviet / Swiss-inspired typography on the go. It was initially inspired by a cast-iron sign on an old Swedish industrial machine, which is also pretty cool.

The Best 10 Military Fonts Compared

Font Name Style $-$$$ Rating Buy Font
USAAF Air Force Stencil $$ 8/10 Check Price
Surplus Pro Stencil $$ 7/10 Check Price
The Old Navy Stencil $ 7.5/10 Check Price
Military Scribe Script $$$ 9/10 Check Price
The First Division Sans Serif $ 8/10 Check Price
Gorilla Block $$ 7.5/10 Check Price
Targo 4F Stencil Stencil $$$ 10/10 Check Price
Manufaktur Block $$$ 9/10 Check Price
Army Stencil Stencil $ 6/10 Check Price
War is in the Air Stencil $$ 7/10 Check Price

Top 10 Military Style Fonts Reviewed

In this next section, we’ve reviewed and broken down what we like, and what we don’t, about the ten best military fonts we could find. Each review has a few handy pointers such as a $-$$$ price rating, as well as any other handy details you might need at a glance.

Be sure, as well, to check out our buyer’s guide at the end of the article. This covers a few things to look out for when choosing a font, depending on your usage and intent (looking to stencil some fonts? Check out our mechanical pencils guide here). But more than that later.

Now, let’s dive in.

Surplus Pro

  • Classic WWII American Military Font
  • $$
  • Two Styles

If you’re looking for a simple, classic American Military Stencil-style font – Surplus Pro is undoubtedly the one for you. It looks exactly like the kind typography you might see in a war movie or video game, with a rugged look that can be brought to a whole new level by adding some grain and scratches to it, making it look a little more realistic.

Surplus Pro comes in two styles – one standard, and one rough version which has less-defined outlines and a more worn feel to it. The font comes in OTF format, which means it’s easy to use regardless of which OS or platform you’re using it on, and is very reasonably priced, even for E-Publication or Application use.

Click to Check Price

Military Scribe

  • Based on the Declaration of Independence
  • $$$
  • One style, upper and lower case

While it’s not what you might think of right off the bat when you’re looking for a military font, Military Scribe is actually a great option if you’re looking to do some dated-looking military typography.

It looks like the kind of writing you’ll find on documents like the Declaration of Independence and the various numbered amendments we so often hear mentioned. The creator behind the font referenced the work of three different scribes from the 1700s who wrote military documents and declarations at the time. The creator averaged the penmanship and styles of these fonts, creating a very versatile modern-use version, with more than 1000 characters available.

If you’re looking for military fonts of a war long gone by, then Military Scribe is your best bet.

Click to Check Price

Manufaktur

  • Soviet-inspired Military Font
  • $$$
  • 61 styles, of varying weights and spacings

If you’re looking for a font that is modern and tasteful, with a military feel, a sleek design and some great options in terms of variation, then Manufaktur is simply one of the best you could go for. Based on an old cast-iron sign on a piece of aged Swedish industrial machinery, this Soviet-esque typeface is one of the most versatile military fonts you could find.

With both uppercase and lowercase styles, and 61 different available variations, which fluctuate in weight, spacing roughness and emphasis, Manufaktur can be used for such a wide array of styles and intents. Additionally, the font supports glyphs from a range of languages from all corners of Europe and comes in OTF, TTF and web font formats.

All in all, this is one of our favorites from this list – we trawled through a lot of military-style fonts and Manufaktur left us with the best impression overall.

Click to Check Price

War is In the Air

  • Reminiscent of Vietnam Era Stencil Fonts
  • $$
  • One single worn style

Looking like the font from the ‘Born on the 4th of July’ poster, War is In the Air is an American Military-style stencil font which we thought was very reminiscent of Vietnam era military cargo packages, and clothing prints. It’s perfect for capturing that slightly more Hollywood-ized side of Military fonts, somehow feeling more on the lighter or more comical side of military fonts.

The font comes in just one style, all caps – just like a real stencil. It’s got some grit to it, and can easily be applied to real-world objects in Photoshop, with a few added effects to look like it’s really been printed on.

The creator of the font also offers 24-hour support if you’ve got any questions, queries or issues with their package – a great feature as far as we’re concerned.

Click to Check Price

USAAF Air Force

  • Air Force Style Stencil
  • $$
  • Inspired by references from actual aircraft

Inspired by photos and references from real aircraft, loading machines, cargo and more, USAAF Air Force is the ideal font to pick if you’re trying to find a Military font with a distinct aviation vibe to it. While it’s pretty simple and only arrives in one style, it really encompasses the feel of aviation and airforce style text.

It’s a simple, stencil-style block font with numbers, and should suit all of the air force-related typography needs that you’ll ever encounter. It’s available in TTF as well as PNG, which might be an added bonus to some designers out there.

Click to Check Price

Gorilla

  • Futuristic Military Style
  • $$
  • Regular, Bold, Italic and Bold Italic Styles

Reminiscent of the kinds of typefaces you might find in a futuristic battle-royale style video game, Gorilla perfectly captures a blend of futurism and military aesthetic in one fantastic package. It comes in four styles, from regular to bold italic, and is available in OTF format for easy use between programs and platforms.

Inspired by the likes of Nike, Under Armor and Adidas’ typography, this font is designed to work as a title case font suited to futuristic, industrial and brutalist designs. It’s got a harsh look, while still having some flow and direction so things don’t look to hard-cut.

All in all, it’s a great artisanal military font and is ready to use right out the box, perfect for branded campaigns or website headings.

Click to Check Price

The First Division

  • Elegant, Old-timey and unique look
  • $
  • Created by an artist skilled in stylized fonts

While the creator mentions using references from WWII aircraft names and aviation text, The First Division is almost closer to something emulating the style we’ve come to know through the Fallout video game series.

The First Division comes in three styles – one inline with holes in parts of the letters, one full black version, and lastly a letterpress version which replicates printed ink, perfect for getting some natural grain and a bit of a worn look in your creations.

The font also comes with some cool stylized glyphs, such as “and”, “from” and “Est. D”, all helping you create even more immersive and genuine vintage-style art. This is perfect for anyone looking for a military-style font with a distinct vintage feel, specifically from the 50’s, that might have been used on an Uncle Sam poster.

Click to Check Price

Army Stencil

  • Stereotypical Army Stencil Font
  • $
  • Available as an SVG file

Army Stencil is just what the name describes. It’s an almost comically stereotypical army font, combining the classic letter style we’ve all come to associate with military fonts with an under and over-line, as well as some camo-style accents on the characters.

The package is available in a whole host of formats from SVG to PDF, JPG to PNG and more. It’s also super affordable, ranking as the cheapest font on this list by a long shot.

There’s really not all that much more to say about it than that. It’s possibly the most stereotypical army font one could find and does just that job perfectly.

Click to Check Price

Targo 4F Stencil

  • Modern Stencil Army Design
  • $$$
  • Supports 132+ languages

Targo, our favorite overall Military stencil font from this list, is a hugely versatile and incredibly professionally designed font.

It comes in lower and upper case, in both regular and italic styles, and appears to be inspired by military stencil fonts, modern rounded typography, and a whole lot of different language scripts.

As we mentioned before, it’s got support for over a hundred and thirty languages, including many strange and special unique characters. It’s quite rare to find an artisanal font that holds so much support for various alphabets, languages and scripts.

While this might not be the first font that comes to mind when you’re thinking about Military fonts, it’s one of the most versatile and well-designed fonts you could find in the category. Sure, the stencil may look a bit too new for some peoples’ use, but overall this font set beats out all its competitors in almost every other way.

Click to Check Price

The Old Navy

  • Classic WWII Navy Style
  • $
  • Good pricing / licensing options

As you may have seen, The Old Navy was our top pick for a navy themed military font. It’s got a classic navy look, like the numbers and letters you might see printed on a giant marine tanker, or even a smaller Navy Seal boat.

It’s got two styles, one regular and one ‘grunge’ style, for that added effect of dust and grit that you often need with military designs. It’s very well designed, with letterforms and shapes exactly like the kind of thing you would expect from a US Navy-grade shipping crate.

There’s really not much more to say about this font pack – it’s all in the name. It’s ideal if you’re looking for a font in this style, for branding, logos, prints or posters or anything large and stand-outish!

Click to Check Price

Conclusion of the Best Military Fonts 2019

You should now have more than enough choices to consider when looking for military fonts for your designs. There is a wide variety of styles, sizes and ‘feelings’ in the fonts listed here, and you can easily combine them in various ways to create the military aesthetic you’re looking for. They’re all a little different and special, and we’re sure you’ll be able to find the right one for you from our list.

We’ve got more font guides coming soon, so be sure to look out for them!

Top 10 Low Poly Models & Packs on the Unity Asset Store 2019

Top 10 Low Poly Models & Packs on the Unity Asset Store 2019

Low Poly is an art style all you animators out there have no doubt encountered in the last few years. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the term refers to a simplistic and minimalist design style using only simple ‘polygons’ or flat shapes, with straight sides.

It’s become incredibly popular, with the help of a number of Unity-made games such as the VR award-winning action fest Superhot, or the deep and story-driven Virginia. It’s a style that’s here to last, as we see more and more indie games, emulating similar design principles, announced each month. Low Poly is also not very resource-heavy, meaning it’s an easy way to boost performance, especially on tablets or mobile gaming systems.

We’ve put together this list to help set you up with the essential low poly model packs on the Unity Asset Store so that you can start creating your own in-game world. We’ve picked these so that when you combine them, you’ll have everything you need. From characters to textures, props, scenes and more! We’ve even added a handy ‘what to look for’ section so that you can add assets of your own to this collection and start to customize your world.

Now, let’s get a little deeper into some of the details of these model packs.


Our Favourite Low Poly Assets on the Unity Store

Here are our top three picks from this list – they’re some essential items that will give you a lot to work with, and more than enough to get started on designing your own in-game world.

The Best Low Poly Pack We Found

a scene of six different low poly animated terrains

The PolyPerfect Ultimate Low Poly Pack is a great starter-kit for prototyping and creating your own low poly games. It comes complete with animals, nature, people, props, buildings and more, allowing you to create and design an immersive world to start you out. It also has free monthly updates, a really nice added bonus which gives you just that more bang for your buck.

Our Favourite Low Poly Animals Pack

two animated dogs standing in long grass

The Low Poly Animated Animals Pack is a great way to start creating simple live scenes, or animal NPCs in your in-game world. It comes with Wander Script v4.2, allowing you to drag and drop animals into your scene, bringing your game to life. It comes with demo scenes, unique sounds, and a whole host of animals from giraffes to starfish.

The Best Low Poly Software Tool

side by side comparison of two different renders

The Low Poly Mesh Generator Tool is a handy tool to have on-hand when designing a low-poly game. It allows you to generate meshes for any assets, from props to entire terrains, turning them into a simple low poly approximation with preserved colour. This means no late night searching ‘how to make low poly models’ on YouTube. This tool is a real help, allowing you to turn any model you’re working with into a low poly style version.


The Best Unity Asset Store Low Poly Model Packs Compared

Image Name Free Updates $-$$$ What it brings Check Price
Low Poly Animated Animals Low Poly Animated Animals $$ Nature Check Price
POLYGON - Modular Fantasy Hero Characters POLYGON Modular Fantasy Hero Characters Pack $$$ Variety Check Price
Low Poly Micro Monster Pack Low Poly Micro Monster Pack $ Challenge Check Price
Vistas Polybox Low Poly Vistas $ Beauty Check Price
1UP LOWPOLY - Gun Pack 1UP Low Poly Gun Pack $ Interaction Check Price
Low Poly Ultimate Pack Low Poly Ultimate Pack $$ All-round Check Price
Low Poly Village Addixon Low Poly Village Pack $ Towns Check Price
POLYGON - Nature Pack POLYGON Nature Pack (Low Poly Grass, Trees & More) $$$ Immersion Check Price
Simple Cars - Cartoon Vehicles Simple Cartoon Cars - Low Poly Car Pack $ Vehicles Check Price
Low Poly Mesh Generator Low Poly Mesh Generator Tool $ Flexibility Check Price

Best Unity Asset Store Low Poly Models Reviewed

Here’s our round up of the best low poly models available on the Unity Asset Store. We’ve labeled each one with three points of interest such as a $-$$$ rating, cool features, or extra requirements. We’ve also added a list of pros and cons for each one so that you can compare at a glance, and see which is going to work best for you.

While Unity is free, if you’re interested in upgrading to the hobbyist or enterprise plans, you can take a look at Unity pricing here.

Low Poly Animated Animals Pack

low poly animated animals

  • $$
  • Free Updates
  • Drag-and-drop living animals into scenes

If you’re looking for a low poly model pack containing a variety of animals, with the least headache, then the PolyPerfect Low Poly Animated Animals Pack is the one for you. Each animal comes rigged, with beautiful animations and demo scenes, unique sounds, illustrated environment textures and a few low poly nature elements for each habitat.

The pack includes a range of animal species like bears, penguins, spiders, dogs, sharks, wolves and more – making it a versatile model pack, which can be used whether you’re making an arctic exploration game, or a desert survival battle royale.

Finally, one of the best features of this pack is the ‘free updates’ feature, whereby any changes or updates to the pack are available to buyers for free. This includes requests for changes / additions to specific animals, as well as bug fixes and more features.

Bottom line: this pack’s bark is most certainly not worse than its bite.

Pros
  • Variety of animals
  • Animations are easy to customize
  • All animals have a ‘wander’ script

Cons

  • None we could find

Click to Check Price on Unity Asset Store

Synty Polygon Fantasy Hero Low Poly Characters Pack

low poly modular fantasy hero 3d models

  • $$$
  • Includes random character generator script
  • Comes with some simple fantasy weapon assets

When you’re designing characters for your game, whether they’re NPCs, companions, or protagonists, it’s extremely important that they’re varied. We all remember playing those CD-ROM games in the early 2000s, where the NPCs were all just copies of each other with different colour clothes – and it wasn’t fun.

This Fantasy Hero Low Poly Characters Pack from Synty Studios fixes all that, and makes character generation a breeze. All characters are modular, meaning different body parts, clothes and accessories can be swapped out. This comes together to make a whole host of individual and unique characters to populate your game world.

The pack is made up of 720 modular pieces with custom shaders for changing colours, made up of modular character assets like hair, heads, hands, bags, capes, and more. There are male and female versions of each body part, and the pack also comes with 120 pre-made characters for you to try out. It also has a random character generator script, which is great for creating non-essential NPCs.

Bottom line: Get ready to meet your new group of friends who just about put Borderlands’ random gun generation to shame.

Pros
  • Hundreds of combinations
  • Easy to customize

Cons

  • Some have had compatibility issues with other Synty packs

Click to Check Price on Unity Asset Store

Low Poly Micro Monster Pack

Micro Monsters Low Poly 3d model pack

  • $
  • 11 Individual Monsters
  • Comes with great animations

Boss fights always seem to cause headaches, whether you’re a developer or a gamer. They’re built up, intense, and often pivotal in terms of theme and story – and that’s a lot of pressure! So why not spend some time focusing on mini-boss fights?

This (surprisingly cute) Micro Monster pack from Bitgem is a wonderful little pack for adding some much-needed evil into your world. Whether you’re using them as creeps, mobs, mini-bosses or companions, these 11 hand-painted micro monsters might be just what you need to bring some challenge into your in-game world.

The animations are solid and versatile, and the creators of this pack are experts in 3d model and asset design, meaning it’s very unlikely you’ll be running into any errors or compatibility issues when using the micro monsters.

Bottom line: They might be micro, but they bring the atmosphere.

Pros
  • Tastefully designed
  • Comes with animations

Cons

  • None we could find

Click to Check Price on Unity Asset Store

Polybox Low Poly Vistas

  • $
  • Versatile visual styles
  • All models are outlined

If you’ve played Firewatch, you’ll know how much difference vistas can make in turning your skybox and in-game world from something lively, to something living. This, frankly, gorgeous low poly vista pack from Polybox is the perfect addition to bring a little extra flair to your in-game world without sacrificing performance or compatibility issues.

VR and Mobile-ready, this pack of vista-cutouts is heavily customizable and seamless, great for use in a variety of game styles (ie. not just the artsy ones). These super low-performance vistas mimic different natural environments such as mountains, deserts, cliffs, and hills; making them adaptable to a multitude of visual styles.

The cards snap together allowing you to alter and create your own custom vistas, and easily achieve those fancy parallax effects which just look so good. All cards can be UV unwrapped and are texture-ready, and the cards are optimized, as we mentioned, for use in mobile or tablet gaming devices, meaning you’re gonna save a whole lot of performance points.

Bottom line: Sit back and enjoy the view.

Pros
  • Low performance
  • Customizable
  • Simply & Smartly designed

Cons

  • None we could find

Click to Check Price on Unity Asset Store

1UP Low Poly Gun Pack

low poly guns 3d model pack

  • $
  • 1UP Magic Shadow Unlit Shader
  • Very tweak-friendly

Up to this point, we’ve got a game with roaming animals, fantasy characters, beautiful landscapes and angry little monsters – all we’re missing is guns! This low poly Gun model pack from 1UP is simply one of the best in the Unity Asset Store, and is going to work perfectly for most games that require a finger on the trigger.

In this pack, you’ll find all your common guns from your favourite games (Think CS:GO, Fornite, TF2). There are 18 unique weapons, with unlimited alternative colour, and 35 skin tone variations in this pack – all perfect for a low-poly fps. They’re really well-designed within the low poly style, and the textures are super small (4KB / 256px) which means you’re not going to run into any performance issues having everyone in-game running around with a rifle.

The package comes with an example scene, and is quite easy to tweak and edit to your own specifications, even for a beginner. Honestly, no low poly FPS or battle royale game is complete without a great set of weapon choices, and this is the perfect pack for just that.

Bottom line: This pack hits the target in the bullseye

Pros
  • Great performance
  • Very customizable
  • Short, sweet and simple

Cons

  • Sadly, no flamethrower

Click to Check Price on Unity Asset Store

PolyPerfect Ultimate Pack (Low Poly Textures, Models and More)

The ultimate low poly 3d models and assets pack

  • $$
  • Endless source of ideas / inspiration
  • All-round essential pack for low poly

While it’s great fun picking all your assets and models individually, it can become a headache, and is a lot easier to do when you’ve got a solid base on which to build, metaphorically. This Ultimate Low Poly Models pack from PolyPerfect is just that, and is a great all-in-one tool for laying out the framework and getting a step ahead in your game design process.

This all-in-one pack features over 500 prefabs, with colliders and various textures, so that you can design large low poly environments with ease, and all your assets in one place. The pack includes things like animals, a castle, nature, people, props, and more. Everything you need to build a truly immersive word from the ground up.

The design itself is beautiful, with none of the assets seeming rushed or not up-to-standard. The assets are also one material and true low poly mesh, meaning that mobile or tablet performance won’t take a dip compared to using other more complex assets. The pack also has the added bonus of offering free updates, meaning any requests you have can be seen to by the creators.

Bottom line: Seamless world building, polygon by polygon.

Pros
  • Everything you need in one place
  • Low performance requirements
  • Free monthly updates

Cons

  • Pricey (but worth it)

Click to Check Price on Unity Asset Store

Addixon Low Poly Village Pack

Low Poly Village Assets and 3d Models pack

  • $
  • No sample scene included
  • Simple and effective style

Whether you’re at a camp in an RPG or a survival game, or visiting a nearby town in an adventure game, villages are an important part of any in-game world. This simple low poly village pack from Addixon makes for the perfect pack to achieve a village feel.

The pack includes boxes, barrels and 8 hut styles, as well as some landscapes, trees, boats and more. They’re all designed with an island-style theme, which works pretty well in any context (as long as you leave out the palm trees).

While this pack is small and basic, with the right variation and placement it can really offer you a lot of freedom in designing villages, and making different villages feel unique and just that – different.

Bottom line: Don’t be the village idiot – this pack is going to make your life a lot easier.

Pros
  • Nice, simple variations
  • Tastefully designed

Cons

  • Palm tree undersides are not double-sided

Click to Check Price on Unity Asset Store

Polygon Nature Pack (Low Poly Grass Textures, Trees & Rocks)

Low poly nature and trees 3d model pack

  • $$$
  • Easy to paint
  • Active discord for 24/7 support

As we’ve already mentioned, nothing brings immersion to an in-game world like real-world reference. Therefore, it makes a huge difference when you’re able to really bring nature to life, with a varied and realistic palette of plants, shrubs, trees, bushes and terrain.

That’s why we chose this Synty Polygon Nature Pack – it’s got everything you need to start creating a wilderness, like low poly trees and plants, terrain and rocks, props and extra FX assets. This pack also includes a new addition to the Polygon series – their Hybrid Style Trees sets, allowing for a little bit of blurring between the lines of low poly and not low poly (think Fortnite).

The pack also comes with detailed terrain textures, with tiling maps ready for dynamic lighting making them compatible with static mesh ground pieces from other polygon packs. There’s also a custom stylized water shader, as well as animations for the trees and plants so that they feel living, and not made of rubber.

Finally, there are some truly awesome effects such as a nifty rock shader for moss and snow coverage, particle effects like butterflies, falling leaves, blowing grass, fireflies and more. This is truly a great model pack when it comes to 3d low poly models, and one you’ll want to be sure not to miss.

Bottom line: Become one with nature in one handy Unity Asset Store pack.

Pros
  • Comes with great shaders and animations
  • Plenty of variation
  • Lightweight render pipeline for mobile

Cons

  • Shader issues (currently being fixed)

Click to Check Price on Unity Asset Store

Simple Cartoon Vehicles Low Poly Car Pack

Low poly cartoon vehicles 3d model pack

  • $
  • Great price point
  • Sleek design
  • Now, we’ve been mostly on a more fantasy / RPG trend in terms of the Unity Asset Store packs reviewed in this article (except for the guns), but no video game is complete without a good set of vehicles. This car low poly model pack from Synty gives us just what we need, providing a number of cars of different shapes and sizes, for all uses. While there are some free low poly models of cars on the Asset Store, this one is worth every cent.

Each car comes with 1-4 variants, and these vehicles include everything from regular cars to tow trucks, logging trucks, milk vans, limousines and even a forklift. They’re all created with love, as most of the Synty packs appear to be, and while there’s not too much else to say about this pack it looks great, works great, and runs fantastically on mobile and tablets.

Bottom line: Get your game from A to B with this pack

Pros
  • Cars come with variations
  • Tiny package size

Cons

  • None we could find

Click to Check Price on Unity Asset Store

Low Poly Mesh Generator Tool

Low poly mesh generator tool

  • $
  • Make your own Low Poly Models
  • Requires one license per seat

This last low poly asset pack from Davit Naskidashvili is a great handy tool to have when working on a low-poly game. Despite the number of options on the Unity Asset Store, and the list of great packs we’ve put together here, there’s always going to be one model that you just can’t find in the right style. Breaking the immersiveness of your game is just out of the question, but so is leaving out that really cool sword model you found on the Asset Store – and that’s where this tool comes in handy (especially if you’re not into low poly modeling yourself).

The Low Poly Mesh Generator tool allows you to use classic methods of generating “low poly” or “flat shaded” meshes, baking low poly texture inside vertex colour, and averaging face normal. The tool works with all types of meshes from solid to skinned, and event terrains and complex meshes. It works really fast, and doesn’t take a lot of extra computing power to actually generate the low poly versions of each model. There’s also a Terrain to Mesh algorithm, which is some of the fastest terrain conversion around today.

The tool is optimized to be as user-friendly, and effective as possible, needing no preparation, combining final meshes into one, supporting substance material baking into vertex colour, and two texture baking. One thing, however, to be aware of is that the plugin doesn’t reduce triangle count – for that, you’ll need a decimation tool. That’s very important to keep in mind if you’re thinking about tablet and mobile optimization.

All in all, this is a real essential tool to have when working on a low poly project, no matter how big or small. It’ll save you a lot of headaches, make your life a lot easier, and bring a little wonderment and joy when you see your favourite regular models come to life in a low poly form.

Bottom line: Low Poly Everything. All the time.

Pros
  • Great host of features
  • Versatile and easy to use

Cons

  • Can create some artistic inconsistencies

Click to Check Price on Unity Asset Store


How to pick the best Low Poly Game Assets on the Unity Store

There are two reasons that low poly models and aesthetic are popular with game developers and animators.

Firstly, it’s a simple way to limit your design abilities and focus on creating a game or scene with a strong aesthetic theme, where everything feels like it’s part of the same world. This can take a lot longer to get right when you’re using photorealistic assets, or even creating your own models per your own design specifications.

The second reason is that low poly assets, being simple, minimal and light on rendering resources, often help increase performance. This means that games like Superhot have a much easier time running on a low-end rig when compared to something like Battlefield V – no graphics card upgrade needed!

Now, here are a few things to consider when looking for more packs to add to your in-game world:

  • Visual Style
  • Reviews
  • Free Updates

Now, let’s take a closer look at these points so that you know what to look out for, and how to get the best low poly Unity assets for your projects.

Visual Style

While the ‘style guide’ for lowpoly assets is a pretty rigid one, there still are some differences. While most low-poly style packs from different creators work together visually, there are always going to be some small differences that come from the style of whichever artist created them.

The first and most important point to consider when shopping for new assets is whether or not they fit in with the visual theme and aesthetic you’ve created in-game. Small differences can really throw off the immersion, and you ultimately want all your in-game assets to appear as if they come from the same source.

This is where tools like the Low Poly Mesh Generator come especially in handy, allowing you to edit and tweak styles to get everything meshing together nicely (please excuse the pun).

Reviews

A great way to tell whether or not the pack you’re inspecting does what you want it to do is by looking at the reviews. A simple Ctrl+F “animation”, for example, will help you check whether the animals / characters in your pack come with their own animations, or if you’ll have to create your own.

Once you’ve purchased the low poly models of your choice, the Unity Asset Store review section is also a great way to troubleshoot errors or issues you’re having, as it’s the easiest way for others who own the pack to contact its creators for support. This is great to remember when you get your next stack overflow error.

Free Updates

Free updates are a very cool feature of the Unity Asset Store, and allow creators to update their packs with new models, assets and features at no extra cost to you, once you’ve purchased the pack. Packs with this option will give you way more bang for your buck, and really help bring that community-driven aspect to the Unity Asset Store, when it comes to requests and modifications.


In Conclusion

Well, now you’ve got just about everything you need from the Unity Asset Store to begin work (or finish work) on your next Low Poly style AAA Indie Title. We wish you the best of luck in your game creation endeavours, and would love to hear what you’re working on, so don’t be shy – drop us a line!

Buried Memories Volume 2: Serekh, HDRP environment and character pack

Buried Memories Volume 2: Serekh, HDRP environment and character pack

Buried Memories Volume 2: Serekh (More here) offers a range of assets geared toward an action-adventure game in the sci-fi genre. The pack contains a modular sci-fi lab built from walls, floors, trims, scaffolding, other structural elements, a multitude of props, and a fantastic monster.

The concept behind these AAA-quality assets draws on a blend of ancient, mythical elements and technological advances such as genetic manipulation – a clash that awakens a beast and serves as a wake-up call to humanity. Creators can use a low-res version of the environment for prototyping or bring their own worlds to life with the high-res art.

This is an HDRP package. Compatible with Unity 2018.3 and 2018.4. Due to changes in HDRP, this package currently is not supported in 2019.1. We will be updating it in the coming months to add 2019.x compatibility.

 

Questions or support: Forum Thread

Blog post on Unity: Introducing Serekh

Key features:
• The Service Area and the Main Chamber – a fully lit environment
• The Arm – a mechanical structure fully rigged, with animation
• The Kirin – a sculpted character fully rigged, with animation
• Two music tracks with audio stem files and a live mixer script

Buried Memories Pack Vol 2

A Truly Rich Pack with beautiful assets stuffed with multiple objects and animations. Great for any game development project 

What’s included:
1. High-fidelity character model with easy-to-customize body parts, armor and a weapon; more than 100 animations to mix and match in the animation controller to create unique animations
2. More than 100 3D models of environment and props built in a modular way, with some animations, to allow creative freedom and scalability
3. VFX for mood and tone (atmospherics) of sample scene
4. SFX for character animations, select props, and ambience of environment
5. Custom composed music that is crafted in audio layers to allow the creation of multiple alternate mixes within the editor
6. Low-res prototyping version of the environment
7. High-res concept art 

 

Buried Memories Pack

What’s included:
1. High-fidelity character model with easy-to-customize body parts, armor and a weapon; more than 100 animations to mix and match in the animation controller to create unique animations
2. More than 100 3D models of environment and props built in a modular way, with some animations, to allow creative freedom and scalability
3. VFX for mood and tone (atmospherics) of sample scene
4. SFX for character animations, select props, and ambience of environment
5. Custom composed music that is crafted in audio layers to allow the creation of multiple alternate mixes within the editor
6. Low-res prototyping version of the environment
7. High-res concept art 

 

Our vision

With Buried Memories, we hope to inspire creators to extend their own universe and learn from the techniques of industry veterans.

Buried Memories Volume 2: Serekh was developed by Edvige Faini, Concept Artist, and a team of highly skilled members of the Unity Icon Collective. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any money, they will help us fund our projects while recommending great assets!

10 Best Mechanical Pencils for Drawing and Writing 2019

10 Best Mechanical Pencils for Drawing and Writing 2019

We’re currently living in an age where technology is advancing faster than ever. From folding phones to drones built for crop dusting, technology is creeping into our lives in ways we could never imagine. That being said, it’s incredible that a good mechanical pencil is still an essential part of almost every artist’s arsenal. While something like a wireless pen mouse is great, it’s still simply not able to write on paper.

Whether you’re doing architectural or mechanical drawings, prototyping hand-drawn logos or fonts, taking notes or doing quick sketches – a mechanical pencil is vital for two reasons. Firstly, they’re erasable, and, secondly, they’re a lot sturdier and long-lasting than standard pencils. A good mechanical pencil can easily last you a lifetime, if you look after it.

There are, however, many factors to consider when shopping for high-quality mechanical pencils, from their shape, size and functionality to the ergonomics, hand-feel and more. As such, we’ve put together this guide of our top mechanical pencils. Each one has its own pros and cons, and there’s a handy buyer’s guide at the end of the article to help you make an informed decision.

Now, let’s put pencil to paper and dig in.


The Best Mechanical Pencil for Writing

The Parker Jotter 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil was an easy pick for us when it came to the best mechanical pencil for writing and taking notes. Parker is possibly the longest-standing titan of the pen and pencil industry, and this fantastic model comes in their iconic Jotter design for the first time.

It’s a sleek and comfortable stainless steel model, which comes packaged in a fancy Parker gift box. It’s built to sit at your desk until the day you retire and even has an eraser on top, under the metal cap.

The Best Mechanical Pencil for Drawing

The Pentel Sharp Kerry 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil is our top pick for mechanical pencils for drawing. It’s got a large body design, almost like a paintbrush. The pencil comes with an eraser, and also has a cap so that it won’t poke holes in your pocket when you’re carrying it around.

Many have found the larger body of the pencil to be ideal for drawing, whether doing illustration, drafting, or mechanical drawings. The lead included is Pentel’s Super Hi-Polymer HB lead, which is some of the best, and clearest, for digital scanning. It’s also got a nifty bonus – if you buy the pink version, five cents will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Who knew that buying a mechanical pencil could be such an altruistic endeavour?

Our Favourite Expensive Mechanical Pencil

If you’ve got a bit extra to spend, the rOtring 600 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil is a great choice. It’s got a full-metal body, with a balanced weight to improve accuracy and reduce fatigue. The pencil also features a cross-hatched metallic grip to reduce slippage, and has a fixed lead guidance sleeve with just enough of a gap to allow any ruler to be used without issue.

One of the coolest features of this pencil, however, is the Lead Hardness indicator which identifies which lead grade you’re working with as you write. But, we’ll get into more of that later on in the review. It’s one of the most expensive mechanical pencils on this list, but the price is justified, as far as we’re concerned.


Best Mechanical Pencils Compared


The 10 Best Mechanical Pencils Reviewed

In this next section, we’re going to take a look at the top mechanical pencils individually. We’ve included pros and cons for each pencil, as well as a bulleted list of notable points from each pencil so that you can easily compare them at a glance. We’ve also listed $-$$$ as one of these attributes, so that you can get a rough idea of what each one might cost. Let’s take a closer look.

rOtring 600 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil Review

  • 0.5mm
  • $$$
  • Full-metal body
  • All-round use

The rOtring is not only one of the most cool mechanical pencils around (if you’re into German engineering, at least), but also one of the most effective. Its great design is also the first indicator of the pencil’s incredible build quality, with its red-accented hexagonal body and cross-hatched metal grip.

The rOtring 600 is built to last a lifetime, and is fully decked out with features such as its brass mechanism for extra precision when advancing the lead. A small eraser on the back, as well as a nifty lead hardness/grade indicator which shows you what you’re working with inside the pencil.

This is a great mechanical pencil for drawing, illustration, drafting or writing – it’s an all-rounder. It comes in a black or silver finish, and as well as 0.35mm, 0.5mm and 0.7mm variants.

Pros
  • Lead hardness grade indicator
  • Hexagonal body to prevent sliding on drawing tables
  • Different sizing options

Cons

  • It’s on the pricey end of things

Click to Check Price on Amazon

Parker Jotter 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil Review

  • 0.5mm
  • $$
  • Stainless steel barrel
  • Designed for writing and everyday use

You’ll probably know Parker’s Jotter pens from their status as the ‘best of the best’ of pens. They’re fancy looking, heavy and comfortable, and hold that status for a reason. So, it’s only natural Parker would eventually go on to release a mechanical pencil in the same iconic design. This stainless steel beauty makes for a fantastic lifelong desk-companion.

There’s really not all that much to this mechanical pencil. It’s well-built, made from stainless steel, and fits a 0.5mm lead. It’s a very comfortable everyday pencil, and while it doesn’t feature a grip, its design sits smoothly in the hand to allow for hours of use on end. It’s a well-built partner for anyone looking to invest in a mechanical pencil that’s going to be around for years.

Pros
  • Stainless steel body
  • Decent price for a Parker

Cons

  • Smooth finish without a grip

Click to Check Price on Amazon

Pentel Sharp Kerry 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil Review

  • 0.7mm
  • $
  • Plastic and metal body
  • Great for drawing and drafting

If you’re prepared to take a small hit in quality for a big saving when it comes to price, then the Sharp Kerry from Pentel is likely the model for you. It’s also got a wider, bigger design than most mechanical pencils – almost more similar to something like a fountain pen. If you’ve got long fingers or big hands, you might find this to aid in your motor skills quite a bit.

The Sharp Kerry comes in 0.5mm and 0.7mm sizes, both with an aluminium pen cap, so that the lead doesn’t poke holes in your shirt pocket. It comes in a number of different colours, and as we mentioned earlier, each purchase of the pink model sees five cents donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

While this isn’t as fancy a mechanical pencil as the Parker or rOtring models, it’ll do the trick just fine. It might even suit you a little better, depending on the kind of shape and design you’re looking for. With the super comfortable weighting and weight-balance of the Sharp Kerry, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell it’s a more budget-friendly option.

Pros
  • Multiple size and colour options
  • Comes with an aluminium pen cap

Cons

  • Not a full-metal body

Click to Check Price on Amazon

Aviation Magnetic Control 2.0mm Mechanical Pencil Review

  • 2.0mm
  • $
  • Aluminium pencil
  • Much thicker lead for rougher work

If you’re one to use pencils for marking woodwork, DIY or building – or even just need a larger lead size for bigger drawings or less-fine writing work – then this mechanical pencil is going to along the lines of what you’re looking for.

Apart from looking like a space-age pencil, the Aviation features a magnetic ring which is twisted to extend and retract the lead. The leads itself is 2.0mm in size, which is 4x the diameter of its 0.5mm competitors. This means that it’s best for making clear, large drawings, notes or marks, and probably won’t be the ideal mechanical pencil to write your thesis with – although you never know!

It’s got a very reasonable price, and seems quality-built and made to last. And while it’s quite specific in its intended use, it can form part of a great arsenal of different-sized mechanical pencils for different purposes.

Pros
  • Cool magnetic ring for extending lead
  • Sleek design
  • Great price

Cons

  • Large and specialized lead size

Click to Check Price on Amazon

Zebra M-301 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil Review

  • 0.7mm
  • $
  • Stainless steel body
  • Best price vs quality trade-off

The M-301 mechanical pencil from Zebra is one of the best quality mechanical pencils on this list, and has the added bonus of being very cheap. A twelve-pack costs about the same as the Parker Jotter pencil.

It’s a great all-rounder, with a shape and size appropriate for drawing, drafting, note-taking and writing for hours on end. It appears to be a popular choice for an every-day mechanical pencil, that you can carry around with you everywhere.

It’s got a lightweight and durable stainless steel body which is accented with a rubber grip for ergonomic assistance. While it doesn’t have too many extras or cool features, it’s a solid choice that won’t leave you disappointed.

Pros
  • Non-slip grip
  • Full metal body
  • Great price

Cons

  • None we could find

Click to Check Price on Amazon

Paper Mate ComfortMate 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil Review

  • 0.7mm
  • $
  • Oversized grip for ergonomics
  • Classic design

The ComfortMate from Paper Mate, which comes in both 0.5mm and 0.7mm variants is really not a very special, or unique mechanical pencil. It’s on this list because it’s a classic – it’s simple, reliable, and comfortable (especially for those with motor skills issues). It’s probably the most similar to any cheap mechanical pencil you’ve used in school or college – only better-built.

The hourglass, oversized rubber grip is a wonderful feature for those who have trouble writing with thin pencils, or lose their grip after writing or drawing for hours on end. The ComfortMate has a plastic body, with an eraser-cap keeping spare lead safe in place in the upper compartment.

This is a simple and reliable go-to if you’re looking for something that isn’t too fancy or convoluted, and something that’s familiar.

Pros
  • Ergonomic oversized grip
  • Comes in packs of 2, 4, 5 and 12

Cons

  • Comes with very low-quality lead

Click to Check Price on Amazon

Uni Core Keeps Sharp 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil Review

  • 0.5mm
  • $
  • Auto-rotating lead
  • Full-metal body

The full name of this mechanical pencil is the Kuru Toga Roulette. The first part of its name, ‘Kuru Toga’ means ‘auto-rotate pencil’ in Japanese when roughly translated. If you combine this with the idea of a roulette, a clearer picture starts to form.

Every time pressure is released, the rotation mechanism twists the lead a little. In simpler terms, this means that every time you lift your pencil from the page, the lead with turn slightly, ensuring that your lead is constantly round and pointed, and you’re never writing with a side that’s been worn flat. This is a cool and nifty innovation, and while not cheap, the price isn’t ridiculous either.

The Kuru Toga Roulette features a gunmetal body, with a metal cross-hatched grip which is sweat and slip resistant. It’s got incredibly strong build quality, and would be ideal for less office-friendly work – although it’ll obviously work great as your desktop writing-mate.

If you’re looking for a bit of extra care and attention, both in mechanical and product design, then this is the one for you. Bonus points for a cut-out hole, allowing you to watch the rotating mechanism do its thing while you do yours.

Pros
  • Gunmetal Body
  • Rotation Mechanism

Cons

  • A little on the pricey side

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Staedtler Mars 780 2mm Mechanical Pencil Review

  • 2mm
  • $$
  • Metal clip and push button
  • Great brand

The Mars from Staedtler, like the Aviation Magnetic Control, is a larger-sized mechanical pencil for more versatile technical or artistic use. It’s got a 2mm lead, which is four times the diameter of most of the other mechanical pencils on this list. But has its own host of uses for which a 0.5mm just won’t cut it.

The metal tip and grip are machined together to the inside of the pencil separate from the plastic body, so you won’t get any bits or pieces accidentally unscrewed or coming loose. It’s got a quality build despite the plastic body, and seems more than sturdy enough for work outdoors or on-site.

This is a less-fancy option than the Aviation Magnetic Control if you’re looking for a 2mm lead, and comes at a pretty decent price that’s not going to hurt your pocket.

Pros
  • Metal tip, clip and eraser cap
  • Comes with a sharpener on the eraser cap
  • Lightweight body

Cons

  • Plastic Body

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Pentel Click 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil Review

  • 0.5mm
  • $$
  • Clear Plastic Body
  • Side-click Lead Advance

The Pentel Click is another simple and classic mechanical pencil that’s really not doing anything special. But it’s made to be a reliable and simple option for those who aren’t looking for flair and fanciness.

It comes in a pack of twelve, which is pretty incredible for the price, and each pencil is made from a clear plastic when it comes to the body. There’s a button on the side for click lead-advancing, and a comfort grip to make long hours of use comfortable. The Click also has a large, long retractable eraser which can be extended and retracted using the rotating mechanism on the back end of the pencil.

This is a simple, great choice which won’t bankrupt you, nor leave your side for a good few years.

Pros
  • Retractable / Extendable eraser
  • Side-click advancement

Cons

  • Plastic body, but that’s not really a con

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Lamy L117 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil Review

  • 0.7mm
  • $$$
  • ABS plastic body
  • Built-in eraser with cleaning needle

This spacey-looking pencil from Lamy, the L117, is a high-end option for those looking to spend a little, to a lot more on a mechanical pencil. There’s nothing particularly special about it in terms of features – it’s got an eraser, rear-end click advancement, and a flexible shirt clip. It’s also built from ABS plastic, which is really sturdy – but still not quite on the same level as a metal body.

It’s the design, however, that sets this pencil apart. It’s got that look that sets it apart from other mechanical pencils, and it’ll stick out in a pile on the table. It’s got the tasteful design of a stealth-spaceship but lacks the features thereof, so it’s a bit of a weigh-off you’ve got to consider.

Pros
  • Great design

Cons

  • Price
  • Plastic Body

Click to Check Price on Amazon


How to Choose the Best Mechanical Pencil

While these mechanical pencils are all pretty similar, there are certainly a few things you’ll want to take note of when shopping around. These are all little factors which will affect how well said pencil works for you, so be sure to take note of them when you’re comparing your final choices.

Here are some things you’re going to want to look out for:

  • Is it a plastic or metal mechanical pencil?
  • What size of lead nib does it use?
  • Does it have an eraser, nib storage, or any other handy features?
  • Is it built to last?

When it comes to something like a mechanical pencil, the shape, size and feel in your hand is the primary factor that you’re going to want to get right. You want one which fits comfortably in your hand, is well-balanced, and is easy to write or draw with for hours on end, without fatigue. It’s often a good idea to use any old pens you have at home for reference – find your favourite, and see which of these pencils is the closest to what you’re looking for.

Now we’ve sorted that out, you’re prepped and ready to write for eternity. What comes next, is your medium or intent. If you’re using the pencil for mechanical or engineering drawings, you’re probably not going to want a 2.0mm lead size. Conversely, if you’re using your pencil primarily for design and drawing, it’s unlikely you’ll find it easy to do any shading with a 0.35mm nib. It’s important to pair up the size to what you’re going to be using it for – the same way one might have varying paintbrush widths that work for them.

This goes hand in hand with the features of the pencil – for example, if you got for a simple click-and-draw, you can’t expect too much in terms of versatility or flexibility. On the other hand, if you get a pencil that’s got a lead-grade sensor, built-in eraser and sharpener, and comes with a pen cap, you’re going to find your workflow a lot more seamless than it might otherwise be.

Lastly, you’re going to want to make sure your mechanical pencil is built to last. A good mechanical pencil can last you a lifetime, so it makes very little sense to buy one that won’t.

In Conclusion

There’s a lot to a mechanical pencil, but there’s also not that much to a mechanical pencil. It’s really all about what you’re looking for, and to what lengths it’s ‘just a pencil’ or ‘my most important tool’ to you personally.

It’s going to take a while to decide on a model, that much is for sure, so just remember to use our handy buyer’s guide, and to trust your gut when deciding. If you’re looking to take your art to the next level, why not take a look at our list of the best tablets for animation?