Best Colored Pencils

Finding the best colored pencils can be quite challenging for a beginning artist. I did not realize the science used in these types of pencils until I wrote this review. Read my top reviews about brands of colored pencils that are considered to be the best among many professional artists.

Editors Top Picks

1st

Faber Castell Polychromos

 

Top Pick Faber Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

60 Count

2nd

Prismacolor Premier

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

72 Count

I’ve spent hours using colored pencils and love the way you can blend and layer the colors. I own some of these sets and have first hand experience. Check out my How To Draw With Colored Pencils Lesson for more information. Plus to help make sure that my reviews and information are accurate, I spend a lot of time reading reviews and customer feedback from people that actually have the product. You can rest assured you are getting the best information before buying a set of colored pencils.

5 Best Colored Pencils Reviewed

    Faber Castell is considered one of the best brands on the market. This set of colored pencils are lightfast making the color you lay down more resistant to fading. Core seems to be more stable and less chippy while still allowing for blending and layering. The leads of these pencils are actually bonded to the inside of the barrel to help prevent breaking. This is the most preferred colored pencil for professional and intermediate artists. Can be a little more expensive but worth it in the long run.

Pros:

  • Highly rated  
  • Great for all coloring projects
  • High blendability
  • Lightfast                                          
  • Thicker lead
  • Affordable pencil sets
  • Artist’s Choice





Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Slightly thicker pencils
  • Not as beginner friendly

My Thoughts

  Faber Castell has experience creating quality art materials. They are good at making the type of colored pencils professional artists are looking for. Larger sets can be pricey but there are smaller sets that are more affordable. Smaller sets are  budget friendly and provide a way to test this product. Individual pencils can be bought to replace the ones you use the most. This is my go to pencil when coloring or creating drawings making these great for colorists to artists.

 Prismacolor has positive reviews from customers and is also a top pick among artists. Good all round pencil with high quality pigments for a better price. Would be an excellent choice for any coloring project and suits anyone who likes to color from beginner to professional. These were so close to being our recommended colored pencil set because they were very comparable to the Faber Castell Colored Pencils reviewed above.

Pros:

  • Easier to blend and layer
  • Soft but durable core
  • Highly Rated
  • Ranks high for beginners looking for quality
  • More affordable
  • Variety of Sets to choose from
  • Rich and Vibrant Colors
  • Resists Fading

Cons:

  •  Soft core could lead to shorter life
  •  Still on the higher priced spectrum

My Thoughts

    My research shows quite a bit of positive reviews. Some mentioned receiving different quantity than ordered but still ended with good quality. Excellent choice for beginners because of affordability but not that much cheaper. People seemed happy to have purchased this product and enjoyed coloring with them mentioning how vibrant the colors look.

 This set is a good option for all people because of the dense wax core. Making for a stronger lead. sharpens up easier and lays down nice smooth colors. Well rounded colored pencils for experienced or beginning artists. This set also comes with a nice double hinged tin making it more portable.

Pros:

  •  Waxier core for better blending
  •  Glides over paper smoothly
  •  Affordable
  •  Beginners and Intermediates
  •  72 colors
  •  Metal Case
  •  Non Toxic

Cons:

  •  Shorter pencil life
  •  Less variety to choose from

My Thoughts

 Affordability makes Arteza a good choice for those on a budget. There are some smaller sets to choose from for testing before buying a larger set.

 These pencils had a few mixed reviews but could be the best for students and art enthusiasts who are on a budget. Comes in a nice metal case with 3 trays that fit in tightly, helping to secure the pencils for safer transport. This set has a nice variety of colors from earth tones to flesh tones.


Pros:

  •  Oil Based 
  •  Firm Core
  •  Great Gift 
  •  Kid Friendly
  •  High positive review rating

Cons:

  •  Can build up pigment when layering
  •  Hard to blend
  • Not as lightfast

My Thoughts

 This could still be a good buy for the money. A good choice for younger to beginner range. Best use is general coloring like in coloring books and school projects. There are positive reviews on this set but some of the colors could appear to be very similar or duplicates. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it saves you from having to buy another pencil.

 This one gets the “Best Colored Pencils for Kids Award”. Due to the plastic barrel being a possible hazard I recommend these for kids 6 or 7 years old even though they are rated for ages 4 and up. With a twist function like a mechanical pencil allowing the user to expose the lead as needed means almost no sharpening. Tips can be refined somewhat with a fine grit sandpaper or by rubbing the pencil on some scrap paper. Comes with 50 twistable colored pencils.

Pros:

  • Twistable function gives protection of the lead inside a protective barrel.
  • Safe and non toxic
  • Excellent gift for kids and coloring enthusiasts alike. 
  • Great for coloring books
  • No sharpening needed

Cons:

  • Does not blend as well
  • Lead could be fragile

My Thoughts

 Crayola brings back memories of childhood and is a thoughtful gift for anyone who likes to color. Nice and Unique twisting feature allows protection and easy on the go coloring. Majority of research returned positive. These are rated for younger aged kids but I would think the tips would get broken especially if they are dropped. Adults would also enjoy these pencils.

Choosing The Best Colored Pencils

 Prices may vary from one colored pencil brand to another and can mess with your ability to buy the higher end products. A good rule of thumb is to have a clear amount you are willing to spend and stick to your numbers. It is easy to pay to much for some pencils that are of a lower quality.
There are smaller kits that help when choosing the best colored pencil that suits you. This helps to save some money so you can test at a more affordable price. A good set can be found around the 30 dollar price range but can go up to 200 dollars or more. Another way to save money is to buy individual pencils to try out until you find the one you really like. Many brands can be bought in sets and individually making this a very easy tactic to use.
 
Variety of colored pencils layed flat in a circular pattern

Different Colored Pencil Types

 There are 2 main types of colored pencils. One is made for longevity while the other is more for hobbiest and adult coloring.

Artist Grade Is The Best Colored Pencils By Far!

 Artist grade colored pencils have a quality pigment and are more fade resistant. Has a softer lead and applies to the surface smoother. This helps when blending and softening lines. Breaking of the lead can occur if you are applying darker lines and shading.
  
 The best way to sharpen these pencils is with a razor blade or a handheld pencil sharpener. A fine grit sandpaper will refine the tip of the lead for a chisel or finer point.
 

Student Grade

 These are of a harder core and have more bonding agent than pigment. Causing them to be more affected by the sun and light in general. Colors can fade and be less vibrant over a shorter period of time.
 
 Student grade pencils have a harder lead and are easier to erase. This also helps when making corrections and adjustments to your artwork.
 
 You need to apply more pressure for better saturation of colors. There is a large difference from artist grade pencils and student grade pencils. It all comes down to quality and the artists specific need. Professional artists need their work to last over time. While someone coloring in a coloring book might not even give it a second thought.

Layering and Wax-bloom

 When using different layers of color you might start to notice a milky film start to form. This is called wax bloom. This is a waxy build up and can diminish the vibrancy of the color. There are fixative spray’s which can help for a short time.

Blending with colored pencils

 Blending is important in all aspects of drawing and coloring. The art of blending is blurring sharp lines into softer tones to help give objects texture and value. There are not lines separating objects in space only meeting points of color, textures and tones.

 When blending always start with a sharp pencil and rotate the pencil to keep a sharp tip for a longer period of time. A light, medium and dark color should be used to show shades and lights. Start with the darker colors with a light pressure slowly moving toward your light source. Work in layers from dark to light making sure your colors are over lapping then start applying more pressure in the shades and less pressure in the lighter areas. Use your lighter color to blend as your last layer.

See the video above for a more detailed explanation of blending with colored pencils.

 Softening lines when shading and showing light sources gives depth. This helps with a more realistic looking piece of art.

Sharpening Your Colored Pencils

 A sharp pencil will lay color down better and get into the tooth of the paper better.
 
 Some softer core colored pencils need a gentle touch when sharpening. Using a higher grit sandpaper strip to shape the tip is a good way to keep a sharp pencil or create a chisel tip. Remember the finer the point the easier it is to break. Some lower quality brands may even break while sharpening.
 
 Electric pencil sharpeners are nice but I do not use them. There are some sharpeners designed for colored pencils. I found this electric pencil sharpener that had a lot of positive feedback.
 
Colored pencil pencil sharpener
 
 A old fashioned handheld pencil sharpener does a pretty good job when using a fine sandpaper to refine your tips and are a more portable option to boot.

 

Benefits of Coloring With Colored Pencils

 Studies show that more adults are picking up coloring as a hobby, helping to unwind from a stressful day. Stress can cause many issues throughout life.
 
 Coloring can relax your mind by helping you to focus your attention on the present. This helps to let go of the worries and struggles of the day. Letting go in this way lessens anxiety and fear levels while focus and motor skills go up.
 
 This leads to a calmer mind and sense of peace. This can provide for healthier sleep and better health. You could write a book on the benefits of focusing on something you are coloring.
 
 We all need some quite time in today’s busy life. Coloring is a good way to pass the time and let it all go if only for a moment.
 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What are the Best Colored Pencils?

 I guess that depends on who you ask. There is plenty of controversy over what the best may be.
 The best colored pencils is the expertise of the brand and the artist’s preference combined. Tastes and styles can vary quite a bit. One person will say this one while another says that one.
 
 One factor that play’s a key role in the decision making process is what the artist likes. The exception to this being the beginner. You will decide which colored pencil is the best fit for you. I can only present the facts as I see them to help speed up the process of choosing a quality colored pencil.
 

Which Colored Pencils are Best for Beginners?

Crayola’s are good for a first set but you may find that in order to blend your colors more pressure is needed to get the pigment into the tooth of the paper. I still recommend a artist grade colored pencil set for beginners because when starting out you really need to see what a softer core color pencil feels like and how it reacts to the paper.

Will the Colors Fade?

I believe that over time the vibrancy of the color can be lost on all colored pencils. The key factors here are time and pigment content in the pencil core. More pigment means your colors will look fresh for a longer period of time. The opposite would be true if the pencil core has a higher amount of binding agent. Some colors can be more prone to fading than other colors.

Can I use a Fixative Spray on Colored Pencils?

The answer is yes. This type of fixative comes in a spray can and is used for preserving your colors. In some cases they can be used to layer colors but this tactic is more commonly practiced in the pastel world. When using a fixative spray try to apply even coats by moving your hand past the surface you are spraying. Going back and forth being careful not to cause any runs. Be sure the spray is designed for colored pencils or dry media.

My Choice for Best Colored Pencil

  All these products were chose based on high positive reviews from real customers. Designed to help you make the best choice for your specific needs. I tried to choose the pencils with the most positive customer feed back.
 
 The decision was not an easy one but in the end experience became the major deciding point. Plus the amount of positive reviews from other users.
 
 I have tried both Prismacolor and Faber Castell. They are both quality, artist grade colored pencils that you can’t go wrong with. I favor Faber Castell as the best colored pencils for beginners and professional as this is a very popular brands and has been my go to pencils for quite a number of years.
 
I hope this article was helpful and thank you for reading.

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