Colored pencils are a fantastic medium - they are easy to use, the cleanup time is minimal and you get exposure to the wonderful world of color. But with so many great brands of colored pencils available, it can be confusing to determine which colored pencils you should go with.
In this post I will review some of the best colored pencils available for artists. If you want to learn about the standard drawing pencils (graphite and charcoal), you should read this post. Below are the pencils which have been reviewed:
Here are my full reviews:
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils are widely considered to be the leading colored pencils in terms of quality for the cost. The quality of these pencils tends to match or come close to the more expensive colored pencils which are tailored to seasoned artists.
These are my number one all-round pick for the best colored pencils for artists. You cannot really go wrong here.
- Available in most leading art retailers
- Reliable quality (the company has a very proven track record)
- Vibrant colors
- Blend well
- Wide range of beautiful colors
- Tend to leave a waxy bloom (as they are wax based)
- The lead is so soft it tends to break
- No individual pencil holders in tin making it pretty worthless as a carry case
Staedtler Ergosoft Colored Pencils
These are decent colored pencils of comparable quality to the Prismacolor pencils. However, these are more expensive so Prismacolor has the clear edge.
In my opinion, the only reason you would choose these over the Prismacolor pencils is if you want the ergosoft grip or just for personal preference.
- Great vibrancy in the colors
- A case which holds the individual pencils in place
- Triangular ergonomic non-slip grip
- Wax based, so tend to leave a waxy bloom
- More expensive than the very similar Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
Faber Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils
These are brilliant colored pencils which are of a very high quality. However, they are at the high end of the price spectrum, so I would recommend these for more developed artists.
Beginners, children and hobbyists may want to stick to the cheaper alternatives.
- Extremely high quality
- High lightfastness and color vibrancy
- Oil-based (no waxy bloom)
- Color matching system in place (the colors of these pencils match the Faber Castell watercolor pencils and pastels)
LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor Art Pencils
These are very high quality, oil based colored pencils which are tailored to professional artists. These pencils would make for the perfect gift for any artist friends.
The price range will probably not suit beginners or more casual artists.
- High quality wooden box (making this set a perfect gift for artists)
- Beautiful cedar casings to hold the lead
- Great lightfast rating
- Overall high quality pencils
- Moderate to high price range
- The internal trays are a bit flimsy
Best All-Round Colored Pencils
The Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils are in my opinion the best all-round colored pencils based on quality and price.
Best Colored Pencils For Seasoned Artists
Whilst you could create beautiful artworks with any of the colored pencils listed in this post, I would suggest any of these:
These colored pencils are geared towards more seasoned artists and are of a very high quality. They are more expensive but you generally get what you pay for.
Best Colored Pencils For Children, Beginners And Hobbyists
What Makes A Great Colored Pencil?
Lightfastness: Refers to how well a color is preserved when exposed to light. The last thing you want when you create a beautiful artwork is for it to fade or discolor over time.
The least stable colors are hot pinks, purples, blues, reds and oranges, while browns, grays and other neutrals generally remain unchanged.
Pencils with a high lightfast rating will have more resistance to fading and discoloring over time. The American Standard Test Measure rates the lightfastness of pigments from one to five. The lower the number, the more lightfast a color is. However, as different colors have different lightfast ratings, many colored pencil sets do not display a lightfast rating.
In general, the more expensive colored pencils which are tailored to more serious artists will have a high lightfast rating (but this is not a strict rule and you will need to do your research on each brand).
Overall Quality: How well the pencils are made and the quality control standards of the brand.
Blending: How well the colored pencils are able to be blended on the paper.
Quality Of The Pigment: The intensity and overall quality of the pigments used in the pencils.