What Are the Best Colored Pencils for Artists to Use?

by Cristian I

Finding The Best Colored Pencils

When you want to create art, you have more items at your disposal today than at any other time in history. You can mix and match almost anything to develop a unique style and personality that anyone can pick out.

One of the best items that you can have in your collection is a set of colored pencils. The brands, colors, sizes, and styles are all based on what the artist prefers. You can find different features, lengths, composition arrangements, and flaws in every product.

If you select colored pencils set from one of today’s best brands, you’ll often get what you pay for with the product. When you shop at a local office supply store or discount retailer, the art quality you can produce with those investments can be somewhat limited.

Finding the best colored pencils is a matter of preference. Some artistic tasks require specific products that won’t work for other needs.

Some colored pencils do an excellent job of laying a thick, opaque layer that instantly covers the paper or canvas. They look like paint once the work is finished because of their overall quality. Other products in this category are better for basic drawing.

Even how you put pressure on the colored pencil can help to decide what option works the best for your overall needs.

Art Supply Store
Art Supply Store – Credit Profiart

What Kind of Colored Pencils Should I Get?

When you start shopping for colored pencils, you’ll discover that three types are available to buy right now. You can pick up wax, oil, or water-based versions.

The type you purchase often depends on your preferred manufacturer. Each one has specific benefits that are worth considering if you’re ready to start making some art today!

Most people end up purchasing wax-based colored pencils. They’re the softest version made today, which means they provide a lot of coverage on your paper or canvas. The pigment gets layered on thick, producing a vibrant color that takes little time to create.

If you use wax-style colored pencils with too much pressure, it’s not unusual for a “bloom” to develop. It’s a coating of the powdered element that can impact the accuracy and intensity of your work.

If you purchase an oil-based pigment, your colored pencils typically have some vegetable oil in them. That makes them a little harder than the wax ones, allowing you to apply more dye to step up the color intensity.

The most flexible colored pencils to use are water-based items. You must apply more pigment when using them because the intensity levels are significantly lower. The benefit of this option is that you can use them either wet or dry.

FAQ About Colored Pencils and How to Use Them

Colored pencils are a lot of fun to use. Almost anyone can pick them up to create something fun, whether they’re four years old or 104! Whether it is a quick sketch or something more elaborate, it’s a fantastic way to explore colors, shapes, and styles.

Since you can find numerous colored pencil products on the market today, it can be easy to get lost in all of the different terms, sizes, styles, and shapes.

Here are some of the common frequently asked questions that people have about colored pencils and an explanation of what to expect if you have similar thoughts or concerns.

What Are the Best Brands of Colored Pencils to Use?

The best brand of colored pencils to use is the one that helps you create the results you want. You’ll find people writing passionate posts to support one over another, but it always comes down to your personal preferences.

With so many different options on the market, it might help to narrow down the brands you want to review based on the choices that professional artists make for their work

When you take that step, you’ll shop with about four primary brands: Prismacolor, Faber-Castell, Derwent, and Caran d’Ache.

Best Pencils Brands
Best Pencils Brands

What Grade of Colored Pencils Should I Be Using?

It’s often more important to find the correct colored pencil grade for your art than to work with a specific brand. When you have something made to a higher level, you’ll typically get a better result when using the product.

Colored pencils get made in three standard grades today. You can purchase scholastic items, student products, or professional-grade items.

If you buy scholastic pencils, you’re using something that would be found in an elementary school art class. They’re often the cheapest type.

Student-grade colored pencils are often found in middle and high school classes. They are an affordable way to achieve a higher quality without the cost of a professional item.

An artist-grade product is meant to be the best. The pencils handle well, lay pigment better, and often last longer.

You’ll also pay more for that outcome.

Colored Pencil Grades
Colored Pencil Grades

What Is the Difference Between Oil and Wax Pencils?

Every colored pencil requires a binder that holds the pigment together while you work. It’s similar to the lead of a No. 2 pencil. Although the ingredients can be a little variable, you’ll typically see vegetable or wax noted on the box.

A wax-based colored pencil draws quickly while being fragile, requiring more sharpening to stay productive. It also contains a little oil and a few other ingredients to create a consistent result.

Oil-based pencils don’t have enough wax in them to create the unwanted blooming effect. They tend to be dryer and harder, helping you to keep a point longer.

Do I Need to Hold My Colored Pencil a Specific Way?

With a colored pencil, you want to be closer to the tip of the product. When your fingers stay near the point, you can exert more pressure to lay down the pigment in the ways you prefer. This technique allows you to have only the tip touching the paper, creating an exact result based on your outline or plans.

It’s much easier to work on the finer details of drawing or coloring when you grasp the colored pencil right near the tip.

Although you could hold a pencil in the middle or near the end, you’d lose more control over the color, shape, and shading. That grip forces you to hold the pencil at more of a horizontal or vertical position to be successful.

How Many Pencils Do I Need to Get Started?

When you want to experiment with colored pencils as an artistic medium, you only need one basic set to see if you like this option. That means you’ll get between 10 to 24 colors based on the brand and size you prefer.

When you purchase a wood-encased colored pencil, you can find some sets going up to 48 colors.

It helps to think about colored pencils like they are paint. Once you learn how to start blending your colors, you’ll find that a high-quality set of 12 is much easier to use than one with four dozen of your favorite hues.

Pencil Grades

How Do I Blend Colored Pencils?

You can take a few different approaches to blend the pigment from your colored pencils. The easiest way to do it is to layer the other colors. Once you have the combination you want, a colorless blending pencil can let you achieve the correct hue.

Another option is to smudge the paper using a paper towel or a soft tissue. Some artists even use toilet paper.

If you have tortillons from your charcoal work, you’ll find that they work well for blending colors.

When you use watercolor pencils, some colorless solvents can help you create the paint-style effect you might want. If you don’t have the budget for this item, a little rubbing alcohol of 70% or weaker will give you a light blend.

What Are the Best Colored Pencils to Use?

If you’re ready to start coloring, these are the best colored pencils you can start using today!

1. Holbein Artist Colored Pencils

Holbein Artist Colored Pencils

This set contains a comprehensive brand of excellent pigment choices for your art set. When you need subtle color gradations, you’ll appreciate how the oil-based pigment layers and blends. You can go with something lush and smooth or brash and bold without skipping a beat.

Each item comes in an appropriate size for hands of all ages. They are pro-quality colored pencils that let you get a firm grip without needing to rush or feel out of control. Each one has an accurate lacquer indicator to let you know what to expect with use.

If you’re a practicing artist, a serious student, or want to begin with the best product possible, consider grabbing these high-quality colored pencils today. You can purchase them individually, in coordinating sets of 12, or in larger quantities.

2. Arteza Professional Colored Pencils

Arteza Colored Pencils

When you grab break-resistant colored pencils, the outcome you receive when coloring isn’t always what you want to see. The lines tend to be gappy, and you don’t get a complete pigment transfer with the wax-based formulation. This set breaks all of those rules.

You get a reasonably solid core, for starters, even though it’s a soft wax used for the item. You’ll get a vibrant layer quickly and efficiently as the pencil glides across your paper. You can blend if you want, but plenty of varied colors can give you a vivid outcome without much difficulty.

The comfortable barrels work well for your grip, and the points sharpen quickly and easily to give you the results you want every time. Each set comes in a double-hinged tin for added convenience.

When you want full saturation with your colored pencils, this affordable set is one worth taking a closer look at for your needs.

3. Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

If you like the idea of using a pro-quality wax-based colored pencil, you’ll want to try this product. They work well for beginners because of the smooth and soft layering they can achieve. You’ll discover the tones weaving together naturally as you work, creating beautiful results without needing much technical knowledge.

When you hold these colored pencils, you won’t feel the dryness that happens with similar products. Several sets are available to consider, including a 72-piece option that can handle almost any coloring endeavor.

You’ll want to watch out for the wax bloom with these pencils. More white space tends to develop than the color the more you draw with them. They also tend to have a softer core than some of their direct competitors.

4. Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

Faber-Castell Colored Pencils

Everything you see about the Faber-Castell colored pencil package makes you want to buy this product. The company has produced art supplies for over 250 years, which means you have a lot of history on your side. You’ll find that the pencils keep a strong point without taking away the tenderness you need for blending or fill.

You’re getting a solid core with these colored pencils, ensuring that you won’t get premature breakage when working on a project. Although the cost is relatively high compared to other brands, you’ll also immediately see the enhanced quality in your work.

You can find several different sets available from this brand, including a 42-pencil option. They come color-coded to ensure there isn’t any confusion over what you’re using.

5. Prang Colored Pencils

Prang Colored Pencils

When you choose these colored pencils, you’re getting an entry-level product that works better for younger students. If you do a lot of adult coloring, it might be a way to see if you like using this medium to create results.

Since it is more of a student product, you’ll find that the pigment isn’t that easy to blend or layer. Although they’re highly affordable for a large set, they can also be frustrate since they tend to break with added pressure.

It uses a wax-based lead to ensure you get long-lasting results. They’re all pre-sharpened and vibrant, and you can get a set with 288 colors if you want.

6. Derwent Inktense Colored Pencils

Derwent Inktense Colored Pencils

If only the best will do for your colored pencils, this set is one of the first ones you’ll want to consider. It uses a dye-based lead to create a more rigid core that works well for artists of any experience or skill. If you don’t like the softness that other premium items provide, you’ll appreciate the strong feeling that develops when these colors are in your hands.

You can purchase up to 72 pencils in the set. Everything comes in a stunning wooden case, but you’ll pay significantly more for this product. You could easily purchase five mid-range sets with more color options for the same price as this one.

If you aren’t into doing watercolor projects with your colored pencils, it might be better to take a pass on this product. When you want to experiment or wish to avoid premature breakage, this investment is one worth making.

7. Caran D’Ache Luiminance Colored Pencils

Caran Dache Iuminance Colored Pencils
Caran Dache Iuminance Colored Pencils

When you like to color with something a little crumbly and soft, you’ll appreciate the formulation this brand uses for the pencils. They feel a bit scratchy when applying the pigment to the paper, but this quality also lets you use the product like an oil pastel.

It’s not unusual to see professional artists use these colored pencils with another brand that contains less wax to produce an underlayer effect with the pigment. You’d use this item for the final layers when the paper starts getting reluctant with its holding abilities.

The lightfastness is variable with this product based on the pigment used, so you’ll want to review the color charts first before diving headfirst into a project with these pencils. You’ll get up to 76 in the most extensive set, and they all come in individualized holders.

If you buy the biggest grouping, expect to pay around $200 for this pro-quality product.

8. Staedler Ergosoft

Staedtler Ergosoft Colored Pencils
Staedtler Ergosoft Colored Pencils

These colored pencils are the kind that people either love or hate. They have a triangular shape instead of the traditional round, and the surrounding wood comes from sustainable resources. If you’ve never tried this medium before, it might be worth investing in this product

The price is about $1 per pencil when you purchase them in a set. You’ll get a coloring book included, although the light fastness isn’t spectacular. It is a wax-based led, so the hardness level is there for those who prefer that design.

You’ll receive a stand-up box to help keep your supplies organized. If you use that option, you’ll want to make sure that the point stays upward to avoid damaging your products.

9. Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor

Lyra Polycolor Colored Pencils
Lyra Polycolor Colored Pencils

These oil-based colored pencils provide a medium-grade hard lead, allowing you to take advantage of the product’s softness without being overwhelmed by it. You can blend the layers with relative ease, especially when you grab the kit, including paper wipers and a kneadable eraser.

You can apply these colored pencils to almost any medium. They have enough strength and durability to work on textiles and wood, making them the perfect addition to a canvas. Different package sizes are available, with the 105-color kit the best investment to make.

Everything comes in an organization box to ensure your pencils get the treatment they deserve. You’ll also receive a knife, sandpaper block, and a sharpener with your investment.

Are You Ready to Start Being Creative with Colored Pencils?

The best colored pencils will help you to achieve some incredible artistic outcomes without charging you an arm and a leg. If you’re looking to build up your art supply collection or need some replacements, you’ll find that the items in this guide live up to their reputation.

Everyone has their own preferences when using this artistic tool. There isn’t a right or wrong answer when you shop for colored pencils. When you find something you like, see what you can make with it!

If you want to avoid a costly investment at first, it helps to stick with the scholastic-style colored pencils. They tend to last longer, but they’ll be more challenging to use. When you like the outcomes that can happen with those entry-level items, stepping up to something of a higher quality makes a lot of sense.

Pick the one that meets your needs, and then have fun embracing your creative energy!



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