10 Of The Best Colored Pencils for Artists

Sep 7, 2021 | 2 comments

Are you looking to upgrade your basic colored pencils and are looking for the best colored pencils for artists? You’re on the right track!

As you might already know, there are two types of colored pencils, student-grade, and artist-grade. And this article will be all about the latter.

Here are our best picks.

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The Best Colored Pencils for Artists

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

This brand is considered to have the leading colored pencils in the art world because of its superb quality and cost.

The pigment quality of Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils is superb, it is rich, vibrant, and saturated. The pencils glide smoothly on paper and are very easy to blend, they are ideal for shading and layering colors. These colored pencils are really tailored for seasoned artists and their quality tends to match even those that are more expensive.

For an all-around pick for the best colored pencils for artists, this is definitely a clear winner. Prismacolor delivers well.

What We Like:

  • Relatively Affordable Price Tag
  • Widely available
  • Rich and vibrant colors
  • Blends really well
  • Color selection is superb

What We Dislike:

  • Lead is soft and tends to break
  • Leaves a wax bloom

Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer

For any serious colored pencil artist, this set from the famous Faber Castell is a must-have. This variant is available in plenty of set sizes that go up to 120 colors, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

The Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils have extremely good blending ability and your art can come alive when you apply water to it. These pencils are oil-based and they can handle repeated use and sharpening.

The application of these pencils can come off thick and textured at first, just add a bit of water, and will become very buttery. With its premium quality, expect to shell out some money, but its price is totally worth it.

What We Like:

  • Intense color
  • Great control capability
  • Perfect for large areas
  • Packaging is great

What We Dislike:

  • Expensive

LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor Art Pencils

These oil-based colored pencils are very high quality, tailored for professional artists. The pencils have moderately hard lead and have average lightfastness, but they blend and layer like a breeze.

The price point may not be suitable for those who are just beginning, but if you want to gift something useful and beautiful for your artist friend, this is a great pick.

What We Like:

  • High-quality wooden box for its packaging
  • Beautiful cedar casings to hold the lead
  • Great lightfast rating
  • Overall high-quality pencils
  • Professional kit of up to 105 colors

What We Dislike:

  • Price is a bit on the high side
  • The trays are a bit flimsy

ARTEZA Colored Pencils, Professional Set of 120 Colors

One of the best colored pencils for artists that are reasonably priced is this Arteza Colored Pencil Professional Set. It’s the most cost-effective sets out there that do not compromise its quality and performance despite its cheaper price tag.

The pencils have great blend-ability and the color output is better than expected. It has nice packaging as well.

The Arteza Colored Pencils are wax-based and have hexagonal barrels for a comfortable grip. They come in a set of 48 and 72 colors.

What We Like:

  • Great blending-ability
  • Attractive packaging
  • Affordable than other brands

What We Dislike:

  • Not all colors are vivid

Staedtler Karat Aquarell Workshop 60 Watercolour Pencils

This colored pencil set comes in a sturdy metal box and has 60 different colors. The colored pencils blend wonderfully and the leads are both soft yet durable and break-resistant. The pigments are rich and bright, you can never really go wrong with this brand.

The pencils glide smoothly across the paper and you can use them alongside your watercolor to create beautiful effects. What’s even greater is the price won’t break your bank so it’s also a great set for beginners.

What We Like:

  • Versatile pencils that range from soft to hard
  • Easy to use and blend
  • Beautiful color payoff

What We Dislike:

  • Not the broadest range of colors in the set

Caran D’ache Luminance Colored Pencils

This set is one of the best colored pencils for artists because of its superior premium quality. It’s known for its blend-ability and fans of the Prismacolor Premier enjoy using this set because of its vibrant shades, blend-ability, and lightfastness.

Most artists have nothing but love for these colored pencils and the only downside really is their expensive price tag.

This set is more on the expensive side however if you are looking to upgrade, this pencil set is an absolute breeze to use. These pencils can be used for any technique including gradation, layering, shading, and coloring. Although it is wax-based, it almost has no wax bloom no matter how many layers you make. The core is firm and resilient and can handle high-pressure applications.

What We Like:

  • Great lightfast rating
  • Smooth application on paper
  • Great blend-ability
  • Beautiful cedar casing
  • Individual pencil slots in the case

What We Dislike:

  • Wax-based, so may leave a waxy bloom
  • Expensive

Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists’ Color Pencils

It would be a disservice to all artists if we leave out this famous colored pencil set. The Faber Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils has earned its spot as one of the best colored pencils for artists because of its premium quality and overall performance.

As these are artist-grade colored pencils, the price is at the higher end which is really just as expected. Although this set is one of the most expensive you’ll find in the market, it’s a set that’s worth investing your money in.

What We Like:

  • Extremely high quality
  • High lightfastness and color vibrancy
  • Break-resistant
  • Oil-based (no waxy bloom)

What We Dislike:

  • Expensive price tag

Derwent Lightfast Pencils

This is Derwent’s first attempt at an oil-based colored pencil and they did not disappoint. These pencils have incredible lightfastness and their color payoff is extremely intense. They glide on paper like butter and the blending is fantastic.

The set comes in a standard tin box just like other Derwent variants. The look of each pencil is attractive and the only complaint we have really is just that they only come in small set sizes and their high prices. But if you’re asking about its performance and quality, it can be compared with the best in the industry.

What We Like:

  • Incredibly Deep Color
  • Excellent Blending
  • Quite Durable

What We Dislike:

  • Limited Color Choices
  • Expensive

Marco Renoir Fine Art 100 Colors Colored Pencil

This is a great oil-based colored pencil set if you are looking for something more affordable than the high-priced Faber Castell Polychromos. With 100 colors in a set, each pencil would only cost you a little over $1. Imagine what you can create with a hundred colors!

As these pencils are oil-based, you won’t have to worry about wax blooms. These pencils produce even colors and you can blend and layer them however you like.

What We Like:

  • Excellent price for oil-based pencils
  • Every shade you could ever wish for
  • Good blending

What We Dislike:

  • Due to their round shape, they can roll away

Koh-i-Noor Polycolor Pencils

The Koh-i-Noor Polycolor Pencils are cheaper compared to other brands but their quality is not compromised. They are both oil and wax-based. The pencil leads contain a mixture of binders and additives that gives you rich and vibrant pigments so you don’t have to exert heavy pressure to build up your colors.

The downside to these colored pencils is that they are a bit fragile so applying heavy pressure should be avoided.

This is a great introduction to artist-grade colored pencils and the lightfastness of these pencils range from very good to excellent. The largest set you can buy in this brand is 72 colors so you’ll have fewer color choices than the other brands mentioned in this list. Nevertheless, this set is just as promising as the others.

What We Like:

  • Highly pigmented
  • High permanence

What We Dislike:

  • More prone to breakage
  • Less color choice

Frequent Questions and Answers

What are colored pencils made of?

Colored pencils are made of a narrow, pigmented core that’s usually oil- or wax-based encased in a wooden cylindrical case. The cores contain a mixture of pigments, additives, and binding agents.

What’s lightfastness?

Lightfastness is a property of a colorant such as dye pigment or paints that describes how resistant to fading it is when exposed to light.

Trustworthy Brands

Wrap up

There are a lot of good-quality colored pencils in the market and some artists may have favorites other than the ones listed above. What you want to look for in a colored pencil is it has rich and vibrant pigmentation, has good blending ability, is easily layered, and is consistent in quality.

Oil-based colored pencils are generally better than wax-based because it does not give you any wax bloom but you may still prefer a wax-based one over the other. Ultimately, the choice will still depend on your preference.

Hopefully, this article has been helpful in your purchasing decision. If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with your fellow artist friends.

For more articles like this, read more on our blog!

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