The Best Pencils for Coloring Books for Adults

Jul 12, 2021 | 3 comments

Over the years, adult coloring books have become mainstream, and rightfully so because in this hustling and bustling world, we all need to slow down and dedicate time for ourselves to relax and destress. If you are looking for the best pencils for coloring books, you have come to the right place!

We’ve poured over our time and effort into researching and determining the best colored pencils for you, whether you are just a beginner or are already an experienced colorist. Famous brands like Prismacolor and Faber-Castell have made our list, of course, but there are also other brands with promising art supplies and excellent quality colored pencils so you have a lot of choices to pick from!

(Some links are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.)

Table of Contents

How to Choose the Perfect Colored Pencils For You

Types of Colored Pencils

The Best Pencils for Coloring

Colored Pencil Tools and Accessories

How to Choose the Perfect Colored Pencils For You

There are a lot of brands that offer a wide range of colored pencils and each one has certain differences from the other. May it be the pigment quality, the number of available colors in a set, the shape of the pencil barrel, or the type of base it’s made of, you will surely take notice of these when you start comparing one to the other.

If you are a beginner and have yet to purchase your first set of colored pencils, it can be quite overwhelming shopping for one because there are just too many options. How do you pick the best pencils for coloring?

Here are the things you need to look into when you are on the verge of making your purchase.

Pigment Quality

There are two main types of art supplies: student-grade and professional-grade. They differ by the name itself. The professional-grade supplies are of the higher quality and the more expensive ones, while the student-grade supplies are the cheaper, watered-down version of the professional-grade pencils. Nevertheless, this does not mean that student-grade art supplies aren’t good. In fact, because of their more affordable prices, they are preferred by beginners.

For colored pencils, professional-grade supplies are generally easier to work with and have better color vibrancy compared to student-grade colored pencils. If you have the budget, I recommend getting professional-grade pencils because they are superior. Although they are more expensive, they are worth the price because they contain a higher portion of pigment and give off richer and bolder color payoffs.

The Variety of Colors

Colored pencils are blendable, at least that’s the case in most brands, but for beginners, it’s best to have a wide array of colors in your arsenal. Having a versatile color selection in your set gives you a wide range of hues and shades that you can practice and experiment with. This will give you a lot of freedom when you create landscapes, portraits, animals, or even abstract art.

The Pencil’s Barrel Shape

Generally, colored pencils have round or hexagonal-shaped barrels. Sometimes, they also come in a triangular shape. Ultimately, selecting your pencil’s barrel shape comes down to preference, on which feels more comfortable to hold for extended periods of time.

The Pencil’s Core: Oil-Based vs. Wax-Based

There are two main types of colored pencils: oil-based and wax-based. The best pencils for coloring glide smoothly on paper and this is due to the quality of its core. 

Types of Colored Pencils

As said earlier there are two main types of colored pencils: oil-based and wax-based. But aside from these two, there is a third category which is water-soluble pencils or more commonly known as watercolor pencils.

These different types of pencils can be mixed so there is no need to commit to only one type of colored pencil.

Oil-Based Pencils

Oil-based colored pencils have oils as binders for their pigments and, unlike wax-based pencils, they don’t suffer from wax bloom.

These Oil-based pencils are mostly soft to medium in consistency and they are firmer than wax-based pencils. They are more versatile and are less likely to break. Artists prefer oil-based pencils when they prefer to have more control over the application of color.

Some drawbacks of oil-based colored pencils:

  • they are more prone to smearing
  • they are harder to erase
  • they are more expensive
  • they have a limited color range (depending on the brand)


Wax-Based Pencils

Wax-based colored pencils have a smooth texture that helps the pigment glide across the paper surface. The wax allows the color pigment to adhere to the paper or to other layers of colored pencils without having to smear them like pastels.

These wax-based pencils come in a wide range of consistencies: hard pencils which are student-grade and soft pencils which are designed for professionals.

Wax-based colored pencils are common and they come at different qualities and prices. You will surely find a set that will suit your budget.

The downside of using wax-based colored pencils is wax bloom. This is the natural oxidation process that causes the wax to rise to the surface of your artwork creating a patchy, pale haze. Wax bloom can be wiped off and then you can apply more color to the affected area. You can then apply a fixative (such as Winsor & Newton Fixative) to seal your artwork to prevent smudging and wax bloom in the future.


Water-Soluble Pencils

Water-soluble pencils are unique. They can be used just like the oil-based and wax-based pencils, but they have a water-soluble binder that allows you to thin out and blend the pigments with water – just like a watercolor! This type of pencil is essentially a dry watercolor in pencil form.


The Best Pencils for Coloring

We spent the better part of our weekend researching for the best of the best and here they are.

Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils

Prismacolor is one of the best pencils for coloring. This brand is ideal for beginners as well as professionals. It’s made of soft wax, blends as smooth as butter, has a wide array of color selection, and are relatively cheap when you calculate the price per pencil!

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.

One thing that’s great about these colored pencils is that the lead is thick and sturdy, so they don’t chip easily even if you are heavy-handed.

Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

These oil-based colored pencils are popular for their rich pigments and a wide variety of colors. The pencils glide in the paper very smoothly and you don’t have to exert too much pressure to achieve saturated color outputs.

This is one of the best pencils for coloring because of its wonderful color application. The pencil lead is strong and break-resistant.

Although this set is one of the most expensive you’ll find in the market, colored pencil artists are willing to invest in it. But if you are not willing to shell out a huge amount of cash for a hobby, many of these colors are available for individual purchase so you can still experience its excellent quality without having to buy the full set.

Staedtler Ergosoft Colored Pencils

Another crowd favorite and one of the best pencils for coloring is the Staedtler Ergosoft Pencils. This set comes in 24 colors that can be layered, are easily blendable, and the pencils have a non-slip grip for a comfortable coloring experience.

This set is perfect for beginners. the pigments are bright and the color payoff is smooth. It also has an Anti-Break System (ABS) that makes it durable for long-term use.

Caran D’ache Luminance Colored Pencils

Another colored pencil that’s known for its great blendablity is the Caran D’ache Luminance Colored Pencils. Fans of the Prismacolor Premier enjoy using this set because of its vibrant shades, blend-ability, and lightfastness. This is known to be the most lightfast pencil in the market and art professionals swear by this product.

The Caran D’ache Luminance Colored Pencils have bright and vivid colors so if you are looking for muted and earthy tones, I suggest you look for another brand.

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.

Derwent Color Soft Pencils

If you are looking to upgrade from the beginner colored pencil sets, this brand is the way to go. Derwent colored pencils have a more muted palette.

This set is great for working on shading and blending. The pencil core is made for multiple layering so you can stack on color after color without having the payoff coming off as extremely shiny or waxy. The lead is also made to be break-resistant so you don’t have to worry about the tip crumbling off after sharpening it to a fine point.

Although this set comes at a hefty price, Derwent’s professional-quality colored pencils are worth the price especially when you are working on shadings and gradients.

Marco Raffine Colored Pencils

This colored pencil set may be the least expensive wax-based pencil you can get that performs like it’s oil-based. The Marco Raffine Colored Pencils have a hexagonal barrel that makes it easy to grip and its lead is firmer and harder compared to other wax-based pencils.

With its hard lead, you can work into the very small details of your art although layering colors can take a bit more time and effort. Having hard and durable lead also means you can use your pencils for a long time.

The set has a wide variety of colors and it comes at an affordable price which is great for beginners.

Arteza Professional Wax-Based Core Pencils

Arteza is another art supply brand that produces high-quality products at reasonable and competitive prices. This colored pencil set is soft and wax-based and has a professional-grade quality at a budget-friendly price. With 48 wonderful colors, this will surely be a beginner’s delight as you create your first masterpieces.

Even though these pencils are wax-based, it has little wax bloom that is can almost pass as oil-based. But the most impressive feature about this set is its blend-ability. Its cores are firm and don’t easily crumble so you can sharpen it for accurate detailing work.

Castle Art Colored Pencils

Another set of great colored pencils is Castle Art Colored Pencils. The set has a wide array of colors and comes at a budget-friendly price. Users loved how soft and creamy the pencils are and how each pencil is heavily pigmented.

The Castle Art Colored Pencils are easy to blend but it creates a fair amount of wax bloom so you just have to take note of that.

With its wide range of colors, rich pigment quality, and affordable price, this set is definitely one of the best pencils for coloring, especially if you are just starting out.

Crayola Colored Pencils

If you are on the lookout for inexpensive colored pencil sets that performs just as well, Crayola is definitely in your alley. With a wide variety of colors, the Crayola Colored Pencils set is a great option for beginners.

The color quality of this brand is guaranteed even with its affordable price. These wax-based colored pencils have vivid and saturated colors and it glides smoothly across coloring book papers.

The only notable downside of this set is it does not blend well so you can’t really practice your shading and gradation effects. However, if you just want to color straight away, this set is a great option to pick.

Cretacolor Mega Colored Pencils

These colored pencils have extra thick cores that allow you to make broader strokes. It’s wax-based and it’s perfect for layering and blending colors. This set is designed for both beginners and professionals.

The Cretacolor Mega Colored Pencils boast rich pigments and come in 36 vivid colors.

Colored Pencil Tools and Accessories

After buying your colored pencils, you’ll need to get other tools and accessories. Here are some you might like to keep in mind:

  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Erasers
  • Blenders
  • Fixative

When it comes to choosing the best pencils for coloring books, there are a lot of options to choose from and a lot of things to consider as well. Are you just a beginner who is trying to find out if coloring can be your new hobby? Are you a veteran colorist seeking excellent pencils that will better your skills?

If you are a beginner, wax-based pencils are a great option for your to look at. There are sets with a wide variety of colors that will help you open your creative mind while coloring.

If you want to upgrade from student-grade pencils to professional-grade ones, there are also a lot of excellent pencils in the market like the Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils and Caran D’ache Luminance Colored Pencils.

Coloring is a relaxing activity you can do to relieve your mind off stress and just be in the moment. You can also meditate and practice mindfulness while completing your coloring books.

I hope this article helped you in narrowing down your options for your first (or maybe second or third) set of colored pencils.

Have a great art journey, everyone! For more art-related articles, visit our blog~

Also, please know that when you buy through the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission to help us keep running this website.

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  1. Dong Vaughen

    The most important thing is that your end result looks as good as possible. There are a few different types of colored pencils that you can use to draw the most beautiful things, though, and here are some of the more popular types:

  2. Madison

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  3. Rufus

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