Prismacolor Premier vs Faber Castell Polychromos: What’s the Difference and Which is Better?

Sep 14, 2021 | 0 comments

Faber Castell and Prismacolor are two of the leading brands that produce the best colored pencils in the art industry and it’s no wonder that these two are always compared to each other. And while one is oil-based and the other is wax-based, both colored pencils have incredible quality. Each has its own pros and cons and that is precisely what we will be discussing in this blog. Prismacolor Premier vs Faber Castell Polychromos, what are their differences, and which one is better? Let’s find out!

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Prismacolor Premier vs Faber Castell Polychromos:


Prismacolor Premier

Prismacolor Premier colored pencils come in 150 colors and they have many “in-between” shades which are a great balance of bright and muted tones. Unlike the Faber Castell Polychromos, the Prismacolor Premier pencils don’t need to be layered to produce a saturated color because a light stroke of the pencil already gives you a rich pigment.

The pigments of the Prismacolor Premier are very bright and vibrant, and it glides on your paper as smooth as butter. The name and code of the color are printed on the barrel, and the pencils are thinner than that of the Faber Castell Polychromos.

One factor that makes the Prismacolor Premier better than the other brand is its white colored pencil. Artists will need a white colored pencil to be opaque and to be able to go over the dark colors, and the Prismacolor does that.

Faber Castell Polychromos

The Faber Castell Polychromos comes in several sets. You can buy them in the full 120-pieces collection or even individually. The color names are printed on the barrel and the pencil is lacquered in its lead color. The barrels are thicker than the Prismacolor ones and feel more superior in quality.

The Faber Castell Polychromos has various colors that lean towards the darker shades so there are only a few light and pastel tones included. It has beautiful, vibrant colors that have incredible depth. The pigments spread smoothly and evenly on paper, though you have to use these pencils under light pressure. Building up your layers lightly will achieve a full saturation of your color and that’s the key point of using Polychromos.

The downside of the colors of this brand is its white. The white color pencil of this line is translucent and does not really show up over dark colors or anywhere. It’s useless, to be exact.


In regards to texture, the softer the pencil, the bigger the texture it creates. As Prismacolor is wax-based and has softer leads, it creates a lot of texture compared to the harder Faber Castell pencils.


Source – Using Prismacolor Premier

Between the Prismacolor Premier vs Faber Castell Polychromos, when it comes to layering and blending, both pencils are proficient, although there are visible differences.

The Faber Castell Polychromos are made for layering. You can keep adding layers until you reach your desired outcome and they will look pretty. However, with the Prismacolor Premier, layering too many colors will produce a speckled outcome.

Moreover, when you burnish or use a lot of layers with the Prismacolor, your artwork is prone to produce wax bloom over time. This does not happen with Polychromos because it is oil-based.

When coloring with light strokes, the Prismacolor will leave you with a lot of white spaces compared to the Faber Castell Polychromos. When using harder pressure on your strokes, the Prismacolor will give the best result because they are soft and creamy. The Prismacolor will lay down thickly and you’ll cover your page quicker, whereas the Faber Castell Polychromos will take more time to build to full opacity.

As for blending, both pencils tend to blend out well with a solvent.


If you are looking to sell your colored pencil artworks, you have to look for pencils with good 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.

Prismacolor Premier

Source – Using Faber Castell Polychromos

With the Prismacolor Premier, lightfastness is not its strength. Its lightfastness rating is bad and will face much faster than the Faber Castell Polychromos.

Faber Castell Polychromos

This brand ranks higher in regard to lightfastness than the Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. So if you want your artworks to last longer and not fade over time, Faber Castell is better.

Smudging and Erasing

When it comes to smudging, the Prismacolor smudges more than the Polychromos as they are wax-based and much softer.

As for erasing, the Faber Castell is easier to erase compared to the Prismacolor. I believe this is because of their build.

Lead Breakage and Sharpening

Prismacolor Premier

Prismacolor is more prone to lead breakage when being sharpened. This is a common problem with wax-based pencils as their leads are soft and brittle and are not bonded to the wooden casing. It is recommended to get a good quality sharpener to avoid your Prismacolor Premiers from breaking.

Faber Castell Polychromos

The Faber Castell Polychromos on the other hand does not have this issue. Its core is oil-based and harder than the Prismacolor Premiers, and it is bonded to the wood casing which prevents breakage when sharpening.

Pencil Longevity

Considering how Prismacolors are prone to breakage, you’ll have to constantly sharpen them which will shorten their lifespan. It’s clear to see that the Polychromos is longer lasting than the Premiers.

Wax Bloom

Wax bloom is a milky-white film that appears on top of the artwork after a while. It happens when the artwork is exposed to air and a layer of wax rises to the surface. To get rid of the wax bloom, you only have to lightly wipe it with a cloth or cotton wool and spraying your work with a fixative to prevent a wax bloom from happening again. The downside when wiping a wax bloom away is pigment can be lifted off as well, so this should be kept in mind.

Wax bloom only happens when you use wax-based pencils, in this case, this problem comes with using the Prismacolor Premiers. The Faber Castell Polychromos does not have this issue.

Price and Availability

The Prismacolor Premier Color Pencils are generally cheaper than the Faber Castell Polychromos. A 120-piece Faber-Castell set starts at $165 while a 150-piece Prismacolor is only at $100. So clearly, there’s a vast price difference.

As for availability, both can be found in your local art supply store and online.

Overview and Final Thoughts

Prismacolor Premiers:

Pros: soft and creamy pigmentation, great texture, bright and vibrant colors, extensive color choices

Cons: brittle core, prone to lead breakage, take time to blend and layer, points do not last long, prone to wax bloom

Faber-Castell Polychromos:

Pros: strong pigment, easy to sharpen, harder and more durable core, points last longer, easy to blend and layer, smooth finish

Cons: expensive

When you sum it all up between Prismacolor Premier vs Faber Castell Polychromos, the Faber Castell Polychromos is a clear winner. Even though it is more costly than the Prismacolor Premiers, it has better build quality and coverage.

However, you can still favor Prismacolor over Polychromos because of its effortless vibrancy and ease of use. All in all, Prismacolor is still unbeatable when it comes to creating bright illustrations, and Faber Castell is unbeatable when it comes to making the smoothest and most realistic portraits.

You can always try both pencils to decide what you prefer more, but I hope this article has helped you in your purchasing decision.

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