Colored Pencils Showdown


Colored pencils have come a long way from the basic school supplies of our childhoods. Today, they are essential tools for artists, illustrators, and hobbyists, offering a wide range of colors and textures. The quality of colored pencils can vary significantly between brands, and choosing the right one can make a world of difference in your creative journey.

Why Colored Pencils Matter

The Versatility of Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are favored by many artists for their versatility. They allow for precise detailing, shading, and blending. Whether you’re working on a delicate portrait or a vibrant landscape, colored pencils can achieve stunning results.

Key Factors to Consider

Before diving into the brand comparisons, let’s outline the key factors you should consider when choosing colored pencils:

  • Pigment Quality: The richness and intensity of color depend on the quality of the pigments used in the pencils.
  • Blendability: A good colored pencil should be easy to blend, allowing you to create smooth transitions between colors.
  • Lightfastness: This indicates how well the colors will resist fading over time, especially important for artists who want their work to stand the test of time.
  • Durability: Colored pencils should be durable enough not to break easily when sharpened or used with pressure.

Now, let’s jump into the brand comparisons.

Faber-Castell Polychromos

Features and Qualities

Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils are renowned for their exceptional quality. They are oil-based, which means they provide rich and vibrant colors that blend effortlessly.


  • High-quality pigments for vivid colors
  • Excellent lightfastness
  • Break-resistant leads
  • Smooth blending capabilities


  • Slightly more expensive than some alternatives

Prismacolor Premier

Features and Qualities

Prismacolor Premier colored pencils are beloved by artists for their soft and creamy cores. They are wax-based, which allows for easy layering and blending.


  • Smooth and creamy texture
  • Wide range of colors available
  • Great for layering and blending
  • Relatively affordable


  • Prone to breakage if not handled carefully

Derwent Coloursoft

Features and Qualities

Derwent Coloursoft colored pencils are known for their velvety texture and vibrant colors. They are wax-based and offer a wide range of shades.


  • Soft and smooth application
  • Intense colors
  • Good for detailed work
  • Reasonably priced


  • May require frequent sharpening due to softness

Caran d’Ache Luminance

Features and Qualities

Caran d’Ache Luminance colored pencils are often considered the crème de la crème of colored pencils. They are oil-based and boast unparalleled lightfastness and color brilliance.


  • Exceptional lightfastness
  • Highly pigmented colors
  • Creamy texture for blending
  • Extremely durable


  • Premium price point

Staedtler Ergosoft

Features and Qualities

Staedtler Ergosoft colored pencils are known for their ergonomic design and affordability. They are oil-based and offer a good balance between quality and cost.


  • Ergonomic triangular shape for comfortable grip
  • Reasonable price
  • Smooth color application
  • Decent color range


  • Not as vibrant as some premium brands

Comparative Analysis

Now that we’ve examined these five prominent colored pencil brands, let’s compare them based on some critical factors.

Price vs. Quality

When it comes to price versus quality, Faber-Castell Polychromos and Caran d’Ache Luminance are at the premium end of the spectrum. They offer exceptional quality but come with a higher price tag. If you’re a professional artist or serious about your craft, investing in these brands may be worthwhile.

Prismacolor Premier, Derwent Coloursoft, and Staedtler Ergosoft are more budget-friendly options that still provide good quality and performance.

Blending and Layering Capabilities

Prismacolor Premier and Derwent Coloursoft shine in terms of blending and layering. Their wax-based cores allow for smooth transitions and intricate layering. Faber-Castell Polychromos and Caran d’Ache Luminance are no slouches either, offering excellent blending capabilities due to their oil-based nature.

Color Range and Vibrancy

If a wide range of colors and vibrant pigments are a top priority, Prismacolor Premier is hard to beat. They offer an extensive color palette that can bring your creations to life. Caran d’Ache Luminance also offers rich and vibrant colors, but with a higher price point.


For those concerned about durability and breakage, Faber-Castell Polychromos and Caran d’Ache Luminance are the winners. They are less prone to breaking when sharpened or used with pressure.

Choosing the Right Colored Pencils

After considering the brand comparisons, the choice ultimately depends on your artistic style, budget, and specific needs. Beginners might find Prismacolor Premier or Derwent Coloursoft to be more forgiving and budget-friendly, while professionals may lean towards Faber-Castell Polychromos or Caran d’Ache Luminance for their exceptional quality.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Colored Pencils

Proper Sharpening Techniques

To prevent breakage and achieve finer details, use a sharpener specifically designed for colored pencils. Avoid using standard school sharpeners, as they may damage the delicate cores.

Layering and Blending Tips

Experiment with layering colors to create depth and richness in your artwork. Blending can be achieved with various techniques, such as blending stumps, tissue paper, or even your fingers.

Preserving Your Artwork

To ensure the longevity of your colored pencil artwork, consider using a fixative spray to protect it from smudging and fading. Frame your finished pieces under UV-protective glass to prevent damage from light exposure.

Colored Pencils vs. Other Mediums

While colored pencils offer unique advantages, it’s essential to explore other mediums to diversify your artistic toolkit.

Watercolor Pencils

Watercolor pencils can be activated with water to create beautiful watercolor-like effects. They are perfect for adding a touch of fluidity to your colored pencil work.

Colored Pencils vs. Markers

Colored pencils offer more control and precision, making them ideal for intricate details. However, markers excel in providing bold and vibrant colors quickly.

Colored Pencil Maintenance

Cleaning and Care

Regularly clean your colored pencils by gently wiping away any wax or pigment buildup. This helps maintain the quality of your pencils and prevents color contamination.

Storage Solutions

Store your colored pencils in a cool, dry place to prevent them from becoming too soft or brittle. Consider investing in a quality pencil case to keep them organized and protected.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which brand is best for beginners?

For beginners, Prismacolor Premier and Derwent Coloursoft are excellent choices due to their affordability and ease of use.

Are artist-grade pencils worth the extra cost?

Yes, if you are serious about your art, artist-grade pencils like Faber-Castell Polychromos and Caran d’Ache Luminance are worth the investment for their superior quality and performance.

Can I use colored pencils on different surfaces?

Colored pencils work well on various surfaces, including paper, illustration board, wood, and fabric. However, the texture and tooth of the surface may affect your results.

How do I prevent wax bloom on my colored pencil drawings?

To prevent wax bloom (a cloudy film that can develop on colored pencil artwork), use a fixative spray, and store your finished pieces in protective sleeves.

What’s the difference between oil-based and wax-based colored pencils?

Oil-based colored pencils, like Faber-Castell Polychromos, offer intense colors and durability. Wax-based colored pencils, like Prismacolor Premier, provide a creamy texture for blending and layering.

In conclusion, the world of colored pencils offers a diverse range of options to cater to every artist’s needs. The best choice for you depends on your style, preferences, and budget. With the right set of colored pencils in your hands, your creative possibilities are limitless. So, go ahead, unleash your imagination, and create art that truly stands out!