Best Colored Pencils for Coloring Enthusiasts & Artists

Tim Parry


Color pencils are a good art medium to add color and life to your project. Whether you are a beginner at coloring or are a professional artist, using a colored pencil adds versatility and dimension to the art you are creating, allowing you to use color to tell a story.

In recent days, many adults have picked up adult coloring books to decompress and relax their minds. The best colored pencils are clean and easy to use. In addition, you do not have to set up the working space and tools, unlike if you were using other art mediums.

While choosing a colored pencil set is not a difficult task, you want to ensure that you buy rich in color, durable, and quality pencils. This article will look at the best-colored pencils on the market today and share a guide to choosing grade-colored pencils.


What Colored Pencils Are The Best?

What are Colored Pencils?

Often associated with children, colored pencils, also known as pencil crayons, are wood pencils that have a colored pigment at the core. Unlike a standard pencil with a clay and graphite core, colored pencil sets are oil, water and wax-based. In addition, these pencils come in different sizes, quality and pigment proportions to meet different needs.

Students, hobbyists and professional artists use the best-colored pencils to add color vibrations and hue into art. The colors add a variety of possibilities allowing different colorful sets to be created. In addition, a colored pencil is lightweight, easy to use and handle and has a sharp point on the tip that makes detailing enjoyable.

Let us first look at the best-colored pencils brands on the market.

1. Crayola Colored Pencils

Crayola 100 Colored Pencils, Gifts For Kids, Teens & Adults, Great For...
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If you are a beginner in coloring, the Crayola Colored Pencils work best for you. This is because they have a great range of quality colors at an affordable bargain. In addition, the lead has a wax base to give vivid colors as its glides smoothly on the surface.

Crayola pencils have an expensive color variety concentrated with more blues and greens for nature and ocean artwork. However, the major downside is that these pencils do not blend well. In addition, if you are looking to get heavy-level shading, they also won't work for you. However, this pencil set will make an amazing gift for an adult coloring beginner.

  • Very affordable
  • Wide color variety
  • Applies smoothly
  • Do not blend well

2. Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils | Art Supplies for Drawing,...
  • Soft, thick cores are perfect for shading and shadows
  • Lightfast, richly saturated pigments
  • Ultra-smooth, even color laydown
  • Thick, robust leads resist cracking and chipping making them perfect...
  • 150 premium colored pencils

The Prismacolor Premier colored pencils have a soft-core and creamy consistency. They are rich in pigment and lay color fast. In addition, the Prismacolor Premier pencils are lightfast, meaning that they don't fade easily.

In addition, the Prismacolor pencils have vibrant tones that blend easily. If you are looking for an affordable set or an individual artist-grade coloring pencil, this set will work well with you. However, since the Prismacolor Premier pencils have a soft core, they are more prone to breaking and need to be sharpened frequently.

  • Blends well
  • Wide range of colors
  • Quality colored pencils
  • The pigments are vibrant
  • Glides well on adult coloring books
  • Susceptible to wax bloom
  • The lead easily breaks
  • Lacks an individual tin to hold the pencils

3. Castle Art Coloring Pencils

Castle Art Supplies 72 Colored Pencils Set | Quality Soft Core Colored...
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The coloring pencils from Castle Art Supplies have rich and velvety leads that are highly pigmented. This allows you to have a wide selection of vibrant pigment colors. In addition, these artists' colored pencils lay down color with minimal effort.

Blending and layering are important to any artist. These Castle Art colored pencils deliver quality layering properties and blend well with other colors. In addition, the colored cores have a consistency that allows you to add depth and beautiful effects at ease.

These colored pencils are encased in premium basswood to prevent frustrating breakages. In addition, they have a silk-smooth coating that ensures your hands don't tire while drawing. Finally, to remember which colored pencil you used for adult coloring, Castle Art has incorporated clear color labeling.

  • Affordable
  • Have a soft finish
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Has deep vibrant colors
  • Wax-based hence prone to wax bloom

4. Arteza Colored Pencils

Arteza Colored Pencils, 72 Professional Drawing Pencils, Soft...
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  • The break-resistant cores allow you to layer colors and shade your...
  • These smooth and highly-pigmented pencils make blending, layering, and...
  • Create realistic highlights and shadows or use these to fill in bold...

The Arteza colored pencils are another great addition to superior colors at an affordable fee. They are wax-based with a lead that is sturdy and doesn't break easily. However, contrary to expectation, they have little to no wax bloom.

A colored pencil from Arteza blends smoothly, allowing for effortless layering. You can opt o use a solvent or eraser and even add more layers seamlessly with no resistance. In addition, this pencil glides smoothly over the paper to create a deep coverage of saturated colors.

You do not need any special sharpener for these pencils. The hard lead core enables you to achieve sharp points to add detail to your artwork. If you are looking for affordable blending pencils, we'd recommend these Aretza ones.

  • Blends well
  • Value for money
  • Has little to no wax bloom
  • The pencil case is flimsy

5. Faber-Castell Polychromos

Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists' Color Pencils - Tin of 120 Colors -...
  • 120 COLORS IN METAL TIN - Includes all colors from the Polychromos...
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  • EASY TO BLEND - Buttery smooth color laydown, Polychromos Pencils...
  • BREAK RESISTANT LEADS - Polychromos Pencils feature thick 3.8 mm leads...
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The Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils are a great oil-based solution for artwork. They are high quality and will last you ages. In addition, they are highly lightfast and don't fade like other colored options.

If you are a professional artist, these pencils would be a great addition to your collection. Since they have an oil base, you don't have to be worried about wax blooming after a few hours or days. In addition, these Faber-Castell Polychromos have a thick lead core to prevent breakage.

The Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils keep a strong, sturdy point that layer well while remaining tender on the hand. If you are looking for pencils with an environmentally friendly water-based varnish, then this will be right for you.

  • Environmental friendly
  • High lightfastness
  • Vibrant colors
  • The lead has an oil base
  • Water-resistant
  • Very high quality
  • Have a color-matched system with other Faber Castell pencils
  • Expensive

Why Should You Get the Best Colored Pencils?

  1. You can use colored pencils for adult coloring to render abstract or expressive art styles, emphasizing detail and photo realisticness. Although it takes time, the color detail brought about by a colored pencil cannot be compared when using wet art media like paint.
  2. Colored pencils are semi-opaque or partially transparent. This makes them give a translucent quality to your artwork, especially on textured paper. In addition, if you don't press hard while drawing, tiny crevices are left untouched by the pigment and shine through to give a striking luminance.
  3. Colored pencil sets are versatile, enabling you to have bright, bold and opaque colors according to your art preference. This can be achieved by layering, blending, or pressing harder on the drawing paper.
  4. In addition to the versatility, a set of the best-colored pencils is hassle-free and practical. Since it is lightweight and portable, you can use them to draw in any location. Unlike other art media like paint, a colored pencil is durable and lasts a long time. You don't have to worry about them drying out as you would markers or paint. Additionally, you only need a sharpener, pencil set and a sketchbook for accessories, unlike paint.
  5. Colored pencils for artists are relaxing and easy to set up. You don't have to worry about cleaning any mess, inhaling toxic substances, and having stains on your clothes.
  6. You can use colored pencils to create an oil painting by burnishing or layering and blending. To finish off, you can use a blender pencil, a solvent, or baby oil. In addition, you can use the technique of optical color mixing to create new tones and hues through layering colors. However, note that you cannot directly mix new colors as you would with paint.
  7. You can also use a colored pencil with other art media like markers, graphite pencils, gouache, pastels and crayons. This creates a final product that looks organic.
  8. When it comes to removing, it is easier to remove colored pencils than markers or paint. However, the pigment on the coloring books becomes difficult to erase if you have pressed too hard or applied many layers.

Types of Colored Pencils

1. Wax Based

A wax-based colored pencil has a smooth texture that allows the color pigment to flow across the surface. The wax also helps the pigment to stick on the surface and to other pencil layers. This is great as it enhances layering without having to worry about adhesion or smearing.

Most colored pencils for artists are wax-based. In addition, these pencils come in varying consistencies. For example, a soft wax-based pencil is made for professional artists, while a hard pencil is more suitable for students.

The downside of using wax-based colored pencils is that they are prone to wax bloom. This is a natural process that causes the wax to appear on the artwork's surface through oxidation. Applying heavy dark colors is the most common cause of wax bloom. To prevent this, you can seal your artwork with a fixative or wipe the wax with a clean, dry cloth if you wish to continue layering.

2. Oil-Based

Oil-based colored pencils use oil to bind and distribute color pigment on the surface. However, they still contain wax but in a different consistency and do not suffer from wax bloom. You can easily identify an oil-based pencil as most have a medium soft texture.

Since they are quite smooth, oil-based colored pencils do not lay down color as quickly as wax-based pencils. However, they are more versatile and are made from a firmer lead. This means that you don't need to sharpen them as often and they don't break easily.

While there is hardly any notable difference between wax and oil-based colored pencils, the latter is susceptible to smearing. In addition, they are harder to erase since they have an oil base. However, most brands do not differentiate the two in their pencil sets, making the difference a minor concern.

3. Water Soluble Pencils

Water-soluble colored pencils are also commonly referred to as watercolor pencils. This is because they contain a water-soluble gum that thins out pigments with water. However, they can still be used as dry colored pencils.

If you are looking to produce watercolor paintings, these pencils are more suitable. All you need to do is combine a watercolor pencil with water and use a sponge or brush to blend the colors. Another tip is to dip the watercolor pencil tip in water and create soft strokes or wet paper drawings. In addition, you can use these pencils together with other standard colored pencils.

4. Color Sticks and Woodless Pencils

These pencils consist of only the pigmented core of colored pencils. They do not have the wooden pencil casing. If you love to have a lot of color in your fine art, a color stick or wooden pencil is more suitable for you. In addition, these pencils have the same properties as other colored pencils with wooden casings.

How Do You Choose the Best Colored Pencils?

Different colored pencil brands have subtle differences that may be hard to notice, especially if you are a beginner at coloring. To help narrow down your choices, below are a few qualities you should look for in the best-colored pencils.

1. Quality

This refers to the type of grade colored pencil you intend on getting. Colored pencils come in student grade and artist grade categories. If you are a student or just getting into coloring, the former would be more suitable for you. You can still opt to get artist-grade pencils as they are more superior and contain more pigment. However, they are more expensive.

2. Consistency

The lead consistency in the best-colored pencils varies across pencil brands and types. A pencil is generally made of lead, filled with pigment, the binder, wax and filler and then encased in wood. A soft-core coloring pencil has less filler and binder, while a hard one has more binder and less pigmentation.

Soft-core colored pencils are more popular among artists. They are smooth, lay down color easily and blend properly. Some are smooth and creamy, while others are grainy and crumbly. Preferred for their rich pigment and ability to create vibrant and bold colors, these soft colored pencils don't hold a point well and need to be sharpened frequently.

Coloring pencils with a hard-core are sturdy and better suited for detailed artwork, especially drawing hair and fur. However, these colored pencils need more effort to apply color and are difficult to blend. While they are still artist-grade pencils, you may need to press harder while using them, which could damage your art paper.

3. Color

Since colored pencils cannot be mixed with other art media, you want to start with a pencil set with a good range of colors. This will help you to be different create tones and hues. While the color versatility is good, you may want to start with a set of fewer, maybe 24, pencils, then slowly build up your color chart.

4. Lightfastness

This quality refers to how fast artwork will preserve once exposed to light. However, over time, it is common for light and humidity to break down the molecular properties of the colors. When this happens, art media begins to fade.

Unlike dyes, artist-grade colored pencils use fade-resistant pigments. This is an advantage, especially if you plan to digitize your artwork for the web or print. However, depending on the pigment used on the colored pencil, the lightfast quality will often vary in pencils of the same set.

To counter this, most manufacturers of artist-grade pencils will have a lightfast rating for each pencil. In addition, the more expensive the pencil, the more lightfast it is. However, this is not always the case.

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Tim Parry

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