6 Best Colored Pencils For Student & Professional Artists

Michael Daly
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Even if you don't consider yourself an artist, you've most likely drawn in your life. Colored pencils are just too fun to resist.

This article will cover the top 6 colored pencils on the market and explain why you might want to invest in colored pencils today, even if you consider yourself just a casual artist.

Based on my own experience as an artist, and talking to a lot of other artists, I have found that colored pencils have some unique benefits that make them a perfect medium for everyone.

They are easy to learn as a beginner, and the colored pencil medium allows you to create professional-looking drawings. Professionals are great because they give you the control you want over the medium, and colored pencils are portable and can easily be taken anywhere with you.

You can truly take a single pencil and an eraser away with you and bring them anywhere…even in your carry-on luggage (unless you fly on a budget airline, they might take colored pencils from you).

On top of all those benefits, colored pencils are also inexpensive. Even the highest quality colored pencils are not as costly as oil paints, for example, but they produce beautiful results just like oils. So the benefits are endless.

NameCategoryProduct
Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists' Color PencilsBest OverallFaber-Castell Polychromos Artists' Color Pencils
Crayola Colored PencilsBudget PickCrayola Colored Pencils
Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 Clr Pncl Set 76 Artist RngUpgrade PickCaran d'Ache Luminance 6901 Clr Pncl Set 76 Artist Rng

1. Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists' Color Pencils

Our rating: 9 / 10

Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists' Color Pencils

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Pros:

  • 120 colors in a metal tin
  • Includes all colors from the Polychromos Artist Pencil line
  • Highest quality pigments for permanent color and unsurpassed lightfastness
  • Fade-resistant
  • Buttery smooth color laydown
  • Oil-based lead easily blends for layered effects
  • Thick 3.8 mm break and water-resistant lead
  • SV-bonded leads the entire length of the barrel
  • Easy sharpening and longer-lasting

= Cons

  • Expensive

Colored pencils can be a challenge to work with, but there's no question that they have their place in the field of art. Serious artists and craftspeople always use colored pencils when they want to elevate their work.

If you're looking for the best colored pencils, you'll want to consider the 120-count set from Faber-Castell. The pencils come in two different bundles: the Student Set and the Artist Set. We recommend that you start with the Artist Set if you already know that colored pencils are for you. If you're not sure, go with the Student Set first.

You really can't go wrong with the pencils from the Faber-Castell Artist Set. They're designed for use by the top artists and artisans globally, and, with their rich pigmentation, they deliver outstanding colors right from the first stroke. See your artwork come to life with the absolute best quality art materials. Faber-Castell has produced premium quality artist materials since 1761.

2. Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 Clr Pncl Set 76 Artist Rng

Our rating: 9 / 10

Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 Clr Pncl Set 76 Artist Rng

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Pros:

  • High lightfastness and smoothness
  • Swiss made
  • 76 piece assortment
  • Can be blended and layered for various effects
  • Pigments are chosen for purity intensity and resistance to UV
  • The casing is made of California Cedar from managed forest
  • 2 Full Blender-Bright Sticks included for blending of colors
  • The pencil cap indicates the pencil’s color
  • Bold and bright colors
  • Eco-friendly
  • Chroma clarity
  • Professional quality
  • Great for shading
  • The new leads are designed for works intended for exhibition, collection, and museum purposes.

Cons:

  • There are to many muted colors, and not near enough blues, greens, browns and yellows.
  • Very expensive

For art lovers who want to take their hobby to the next level, high-quality colored pencils are a must-have. The Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 Clr Pncl Set 76 Artist Rng is a pack of 76 colored pencils that comes in a handy plastic case for easy storage. These pencils are manufactured by a Swiss company with over 135 years of experience!

Caran d’Ache, with a division of the Kaweco company, produces all of its products in Switzerland, where it has its headquarters. It offers a wide range of products, including nylon pens, cases, metal pens, and, of course, colored pencils. Every shade has been formulated using finely-ground pigments chosen for their purity, intensity, and resistance to UV. Colors can be blended, burnished, and layered on a variety of surfaces.

These colored pencils are made of high-quality materials and color pencils and inks are systematically tested for their lightfastness. When it comes to the tips, they’re made of quality and extra-sharp pigments that can easily be sharpened using a sharpener.

3. Crayola Colored Pencils

Our rating: 9 / 10

Crayola Colored Pencils

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Pros:

  • Long-lasting color
  • Features 50 rich, vibrant colors
  • Variety of sizes available
  • Excellent sharpening results
  • Long-lasting quality construction
  • Safe and non-toxic
  • Affordable
  • Great for adults and kids ages 12 and up

Cons:

  • Expensive per pencil
  • May be too thick for some
  • Some people dislike the lead smell

Crayola has long been known for its pencils, and you can count on their colored pencils to provide smooth color application every time and colors that are true to the color on the casing. These long-lasting color pencils are great for art projects, school assignments, and coloring books.

This set highlights the details of every coloring book and art project and keeps spirits high with creative art supplies.The color selection and quality of these Crayola Colored Pencils make them great art supplies.

With a total of 50 pencils in this pack, the Crayola colored pencils will keep you busy for a long time. They’re appropriate for children 12 years and up and adults who want to sharpen their coloring skills or have fun coloring in their free time.

4. Derwent Colored Pencils

Our rating: 8 / 10

Derwent Colored Pencils

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Pros:

  • Up to 72 vibrant colors in a metal tin
  • Soft texture
  • Ideal for building up color quickly
  • Round 4mm softcore
  • Durable break-resistant core
  • Highly blendable color pencils
  • Perfect for still-life drawings.

Cons:

  • The colors don't blend with water
  • Some of the cores aren't glued properly
  • The cores just pop out when sharpening
  • A couple of defective ones have impurities in the core
  • High prices with many defects

With a proud heritage dating back to 1832, Derwent’s innovation comes from a deep understanding of artists.
Derwent Colored Pencils smoothly glide over a variety of drawing surfaces. Produce vibrant colors with quick and easy application. Includes a range of 24 colors.

The velvety soft core helps emphasize the richness of each color. You can easily create dynamic and bold drawings with this color pencil set. Made in a British manufacturing plant in The Lake District, Cumbria, in the United Kingdom.

Break-resistant core lets you sharpen pencils to a fine point and is great for a range of drawings and coloring styles. Gain greater precision on detailed drawings with a sharp tip. Due to their enhanced formulation, these pencils create a range of subtly different shades by blending colors together.

For best results, combine with other Derwent products, such as Derwent Blender and Burnisher and Derwent Battery Operated Eraser.

5. Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless Colored 24-Pencil Set

Our rating: 8 / 10

Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless Colored 24-Pencil Set

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Pros:

  • Blendable
  • 24 pencils
  • Sharpens to a fine point
  • Includes a pencil sharpener
  • Rich, pigmented, solid color encased in lacquer
  • Five times the color as wood-cased pencils
  • Excellent laydown properties for layering and blending without waxy buildup
  • Create dense, even strokes without the use of heavy pressure
  • Maintains excellent light permanency, producing vibrant, durable pieces of art
  • Effectively reduces breakage compared to wooden pencils
  • High-quality wax-based lead is suitable for blending
  • Sells for a meager price

Cons:

  • Woodless pencils are more prone to breakage (a pencil rolling off a table to a tile floor could snap).
  • They are a bit fragile, so handle them with care.
  • They do not blend as easily as Prismacolor pencils do

Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless Colored 24-Pencil Set, Assorted Colors contains rich, pigmented, solid color encased in lacquer. Five times the color as wood-cased pencils, these woodless pencils feature excellent laydown properties for layering and blending without waxy buildup.

Create dense, even strokes without the use of heavy pressure. They maintain excellent light permanency, producing vibrant, durable pieces of art. The Progresso woodless colored pencils are one of the best economical colored pencils available in the market today. Made by Koh-I-Noor, the pencils have a thin casing which makes them light and is also good for the environment.

Available in a variety of colors, it is great for artists of all skill levels and kids. One can also use colored pencils for crafting, coloring, and home decor. Made in the Czech Republic. Bringing you the best in professional drawing and design – Koh-I-Noor.

6. LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor Art Pencils

Our rating: 8 / 10

LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor Art Pencils

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Pros:

  • 72 colors included
  • An incredible variety of colors
  • Very soft
  • Colors are easy to blend
  • The natural wood casing looks great
  • Thick leads make them easy to draw with
  • Excellent for shading and detail
  • Use for graphics, design, and art
  • Metal box container
  • Brilliant, lightfast, and water-resistant
  • Smooth lead
  • Can be applied to paper, cardboard, synthetic materials, wood, and textiles

Cons:

  • The colors are not super bright
  • Sometimes when you're coloring the lead starts to get wobbly
  • The colors painted on the ends of the LYRA pencils do not consistently match the color of the pencil

LYRA Rembrandt artist supplies are superior products for serious artists. LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor Pencils are top quality pencils for artists, graphic artists, designers, and architects.

With an assortment of 72 colors, Polycolor Pencils allow the user to fully explore his or her creativity. This outstanding selection offers a wide color range, from strong, full tones to the most delicate nuances. The brilliance, light fastness, water resistance, and particular smoothness of the leads meet the highest demands.

Rembrandt Polycolor artists' pencils enable the user to achieve fine, exact contours, as well as brilliantly colored areas and delicate merges. Apart from use on paper and cardboard, the colors can also be applied to synthetic materials, wood, and textiles. Draw, sketch design and empower your creativity with artist products from LYRA.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the best colored pencils for artists?

Colored pencils are an excellent medium for artists of all types, with pros and cons to consider when choosing your pencil.

Whether you’re just starting or you are a professional artist, choosing the right pencil is an essential step towards improving your art skills. Colored pencils come in a range of hues, from truly bright to muted and dark. Some of the best color pencils for artists are Castle Arts Coloured Pencils, Arteza Colored Pencils, and Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils.

What are the best color pencils for adults?

The best colored pencils for adults are a matter of opinion. It is also a matter of personal taste and desire. However, there are several brands of pencils that are consistently ranked among the best.

The best color pencils for adults are:

  • Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
  • Crayola Colored Pencils
  • Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

These colored pencil sets are labeled as artist-quality. You can also lookout for a colored pencil set intended for 'serious' use, such as pro, professional, or expert.

How do professionals use colored pencils?

The beauty of colored pencils is that you can use them in a variety of ways. From fine art to detailed illustrations to portraits, they are one of the most versatile tools in an artist’s tool kit.

For fine art, some artists prefer to layer colored pencils on top of one another to create depth or dimension in their pieces. They may also use a colored pencil as a background or base for painting on, as it is easy to remove or lighten colored pencils if needed.

Because you can use colored pencils on top of one another, it is possible to create endless detail.

Which is better: Faber Castell or Prismacolor?

Both are two of the finest brands of pencils. Still, Prismacolor Premier is better for fine detail work and relatively soft, unlike the Faber Castell Polychromos, which are very hard pencils. In contrast, the color range of the Polychromos is also perfect.

On account of its nice soft leads, the pencil of Faber Castell will not stop its useful life abruptly. In contrast, Prismacolor pencils can be sharpened only twice, provided the optimum point is not more than half a millimeter.

Conclusion

Colored pencils are ideal for artists of all ages, as they’re easy to use and provide a more natural look than most other drawing tools. The challenge is finding colored pencils of high quality that will also serve as a good beginner, intermediate, or advanced set.

That said, if you’re a beginner, you might want to become familiar with some of the basics before investing in an expensive set.
Here are the top-rated colored pencils from our research. We hope they help you create some extraordinary drawings.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists' Color PencilsBest OverallFaber-Castell Polychromos Artists' Color Pencils
Crayola Colored PencilsBudget PickCrayola Colored Pencils
Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 Clr Pncl Set 76 Artist RngUpgrade PickCaran d'Ache Luminance 6901 Clr Pncl Set 76 Artist Rng