5 of the best colored pencils for artists
There are dozens of colored pencil brands on the market. Choosing the best-colored pencils for artists work is critical to get the greatest result.
Although digital art is getting more mainstream the majority of artists still enjoy creating work with more traditional means. It is pleasing to see that good old pen, ink and colored pencils are not yet dead!
In the following review, there are sets for beginners and seasoned artists as we don’t assume that everyone is at the same standard. Darice offers a set which is a compilation art set but includes quality colored pencils. The other four are specifically colored pencil sets.
So what are the best-colored pencils for artists? Here are 5 different top rated sets that you can find on Amazon (links provided) which have great customer approval ratings:
Darice 80-Piece Deluxe Best Beginners Art Set
The Darice art set is great for the beginner as it has a variety of mediums in addition to quality colored pencils.
Oil pastels, paint brushes, watercolor cakes and a lot more are packed into this 80 piece set. A great collection of art tools in one neat and robust, portable wooden box.
Colored pencils provide a fairly generic range but are of high quality.
Amazon customer reviews state that the oil pastels are the icing on the cake. There are other elements in this art set which are not quite up to the same level, such as the markers which appear to be ‘run of the mill’.
Although it may not be up to professional artist standard the Darice art set is still exceptionally good value, particularly for the beginner. It’s a great set to try out a variety of different art products and the range of colored pencils is ideal for someone at an early stage in their artistic career.
Darice Best Beginners Art Sets Contain:
- Oil pastels
- Color pencils
- Watercolor cakes
- Drawing pencils
- Pencil sharpener
- Kneaded eraser
- Sanding blocks
The Darice Best beginners Art set is available in four different sizes through the link below:
- 68 piece art
- 80 Piece Deluxe Art (featured above)
- 120 Piece Deluxe Art
- 131 Piece P[remium Art
N.B. As there are small parts in each set it is not recommended for children under the age of 3 due to choking risk.
Prismacolor Scholar Colored Pencils, (60 pencils)
Another great set of high-quality pencils to suit the beginner.
Prismacolor pencils have very good blending qualities and nibs resistant to breakage (often a problem with low-quality pencil products).
Lead performance, vibrancy of color and smoothness of line perform really well and all add up to a very good color pencil.
On the other side of the coin, the pencils sometimes leave a waxy finish. The case provided does not provide a great deal of protection for your pencils. So you may have to store them in a more substantial container to protect them.
All in all, this is a very good quality set for a very low price. Scholar sets are particularly good for a beginner with a nice range of colors.
This set is available in several sizes through the Amazon link below:
- 2 set
- 48 set
- 60 set (featured above)
- 288 set
- 576 set
Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils, (72 pencils)
Quite a notch up from the Prismacolor Scholar pencil set and great for a beginner and advanced artist alike.
Ideal for professional artists with smooth superior blending and great tonal quality particularly for shading.
Robust and resistant to nib breakage. Leads provide a waterproof finish and the pigments have good fade-resistant qualities to keep your work fresh and vibrant.
The leads are very responsive to stroke pressure giving subtle changes across the range of pressure. High quality across the board makes this the flagship pencil of the Prismacolor range.
It is a sound investment if you want to get a very high standard finish to your artwork. There do not appear to be any significant negatives with these pencils.
Prismacolor Premier range offers many choices which can all be accessed through the link below:
- Coloring starter kit – 72 colored pencils, a pack of blending pencils and pencil sharpener
- Pencils and sharpener – 72 colored pencils and pencil sharpener
- 48 pencil pack with a blender pencil pack and dual-port pencil sharpener
- 72 pencil pack with a blender pencil pack and dual-port pencil sharpener
- 132 pencil pack with a blender pencil pack and dual-port pencil sharpener
- 150 pencil pack with a blender pencil pack and pencil sharpener
Faber-Castell Colored Pencils with CD, (120 pencils)
Is Faber Castell a good brand? If you want the absolute best the Faber-Castell Colored Pencils are the way to go and are well worthy of this accolade!
Pencil colors are extremely vibrant due to particularly high pigmentation and the nib breakage resistance is excellent. Triangular outer casing design is superb as it does not impose on the user experience. Ergonomic styling allows you to forget the pencil is in your hand reducing grip fatigue and increasing focus on the drawing.
Can be used with water
Faber Castell pencils have an added bonus. They can be used with water to create watercolor effects.
Nibs are a dream to work with as the color glides onto the work surface with very little pressure. I use these extensively for cartoon artwork and am extremely happy with the Faber Castell brand in every aspect.
I find them particularly good for adding fine detail to the watercolor cartoons I produce. Not only can you get great precision with the nibs but the colors really jump off the page. The last stage of cartoon creation is always something I look forward to as the Faber-Castell colored pencils put the icing on the cake
With such a good range of colors in the set (including flesh tones) and with subtle blending qualities the range of colors available is virtually endless. I believe that this makes them the best-colored pencils for blending.
There was not any aspect to criticise other than they are the most expensive colored pencils in this review. However, you get what you pay for and I never object to paying for best quality.
The Faber-Castell Colored Pencil range are also available as individual pencils or in a range sets of 12, 60, 72 and 120.
Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils, Manga Colors, (23 pencils)
Created by Prismacolor, this set is designed specifically for Manga drawing and Manga colors.
With similar qualities to the Prismacolor Premier Soft Core pencils (above), the Manga set has great blending and shading qualities. Color can be laid down on virtually any drawing surface seamlessly.
Color pigment is waterproof and light/fade resistance maintaining the vibrancy of color.
The box converts into a stand
Leads in the manga set allow for great detail and precision when required. This set comes with a box which converts quickly into a stand.
Minimal negatives with this pencil – the main being the small number of pencils in the set which although still provides a decent range of manger colors which are easily blended.
Pigments are fade resistent and waterproof
This set is similar to the Prismacolor Premiere set above, but included are colors geared toward manga drawings.
The highlights of these pencils are the smooth laydown quality, ease of blending, and shading ability. Pigments are both fade-resistant and waterproof.
Pros – generally revolve around the lead, which comes with a shorter point that is built to last. These pencils are also great for achieving precise details.
Cons for this set are minimal. Some users have complained of lead breakage despite the shorter points, but many disagree. Personally, I have found these Manga color pencils to work really well without breakage and I couldn’t fault them in this respect.
You can get the following Prismacolor manga sets through the link below:
- Manga Illustration Markers – Premier 8 set, Assorted Tips in Black / Sepia
- Scholar Manga Drawing Premier Set, 10 set
- Double-Ended Art Markers – 12 set, Fine and Chisel Tip, Manga Colors
- Colored Pencils Premier 23 pencil set – Manga Colors (featured above)
Which are the best colored pencils for artists?
There are lots of variables to consider when selecting the best colored pencils for you. Each set has its own features and qualities. However, if you are looking for the best set Faber-Castell is the premier choice for sheer quality in my view.
I have had some great results with these pencils. You can always tell when you have a quality drawing product as there are no distractions from things that aren’t quite up to the right standard. It’s all down to personal choice and you may find that one of the other sets either suit you better or maybe suits the style of art that floats your boat.
What are the best quality colored pencils?
Horses for courses on this issue. All five colored pencil sets are of a high standard quality wise. On a personal note, I am going to take the Darice set out as it is not specifically a colored pencil set.
I am also discounting the Prismacolor Manga colored pencil set as it is too specialist. I believe the two front-runners for sheer quality are the Faber-Castell Colored Pencils and the Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils. For me, the Faber- Castell edges it for quality.
Get the Best Drawing Tools You Can Afford
Quality means you can focus entirely on your drawing to get the best results possible. You can buy much cheaper colored pencils but when you are striving for perfection you need the best tools you can afford to get the best results.
If you are looking for the best-colored pencils for artists, Faber-Castell is the choice I recommend.
This recommendation is made based on the extensive personal use of the Faber-castell pencil brand. It really suits my style of cartoon artwork giving the security of adding magical finishing touches to watercolor artwork (and even printed artwork from the graphics tablet). Their pencils are truly amazing for creating fine detail such as hair, fur, and fabric that looks natural. The Faber Castell color pencil sets are backed up by some great reviews on Amazon. However, in the end, it’s up to you to make the decision.
What are the best type of colored pencils for you? – Here’s the best way to find out!
One way to find the best colored pencils for your style of art is to buy the smallest set in the range. Most brands produce a range of sets from half a dozen pencils to over one hundred. You can test out which brand suits you in this way before making a bigger investment.
Not every set of pencils will suit your own unique style and even the top brands may do it for you. Like all art equipment, it’s down to personal experience and use before you settle on a favored brand.
What are the best colored pencils for adults?
With the five colored pencil sets in this review, it doesn’t really matter as they all offer great value and quality. These sets are not really designed specifically for kids apart from the Prismacolor scholar. I believe they were designed more for artists in mind.
However, if you take out the Darice set of colored pencils as the rest are arguably better pencils and the Prismacolor scholar you are left with three very fine color pencil sets fit for any adult!
What can you use colored pencils for?
This seem rather a strange question but bear me out. I am not talking about simply ‘coloring in’. I find good quality colored pencils come into their own when putting in the finishing touches on some of my cartoons. If you print your cartoons from work on a graphics drawing tablet and add some finishing flourishes with colored pencils it gives the cartoon more life. I often do this for caricatures particularly to enhance skin tone and hair and material texture and color.
You do need good quality colored pencils as some of the cheaper brands have quite a waxy finish and you don’t achieve the classy finish you can with a food quality set. The more waxy finish pencils also leave a reflective surface which can completely ruin a cartoon as the light bounces off those areas. Matt finish is the name of the game!
Another great use is for adding shade under figures, furniture and other features to give your cartoon more depth. This can be done on a graphics tablet quite easily but the careful application of a colored pencil with a variation of pressure can give some superb effects.
What is the best way to store your colored pencils?
If you pay good money for your tools you want them to be maintained in pristine condition. I have in the past thrown all my pens pencils and brushes in a box and there they rattle around and get damaged ubntil I neeeded them. I soon realised that this is a terrible idea particularly for pencils as the nibs wear and break when not stored correctly. The best method of storage by far is a pencil wrap which is usually a canvas roll the can be opened to display all the pencils for immediate use.
Each pencil is kept in its individual sleeve and the beauty of this is that you can put thr pencils in order of color so you don’t have to search a tin to find the right one. As they are kept securely apart there is no damage to the shaft of the pencil and in particular no nib wear or breakage! This for me is the perfect solution and pencil wraps are cheap to buy. See my review of 5 top rated pencil wrap cases here…
Still uncertain about what are the best pencils for artists?
My recommendations are just that – mine. I have based it on personal experience using colored pencils in my style of art. your style will probably be completely different. However, it’s your opinion counts as you are the one who is going to use these pencils. If you are willing to trust my judgment then go ahead and purchase a set that I have recommended.
You will know when you find the best colored pencil set. It will just feel right and perform how you want it to.
Finally – whichever brand you chose I hope that you find the best colored pencils for your own individual style of artwork as color takes art to a different level – Good Luck!
If you are looking for a watercolor pencil set see our review of the best watercolor pencil brands on the market right here…