Best Colored Pencils for Artists in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Oct 14, 2022 •  Guides

I think I’ve tried almost every brand of colored pencils out there. So in this article, I’m happy to pass my experiences along and help you get the best ones for your drawings!

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Top 4 Colored Pencils for Artists Compared

My Pick
Soft Budget Pick
Hard Budget Pick
Professional Pick
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

60 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Great for lending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

132 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

36 colors in a paper case :: Includes all colors from the Premier Verithin pencil line :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for coloring, outlining, detailing, and lettering :: Break resistant and easily sharpened

Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

80 colors in wooden case :: Includes selection of colors from the Luminance pencil line :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

My Pick
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

60 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Great for lending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Soft Budget Pick
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

132 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Hard Budget Pick
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

36 colors in a paper case :: Includes all colors from the Premier Verithin pencil line :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for coloring, outlining, detailing, and lettering :: Break resistant and easily sharpened

Professional Pick
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

80 colors in wooden case :: Includes selection of colors from the Luminance pencil line :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Table of Contents

Overview: Best Colored Pencils for Artists in 2022

I will list several different colored pencil brands and sets of artist-grade colored pencils below, briefly commenting on each.

These are all wonderful colored pencil sets, with beautiful colors that look just as beautiful on the page, and I’m sure any one of them would serve you, or any artist, well.

I tend to have as many different sets, colors, and gradations as possible because I just love colors!

My Pick: Faber Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

Set of 24
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    24 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Great for lending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 36
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    36 colors in a box :: Includes selection of colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for blending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 60
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    60 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Great for lending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 120
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    120 colors in metal tin :: Includes all colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for blending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Gift Set
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    120 colors in a wooden box :: Includes all colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Oil based binder :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for blending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Single Pencils
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    Get your favorite colors by customizing your selection of single pencils :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for blending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 24
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

24 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Great for lending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 36
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

36 colors in a box :: Includes selection of colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for blending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 60
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

60 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Great for lending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 120
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

120 colors in metal tin :: Includes all colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for blending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Gift Set
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

120 colors in a wooden box :: Includes all colors from the Polychromos Artist pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Oil based binder :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for blending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Single Pencils
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

Get your favorite colors by customizing your selection of single pencils :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for blending, layering, highlighting and transitions :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

The Faber-Castell Polychromos has long been one of my favorite colored pencil sets, and one of the sets I use most often.

These are oil based colored pencils, but even so, they have that characteristic boldness and even flow you get from the best soft colored pencils.

They are also great for fine lines, hatching, textures, and even minute detail.

This allows me to stay in my zone throughout my drawing sessions without the interruptions of finding and opening different pencil sets for different kinds of work.

The Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencils still have some of the richest, brilliant range of colors I’ve seen. They offer unsurpassed versatility and quality and are among the most valuable and frequently used of all my artist tools.

My highest recommendation!

Also Great: Caran D’Ache Pablo Colored Pencils

Set of 12
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    12 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Pablo pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 18
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    18 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Pablo pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 40
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    40 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Pablo pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 80
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    80 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Pablo pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 120
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    120 colors in metal tin :: Includes all colors from the Pablo pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Singles
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    Get your favorite color :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 12
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

12 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Pablo pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 18
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

18 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Pablo pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 40
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

40 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Pablo pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 80
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

80 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Pablo pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 120
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

120 colors in metal tin :: Includes all colors from the Pablo pencil line :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Singles
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

Get your favorite color :: Highest quality pigment for permanent color :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for hatching, superimposing colors, shading, on all media (paper, wood, photos) :: Ideal for large-scale drawings with large areas of color :: Hard leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

The Caran D’Ache Pablo hard lead colored pencils are of very high quality.

They offer a wide and perfectly varied range of stunningly beautiful and useful colors, supreme control and predictable flow, long life, and a great feeling in the hand.

So it is no wonder they are the real choice for the most discerning commercial and fine artists worldwide.

The Pablo colored artist-grade pencils for artists are hard lead, and while they have quite a nice flow and saturation, they are undoubtedly the best pencils I’ve used for minute detail, fine lines, and complex images.

Expensive, yes, but I guarantee that once you try them, you may not want to use any other!

Hard Lead Budget Pick: Prismacolor Premier Verithin Colored Pencils

Set of 12
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    12 colors in a paper case :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Verithin pencil line :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for coloring, outlining, detailing, and lettering :: Break resistant and easily sharpened

Set of 24
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    24 colors in a paper case :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Verithin pencil line :: Oil based binder :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for coloring, outlining, detailing, and lettering :: Break resistant and easily sharpened

Set of 36
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    36 colors in a paper case :: Includes all colors from the Premier Verithin pencil line :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for coloring, outlining, detailing, and lettering :: Break resistant and easily sharpened

Set of 12
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

12 colors in a paper case :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Verithin pencil line :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for coloring, outlining, detailing, and lettering :: Break resistant and easily sharpened

Set of 24
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

24 colors in a paper case :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Verithin pencil line :: Oil based binder :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for coloring, outlining, detailing, and lettering :: Break resistant and easily sharpened

Set of 36
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

36 colors in a paper case :: Includes all colors from the Premier Verithin pencil line :: Non-smudge :: Resistant to fading :: Great for coloring, outlining, detailing, and lettering :: Break resistant and easily sharpened

Great colored artist-grade pencils for detailed drawing and fine line work, long-lasting and durable, these Prismacolor pencils are surprisingly inexpensive considering their high quality.

With a beautiful and useful range of colors and great color transfer – better than some of the oil-based pencils (or even wax-based!) that cost a lot more – Prismacolor pencils are good enough for even professional artists and the most critical work.

They offer great control and accuracy for the most minute details and complex images.

One of the best budget-friendly colored pencils for artists!

Soft Lead Budget Pick: Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils

Set of 24
  • Description:

    Wax based binder :: Soft lead

    24 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 36
  • Description:

    Wax based binder :: Soft lead

    36 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 48
  • Description:

    Wax based binder :: Soft lead

    48 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 72
  • Description:

    Wax based binder :: Soft lead

    72 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 132
  • Description:

    Wax based binder :: Soft lead

    132 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Gift Set
  • Description:

    Wax based binder :: Soft lead

    150 colors in paper/plastic case :: Includes all colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 24
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

24 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 36
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

36 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 48
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

48 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 72
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

72 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 132
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

132 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Gift Set
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

150 colors in paper/plastic case :: Includes all colors from the Premier Soft Core pencil line :: Richly saturated pigment for permanent color :: Resistant to fading :: Perfect for shading, delicate blending and shadows :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Prismacolor Premier colored pencils are some of the best soft lead, wax-based pencils I’ve ever used, with vibrant colors that flow perfectly and effortlessly onto the page, with such predictable, even flow and energy that I can’t believe that they’re so inexpensive.

How these bright and beautiful colors make my ideas come to life is incredible. And, for soft lead pencils, they last an amazingly long time.

With a great choice of colors, which are rich and true and hold up over time, these pencils feel good to use.

The leads are strong enough not to break and to allow a wide range of techniques and expressivity.

You may want some harder pencils for more fine lines and detailed work, but for bold, colorful, creative joy, the Prismacolor Premier colored pencils are hard to beat.

Value Pick: Koh-I-Noor Polycolor Colored Pencils

Set of 12
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    12 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polycolor pencil line :: Create dense and precise strokes without pressure :: Great for blending and layering :: Water resistant and non-toxic :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 24
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    24 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polycolor pencil line :: Create dense and precise strokes without pressure :: Great for blending and layering :: Water resistant and non-toxic :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 36
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    36 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polycolor pencil line :: Create dense and precise strokes without pressure :: Great for blending and layering :: Water resistant and non-toxic :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 48
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    48 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polycolor pencil line :: Create dense and precise strokes without pressure :: Great for blending and layering :: Water resistant and non-toxic :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 72
  • Description:

    Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

    72 colors in metal tin :: Includes all colors from the Polycolor pencil line :: Create dense and precise strokes without pressure :: Great for blending and layering :: Water resistant and non-toxic :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 12
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

12 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polycolor pencil line :: Create dense and precise strokes without pressure :: Great for blending and layering :: Water resistant and non-toxic :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 24
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

24 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polycolor pencil line :: Create dense and precise strokes without pressure :: Great for blending and layering :: Water resistant and non-toxic :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 36
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

36 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polycolor pencil line :: Create dense and precise strokes without pressure :: Great for blending and layering :: Water resistant and non-toxic :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 48
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

48 colors in metal tin :: Includes selection of colors from the Polycolor pencil line :: Create dense and precise strokes without pressure :: Great for blending and layering :: Water resistant and non-toxic :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Set of 72
Description:

Oil based binder :: Hard lead :: Without waxy bloom

72 colors in metal tin :: Includes all colors from the Polycolor pencil line :: Create dense and precise strokes without pressure :: Great for blending and layering :: Water resistant and non-toxic :: 3.8mm leads for break resistance and easy sharpening

Artists who use the Koh-I-Noor Polycolor colored pencils may swear that they are soft lead pencils since they have such a great, smooth, and even flow.

The colors pop so vividly on the page, but these are oil based pencils with the ability to render the most detailed and complex images easily and with great control.

Given their great color saturation, the Polycolors offer a kind of best-of-both-worlds advantage, and some artists I know use these premium quality professional colored pencils almost exclusively.

But still, they are at their heart (or at least at their core) hard pencils for details, fine lines, and extremely precise control, and they are among the best available.

Some of the finest colored pencils made today, the Koh-I-Noor Polycolor colored pencils are highly recommended to any artist.

Superb colored pencils for any artist and a real value even at their fairly notable price.

My highest recommendation!

Professional Pick: Caran D’Ache Luminance Colored Pencils

Set of 12
  • Description:

    Wax based binder :: Soft lead

    12 colors in hard case :: Includes selection of colors from the Luminance pencil line :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 20
  • Description:

    Wax based binder :: Soft lead

    20 colors in hard case :: Includes selection of colors from the Luminance pencil line :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Wax based binder :: Soft lead :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 40
  • Description:

    Wax based binder :: Soft lead

    40 colors in hard case :: Includes selection of colors from the Luminance pencil line :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Gift Set
  • Description:

    Wax based binder :: Soft lead

    80 colors in wooden case :: Includes selection of colors from the Luminance pencil line :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Singles
  • Description:

    Wax based binder :: Soft lead

    Get your favorite color :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 12
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

12 colors in hard case :: Includes selection of colors from the Luminance pencil line :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 20
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

20 colors in hard case :: Includes selection of colors from the Luminance pencil line :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Wax based binder :: Soft lead :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Set of 40
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

40 colors in hard case :: Includes selection of colors from the Luminance pencil line :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Gift Set
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

80 colors in wooden case :: Includes selection of colors from the Luminance pencil line :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Singles
Description:

Wax based binder :: Soft lead

Get your favorite color :: High pigment concentration for bright colors :: Resistant to fading :: Suitable for exhibition, collection and museum artwork :: Great for overlaying, mixed techniques and gradation :: Extreme lightfastness :: Strong enough leads for easy sharpening

Widely considered to be among the world’s finest art suppliers, Caran d’Ache makes some of the finest wax-based colored pencils available today.

And, indeed, Luminance pencil sets are among the finest I’ve ever used.

These colored pencils are smearable and mixable, allowing me to go beyond the basic process of drawing with pencils into new and varied techniques, mixing colors, shading, layering, and lightening and flowing colors.

The Caran D’ache Luminance colored pencils are equally great for basic work, with soft leads that allow broad, bold strokes but still easily handle fine work, textures, and detail.

The leads are also strong, meaning I don’t have to worry about applying pressure, and these Caran D’ache colored artist pencils last a long time.

Get a Pencil Sharpener, too

The number one way to destroy your precious colored pencils is using the wrong pencil sharpener.

So I included my two top picks for colored pencils sharpeners I recommend you use:

Electric
Manual
Description:

Best Electric Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils

Compatible with both wax-based and oil-based colored pencils of different shapes - round, hexagonal, triangle and jumbo size :: Quiet mechanism :: Tamper proofed

Description:

Best Manual Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils with Hand-Crank

Classic, manual pencil sharpener for round, triangular and hexagonal colored pencils :: Includes desk clamp

Electric
Description:

Best Electric Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils

Compatible with both wax-based and oil-based colored pencils of different shapes - round, hexagonal, triangle and jumbo size :: Quiet mechanism :: Tamper proofed

Manual
Description:

Best Manual Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils with Hand-Crank

Classic, manual pencil sharpener for round, triangular and hexagonal colored pencils :: Includes desk clamp

Learn more about the sharpeners and discover more picks here: Best Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils

How to Get Rid of Wax Bloom

Krylon Workable Fixatif Spray

Clear & non-yellowing, 11-Ounce Aerosol, Matte. Workable fixatif spray protects computer prints, pencil, pastel and chalk drawings. Works great against wax bloom.


Wax bloom is that white “waxy haze” that can develop on your drawing after a couple of days, usually on artworks with many colored layers.

Wax bloom is a natural oxidation process that affects wax-based soft pencils. You could compare it to rust, which is the natural oxidation of iron.

There are two steps to removing and preventing wax bloom from wax-based colored pencils.

First, use a soft cloth to wipe away any wax bloom build-up gently.

Then use a fixative, like the Krylon fixative spray above, to ensure no more oxygen is interacting with your colors.

If you have never used a fixative spray before, do a couple of spray tests to avoid any damage to your art.

Two Types of Colored Pencils – Hard (Oil-Based) and Soft (Wax-Based)

Generally, there are two types of colored pencils available: soft-core or soft-lead colored pencils and hard-core or hard-lead colored pencils (not lead, but usually wax based for soft-core pencils and oil-based pencils for hard-core). 

Soft Lead or Soft Core (Wax-based) Pencils

Soft pencils, which are wax based, are the most popular and widely available. They offer not just a vivid range of colors, but the most options in color mixing, burnishing, fading and bleeding, and many other techniques.

They can also be good for detail work, but that’s a job for the hard-core lot.

Hard Lead or Hard Core (Oil-based) Pencils

Hard colored pencils, which are oil-based, on the other hand, don’t offer the same kind of strikingly flowing, vivid and saturated colors, but they offer much better precision and control for any kind of fine detail work.

And the best of them should still offer great color on the page and a smooth and even flow.

Artists who use colored pencils a lot generally like to have at least one good set of wax-based and one good set of oil-based colored pencils. Or, if not a set, then a selection of colors they like to use.

There’s something about getting a big new box of colored pencils that’s unlike anything else. I feel like I’m opening up a treasure chest, and I have such an exciting feeling when I first gaze at the many colors, like a whole spectrum of possibilities has opened up before me.

Somehow I don’t get the same feeling looking at a color wheel or Pantone code input fields in a painting program, but maybe that’s just me.

And when the colored pencils are really good, with bold, true colors not just in the box but on the page, I can see those possibilities realized in front of me, and I get even more excited and inspired. 

So above are my recommendations for the best colored pencil sets on the market.

Every set comes with my enthusiastic recommendation, and even the least expensive of them are high-quality colored pencils that work great and are a joy to use.

What Makes a Good Colored Pencil?

I want a few basic things from the best artist-grade colored pencil:

When the pencils’ colors are pale or uneven, they don’t flow onto the paper well, I can’t find the color I want, or the pencil breaks or seems to fight me.

These issues can keep me from really getting into the flow. 

But when it all comes together, it’s a great feeling, and I can get lost in that kind of expressive bliss of productivity which is the best part of being an artist.

Are Professional Colored Pencils Worth the Money?

I have to say that the least expensive pencils in my guide for the best colored pencils for artists are still not that cheap, and the most expensive colored pencils here are, well, pretty spendy.

But when you use even the most affordable recommendations here, like the Prismacolor colored pencils, you will know they are worth it, and your art will flow.

And suppose you step up, even to the rarified levels of Caran D’Ache.

In that case, you will immediately know that these superb, professional-grade colored pencils are better and, again, totally worth it.

I could say something about how we, as professional artists, deserve the best tools, and certainly, the best colored pencils on the market are a wonderful gift to give ourselves, but I think it comes down to the art itself.

Yes, you deserve the best, and so do I, but the real winner here is our artwork – which becomes better, more flowing and natural, more highly developed and fully realized, and, ultimately, far more successful.

If this sounds like a lot to expect from a lowly colored pencil, it’s always been my experience that this is what the best and most successful artist tools of any type can do for an artist and their work – and all of these best colored pencils are great examples of this.

Try any of these sets; I’m sure you and your art will love them!

FAQs – Colored Pencils for Artists

Are wax or oil colored pencils better?

Wax-based, or soft lead colored pencils, are the most popular colored pencils. They offer vivid colors and great flexibility in color blending, mixing, and other techniques. Oil-based or hard lead colored pencils are mostly used for high-precision work and details.

Is Prismacolor or Faber-Castell better?

Both brands produce high-quality colored pencils for artists, and if I had to pick my favorite, it would be Faber-Castell because of their rich range of colors!

Which color pencil is best for beginners?

If I were to start my artistic journey in 2022, I’d choose Koh-I-Noor Polycolor colored pencils because, at a reasonable price, they provide vivid colors and allow for a wide range of drawing techniques and detailed work, too!

Is Faber Castell Polychromos good for beginners?

Yes, Faber Castell Polychromos are great colored pencils for beginners, albeit at a higher price. They are my favorite because of their rich range of colors and how well they aid my drawing practice!

I hope my guide helped you to get your new colored pencils and you will have a lot of fun drawing!

Visit my blog, Art Side of Life, for more buyer’s guides, articles, online courses, and many other resources – the perfect site for any artist!

Other articles in the drawing pencils, pens, and markers series:

Lis cet article en français 🇫🇷 Le meilleur crayon de couleur pour les artistes en 2022

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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