Best Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Jun 21, 2022 •  Guides

Our colored pencils are precious to us, artists, and good colored pencils can also be very expensive – especially as much as we tend to use them! So it’s understandable that we want to take very good care of them, and treat them with the best colored pencil sharpener available. So let’s have a look at which one you should get!

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If you are in a hurry, here are my two top picks for the best pencil sharpener for colored pencils. If you have more time, scroll down to explore.

  1. Bostitch QuietPro 6 Extra Heavy Duty Electric Pencil Sharpener
  2. Bostitch QuietPro 6 Extra Heavy Duty Electric Pencil Sharpener

    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

    Get it on Amazon
  3. Staedtler Mars Rotary Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils
  4. Staedtler Mars Rotary Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils

    Best Manual Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils with Hand-Crank

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

    Get it on Amazon

Table of Contents

Many of us have already found out the hard way, one of the quickest ways to mess up our little babies is by trying to sharpen them with the wrong pencil sharpener. 

But what is the difference between the wrong sharpener and the right sharpener for colored pencils, and which pencil sharpeners are best for colored pencils? Stay tuned, because those questions and more will be answered in this buyer’s guide for the best pencil sharpeners for colored pencils.

In this article, I will try to answer the following questions:

Are there special pencil sharpeners for colored pencils?

What’s the best colored pencil sharpener?

Can you use a regular pencil sharpener on colored pencils?

What is the best way to sharpen pencils?

Will normal pencil sharpeners damage colored pencils?

Which is better for sharpening colored pencils – manual or electric sharpeners?

What sharpener do artists use?

Which Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils Works Best?

Most colored art pencils have a very soft core made of colored pigment and some sort of binder – usually wax – and so they are much more delicate than a normal black lead, graphite pencils with their much harder core.

So the first thing the best colored pencil sharpeners should have is a very sharp blade, which shaves and shapes even soft wax pencil cores easily and precisely, and requires very little pressure to do so (compared to a graphite pencil).

It’s also great if the blade stays sharp for a long time and/or is easily replaceable. You would also do well to find a pencil sharpener with a blade that is easy to clean, as this can keep it more effectively sharp and working great.

Other than that, some artists prefer a sharpener with more than one hole size, for added versatility and for the most straight and effective sharpening of different sizes (that is thicknesses) of colored pencils, and it is always good to get a well designed and well made sharpener that is precisely aligned, which can also lead to straighter and sharper tips.

Other factors include the size of the shaving reservoir, and one that’s easy to see into and easy to empty, how the (manual) pencil sharpener feels in your hand and that it is easy to grip and easy to use, and that your new pencil sharpener is high quality overall – well made, durable and reliable – and offers a good value for the money.

I bet you never knew there was so much involved in selecting the best pencil sharpener for your colored pencils!

How Can You Find the Best Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils?

This is actually a bit of a difficult question for a couple of reasons:

  1. Some of the best sharpeners for colored pencils don’t actually mention that they work great with soft-core colored pencils, at least in their names.
  2. Lots of pencil sharpeners that claim to be great for colored pencils don’t always do such a good job, and/or they break or go dull quite quickly.

So while product names and descriptions can be helpful, and going with good, trustworthy colored pencil brands is also a good idea, the surest way to find the best pencil sharpeners for colored pencils is good old experience.

Luckily I have had a lot of experience with colored pencils and various pencil sharpeners, and I have also talked to a lot of other artists and colleagues, and have put together a list of the best colored pencil sharpeners on the market today.

I will break my recommendations down into two categories – electric colored pencil sharpeners and manual colored pencil sharpeners (regular pencil sharpeners) – and then simply place them in order of price, from most to least expensive, but to get right to the point (see what I did there?) below is the quick list

At the end of the article, in the Bonus section, I will give a few quick pointers on how to best sharpen your precious art pencils, but for now let’s get right cranking, with this buyer’s guide for the best colored pencil sharpeners!

Overview: Best Pencil Sharpeners for Colored Pencils in 2022

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  1. Bostitch QuietPro 6 Extra Heavy Duty Electric Pencil Sharpener
  2. Bostitch QuietPro 6 Extra Heavy Duty Electric Pencil Sharpener

    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

    Get it on Amazon
  3. X-Acto Teacher Pro Electric Pencil Sharpener
  4. X-Acto Teacher Pro Electric Pencil Sharpener

    Best Value Electric Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils


    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. Afmat Colored Pencil Sharpener
  6. Afmat Colored Pencil Sharpener

    Best Rechargeable Electric Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils (6 - 12mm)

    Super Quiet Long Lasting Electric Pencil Sharpener with Auto Stop


    Buy Now on Amazon
  7. Staedtler Mars Rotary Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils
  8. Staedtler Mars Rotary Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils

    Best Manual Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils with Hand-Crank

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

    Get it on Amazon
  9. Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener, 2-pack
  10. Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener, 2-pack

    Best Manual Pencil Sharpener for Prismacolor Colored Pencils

    With Closed Reservoir


    Buy Now on Amazon
  11. Mobius & Ruppert Brass Round Double Hole Sharpener
  12. Mobius & Ruppert Brass Round Double Hole Sharpener

    Best Manual Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils - Hand-Held


    Buy Now on Amazon

Best Electric Sharpener for Colored Pencils

Best Electric
Bostitch QuietPro 6 Extra Heavy Duty Electric Pencil Sharpener

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

Get it on Amazon

One of the finest premium electric pencil sharpeners on the market today, the Bostitch QuietPro 6 is great for lots of reasons.

It is one of the easiest sharpeners to use, with both an indicator light for optimal sharpness and an auto-off function.

The sharpener face has six hole sizes for different pencil thicknesses. And the heavy duty motor, ultra-quiet operation, super fast sharpening, high capacity pencil shavings reservoir and anti-microbial protection make this an ideal sharpener for a busy commercial art studio – or just a busy artist.

But mostly the Bostitch QuietPro 6 sharpens your colored pencils perfectly every single time – safely, effectively and with a straight, beautiful and optimally usable tip. And since the blade is extremely hard and durable, easy to clean and easy to replace, it will keep sharpening perfectly for many years to come.

Best Value Electric Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils

Electric
X-Acto Teacher Pro Electric Pencil Sharpener

Best Value Electric Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils


Buy Now on Amazon

Though it is tempting to get the X-Acto Mighty Pro pencil sharpener, which is sleek, beautiful and may be the finest sharpener made, it is really overkill for personal use or small commercial studios.

For a lot less money you can instead opt for the Teacher Pro, which despite its name is not just ideal for classrooms, but the perfect premium pencil sharpener for individuals and a fantastic choice overall for artists.

The X-Acto Teacher Pro is also one of the best electric pencil sharpeners you can get for colored pencils – adjustable for six different pencil sizes, and with an incredibly sharp blade that sharpens art pencils to a perfectpoint and stops automatically to prevent over-sharpening and damage.

The blade is ultra-hard and should keep sharp for a long, long time.

And speaking of a long, long time, the Teacher Pro comes with a ten year (!) warranty.

An incredibly well made, durable and beautiful machine, that perfectly sharpens and protects your colored pencils and works equally well for any other type or size of pencil, the X-Acto Teacher Pro is a great choice for personal use or for a small studio – and it’s a fantastic value as well!

Best Rechargeable Electric Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils

Rechargeable
Afmat Colored Pencil Sharpener

Best Rechargeable Electric Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils (6 - 12mm)

Super Quiet Long Lasting Electric Pencil Sharpener with Auto Stop


Buy Now on Amazon

Honestly I’m not too impressed with cordless rechargeable battery powered sharpener overall.

The best electric sharpeners I know are always plug-in varieties, and for colored pencils the two above are strong, fast, quiet and reliable, always work great and never need charging.

Of course cordless sharpeners definitely have advantages, including convenience and portability, and are a great choice for moving around the studio or throwing in your art bag or pack.

But I have searched a long time for the best rechargeable electric pencil sharpener, for colored pencils or any other art pencil, and never really found the right one.

Recently, though, a colleague let me try their Afmat pencil sharpener, and it was everything I was looking for – three sharpness settings, six pencil sizes, strong and quiet, long lasting battery and surprisingly solid and robust construction.

The blade is very hard and really stays sharp, which is crucial for both sharpening and protecting colored art pencils, and is easy to clean.

I still can’t recommend so many of the rather anemic and ineffective cordless pencil sharpeners out there, but I have to say that this large-sized Afmat colored pencil sharpener is a great product, and totally recommendable as one of the best sharpeners for colored pencils and for general use – rechargeable or otherwise. And while I haven’t actually tried it myself, I hear equally good things about the smaller normal-sized Afmat Rechargeable Colored Pencil Sharpener, which is the same in most respects but a bit smaller physically and a bit less expensive

Best Manual Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils – Hand-Crank

Manual
Staedtler Mars Rotary Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils

Best Manual Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils with Hand-Crank

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

Get it on Amazon

This may look like your standard, old-school clamp-on pencil sharpener, but there is at least one big, major difference – the Staedtler Mars Rotary classic manual sharpener won’t chew your beloved colored pencils up and spit them out. Of course the others won’t spit them out either, but they will chew them up…

In fact, this Staedtler, from the same company that brings us so many fabulous colored art pencils, is designed and optimized for just those types of pencils, and brings a lot to the table, including an extra-hard and extra-sharp rotary blade assembly that is easy to clean and ideal for colored pencils’ softer cores, a strong and stable desk clamp, and excellent overall design, material and construction quality.

With the ability to sharpen to various degrees of sharpness, and to work with pencils up to 12 mm diameter and pencils of different shapes – round, triangular and hexagonal – this is a great all around pencil sharpener, equally effective with both hard and soft black drawing pencils, normal writing pencils and all types of colored art pencils. 

The Staedtler Mars rotary is, in fact, the best manual pencil sharpener I’ve ever found for colored pencils, and the best choice for artists, and I highly recommend it! Worth to also try: Dahle Professional Pencil Sharpener you can find here.

Best Manual Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils With Closed Reservoir

Manual
Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener, 2-pack

Best Manual Pencil Sharpener for Prismacolor Colored Pencils

With Closed Reservoir


Buy Now on Amazon

While there may not seem to be much to the Prismacolor Elite pencil sharpener, once you look under the hood, as they say, you will get a better idea of just how great it is.

But again, like the Staedtler Mars above, we probably should expect greatness from the manufacturer of so many great colored pencils.

If you do literally lift the little lid you will find two openings, one for very sharp point sharpening and one for more wide and blunt sharpening, with two different blades fitted inside.

The blades are sharp and hard, and perfect for softer colored pencil wax cores, are easy to clean and produce a consistently perfect tip every single time.

The clear reservoir is easy to see and easy to empty.

A basic and simple yet incredibly effective pencil sharpener for all kinds of art pencils, the Prismacolor Premier is inexpensive yet has a surprisingly premium feel to it – at least for an all-plastic product. For performance and overall quality it is a great value, and one of the best sharpeners you can get for colored pencils.

I have given a link for the two-pack of Prismacolor Premier sharpeners, because they aren’t expensive and I love to have a couple of them on hand, but if you prefer you can also get a single pack here: Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener Single Pack.

Best Hand-Held Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils

Manual
Mobius & Ruppert Brass Round Double Hole Sharpener

Best Manual Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils - Hand-Held


Buy Now on Amazon

There is something so very compelling about the Mobius and Ruppert brass pencil double hole sharpener, which is perfectly shaped, weighty and substantial, feels great in the hand and looks just beautiful.

But there’s a lot more to it than that, and the Mobius and Ruppert is easily the best hand held sharpener for colored pencils I’ve ever used.

The extremely sharp (be careful!) blades treat wax-core colored pencils with respect, sharpening them to very fine point without ever breaking or damaging them, and there are two openings for smaller or larger pencils, ensuring not just versatility but perfect alignment and ideal tips each time.

The blades are very easy to detach and it is a cinch to clean, replace or even sharpen them, though you may be surprised by just how long they stay sharp.

A beautiful basic pencil sharpener, that is so far superior to other slightly less expensive plastic or metal hand-helds that it doesn’t seem fair to compare, the Mobius and Ruppert inspires fierce loyalty and almost poetic praise from anybody who has owned and used it, and is by far the best hand held pencil sharpener you can get for colored pencils – actually, the best hand held pencil sharpener you can get period!

Though I haven’t tried it, a lot of my cool artist friends swear by the Maped Classic Metal 2 Hole Pencil Sharpener, which is a tiny bit cheaper than the M&R and also gets tons of rave reviews from customers.

Bonus: How to Sharpen a Colored Pencil

Yeah, this subject may sound way too simple to give any serious consideration to, but in fact a few very basic tips and techniques can really help you protect your expensive and beloved art pencils, and ensure that you get a perfect tip each time.

Use the right fit of sharpener

If you have a sharpener with different hole sizes, use the best fit.

Don’t just push your pencil into any of them – like whichever is lined up at the moment – but carefully match the diameter of the pencil to the width of the hole, and you will get a more straight and usable tip, and even potentially save your pencils from damage.

Turn the sharpener, not the pencil

If you are using a hand held sharpener, turn the sharpener instead of the pencil.

This may be the opposite of what we are used to, but somehow it ensures a sharper and straighter tip, and gives you more control.

Don’t over-sharpen your pencils

Even with machines that have auto-shutoff this can be a danger, so check your point even before they shut down, and with a manual or hand-held check also, before you shave away too much.

Many people say that over-sharpening can also damage your pencils, but one thing’s for sure – it does go through them faster!

Keep the blade sharp and clean

Keep the pencil sharpener’s blade sharp and clean.

If it gets dull or dirty there is a much higher chance that your pencils will get more chewed up than sharpened.

If the pencil’s casing is shaving away in one long curly piece, you’re good, but if the pencil shavings come off in little bits and clumps it’s time to replace or, if possible, to sharpen your blade.

And you should clean the blade regularly, especially if you are sharpening soft-core colored pencils, but be careful – it’s sharp! Y

You can also kinda sorta keep it clean by occasionally sharpening a normal black writing pencil, the pencil shavings from which can push the softer bits from your colored pencils clear of the blade.

Don’t apply to much pressure

Whether you are using electric sharpeners or manual sharpeners, hand-held or crank varieties, never apply too much pressure.

Sharpening never requires any real pressure at all, and so light and steady is the ticket – more effective, less damaging and safer!

Use the best sharpener available

And, to come full circle, always use the best sharpeners for colored pencils! Normal pencil sharpeners may be cheap (though definitely not all of them), and you may already even have one or more on hand, but believe me – they will cost you a lot more in the long run.

Thanks so much for reading my latest article – The Best Sharpeners for Colored Pencils: A Buyer’s Guide to Electric and Manual Pencil Sharpeners for Artists – and please check out my blog – Art Side of Life – for more buyer’s guides, articles, tutorials, artist interviews and tons of other resources for commercial artists, fine artists, art students and beginners, crafters and anybody else exploring their own creative side!

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

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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