Colored pencils have evolved from the basic set to sets of different types and consistencies. All of these can be very confusing, especially for beginner colorists. To help you navigate this wonderful world of colors, we have prepared a buying guide and a list of the top 10 recommended items. We'll also share some tips to keep in mind when you use your pencils.
Here's a discussion of the different types of colored pencils and how to know which one is best for you to get you started. We hope this guide will help you narrow down your options and make a really great purchase that fits you.
There are three types of colored pencils: wax-based, oil-based, and watercolor. Each type has its own characteristics, so choose one depending on your needs.
Wax-based colored pencils have wax as the binder for their pigments. They are the most common type of colored pencils in the market due to their cost and versatility, making them the perfect choice for beginners. They can cover a wide range of grades, from the kinds used by children to the more sophisticated versions used in art schools.
Wax-based pencils make lighter marks on paper compared to the other types. They are also prone to wax bloom, a natural oxidation process that occurs in wax-based materials. This results in a hazy white film developing over the surface of the drawing.
Oil-based colored pencils have oil as the binder for their pigments. They are much more specialized than wax-based pencils and require some skill to use effectively because they smear easily. They are highly-pigmented, and each stroke you make will lay down a vibrant mark.
The smooth blending that comes with an oil-based colored pencil makes it a joy to use and will make your work look more sophisticated. They are also softer than watercolor pencils, which makes for easier color layering. They are very versatile and can be enjoyed by both kids and adults.
However, the high pigmentation and the better finish it gives makes it a more expensive choice than wax-based pencils. And you must be careful not to make mistakes, too – oil-based pencil marks are not easy to erase, and you will need a special blur tool to do so.
The best feature of watercolor pencils is that it is water-soluble, making it easier to blend. It doesn’t require a blurring tool like the oil-based ones – all you need is a wet watercolor brush, and you can make gradations with it. The lead is usually hard, making it easier to draw details and fine lines like eyelashes or cat’s fur.
The beauty of watercolor pencils lies in their dual purpose. It’s a drawing medium and a painting medium in one. You can choose to color a drawing and leave it as it is, and because it has no wax in it, you won’t have to worry about waxy films on your drawing. Alternatively, you can activate the color with a brush and turn it into a soft, watercolor look.
The downside is that they have lower pigmentation than oil-based pencils and can be trickier for beginners to use. It requires more patience since you have to add more layers to make the colors more vibrant.
Colored pencils come in sets of 12, 24, 36, with some sets reaching up to 100 colors or more. It is best to check your needs and level before committing to a purchase. For a child’s coloring book, a 12-color set might be good enough, but for adults’ coloring books, a 36-color set might be better in order to express subtle and delicate shades.
Sets of more than 36 colors are bigger and harder to bring along. For beginners and for those who plan to sketch outside, it will be best to choose a 36-color set. If you find yourself looking for more colors, then perhaps that is the time to make a bigger purchase.
Colored pencil cores can be hard, medium, and soft. The hard ones have less pigmentation but are good for drawing fine lines, so we recommend these for detailed coloring/sketching. Soft-core pencils are more vibrant and are great for coloring a wide area, though they tend to shed pigment powder.
You need to keep in mind, though, that these factors will be dependent on your pen pressure or coloring style, so the lead softness is just your guide.
Having said that, it is best to test them out first before purchasing them, but it is rare to find colored pencils that may be tested. If there are products sold separately, try buying just one and test them out before purchasing a set to make sure it matches your style.
One problem with colored pencil sets is that some will be used more often and become shorter more quickly than the others. The solution to this is to choose brands that sell pencils separately so you can just buy the colors that you need instead of purchasing another whole set.
You can choose single pencils from other brands too, but for those who find the small differences in pigmentation and lead softness uncomfortable, we suggest buying a set from a brand that sells single colored pencils.
We will now show you the top 10 colored pencils available in the market. Keep in mind the pointers we discussed, and hopefully they will guide you in finding the perfect colored pencils for you.
Set of 72
Set of 36
Set of 24
Set of 30
Set of 24
Set of 12
Set of 72
Set of 24
Set of 48
Set of 30
Premier Soft Core Colored Pencil
Supracolor Soft Colored Pencils
Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils
Karat Aquarell 156 Watercolor Pencils
Professional Oil Colored Pencils
Luna Colored Pencils
Classic Colour Pencils
Twistable Colored Pencils
Very Vibrant and Smooth Application
Strong and Creamy Colored Pencils
Versatile Water-Soluble Pencil
Soft and Vivid Colors
Oil-Based and Watercolor in One Pencil
Easy Grip and Bright Colors
Beautiful Blending on a Budget
A Solid and Sturdy Choice for Beginners
Very Affordable with Great Quality
Colored Pencils That Need No Sharpening!
Colored pencils can be tricky to work with at first if you want to produce artwork that has depth and richness in it. Here are a few ways you can use your pencils to make eye-catching art:
There is so much you can do with your free time. If you want to get really artsy and get into drawing and painting, here are some articles we’re sure you’ll love.
Coloring is a great way to explore your creative side. It can be an engaging way to relax and relieve stress, especially if you're armed with the colored pencils that best suit your taste, needs, and skill level.
We hope this guide has helped you understand how to choose the best colored pencils for you. With so many great products out there, you’re sure to find the perfect match that will get your creative juices flowing!
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