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What Are the Best Colored Pencils for Drawing? (Full Guide)

What Are the Best Colored Pencils for Drawing? (Full Guide)

If I could give a list of the best colored pencils and best colored pencils brands, the below would be among my favorites:

  • Prismacolor Pencils 
  • Faber-Castell Grip Colored Pencils
  • Derwent Colored Pencils
  • Castle arts Colored Pencils 
  • Arteza Colored pencils 

While there are different types of colored pencils, I have come to trust these brands. 

Colored pencils are strongly recommended for any beginner artist. They will get you used to using complementary colors, creating unique tones and shades, and further developing your highlighting and shading skills.

For me, colored pencils were like a bridge to painting. They were much easier to deal with and using them required much less setup time, but they did help me learn the basics of using color in my artwork. 

Previously, my artwork was mainly in graphite and charcoal, but using color was a new world for me. 

If you are, like me, stubborn to try anything but graphite and charcoal, I can’t recommend trying colored pencils enough – especially if you want to venture into watercolor or painting.

In the post, we’ve compiled a list of our top recommendations for the best colored pencils and included a full guide on everything you need to know about it.

Table of Contents

    Our Recommendation for the Best Cheap Colored Pencils

    When it comes to finding high-quality and best colored pencils at an affordable price, Prismacolor is a top choice, and artists and students have trusted these pencils for years.

    The smooth, rich pigments making effortless layering and blending of Prismacolors make them ideal for your coloring activity in drawings. They are a good tool if you focus on bringing out or expressing your art with the vibrant colors it offers.

    These pencils are soft yet firm. But of course, because of their smooth and velvety texture, it is not as stiff as a graphite pencil, which is not ideal for detailed work. 

    What brand of colored pencils do artists use?

    Colored pencils are a common medium for artists who regularly purchase brands based on personal preference and the task. You often hear and see brands they use: Faber-Castell, Prismacolor,  Derwent, and Staedtler.

    And yes, the well-known best colored pencils are worth the popularity! An excellent variety of colors, textures, and compositions are available from these brands to suit many approaches, like oil-based and watercolor pencils.

    More of this will be discussed and shared with you as we give you our recommendations.

    Our Recommendations of the Best Colored Pencils for Drawing

    Castle Arts Colored Pencils 

    Castle Art Supplies 72 Colored Pencils Set

    First on the list is the Castle Arts which offers 72 richly colored pencils in a smart tin box arranged in three layers. 

    It has creamy, wax-based soft leads yet can withstand the pressure without breaking, thus, making it such a good tool for blending and layering. The pencils are easy to handle due to the enclosed basswood barrel and stay sharp even after long use.


    • Each pencil is named and numbered
    • You can sharpen it with a regular sharpener
    • It comes in a tin box
    • It comes with a fold-out tutorial


    • Less neutral colors
    • It can be too waxy for other users

    Prismacolor Pencils 

    Prismacolor Scholar Colored Pencils

    Here we are again, back at our top and favorite pick, Prismacolor Scholar Colored Pencils are designed for beginners. The velvety leads and vivid colors that the 60 pencils are perfect for blending and shading because of their softness and easy application on paper. 

    This version of their pencils is a great price break from their Premier ones, yet it works pretty well, and some even say they could not tell any difference.


    • It comes in a stand-up easel packaging
    • Affordable
    • Deep colors
    • Good for detailed coloring


    • Tend to break if too much pressure is applied

    Arteza Colored Pencils 

    Arteza 72 Colored Pencils

    This colored pencil is another wax-based one, the Arteza Colored Pencils. The 72 colors in the set are vibrant, and the pencils have a soft core to use, perfect for smooth shading, highlighting, and blending.

    The tin box that comes with it is excellent for storage and portability. All of these you can get at a reasonable price. 


    • It comes in a tin box
    • Each pencil is named and numbered


    • Too much pressure can cause a wax bloom at times

    Derwent Colored Pencils

    Derwent Chromaflow Colored Pencils (Set of 24)

    Derwent is one of the brands that are known for their high-quality colored pencils. Well, that is proven by the 24 pencils in this set. 

    The Derwent Chromaflow Colored Pencils are an additional line to their existing ones. As expected, it is super pigmented and has a smooth color laydown which is ideal for blending and layering, just like the others. 

    In terms of appearance, these pencils are unique in that they are encased in a black or blue barrel with gold details, and the end shows their colors.


    • It comes in a tin box
    • Each pencil is named and numbered
    • Soft-leaded


    • You might meet problems in sharpening 

    Faber-Castell Grip Colored Pencils

    Faber-Castell Grip Colored EcoPencils (Set of 24)

    Last on the list, but not with the quality, is the Faber-Castell. This brand is known for its excellent art materials and supplies, including colored pencils.

    The Faber-Castell Grip Colored EcoPencils feature a triangular barrel and grip dots. It is a great addition to a better grip and control, and also, you don’t have to worry about these pencils rolling off your tables. 

    These pencils have a rich color concentration for a beautiful, smooth lay-down color. However, you might need to put some pressure and layers while applying it. 


    • Grip dots in the pencil
    • Affordable
    • A fine set of colors


    • A bit waxy
    • Have a possibility of having wax blooms

    What are the best colored pencils for beginner artists?

    One of the best drawing materials for beginners is colored pencils, and a set of affordable, good-quality of it is a great place to start. Number one on our list is still our top pick, the Prismacolor Scholar Colored Pencils. As mentioned, it was designed for beginners, very easy to use at a very fair price. 

    All recommended brands above are excellent if you start exploring using colored pencils. Nonetheless, it is best to buy and to have a set of 12–24 pencils while starting, as it will provide enough colors to work with without overwhelming you with too many options.

    Different Types of Colored Pencils Explained

    picture of pencil leads

    Wax-based Colored Pencils vs Oil-based Colored Pencils

    Colored pencils of both the wax and oil varieties are popular among artists. Still, they work somewhat differently in terms of their properties and techniques. 

    Wax-based colored pencils are made with a mixture of pigments and wax. They are famous for their seamless blending ability, smooth laydown, and creation of shades and hues. This type of colored pencil is easy to erase, offers more selection of colors, and is much cheaper than oil-based ones.   

    But of course, it also has its downsides. Wax-based are prone to wax bloom, where the wax in the pencils rises to the paper’s surface and usually needs to be finished by a fixative.

    On the other hand, oil-based colored pencils are made with a mixture of pigments and oil and are more expensive. They may provide a more textured and layered look, and their bold, rich hues are a feature.

    It is also known for its lightfastness, meaning that its colors will last longer without fading but are more challenging to blend.

    Water-soluble pencils – Explained 

    Water-soluble pencils are also a type of colored pencil used to create various effects. 

    It is made possible by the water-soluble binder that enables the pigments to dissolve in water. You can then spread it when you draw with the dry pencils and blend it with a wet paintbrush or simply dip the pencil in water and brush it afterward. 

    They may be used to produce a variety of effects that are similar to watercolors, such as washes and gradations, and they can also be utilized to detail your painting and drawings.

    Soft vs Medium vs Hard Colored Pencils

    Like any other pencil type, there are three levels of lead hardness and softness available in colored pencils. These levels are soft, medium, and hard.

    Soft colored pencils have a softer lead. It is more creamy or velvety and gives a more significant color laydown than the rest- ideal for blending and layering. However, they tend to wear down more quickly than harder leads.

    If you want a firmer lead, the hard colored pencils 

    Lastly, the medium colored pencil is a compromise between the soft and the hard varieties of colored pencils. So if you like to have a colored pencil that is stiff enough yet feels softer than hard pencils, this pencil is for you. 

    Other Types of Colored Pencils 

    Color Sticks and Woodless Pencils

    Color sticks and woodless pencils are a form of colored pencil made of solid sticks of pigment and binder, instead of a wooden case like the traditional colored pencils. 

    Because of their versatility and wider diameter compared to typical colored pencils, you may use them to color more significant portions of your paper more quickly. They are also less likely to break or snap when you are using them.

    Pastel Pencils

    Pastel pencils are a type of colored pencil that is made from a mixture of -pure pigments- some are with chalk and a binder. 

    They are comparable to regular colored pencils, but their consistency is softer and more powdery, which enables more blending and layering and the colors are more vibrant.

    Qualities to Look for in Colored Pencils

    Qualities to Look for in Colored Pencils

    Quality Wood

    Look for the best colored pencils that are made from high-quality wood. A pleasant grip and effortless drawing are the benefits of a pencil made from lightweight, durable wood.


    Pay close attention to the range of colors available and the quality of the pigments when choosing colored pencils. Select colored pencils that provide a wide variety of deep, rich hues that are also very lightfast to ensure that your work will last long.


    Always look out for the quality of construction and the materials used in your colored pencils. A durable and best colored pencil should last for a long time, especially when used regularly.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Kind of Paper to Use with Colored Pencils

    When creating artwork with colored pencils, the kind of paper you work on may significantly impact your artwork’s outcome. Different types of paper may work better with different kinds of colored pencils.

    For wax and oil-based colored pencils, high-quality and heavy-weight paper with a textured surface is recommended. You may build up layers and combine colors smoothly on this paper.

    For water-soluble colored pencils, it is best to use watercolor paper. This kind of paper is designed to absorb and retain water effectively. When mixed with water, colored pencils on watercolor paper, which has a surface with very little texture, provide rich colors and help the markings adhere nicely.

    Other Recommend Items for Colored Pencils

    There are a few extra tools you can use with colored pencils that can help you improve your drawing efficiently. These tools include:

    1. Colored pencil eraser: These erasers are specifically designed for use with colored pencils and work well whenever you need to erase a mistake or tone down the boldness of a mark. If unavailable, you can also use a kneaded or regular eraser.
    2. Tortillon or Blending Stump: This tool makes it possible to combine colored pencil marks and produce seamless color transitions or blending.
    3. Pencil sharpener: A must-have for maintaining the tip of your colored pencils sharpened so you can create clean, precise lines and shading.
    4. Paintbrush/Watercolor brush: These tools are specifically for water-soluble pencils. It is used to blend and soften the colors of water-soluble colored pencils.

    What’s the Best Way to Sharpen Colored Pencils?

    What’s the Best Way to Sharpen Colored Pencils?

    Since the lead of the colored pencils is fragile compared to graphite pencils, the best way to sharpen colored pencils is needed.

    For softer leads, it is better to use a kraft knife or a hand sharpener but do it more carefully.  

    You can also use the same tool for the hard-leaded pencils, or a metal sharpener could be good. Despite being made of wax or oil, hard-colored pencils are more similar to traditional leads. With that, you can sharpen your colored pencils like how you do with your regular graphite pencils.

    Note: Rotate the pencil and not the sharpener itself. 

    Best Colored Pencils for Blending 

    The best colored pencils for blending are of a high and soft grade, have a creamy consistency, and include an excellent pigment concentration that combines your colors smoothly. If your colored pencils check all the said characteristics, you have the best ones in your hands.

    In the end, everything boils down to one’s personal preferences. Colored pencils come in various brands and varieties, each of which has distinctive features and properties. What we have recommended above works very well for us and might help you find yours too!

    What Are the Best Colored Pencils for Drawing? – Conclusion

    The best colored pencils for drawing are high quality and offer a wide range of colors, good pigmentation, and smooth blending. 

    Based on research and favorites, some top choices for quality and versatility include Prismacolor, Castle Arts, Arteza, Derwent, and Faber-Castell Grip Colored Pencils.

    Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Still, trying out different brands and types of pencils is essential to find the ones that work best for you.

    For more detailed information, you can always reach out to us. We will happily guide you in finding the perfect colored pencils for your artwork.

    Thanks for reading, and see you in the next one!

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