Art Supply Comparison: Coloured Pencils

My coloured pencil comparison post has been moved to my dedicated art blog at You can find the comparison post here.


About Rebecca J Fleming

Some random geek on the Internet who likes playing with coloured things. Also, I like to put Easter eggs in the microwave.
This entry was posted in Fine Art, Graphics, Non-Fiction, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Art Supply Comparison: Coloured Pencils

  1. Sharyn Wallace says:

    I also like playing with coloured things and appreciate the time you’ve put into doing so. Have you done any comparisons on pastel pencils perchance?

    • Hi Sharyn, thank you for your comment. I haven’t really used any pastel pencils aside from the old formula Derwent ones, which I found a bit too hard and scratchy for my liking; I have heard that the new formula is softer. Given Derwent’s issues with lightfastness in most of their lines, I would probably not buy their pastel pencils. I am considering getting some Faber-Castell PITT pastel pencils, which I believe are more lightfast (though they have a smaller range of colours). I will probably do a product review on those if/when I get them.

      • Sharyn Wallace says:

        Thanks for your prompt reply. I also am looking at the Pitt pencils after having done some research. Will let you know when I do and give feedback. Happy colouring! Sharyn

  2. Pingback: Art Supply Comparison: Water-Soluble Crayons and Pastels | Dragons, Demons and Darkness

  3. Helen J says:

    One of the most useful comparisons I’ve seen of the different coloured pencils, thank you very much!

  4. Heather Jones says:

    Really, really helpful, thank you. Was just about to spend a LOT of money on a very large set! The fading issue would have been a real disappointment. I am now rethinking my purchase. You have saved me a lot of money, thank you and well done.

  5. Thanks for the comments, all. I did end up getting a set of PITT pastels, but haven’t really had a chance to use them yet. Although, considering how badly the other FC pencils have faded, I’d be wary of using them on anything permanent anyway. I suppose there are those who might say “Well no one would realistically leave a piece of art stuck to a sunny window for months, so the test is invalid” and their argument would have some merit. That being said, I’m sure that most artists, given the option of pencils that fade and pencils that don’t, will go for the latter.

  6. Juha-Pekka Kuusela says:

    PITT have better lightfastness in someareas in manufacturer tests but in not all. like almost all greens have only one star. and your test says soemthing about these tests what manufactrers do.
    ps. Confirm fact i discontinue any even little serious use for Derwent Graphitint. and i also going focus and thinking now use only cheap watersoluble coloured pencils or wait one other test what says which hues i can safely use… but based older tests about this lightfastness thing says almost all hues what my style needs is impossible use serious works. and for example luminance range is not suitable my style fully. i need more flower hues. and funny and weird thing some pencils use good pigments (like blue what is used most derwent pencils i think) but still fading.

  7. Ash says:

    Dearest Rebecca,

    Thank you so very much for your most comprehensive article – one of few on the internet that directly compares the Faber Castell Polychromos and Albrecht Durer coloured pencils.

    Please may I ask you how they compare to each other? I know you touched on them both being nearly identical with the Polychromos being slightly more vivid and blending better.

    I am an architecture student and urgently need to purchase a full pack of one of the two (alas, sadly, I have not the budget to buy them both), and have had experience using the brilliant Polychromos in the past along with Prismacolor (Berol) Verithins and Scholars, Caran D’Ache Classicolors and several comparatively terrible Derwents (Studio and Coloursofts).

    Albrecht Durer’s are incredibly hard to find loose here in the UK, so I can’t test them without buying the pack first 😦

    I am a novice to watercolour, but like the fact that the Albrecht Durer pencils are able to be used wet or dry. My question is, please, how do they both compare when used dry? Are the Polychromos far easier to use and much less scratchy/provide more dense and opaque colour?

    From your comparisons, it seems much harder to achieve an even or consistent shade in the Durers (much more of the paper seems to be visible below, suggesting a ‘block’ of colour of any intensity is much harder to achieve without water).

    Crucially, please, are the non-wetted Durers as easy to erase as the Polychromos?

    Thank you enormously in advance.

    Kind regards,


    Architecture student,
    Rainy Pommyland.

    • Susana Smith says:

      Hi Ash

      What did you decide between the two types of pencil? Just trying to decide myself before spending a considerable amount on FC Albrecht Durers.

    • Hi Ash,

      Apologies for my delayed reply – I do most of my art blogging on my new blog now at and don’t check this blog that often. I know this reply is too late to help you now but for others who are interested:

      I found that Albrecht Durer and the Polychromos felt almost identical when used dry (perhaps the Polychromos were SLIGHTLY smoother than the AD, but the difference is almost negligible). I think the difference in scratchiness of my swatches was more down to me using different pressure than differences between the pencils themselves.

      In terms of erasing the pencils, I just tested them with both a vinyl eraser and a kneadable eraser.the vinyl eraser left ugly marks with both pencils (not too surprising), but when I used the vinyl eraser, the Polychromos lifted a lot easier than the AD (it was almost like the AD ‘stained’ the paper a bit more). That being said, even the Polychromos still left some of its colour behind after being erased.

  8. dugald38 says:

    This is a great resource, thanks so much for writing it! Very useful information, especially for the beginner. I too have a problem with the accidental purchasing of art supplies so can totally identify! Have tried all of the Derwent range other than the watercolour pencils and just succumbed to purchasing the Polychromos after trying them out in an art shop the other day. I need to stop buying pencils!! Am a total beginner but keen to get better and the quality of the pencil really does make a difference.

  9. Susana Smith says:

    Hi Rebecca

    I would love to read your response to Ash’s question above … I have Polychromos pencils and am thinking of buying Albrecht Durers after reading many positive reviews, apart from yours. Regards

    • Hi Susana,

      I have replied to Ash’s question above.

      Also, something I forgot to add in my last comment was that watercolour pencils in general seem to be noticeably less lightfast than coloured pencils that aren’t water soluble, especially in areas where water has been applied. There are some brands of watercoloured pencil (for example Caran d’Ache’s Museum line) which are supposed to be much more lightfast, but they are also much more expensive (and I haven’t tried them myself so I can’t say how accurate their claims of lightfastness are).

      Personally – and this is just a personal opinion, other artists may have valid reasons for disagreeing – I don’t think I would use watercolour pencils on works that were going to be displayed in the open for long periods of time and that I didn’t want to fade. I suspect most would be okay if they were kept in a closed sketchbook or storage though (except for the Graphitint, which in my view should only be used in work that will be scanned and stored/distributed digitally)

      I have also done more detailed reviews of the Graphitint and Inktense pencils (as well as a few other pencils) on my new blog at since this post (though they more or less align with my comments in this post).

  10. Maria says:

    In conclusion, if money is not a problem, which of these brands are the most lightfast?

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