Best Premium Colored Pencils for Artists

This post is for helping colored pencil artists to choose best-colored pencils momently available, and we have covered more than five top brands! And we will start with most famous colored pencils, Prismacolor which many people call the best.
best-colored-pencils-prismacolorWhy does Prismacolor Premier Soft Core are known as one of the best-colored pencils? And if you look at a price they are on a higher level of prices. But out there are many artists that don’t hesitate to spend hundreds of dollars on a big set of Prismacolor Premier Soft Core.
The reason is that when you try them, you become aware of limitless that they gave you. And also, you will discover possibilities that you don’t have with some others colored pencils.
The best examples for that are many artists itself, magicians that use those best-colored pencils the best way possible. Some of those artists we have listed in this article, but they are just a little piece of the colony. A colony of great artists that uses Prismacolor colored pencils.

Many beginners are jumping into the world of colored pencils, and many are coming back from this world disappointed. And the reason is only one, wrong choice of colored pencils. When we look to all of those drawings on  Instagram, Deviantart and many other social platforms we see vibrant color and life-full artworks. But the trick is that only a few best brands can give you that and among those best are Prismacolor. Maybe this sounds hilarious, like a big commercial for Prismacolor for best colored pencils. But this is just the truth; you must try it before you can believe it. Wax that was mixed into the color gives that unique capability to blend smoothly and to hide or reduce pencil lines that we all create during drawing.

But the trick is that only a few best brands can give you that and among those best are Prismacolor. Maybe this sounds hilarious, like a big commercial for Prismacolor for best colored pencils. But this is just the truth; you must try it before you can believe it. Wax that was mixed into the color gives that unique capability to blend smoothly and to hide or reduce pencil lines that we all create during drawing.

Soft colored pencils like Prismacolor Premier Soft Core are great to blend, and there are many ways to blend.

For Prismacolor, colored pencils are many approaches of blending them, and it is recommended to all beginners to watch videos how to blend. Or even better if you have an artist close to you that uses Prismacolor colored pencils, that would be the best way to learn.

The most common way is with Prismacolor colorless blender pencil, with this pencil you get beautiful burnish on the paper. But that is not the only way of blending colors, there’re few more tricks how you can get excellent blended colors.

Another way is with solvents, and alcohol in the Prismacolor colorless marker is maybe the safest way. Alcohol inside of a marker is acting as a solvent and enables us to dissolve the binders at the colored pencils.

The neat thing about this marker that was made with double tip, one thinner and one thicker. With thinner, you can do area where you need precision and with thicker, you will able to work better and faster on larger areas.

The neat thing about this marker that was made with double tip, one thinner and one thicker. With thinner, you can do area where you need precision and with thicker, you will able to work better and faster on larger areas.

Another way is using solvent Gamblin Gamsol odorless mineral spirits, and this is a stunning technique. Once you get comfortable with this method, you can blend colors very quickly.

I recommend that you watch the video below so you can get an idea of this method, and then you can decide which technique of blending you will use. This method is also excellent if you have coloring pages for adults, there are a lot of subtle details that can be blended very nicely. And if you ever have a chance to have one coloring page for adults in front of you, then you know what I’m talking about.

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Read next: Coloring Pages For Adults
Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored PencilsBut let’s return to Prismacolor colored pencil, and what is necessary for every colored pencil. We believe that there’re a few important things, things you must take into consider.

  1. [alert-success]Comfortable handling – the body must be thick enough because with pencils we must do some fine details. Without good grip that is not possible, so the right body is important.[/alert-success]
  2. [alert-success]Vibrant and pigment rich color – and Prismacolor is known by dynamic and pigment rich color[/alert-success]
  3. [alert-success]A wide variety of color palette – Prismacolor in color palette has 150+ colors. This color palette is good you may say, but sometimes you could be lost which to choose.[/alert-success]
  4. [alert-success]Natural layering and blending – well what to say they are created for layering. And with correct technique of blending you can create masterpieces.[/alert-success]

Now that you know what you must look, you must know there are different sets of Prismacolor colored pencils. There are different sizes of sets, so you can choose among 12, 24. 36, 48, 60, 72, 96, 132, 150 sets.

And also with a solid lead, know as Premier Verithin. And they are perfect for details because you can sharpen core to sharp tip. And then you can use them for fine details, clean lines and even blend. And you will also have rich and vibrant colors, don’t be fooled that they will have weaker pigment. They will not! And for Premier Verithin, there are also the different size of sets in 12, 24 and 36.

Things you should know before you jump in Prismacolor world of colored pencils

  • They are expensive, but you can quickly return investment by selling your artworks online
  • You must handle very gentle with them if they fall soft lead can quickly snap
  • If you use hand sharpener, you could easily destroy and over sharpen them, invest in some good electric sharpener with auto stop

And on the end fun part, fantastic artists that use best-colored pencils. I have picked few of the best that can be f on the internet. I hope you will become one of those amazing artists, so go and enjoy your Prismacolor pencils!

We have praised Prismacolor colored pencils, and we have some cons, and we have listed some cons and pros about them.
But we have few more players that are aiming first place, and this a tight competition. If you are following some of the colored pencils artists, you will notice that not all of them uses Prismacolor, many of them use Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils. Also, you can see Derwent Coloursoft, Caran d’Achesome Pablos, Mitsubishi and some others brands.

Also, you can see Derwent Coloursoft, Caran d’Achesome Pablos, Mitsubishi and some others brands.
And the thing is that they all are great colored pencils, and you should be aware of this.
And this is the point where you will have to test. Unfortunately, there is no article on the Internet that can pick colored pencils for you. This is a daunting task which you must do to get best colored pencils, the ones that suit your needs.
So what is recommend to do is to buy small sets from each of one’s, or buy few of them. Yes, you can buy them in open stock. So buy few colors, and test them. After you decide which are best colored pencils for you, then get bigger sets.

Faber Castell Polychromos line of great colored pencils

Faber Castell colored pencils

Faber-Castell Polychromos are a well-known brand, with production since 1761. And many professional artists choose this name, and we will list few of them later in the article. Faber-Castell is Europen brand but is known to the whole world.

What is important to learn about Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils?

  • They have harder lead from Prismacolor – which is known as soft colored pencils. In another hand, that means they will need less sharpening, fewer expenses. That also means you will spend less time on sharpening, and more on the drawing.
  • Lead is oil based – Also, it is bonded to barrels, and that is an advantage. If your pencil breaks inside of the pen, the bond between lead and wood will hold together. Faber-Castell calls this SV-bonding, and they apply to the entire length of every pencil. This technology decreases breakability and for users, this means easier work. Because you don’t have to be ultra careful when you switch pencils, and all because of bonding.
  • Blending with Polychromos you can apply very well. You can do without a problem using same techniques of blending like for Prismacolor; you will notice that colors are no so color rich.
  • There is entirely 120 color variety of Faber-Castell Polychromos.

And those differences are a good thing because we have a variety of colored pencils to choose. For instance, Polychromos are great for fine details, solid leads allowing us that. Prismacolor is soft, and you will need a lot of patience for fine details. That means a different approach, and that’s leads to different artist and artworks.
Also, you must know that paper you use can make a difference, so this is also a significant factor in testing. Test with different types of paper for colored pencils, you will be surprised with results.
We recommend Polychromos highly because they are first direct competitor to Prismacolor colored pencils. For many people, they are above Prismacolors.
You only must give a go to them, and feel them. True they are different by hardness, and colors are because of that less vivid. But Polychromos has been known for excellent layering capabilities. So you can quickly build up your colors to pop out with few more layers.
Faber-Castell Polychromos you can find in different sets, in metal, plastic and wood cases.
Smaller sets are assorted in various packages so that you can pick among 12, 24 and 36 pieces case.
In the small 12 pieces case, you will get the most usable colored pencils and for beginner journey with Faber-Castell Polychromos that is more than enough.

Later you can upgrade to bigger sets, and get more from them. If you plan to test Polychromes, then this is recommend set to get.
The case is a thin metal, and this is the only version available. It is recommended to keep them inside of the case when they are not in use because case holds them in place. And that give us protection from the breaking of the tip and lead inside of colored pencils.
24 pieces Faber-CastellSet of 24 colored Polychromos pencils regularly gives you more freedom in creation, and with this sets, you can jump into some serious drawing projects. Or like many users of colored pencils, you can color some colored pages for adults. Which is known as an excellent exercise for learning of coloring and blending, and using of layers.
The case is also metal thin, the difference from 12 pieces set is only by size. And of course, 12 more colors that are added to this set, which gives us great specter of colors to work.

And here we come to 36 pieces set, one of the most popular among people that overgrown beginner stages of drawing. With a range of 36 colors in your arsenal, you can do advanced projects easily, and that is the reason this set is most attractive.

The range of warm and cold colors in the box allows you to draw portraits or landscapes; there are no obstacles because you have enough of colors to start and finish your artwork.
With 36 pieces sets you get two versions of packing, the first is standard metal thin. And there is another known Studio Set, it is made with two-level storage. Which allows you easy and fast access to your pencils. The case is made of durable plastic and with the size of 6 x 1 x 7.2 inches it can fit in any bag without taking too much space.

It is important to say that this set is enough for a start of your professional artworks. It is not necessary to go on larger 60 pieces sets or even the biggest best colored pencils set of 12o pieces, you simply will get everything with this set.
The truth is that Faber-Castell Polychromos are a little bit pricey, but what you get for return is professional finest artist quality. You will get luminous, long-lasting colored pencils, with amazingly high pigment concentration. They are worth every penny you invest in them, and return will be your satisfaction.

If you wish to go high professional, then it is recommended to go for 60 pieces set or even bigger. You will get access to colors which you will never get in smaller sets, entirely new level. And this is something that professional artists will know how to use it.
For example professional artist of pets, Danielle is using the full range of colored pencils, and her portraits of animals are known as masterpieces.

So you wish to be a professional artist?
Faber Castell colored pencils metal tinThen 120 pieces set of Faber Castell Polychromos is something you should go for like every profession need to have all tools for all possible projects. The same professional artist must have all tools; you never known what will be your new project.

So waiting could be time and money costing if your work is commissioned like Danielle. Dannielle for sure can’t afford to have only for example 36 pieces set, because the range of colors change with every new project she has.
Another thing to consider is that you can rely on the brand altogether because you don’t wish to have color differences every time you refresh your stash.

With Faber-Castell Polychromos, you will always get the same high-quality colored pencils, with same pigment concentration.
Also, they are very accessible. You can get them in most of the art shops, or online. So you will never have trouble to refresh your stash of best colored pencils! The bad rate for this set is that you must invest little more money than is some others brands, but this is a one-time investment. Later when you spend the most used pencils, you can buy only the you missing.
Cases for this biggest size are made differently, and they are available in two versions.
First is a metal case with three storage level and all three levels you can take out from the case and have access to all of them.

The second version is the wooden case. Thewooden case of Faber-Castell Polychromos is a different story, better story.
wooden case Faber Castell PolysIf you like to have all in order, and accessible. Then the wooden wenge-stained case is the choice for you. It has two levels of storage, and you can access them by opening the case lid.
So, we have here two level storage, and the metal case has three. That means that with the wooden case you will need less space, and for metal, you will probably need more of your working space.

And constant moving out and in could lead to an accidental fall. And I’m sure that is the last thing that every colored pencil artist needs.


The versatility of colors and the rich pigment is all that every colored pencil artist wish. Faber Castell Polychromos have all that and more; they are recognized brand among semi-professional and professional artists.
If you think that you should go to next level with your art, Faber Castell Polychromos are one of the best colored pencils to choose.
High price maybe is the biggest reason many of artist are not using them, but those that invest in them they are loyal to them and they recommend Polychromos highly.
Faber-Castell has produced hundred of millions of pencils since 1761, and they do that with care. For a production of every pencil from start to the end, they spend one week, and that is the main reason of high quality and, unfortunately, bigger price.
For instance test of breakability is done manually by the worker, there is no machine involved in this test.
Faber-Castell Polychromos are aiming to satisfy high artist expectation, and since 1761, they fulfilled expectation many times.

Derwent Coloursoft Colour Pencils

We have mentioned two brands that are most popular, and most colored pencil artists are choosing them. But the thing is that we can’t stop on those two brand. We came to the brand which is little bit under-rated

Derwent Coloursoft Colour Pencils is a brand with long history, and they simply must be in this review. But some differences must be marked because factors important like the hardness of pencils and color pigment concentration vary a lot from Prismacolor and Faber Castell.
Important to know about Derwent Coloursoft Colored Pencils

  • They are softer from Prismacolor and Faber Castell; artists says they are like 6B
  • Wax based
  • Because of softness, they are excellent for blending, and that leads to beautiful vivid colors after blending.
  • The lead itself is thicker allowing us to get stability, which is the reason is breakability very small.
  • Some of darker you will maybe be missing
  • Strong vibrant pigmentation
  • Recommend for portraits and anime artist
  • Softness lead to shorter lifetime
  • Sturdy construction
  • Barrel is thicker than on others brands; it is 8 mm thick, and most of others are with 7.5 mm barrel

They are great color pencils, and many artists have them. But rarely as a first choice, they are more like a backup. But don’t get this wrong, out there is a colony of artist that uses this brand, and we will list few of them.They also work good with other brands, and it is not unusual to have among Prismacolor set of Derwent Coloursoft colored pencils. Especially the ones that have better lightfast from other.
But once again they are great even if you choose them as a first choice, you can find many artworks done with them. The thing is they are a very bright palette of colors, and if you are an artist who is searching for bright colors. Then this would be the best colored pencils for your needs.
And this is the reason many artists are not picking up this brand, but if you are comic art artist for instance, then they are your best choice.
Derwent Coloursoft is a most famous product, but not the only one from Derwent. They also cover others area of artist needs, so you can also get harder colored pencils from them.

Available Sets of Derwent Coloursoft

With good brand comes good packages, and that is crucial. If you invest in such an expensive art supplies then for sure you need enough storage, and primary storage is the best.
Derwent Coloursoft comes in many different sizes; mainly all great brands comes like that.
So you can pick 12 pieces set which is a metal tin box, and you can check the palette by clicking on the image. You can notice that you are getting primary colors.
Derwent Coloursoft Colour Pencils 24 pieces setNext available set is 24 pieces, and they are also protected by a metal tin box. The good thing about those small tin boxes is that you can bring them anywhere with you, they for sure will not take a lot of your space in the bag.

Derwent Coloursoft Colour Pencils 36 pieces setAnother excellent set is 36 pieces setof colored pencils, which is also the most popular among artist which prefer this brand.
The reason for these is same as for other brands of Faber Castell Polychromos, with this set you can easily cover all range of art project. And palette of whooping 36 colors allows you that. If you are starting with some serious drawing projects, and you are on the budget, then this is recommended set for you.
And now we are entering into the higher league of colored pencils sets, sets for serious art projects.
72 pieces set is the biggest available set from Derwent, and you can notice that this is something very unusual. Prismacolor and Faber Castell have sets above 120+ colored pencils.
Well, Derwent color have only 72.
Now you probably will ask, is that enough? Yea, it is sufficient. You are getting all possible range of colors, and the only difference from Prismas and Polys is in little hues you get with them. Those differences are rarely noticeable, and the thing is that they are often not used.

Derwent has made the set of 72 most suitable colors that artist use, they will not sell something you will never need. And that is an excellent move by Derwent, it is budget friendly for artists.
Derwent also has collections sets, which are sorted by artist needs. For example, you can pick collection sets for portraits, with all colors of all color skins.
Or if you are a wild animal artist then you can buy colored pencil set just for this kind of art projects, and because of softness, they are ideal for this kind of artworks. Your fur or feather will look natural and lifelike with them.


Should you get this set? Yes and no.
Yes if you need a very bright palette of colors, and you wish to get similar colored pencils like Prismacolor but much cheaper. You can get for less money almost the same quality! They are soft and very easy to blend, and great with layering.

And no goes if you wish to have more than 72 colors, and also you go for super high details on your drawing. You can make it real, but that will be a very very hard task. And if you can choose among Prismacolor and Derwent we recommend Prismacolor as your first choice. If you need details on your drawings then go for Faber Castell Polychromos, they can ensure precision you need.
No, if you have a standard pencil sharpener because they are little thicker from other brands. You need sharpener with a bigger hole for this brand of colored pencils or with changeable holes. X-Acto has one champ among pencil sharpeners, which allows you to change diameters of holes. And the price is super small!