Are Prismacolor Pencils Really Better?

Reported By Gina Krupsky

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I had to do it. How could I not do it? There I was standing in the middle of that big-box department store watching my girls digging through those bins of glue sticks, scissors and brightly colored notebooks when I spotted them.

Colored pencils. Huge boxes of them! For $3.99? So what’s the deal? A pencil is a pencil is a pencil, right?

My girls chuckled as we checked out because this year, their mom had a basket of school supplies too.

As soon as I got those pencils home, I had to play. I had to see for myself if my Prismacolor Pencils were worth the fortune I paid for them.

I decided to begin by stamping an image side by side in black Stazon ink. (Rubber stamp by Sarah Beise.)

The first thing that disappointed me was when I opened the box of RoseArt pencils, most of the points were broken off. On the other hand, my Prismacolor Pencils didn’t even have points right out of the box so I had to sharpen them too. The Crayola pencils were all perfectly pointed. (That is a bit of a plus when you can’t wait to get started.)

Then, I searched each box, including my Prismacolor Pencils for the most vibrant red. Red is a very important color and it’s one of the hardest colors to create. According to the paint on the outside of the pencils, all of these were going to be very red!

The Crayola one actually looked like it would be the most pure red of them all. The others looked a little dark.

Then, I began to color.

The RoseArt pencil actually felt really good. It lay down color nicely and felt waxy. (That’s important to Odorless Mineral Spirits.) But the color had a lot of pink in it. It was not a true red.

The Crayola Pencil surprised me the most. It was really pink. No matter how much color I layered on, it was still pink. There was NO red in that Crayola box, anywhere! It felt good but not as waxy. I already knew it wouldn’t blend as well by the way it felt.

My Prismacolor Pencil was by far the best feeling and most vibrant red of the bunch. Even the very first light shading of color was true red.

After I blended the color with blending stumps and Odorless Mineral Spirits, here was my result.

My opinion is that you get what you pay for. If you want a top of the line product, true artist blendability and a fabulous selection of the most vibrant colors, the Prismacolor Pencils are the way to go. They are worth the kidney, for sure.

That being said, if you are just starting out and want to add a large selection of colored pencils to your supplies but have a very limited budget, you will not be disappointed at all with the RoseArt brand. They feel nice on the paper, they blend well with odorless mineral spirits and they will give you almost everything you need to practice and learn this technique. Just make sure you have a pencil sharpener. And since Prismacolor Pencils do come in singles, pick up your very own PC923- Scarlet Lake Red. That one, you can’t live without.

As for the Crayolas? They’ll be going 4th grade this year.

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31 Responses to Are Prismacolor Pencils Really Better?

  1. Avatar
    Libby August 27, 2007 at 7:55 am #

    Very interesting report! Glad to know my Prismacolors weren’t a foolish purchase. 🙂

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    IamSusie August 27, 2007 at 8:00 am #

    My children’s school requires Crayola brand instead of Rose Art. This is somewhjat irritating, but the Crayola crayons really are superior to Rose Art.

  3. Avatar
    Aunt T August 27, 2007 at 8:46 am #

    Great commentary. I’m also glad to know that my Prisma’s were a worthwhile purchase 🙂


  4. Avatar
    StamperSharon August 27, 2007 at 8:48 am #

    Great comparison and article, Gina!

  5. Avatar
    Littlekel90 August 27, 2007 at 8:48 am #

    This is really good info to know! Thanks, Gina! I too was wondering if it would be worth my time (and very little expense) to try out Crayola when I was shopping for school supplies this year. Alas, I left them at the store for lack of time right now to try them. Thanks again. Great tutorial. LOL

  6. Avatar
    Lynn Mercurio August 27, 2007 at 8:50 am #

    Thanks so much for the awesome comparison. I feel much better (since I’ve already spent money on Prismacolor pencils) that I made the right choice!

  7. Avatar
    Lisa C. August 27, 2007 at 8:53 am #

    interesting research, I have been using crimson red as a nice red color, will have to try out the other though. Thanks!

  8. Avatar
    Cathy August 27, 2007 at 8:58 am #

    Wow! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this comparison on the products. This will save alot of time and money for all the stampers out there. Now all the stampers that reads this will have that extra money for your Stamp With A Cause stamp sets. (tee hee)

  9. Avatar
    Dawn Easton August 27, 2007 at 9:03 am #

    haha…thanks for the test! I do let my daughter stamp and colour with me but she uses her Crayola pencil crayons. I let her use my minerals to blend though. She’ll be taking her Crayola’s to school too!

  10. Avatar
    CindyR August 27, 2007 at 9:06 am #

    Great report Gina. Thanks for taking time to show the difference to us. I need to find out where i can purchase some of these Prismacolors!!

  11. Avatar
    Anonymous August 27, 2007 at 9:23 am #

    I don’t think needing a pencil sharpener is as much as a negative as you make it sound.

    You need the pencil sharpener with all of them. I use my sharpener a ton with my Prismas because they are so soft and don’t keep the edge I like for long.

  12. Avatar
    Mo Moss August 27, 2007 at 9:24 am #

    As usual, you make me feel good about myself and my shopping. I looked at the pencils while my grandchildren were picking out their supplies. I do have a set of Prismacolor and like them a whole lot. I also bought a set of Derwent before our friend Amy sent us for Primsacolor. I keep reading about the copics pens but have enough trouble with my Prismacolor pens. Will not budge on that. Thanks for the commentary. All the more for your stamps.

  13. Avatar
    Keri Lee August 27, 2007 at 9:31 am #

    Gina you totally rock! This is a great demonstration for those who do not understand pigment to filler ratios!!!

    Glad that was some money worth spent!! LOL

  14. Avatar
    Julesiana August 27, 2007 at 9:49 am #

    THANK YOU!!!!!
    I have always wondered what the difference would be. (I am a FIRM believer in “you get what you pay for” so I often go without).

    These look like an AWESOME investment for my kids!! Rose Art Pencils–here we come (but mama is still holding out for prismas 😀 )!!

  15. Avatar
    Melissa August 27, 2007 at 10:33 am #

    Awesome report! I have yet to dip into the pencil market, but this was VERY informative!

  16. Avatar
    tammy b August 27, 2007 at 11:07 am #

    nice to see how the crayola and roseart stack up against eachother. thanks for the info

  17. Avatar
    Christi August 27, 2007 at 11:37 am #

    Thank you so much for this post. I felt so bad spending the money I did for the Prismacolors but now I know that it was money well spent. 🙂

  18. Avatar
    Juanita August 27, 2007 at 11:55 am #

    What a FABULOUS review. That’s why you are the artist, I would never have thought to do something like this!! Thank you for your awesome example and the information. TFS.

  19. Avatar
    Erica Bass August 27, 2007 at 1:18 pm #

    I have to say, thanks for such a thorough report on the pencils. I haven’t dipped into the pencil market yet and was considering how many colors I should get to start…

  20. Avatar
    Alison Shiloh Wear August 27, 2007 at 3:10 pm #

    thanks for the pencil-study. One question – are the prismacolor pencils watercolor pencils? I use my 10 watercolor pencils with my blender pen, and I’m always able to achieve the perfect shade since they’re blendable

  21. Avatar
    Wife2TJ August 27, 2007 at 3:42 pm #

    Great comparison!!! I love my prisma’s. I have other colored pencils as well and feel they are the best. It’s so neat to see them side by side like that!

  22. Avatar
    motherkearney August 27, 2007 at 4:54 pm #

    Excellent review… one of the main reasons I just love this site!

    Good job!

    Keep up the good work!

  23. Avatar
    Roni August 27, 2007 at 8:02 pm #

    THANKS! My sister and I have been having a debate over this very issue. She can not understand why I would waste my money on colored pencils when the pencils she got at WalMart worked just fine. Now I can show her the difference between just fine and fantabulous.

  24. Avatar
    MeganS August 27, 2007 at 9:24 pm #

    Great report! I actaully have seen colored pencils for like $20… think they are better?

    I agree about the “get what you pay for!” Thanks for an awesome demo…

  25. Avatar
    Bonnie aka raduse August 27, 2007 at 9:33 pm #

    Wow, I didn’t know you could blend the Rose Arts. I love those and my prismacolors too. I usually pack my Rose Arts for traveling since they cost less to replace. Will definitely have to try the blending bit.

  26. Avatar
    Jen August 28, 2007 at 2:35 am #

    yay!!! now if I could just make mines look as good as your’s. hah! thanks for the write it – it was pretty cool and interesting reading about it.


  27. Avatar
    Tsoniki August 28, 2007 at 11:21 pm #

    Wow, that’s a great comparison! I don’t use the colored pencils to color in but just for school stuff – but I always buy Crayola because I figured they were better. Sure they are cheap when it is school supply time, but the Rose Art is cheaper and I’ve wondered!

  28. Avatar
    milkcan August 31, 2007 at 3:32 pm #

    So great to see the differences!

  29. Avatar
    Tina April 19, 2008 at 9:14 pm #

    WOW!! this has helped me so much and ive made my decision based on this. im havent really worked in the colored pencil department yet (more of a painter) but since i wanted to experiment, i wasnt sure what to get. i heard prismas were way better but i was still hesitant if they were worth it! i just came from a staples and saw a 24 pack for 26 bucks! boy was i shocked. i never knew pencils could be so expensive. but thanks to this [fantastic!] comparison, i absolutely must have them! 🙂 again great job

  30. Avatar
    Anonymous July 26, 2008 at 2:33 am #

    Koh-i-noor makes an amazing woodless pencil crayon that’s comparable or BETTER than the Prismacolor pencils. And you won’t have to sell a kidney.
    I bought mine at

  31. Avatar
    Anonymous October 28, 2008 at 1:49 am #

    hey… I bought my box of pencils at too. I love them. They feel awesome and I can keep my kidney AND have great colored pencils too.
    Thanks for your review.