Lyra Skin Tone Pencils

Reported by Peggy Marsh

Do you love coloring? I really do… and I loved when my sons were little and said “Mommy.. I want to color”…I quickly answered “alrighty then… let’s do it”!

So, fast forward, and now history repeats itself. But today’s coloring is all about creating designs for card-making and scrapbooking. As a huge advocate of the convenience of digital stamps, I’ve happened upon a few artists that dabble in ethnic images. Mo Manning of Mo’s Digital Pencil is one of them. Her ethnic images are darling, and coloring these cute little peeps at first posed a problem. What colors to use? Well, we are all colors, aren’t we?

Whatever I tried in the way of pencils just didn’t look right; too red, too yellow; just not right. As a pencil coloring enthusiast I didn’t have much luck until I came upon Lyra Skin Tone pencils.

Lyra pencils are manufactured in Germany and the skintone set features 12 giant natural-casing pencils with 6.25 mm leads which are break-resistant and long wearing; probably enough to last a lifetime (and include them in your Last Will and Testament!).

Here’s what you would look for…

Lyra ‘multicultural pencils’ celebrate our diversity. Lyra markets this product with this statement

These are twelve of the most prominent skin tones of the people of our world. These fine art pencils will create many subtle shades. This selection best reflects the skin tones of people today

And you know what? I think they really might be on to something with this set; they seemed to have hit the nail on the head.

Coloring human skin tones can be difficult for artists. However, Lyra’s colors makes it so much easier to capture various skin tones. These pencils blend and shade beautifully. Here’s some examples I worked up for you to see using each of the 12 pencils in the set (note: for each of these I did use a bit of peach pencil to highlight their cheeks, allowing for a natural look).

Note: All images (c) Maurie J. Manning of Mo’s Digital Pencil. Images published with permission”

Here’s some close-ups…

Can these be used to color other items? Absolutely! But keep in mind they are ideal for all skin tones. Try them… experiment a bit; blend several colors to attain the look you desire. You will be amazed at how creamy these pencils are and the beautiful skin tones you can achieve.


  • The pencils are numbered.. the higher the number the deeper the color
  • They color and blend well as is, or when using OMS or Gamsol (as used in the examples)
  • Several different colors can be used to create the skin tone you desire for various heritages and racial backgrounds.


  • Deeper shades need blending with other colors; for example, the dark black tones would blend better with a bit of brown added which I did not do in the example so the true effect could be seen.
  • Lyra Skin Tone pencils are not readily accessible at your local craft store, but can be found on websites using a search engine or perhaps in art supply stores.
  • Crafters often want supplies immediately and sometimes it’s hard to wait for the UPS delivery man to show up when you are anxious for a new product to use in your projects.

Have you tried Lyra pencils, or do you plan to give them a try? We’d love to hear your thoughts!


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12 Responses to Lyra Skin Tone Pencils

  1. Avatar
    Big Mamma~ a.k.a. Mary S May 23, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    Wow I have never heard of these pencils and I am a huge pencil user. I grab my Prisma before a pen ever. Skin tones are the hardest to deal with so i will definitely be looking into these. Thanks for always showing us the best stuff.

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    Mote May 24, 2010 at 1:44 am #

    Yes, I use these pencils. I live in Russia. In person, I love
    color hair, animal hair using these pencils.

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    Mary Anne / MA54K May 24, 2010 at 6:01 am #

    My skin tones are sorely lacking and these look wonderful. I will have to hunt up a set!

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    KellyRae May 24, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    I have these pencils and use them for animal fur, baskets, and tree trunks (nature stuff). I LOVED how you demoed each color. Another source for them is your friendly TAC demonstrator as the pencils are carried in their big catalogue.

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    Mari May 24, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    I *love* Lyra pencils! I reach for my Lyra polycolor pencils long before I reach for Prisma pencils. I haven’t been able to get a set of these yet, maybe for my birthday? 🙂 I wanted them before… now I want them even more!

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    Ree Donnelly May 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    Wow, I really enjoyed this post! These look like a great investment. I want these now, really bad!!!

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    Michelle Adams May 24, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    I have had these pencils for quite a while, and I only have positive things to say. They really do allow you to color your stamped person any skin tone at all! I will be using these forever…and like you said, I’m sure I’ll never have to replace them since they are sooo long lasting. 🙂

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    Sharon Keanly May 25, 2010 at 4:50 am #

    Hi Peggy, this is awesome. We have these LYRA’s in our stores in SA and I have a few of them. Not sure what the gamsol is you’re talking about, but I’ll check out if I can get some. The colouring looks fab. I also love to colour, so the intro to your post made me giggle…lol Between Kendall and I, we can open our own store. If she had her own way, we’d own ALL the colours in the copic range too and I’d be walking the street with bare feet and cap in hand…. Thanks for an excellent tut, I’ll visit again soon. hugs Sharon

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    jkreucher May 25, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    I got this set of lyra pencils.. and Peggy is so right. They blend like butter.
    smooth and creamy.
    I use them not only for faces, but for animals too.
    Like the darling sweet faces on bears bears, the many shades of fur and the soft color of the cheeks.
    Thanks Peggy for sharing your wonderful samples with us.
    your an inspiration!

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    Jennifer Scull May 26, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    Peggy, thanks for the wonderful advice. I will have to look for these. your tutorial is perfect! 🙂

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    Judy May 27, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    Fantastic article….so informative that it sent me searching for the Lyra Skin Tone pencils. For those that live in BC, Canada, I found them at Opus Art Supplies. Can’t wait to try them out.

  12. Avatar
    ShellyWorld December 30, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    I just picked these up today and was looking for a tutorial….Do you have any links?