Tag Archives | colored pencils

Colored Pencils – so many choices!

Reported by Marti Wills

Prismacolor colored pencils are easily the most popular and most well-known colored pencils, most likely because they are so readily available in nearly all art and big-box craft stores.  They are also one of the most reasonably priced.  However, they are not the only pencils out there!  I have been experimenting with some of the other brands on the market and been incredibly impressed with them!  They are a bit more expensive but for good reason and they are still well below the cost of a Copic marker!  So is there really a difference?  YES!  Can you do beautiful artwork without anything other than Prismas? YES!

I have been playing with the following pencils:

The first thing I will say is that it might be useful to purchase just a few of one color group in a different brand to experiment with and play with.  A lot of it comes down to personal preference and blending methods.

There ARE some color differences, but they are not necessarily extensive.  The biggest difference I have noticed is color intensity.  Think you can only get vibrant rich colors with Copics?  Wrong!  The other major difference is the hardness/softness of the lead.  I love the softer leads because I prefer to blend with my pencils as I color rather than using a solvent such as Odorless Mineral Spirits or Baby Oil. Luminance are the most expensive and while I loved them I do not feel the price is necessary.

I have several images I colored with different pencil brands.

This image is colored with several different types of pencils – Caran D’Ache Pablo (the greens), Luminance (hat & birdbath), and Polychromos (dress).  The lead in the Pablos is harder than I prefer & the Luminance, while amazing, are too pricey.  Polychromos are a bit softer than Prismas and color beautifully.  They blend together so smoothly!  The downfall – I feel they do not have enough pale colors.

One of the next sets I have been collecting are Derwent Coloursofts.  Also fabulously smooth with superb blendability and a softer lead.  I was easily able to layer/combine two colors to create an exact match to the turquoise paper.  72 colors total.

The other set I have been building on is the Lyra Polycolor pencils.  These pencils are different – they are oil-based rather than wax-based, giving them an unbelievably smooth, creamy texture.  Blending these pencils makes you feel like you are working with paint or pastel!  72 colors total plus 12 skin-tone colors.

This image is done completely with the Polychromos pencils, except for the skin, which was done using the Lyra Skintones set.  Polychromos are also oil-based rather than wax-based.  120 colors total.

So what have I discovered – while Prismas are easily obtainable, the other brands are well worth the hunt!


  • Oil-based pencils – extreme blendability & vibrancy
  • Prisma – least expensive & easiest to find
  • Couloursoft – wax-based but softer lead than the Prismas.


  • Limited color selection for some brands
  • The other brands can be a little more difficult to find in a store
  • Other brands are somewhat more expensive than Prismas

What colored pencils are you using? Or do you prefer to use markers for your coloring? Leave us a comment and let us know!


Carbothello Pencils

Reported by Lisa Fulmer

Carbothello Pencils by Stabilo are pastel chalk pencils that come in 60 colors. You can use them alone or with water – either way, they are very bright and blendable.

Above I drew some simple line art on textured cardstock so you can see how dusty the pencils are, like drawing with charcoal. It’s really fun to smudge the colors with your finger or a paper stump.

This little tree is on a smoother lined paper. Colors blend really nicely together on any surface, and it’s easy to erase mistakes. You do have to be careful where you rest your hand as you draw, so you don’t smear your work. I spray my finished work lightly with a fixative to seal it in.

Carbothellos are heavily pigmented, which is most noticable on dark paper – they are very opaque and bright!

Each color has a rating for light-fastness, indicated with asterisks on the barrel (1 star is less resistant to fading over time in bright light; 5 stars is more resistant to fading over time in bright light).

You can blend colors with a damp brush also – painting watercolor effects is so much easier for me with pencils.

Here are a few more of my Carbothello drawings – as a “seasoned beginner'” I find these pencils really easy to work with, especially as I practice different styles of drawing.


  • you get the look and feel of pastel crayons, but in a pencil that you can sharpen
  • you can achieve a variety of looks with blending, smudging, or adding water
  • full color palette
  • costs only about $1-$2 per pencil depending on where you shop and whether you buy them individually or in sets


  • takes some time to get used to drawing without accidentally smearing your work

Carb-othello Pastel Pencil 36 Color Set is available at… use that link, and you’re supporting Craft Critique!

Have you used Carbothello Pencils? Any tips or ideas? Leave us a comment and let us know!



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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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