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:
- Derwent Studio
- Derwent Coloursoft
- Caran D’Ache Luminance
- Caran D’Ache Pablo
- Faber Castell Polychromos
- Lyra Polycolor
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!