It’s no secret that I love colored pencils. I also know how hard it can be when you’re standing in the craft store trying to decide which pencils to buy. You want them to be great quality, but you wonder if the fancy ones are really worth the price. Well I’ve tested out about 10 different kinds of colored pencils, and I’m going to share everything I know about 6 of them with you today. So whether you’re coloring in your favorite adult coloring book, or doodling in your sketchbook, you’ll have the best colored pencils for you. (This post does contain affiliate links when fitting.)
- Artist’s Loft Fundamentals – these colored pencils are available for $5 for a set of 36 at Michael’s. Artist’s Loft is Michael’s brand of art supplies and I usually LOVE them. These colored pencils however have pros and cons. They are a great price for a variety of colors and I really love the colors included in the set. There are actually quite a few shades of yellow which is rare. If you love soft pastel colors and you’re not a huge fan of blending, this might be the set for you. They color very smoothly, but it’s really hard to get a vibrant pigmentation. They don’t blend or shade very well, but they are great at covering areas with soft even colors.
Price: Inexpensive, about $5 at Michael’s
Best for: Pastel colors, even coloring, pretty yellows
Not great for: Blending, shading, vibrant colors
2. Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils – These colored pencils really are the best of the best! The colors are so rich and vibrant, and they are great for blending. I have this set of 48 and it really is a great collection of colors. I would definitely wait for a coupon before buying at the craft store, or I would buy on Amazon where the price is by far the lowest. And if you really want all the colors of the very best pencils, I’d go ahead and get this set of 72 or even this insanely awesome set of 128. I would also DEFINITELY recommend this Prismacolor colorless blending pencil. I only recently discovered it, and it works so well at smoothing out areas.
Now, as much as I love these colored pencils, they really might not be the best ones for you. They are very soft, which makes them great for blending two colors together and for shading from light to dark. They’re also great for laying down color over a large area. You barely have to press on the paper at all. However, because they are so soft, they are more difficult to sharpen into a fine point, and they’re not the best for coloring small detailed areas in coloring books. Also, because you don’t use as much pressure when coloring with them, they tend to show the texture of the paper more than other pencils. The colorless blender pencil helps a lot with that though.
Overview: Prismacolor Premier
Price: Expensive, about $40 for 48 pencils on Amazon
Best for: Blending, shading, beautiful colors, skin tones
Not great for: Fine details, coloring pages with small areas
3. Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils – These fun hexagon shaped colored pencils are very hard and sharp. They don’t break very easily, and they are great for creating fine lines and details and for coloring inside tiny little areas (like in this beautiful coloring book I LOVE pictured below!). If you try to use them to cover a large area they are very scratchy. They also don’t really blend together at all, nor are they meant to. I wouldn’t recommend them as the only set of colored pencils you use, but if you’re having trouble coloring in tiny details, or adding small marks to your drawings, these are perfect!
Overview: Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils
Price: Medium, about $15 for a set of 24 on Amazon
Best for: Coloring in fine details, making thin strong lines
Not great for: Covering large areas, blending, shading
4. Crayola Colored Pencils – These Crayola colored pencils are amazing! Honestly, I’ve tried quite a few other brands of cheap/kids colored pencils and these are by far the best. I think sometimes people think of them as less good because people associate Crayola with kids, but they are awesome! They are definitely not as great for blending together as the Prismacolor Premier pencils, but they actually blend and shade quite well. They are also hard enough that they do generally well in small areas. Last year before I got a set of Prismacolor colored pencils, I used Crayola colored pencils to draw Disney characters for my daughter. They turned out really well, and in some ways they were easier to use than the Prismacolor Premier pencils. You can get a set of 50 colored pencils on Amazon for less than $10 (or find them at Target for about the same price.)
Overview: Crayola Colored Pencils
Price: Inexpensive, about $5 for 24 or $15 for 50 on Amazon
Best for: Rich colors, great for shading, best value
Not so great for: Blending
5. Reeves Watercolor Pencils – Watercolor pencils are a lot of fun! I’ve actually only ever tried Reeves and Crayola watercolor pencils and they both are awesome. I wouldn’t recommend them as your only colored pencils, but they are a lot of fun to use, and you can use them to easily create pretty watercolor effects all over your coloring pages. Just color in areas with the pencils as usual, then use a wet paint brush to spread the color. I would recommend only using a little water to keep the paper from curling. The Reeves watercolor pencils cost about $16 for 36 on Amazon, and the Crayola watercolor pencils cost about $7 for 24.
6. Woodless Colored Pencils – These are a lot of fun and they look so pretty. You can color with the whole pencil, which is really cool. If you sharpen them, you can create fine lines and use the sides or edges to cover more area. In general I don’t feel like the quality of the pencil itself is nearly as good as some others, but they’re still pretty good. Plus they are shaped like hexagons, and come in a nice little portable tube, which is awesome.
I would definitely recommend getting a quality pencil sharpener to use with your colored pencils. There is nothing more frustrating than when your pencils break while you’re sharpening them, and a good sharpener definitely helps with that. Also, after a while the blade may get dull and it may be time to get a new one, or replace the blade. Here are a few I recommend:
Here are a couple more Disney princess drawings I did where you can really see the difference between Crayolas and Prismacolors. With Rapunzel (Prismacolor), I was able to create a lot more shadows and blending in her face and clothes, but you can also see the texture of the paper a little bit. With Jasmine (Crayola), I did a little less shading, but I was able to cover all of the areas in a thick and smooth color.
So in conclusion, if you are willing to spend a little more money to get the very best possible sets of colored pencils out there, I would recommend you get the Prismacolor Premiers (to cover large areas and blend), the Prismacolor colorless blender, and the Prismacolor Verithins (for fine details and small areas). However, if you want quality pencils and beautiful colors all in one more affordable set, I would recommend the set of 50 Crayola colored pencils.
P.S. While I was working on this post, I came across this really helpful post by Amy over at DIY Candy. She’s a huge fan of adult coloring books and has a bunch of resources. And she has reviewed a few brands of colored pencils I’ve never tried before (those tri-tone ones look amazing!), so if you are looking for even more recommendations, check it out!