It has been a long time since coloured pencils were purely for children. Today there are fully lightfast, intensely pigmented colouring pencils designed for professional artists and illustrators. The difference between various ranges is the differing consistencies and textures of the leads, as well as colour range and availability of sets. Some coloured pencils deposit more of a waxy sheen and these pencils may be a little more difficult to layer, but they provide a rich lustrous finish when burnished. Others have a much more matt finish and are better suited to colour mixing and layering. Student coloured pencils tend to have a weaker pigment concentration, but offer high quality pencils at an economical price.
Coloured Pencils without the waxy sheen
Caran d’Ache Luminance
Luminance pencils are award winning, intensely saturated coloured pencils for fine artists and illustrators. Smooth, seemingly unbreakable leads even with excessive pressure. The lack of waxy build-up makes layering colours easy. The full range of Luminance has the highest light fastness ratings. There are sets of 16, 38 and 76 available as well as individuals – the full colour range consists of 76 colours. Expensive but a huge investment!
Faber Castell Polychromos Pencils
Polychromos pencils are a very popular range of non water soluble pencils. They have a medium soft consistency which is suited to artists who like to find a middle ground between having full control over the drawing media, and being able to create some textures and blends without the marks being too ‘smudgeable’ or messy. They have a very good pigment concentration, and colours appear vivid. The colour is deposited easily on to paper without any waxy bloom, making them very easy to layer and also very easy to burnish.
Cretacolor Karmina Pencils
Karmina pencils are a similar consistency to Luminance and are a little harder than the Derwent Coloursoft. These also possess high pigment saturation, and layer and blend exceptionally well. There are 35 colours in the range as well as 3 assorted sets.
Derwent Artists Coloured Pencils and Derwent Coloursoft Pencils – which are the best?
Derwent Artists Coloured Pencils are available only in sets. They layer very well thanks to the low wax content. They possess a wide core which enables you to make broad strokes of colour – they also sharpen well to a fine point for more detailed and finer marks. The pencil is hard but with good pigment concentration. The texture is more akin to a graphite pencil than a coloured pencil. A greater degree of shine can be brought out of your pencil marks by burnishing them with a paper stump or tortillion.
Derwent Coloursoft Pencils are reputed to be the softest coloured pencil available, which means that colour can be deposited effortlessly. The result on its appearance is that colours appear more luminous and unlaboured. Despite the softness of their consistency, Coloursoft pencils still sharpen to a very fine point. Their softness maximises the ability to both blend and burnish colour. Derwent Coloursoft pencils are capable of a greater variety of marks and textures. If you require a range of coloured pencils for controlled technical coouring/rendering, then we suggest that the Artists range may be better suited to your needs.
Derwent Studio Pencils
Derwent Studio Pencils are similar to the Derwent Artists Coloured Pencil range, but are even better suited to technical drawing rendering, for example the shading of architectural drawings, or botanical illustration, or graphic design – basically any kind of shading where control and tightness is key, rather than texture or expression. The leads of these pencils are relatively thin to allow for very fine lines and accuracy. The wooden barrel is hexagonal and not round which makes it easier to get a firmer grip of.
Coloured Sketching Pencils
Conte Sketching Pencils – Black Pastel, White, Sanguine, Sepia
These are very useful sketching pencils for expressive life drawing, and other monotone drawings. They are traditional hues that can easily be blended with one another. The Sanguine hue is a rich, terracotta colour and is made with a transparent pigment, so marks allow the texture of the paper to show in order to get the best from your art materials. Mix the Sanguine with the white pencil and you will find a sensitive flesh-like hue. The sepia pencil is a darker pencil akin to burnt umber, and is ideal for rough sketches both indoors and outdoors. The white pencil is perfect for use on dark paper, or as a means of lightening the other pencils in the range and blending.
Cretacolor Sepia Leads
A traditional natural earth brown that can be placed in a lead holder, and used to create traditional looking and expressive line drawings.
Student Coloured Pencils
Derwent Academy Coloured Pencils are the lowest grade range from Derwent and are designed with beginners and students in mind. The range comprises of 36 colours which blend well. The leads are break resistant and the barrels perfectly round, which helps with making interesting marks with the pencil as it can be rolled between your fingers very easily. Academy pencils are only available in sets which come in 12s, 24s and 36s.
Staedtler Ergosoft pencils have a triangular barrel which provides a good grip and is confortable to hold. There are 2 sets available – 12 and 24 – which when open stand up in an easel-style case, making it very quick and easy to retrieve the pencil/s you are looking for while you are working. The pencils are considered student grade but they are very well made and good quality for the price. They have strong leads with a special costing that makes them up to 30% more break resistant. The colour is deposited easily and some layering and blending is achievable.