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What are the best prismacolor pencils to start with?

Prismacolor pencils are a popular brand of colored pencils known for their rich, vibrant pigments and smooth application. With a wide range of sets available, from student grade to professional, it can be daunting for beginners to know where to start when buying their first set of Prismacolors. In this article, we will discuss the factors to consider when choosing your first set of Prismacolor colored pencils and provide recommendations on some of the best starter sets for beginners.

Hardness Scale

An important factor to consider when choosing Prismacolor pencils is the hardness scale. Prismacolor pencils come in a range of hardnesses, indicated by a number and letter code on each pencil. Softer pencils have a higher number (e.g. Prismacolor Col-Erase Pencil – 10B) while harder pencils have a lower number (e.g. Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencil – 7H).

Here is an overview of the Prismacolor pencil hardness scale:

Hardness Number/Letter Code
Softest 10B to 8B
Soft 7B to 4B
Medium 3B to 2H
Hard 3H to 5H
Hardest 7H to 9H

Softer pencils tend to blend and layer more easily but can smudge more. Harder pencils are great for fine details and outlines but don’t blend as smoothly. Most starter sets will contain a range of hardnesses to allow for versatility.

Pencil Core Type

Prismacolor pencils contain either a wax-based or vinyl core. Wax-based cores are creamy and easy to blend but can be brittle. Vinyl cores have more break resistance but are harder and less blendable.

Here are the two main Prismacolor pencil lines according to core type:

Pencil Line Core Type Characteristics
Premier Wax-based Creamy, blendable, vibrant colors, prone to breakage
Verithin Vinyl-based Thinner leads, harder points, more break resistance, less blendable

Most starter sets contain the wax-based Premier pencils for their rich pigment and blendability. The Verithin pencils work best for fine details and outlines.

Recommended Starter Sets

Keeping those factors in mind, here are some of the best Prismacolor pencil sets for beginners:

Prismacolor Premier Core Colored Pencil Set (24 count)

Prismacolor 24 pencil set

This set of 24 Premier pencils provides a basic range of soft, vivid colors perfect for beginners. It covers all the essential hues at an affordable price point. The wax-based cores are super blendable and easy to layer. A great starter set for practicing color blending techniques.

Prismacolor Scholar Colored Pencil Set (60 count)

Prismacolor 60 pencil set

This expanded 60 pencil set allows for more variety and flexibility. The Premier wax-based cores provide rich, vivid pigments. With a range of soft to hard leads, you can create varied effects. It includes more sophisticated shades alongside the basic colors. Ideal for students progressing beyond the basics.

Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencil Set (72 count)

Prismacolor 72 pencil set

This deluxe 72 pencil set features only the softest, most blendable leads. The wax-based Premier cores are extra thick for luscious color laydown. With a huge palette to work from, this set is great for advanced blending, shading, and color gradation techniques. The ultimate starter set for aspiring artists.

Prismacolor Colored Pencil Set (132 count)

Prismacolor 132 pencil set

This comprehensive 132 pencil box has the widest range of shades and hues. From rich cadmiums and earth tones to vivid primary colors, you get an endless palette to work with. The soft, thick Premier pencil cores encourage advanced blending techniques. The ultimate starter set for older students and aspiring professional artists.

Additional Recommended Supplies

To make the most of your first Prismacolor pencil set, it’s helpful to have a few key accessories:

– Pencil sharpener – Prismacolor makes high quality manual and electric sharpeners designed for their pencils. This helps expose more pigment and keeps points sharp.

– Blending tools – Blending stumps, tortillons, and colorless markers help smooth and blend pencil strokes.

– Drawing paper – Heavy weight drawing paper holds up to many pencil layers without buckling. Hot press is smoothest for blending.

– Erasers – Kneaded and plastic erasers help remove color and soften edges. Prismacolor’s Col-Erase pencils are useful too.

– Protective case – Cases with individual slots keep pencils organized and protected.

Tips for Beginners

Here are some quick tips for making the most of your first Prismacolor pencil set:

– Use light pressure and multiple layers to slowly build up rich colors.

– Blend with tools using circular motions to create smooth gradients.

– Sharpen pencils frequently for brighter color and finer points.

– Start with basic techniques like shading and blending before trying more advanced methods.

– Practice on inexpensive drawing paper before moving to pricier paper.

– Refer to online tutorials for inspiration and techniques as you learn.

– Don’t worry about perfection – focus on enjoying the process and having fun with color!


Prismacolor pencils are an excellent choice for beginners looking to explore the colorful possibilities of colored pencils. Starter sets with soft, wax-based Premier cores offer vibrant, blendable pigments perfect for learning basic techniques. The 24, 60, or 72 pencil options provide an ideal balance of quality and affordability. Supplement your starter set with essential drawing tools and materials for the best results. Approach Prismacolor pencils with an experimental mindset and you will be creating beautiful, colorful artwork in no time!