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What is the No 1 colour pencil brand?

When it comes to color pencils, there are many factors to consider in determining the number one brand. Color vibrancy, blendability, durability, and price point all play a role. Based on reviews from professional artists, student users, and general consumers, these are the top color pencil brands on the market today:


Prismacolor is often cited as the gold standard in color pencils. Founded in 1938, Prismacolor has built a reputation for producing pencils with rich, heavily pigmented leads that layer and blend beautifully. Their signature soft core pencils contain high levels of pigment for vivid color laydown. The soft, thick leads are ideal for coloring large areas and blending. Key features of Prismacolor pencils include:

  • Soft, thick leads with high pigment content
  • Vibrant, saturated colors
  • Smooth laydown and easy blending
  • Ideal for coloring large areas
  • Wide range of hues available

Prismacolor offers sets for every budget. Their quality control and consistency are excellent. While they are not the most inexpensive option, Prismacolor pencils deliver rich, buttery color that makes them a favorite of professionals. They can be somewhat fragile due to the soft core, so a light touch is needed. But the vivid hues and smooth blending of Prismacolor pencils make them the go-to choice for serious artists and students.

Faber-Castell Polychromos

Polychromos by Faber-Castell are oil-based pencils prized for their lightfastness and layering ability. The Germany-based company produces high quality art supplies, and their Polychromos line of pencils is frequently singled out by artists for its vivid colors and soft but durable leads. Key benefits of Polychromos include:

  • Oil-based leads with excellent lightfast ratings
  • Soft but not fragile leads
  • Rich, highly pigmented colors
  • Minimal spreading when blended
  • Range includes 120 colors

The vibrant, dual-coated leads in Polychromos pencils contain the highest lightfast ratings (1 or 2 on Blue Wool scale). Artists praise their smooth laydown and minimal crumbling. Polychromos blend seamlessly without losing vibrancy. With a wide range of colors to choose from, Polychromos are an excellent choice for color blending and layering in artwork requiring longevity. The rich pigment and soft leads do come at a higher price point than some brands. But for professional quality and lightfastness, Faber-Castell Polychromos remains a trusted brand.

Caran d’Ache Luminance

Switzerland-based Caran d’Ache produces the Luminance line of color pencils with a reputation for archival quality and color permanence. The wax-based colored pencils have vivid, lightfast pigments that earned Luminance a spot on the top color pencil list. Key features include:

  • Wax-based leads
  • Highly pigmented, lightfast colors
  • Minimal fading over time
  • Precision manufacturing for consistency
  • 76 available colors

The main draw of Luminance lies in the high lightfastness ratings, making them ideal for archival artwork. Reviews praise the bright, pure hues that resist fading. Many describe the pencils as well-balanced – not too soft or too hard. The leads have a smooth texture but maintain precision for detailed work. While the wax-based leads don’t blend as seamlessly as soft core pencils, Luminance pencils produce vivid color with outstanding permanence. They fall on the higher end of the price spectrum but deliver exceptional quality for archival and museum-quality art.

Derwent Coloursoft

Coloursoft pencils by UK-based Derwent offer a vivid color palette with soft, thick leads. The Colorsoft line provides bright hues with a smooth texture at an affordable price point. Key advantages include:

  • Thick, soft leads
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Blendable and layerable
  • Vivid colors
  • Range includes 72 hues

Coloursoft pencils feature generously thick, soft leads that lay down creamy, vivid color. The softness makes them easy to blend and shade gradually. While not at the archival level of pricier pencils, Coloursoft delivers bright, seamless color for student and amateur artists. At around $1 per pencil, Derwent Coloursoft offers quality at an accessible price point. They may not have the finish of premium brands but provide appealing color rendition and blending at a reasonable cost. For beginning artists and casual coloring, Coloursoft is a reliable choice.

Cretacolor Marino Watercolor Pencils

For combining color pencil and watercolor techniques, Cretacolor Marino pencils receive strong reviews. The water-soluble pencil leads produce vivid dry color and liquid watercolor effects when washed. A unique feature of Marino is the thick, triangular shape for broad washes as well as fine detail. Key features include:

  • Water-soluble graphite leads
  • Vibrant colors dry and wet
  • Unique wide, triangular shape
  • Blendable and smooth
  • Set includes 24 colors

Artists praise the dual functionality of Marino pencils. The colorful leads lay down saturated color that pops when activated by water. The wide shape allows both loose wet techniques as well as control for precision. Reviews confirm the pencils are highly pigmented and blendable. With their creativity-enhancing effects, Marino watercolor pencils are a smart addition to any colored pencil set. Especially for mixed media art, Marino pencils enable vivid color that interacts beautifully with water.


When considering the top color pencil brand, Prismacolor consistently ranks highest for vivid hues and smooth blending. Polychromos pencils earn similar raves for their bright, archival pigments and soft, layered leads. For lightfastness combined with precision, Luminance pencils are ideal for preservation quality art. Coloursoft pencils provide an affordable option for vivid color and blending. And Cretacolor Marino watercolor pencils add creative possibilities for blending wet and dry media. While personal preference plays a role, Prismacolor remains the gold standard among artists for rich, seamless color gradation. For archival artwork, Luminance and Polychromos also rank at the top. But across student, amateur and professional categories, Prismacolor is recognized as the number one brand for superlative color vibrancy and blendability in colored pencils.

Top Color Pencil Brand Comparison

Brand Type Key Features Price Point
Prismacolor Soft core Rich pigment, smooth blending $$$
Polychromos Oil-based Vibrant color, lightfast $$$
Luminance Wax-based Archival, lightfast $$$
Coloursoft Soft core Creamy color, blendable $
Marino Water-soluble Vibrant wet & dry color $$

This table summarizes key features and general price levels for the top professional-grade color pencil brands. Prismacolor, Polychromos, and Luminance pencils sit at the higher end of the price spectrum but deliver superior lightfastness and blending. Derwent Coloursoft and Cretacolor Marino provide quality at a more affordable range. With their ideal balance of vibrancy and blendability, Prismacolor remains the gold standard in professional color pencils. Luminance and Polychromos also rank among the best. But Prismacolor consistently satisfies artist expectations for rich, seamless color gradation.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Color Pencils

With an overwhelming number of color pencil brands on the market, it helps to assess your personal needs when deciding on a set. Here are key factors to consider when selecting colored pencils:

  • Purpose – Are you doing casual coloring, student work, or professional art? Archival needs?
  • Budget – Student grade vs. professional grade pencils have big price differences.
  • Color Options – Larger sets provide more hues but cost more.
  • Lead Softness – Soft leads blend better but are more fragile.
  • Lightfastness – Important if preserving or selling artwork.
  • Mixable Media – Some pencils only work dry, others wet.
  • Personal Preferences – Try different pencils to find your perfect fit.

Rating color pencils means taking your specific needs and preferences into account. Student users benefit from affordable prices and a basic color selection. Professionals need archival quality and a wide spectrum of hues. Casual users value smooth blending and a reasonable cost. By identifying how you plan to use colored pencils and key features you require, you can narrow down the selection to find your ideal brand.

Tips for Choosing the Best Colored Pencils

Follow these tips when deciding on the right color pencil set for your needs:

  • Read reviews – Get insight from other real users before selecting.
  • Identify your key needs – Blendability, budget, color range, etc.
  • Consider lightfastness – Important for longevity and preservation.
  • Try before you buy – Test different pencils in store if possible.
  • Start small – Get a 12-24 pencil intro set to sample a brand.
  • Compare swatches – Check color laydown, blending, vibrancy.
  • Consider versatility – Can they work wet & dry? With other media?
  • Feel the core – Soft, hard, waxy, oily? Comfort affects ease of use.
  • Assess durability – Check if leads break or peel easily.
  • Mix brands – Complement favorites with new specialty colors.

The most expensive pencils may not be your best option, while very cheap brands can lack vibrancy. Trying before you buy gives first-hand experience of color and feel. Start with a smaller intro set from a promising brand. Creating side-by-side swatches on paper allows direct comparison of attributes like pigment load, blendability, and durability. Mixing favorite brands is common as well. By doing research, assessing your needs, trying samples, and comparing swatches, you can discover your ideal pencil match.

Frequently Asked Questions About Colored Pencils

What is the world’s best colored pencil brand?

According to colored pencil reviews and artist feedback, Prismacolor is considered the top brand for vibrant color and smooth blendability. Their soft, heavily pigmented leads allow effortless layering and shading.

Why are Prismacolor pencils so expensive?

The high price of Prismacolor pencils stems from their professional grade materials and production. Each pencil contains rich, highly pigmented leads perfected for smooth coverage and seamless blending. This specialized manufacturing and high quality control results in a superior product at a premium price.

Should I get watercolor or regular colored pencils?

Watercolor pencils offer flexibility, allowing both dry and wet techniques. But they have a waxier texture when dry. Regular colored pencils like Prismacolor lay down vivid, creamy pigment. Determine if you want the option of wet versatility or smooth dry coverage.

What pencil brand does professional artists use?

Professional artists most commonly use Prismacolor, Polychromos, Caran d’Ache Luminance, and Derwent for their archival quality, huge color selection, and smooth handling. Prismacolor remains the top choice for vibrancy and blendability.

Why are my colored pencils not blending well?

Blending issues stem from let hardness, waxiness, and lack of pigment. Soft, creamy leads with high pigment load, like Prismacolor, blend seamlessly. Harder pencils can shear or skip. Using solvents/blender pens can aid blending in non-soluble pencils.

In summary, Prismacolor pencils consistently rate as the top professional brand across reviews and artist feedback. Known for rich pigmentation and seamless blendability, Prismacolor remains the gold standard. Polychromos and Luminance pencils also rate highly for archival properties. Derwent Coloursoft provides vibrant color at an affordable student price point. And Cretacolor Marino watercolor pencils add creative flexibility. Taking your needs and preferences into account helps narrow choices from the wide selection of quality colored pencils available.