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Which is better prismacolor or faber castell polychromos?

Colored pencils are a popular art medium used by hobbyists, students, and professional artists alike. Two of the top brands for colored pencils are Prismacolor and Faber-Castell Polychromos. But which is the better choice? In this comprehensive comparison, we’ll examine the key factors that differentiate these two brands, including their pigment quality, texture, blending ability, lightfastness, price, and more. With the information provided, you’ll be able to determine which brand offers the features that matter most to your coloring style and needs.

Pigment Quality

When it comes to colored pencil pigments, you want rich, vibrant hues with good color laydown. Here’s how Prismacolor and Polychromos compare:

Brand Pigment Quality
Prismacolor Prismacolor uses a soft, thick core made with premium pigments. The leads are highly saturated with vivid, opaque pigments that provide excellent coverage.
Polychromos Polychromos uses top-tier, highly concentrated pigments for intense, opaque color laydown. The thick, soft leads allow ample pigment to be deposited onto paper.

Both Prismacolor and Polychromos offer outstanding pigmentation in their colored pencil leads. The pigments are highly saturated, providing opaque coverage and vivid color intensity. Most users find little difference between the two when it comes to pigment quality alone.


The texture of the colored pencil leads also impacts the coloring experience. A smooth, creamy texture allows for seamless blending.

Brand Texture
Prismacolor Prismacolor leads have a soft, thick core with a smooth, creamy texture that glides across the paper. The waxy binder used gives them a “buttery” feel.
Polychromos Polychromos leads are also soft and creamy but feel slightly drier or firmer compared to Prismacolor. They have more “tooth” for controlled shading.

Prismacolor pencils tend to have a smoother, more “buttery” texture while Polychromos are a bit firmer. Prismacolor’s soft leads blend more easily, but Polychromos’ texture allows for more controlled effects. It’s a matter of personal preference.

Blending Ability

A key advantage of colored pencils is their blendability compared to paints or pens. Here’s how Prismacolor and Polychromos compare when blended:

Brand Blending Ability
Prismacolor The soft, thick Prismacolor leads blend seamlessly, allowing multiple layers of color to be built up. They are easy to overlay and mix directly on paper.
Polychromos Polychromos leads blend well but not quite as seamlessly as Prismacolor due to their slightly firmer texture. However, blending is still excellent with Polychromos.

When it comes to blendability, Prismacolor pencils have a slight edge over Polychromos. Their softer, waxier leads allow colors to mix and build beautifully right on the paper’s surface. But Polychromos can still achieve gorgeous blended effects with a bit more effort.


Lightfastness refers to a pigment’s resistance to fading over time. This is crucial if you want your artwork to stand the test of time. Here is how the two brands compare:

Brand Lightfastness
Prismacolor Most Prismacolor colored pencils have fair to good lightfastness. Reds, blues, and greens are generally very lightfast. Other hues can fade over decades in direct sun.
Polychromos Polychromos pencils are rated to have excellent lightfastness overall. Even fugitive colors like purples and pinks are surprisingly colorfast.

Polychromos colored pencils are clearly the winner when it comes to lightfastness. Their superior pigments retain vibrancy better over time. Prismacolor’s lightfastness is decent but not as strong.


Budget is often a factor when choosing art supplies. Here’s how the prices of these two brands compare:

Brand Price
Prismacolor Prismacolor pencils are moderately priced. A standard set of 150 pencils costs around $110-$150. Open stock pencils are $2-$3 each.
Polychromos Polychromos pencils are more premium-priced. A 120 pencil set costs over $200. Individual pencils range from $4-$5 each.

Polychromos pencils are significantly more expensive than the Prismacolor line. The higher quality does come at a price. Prismacolor offers good quality at a more affordable cost for casual hobbyists.

Availability of Colors

Having access to a wide range of color choices allows more creative freedom. Here is the color selection available:

Brand Number of Colors Available
Prismacolor Prismacolor offers 132 standard colors in their collection, with up to 400 custom colors through special order.
Polychromos The Polychromos line currently contains 120 colors. It’s a slightly more limited palette overall.

Prismacolor provides a broader range of color choices with 132 standard options that can be further expanded through custom orders. Polychromos offers a respectable spectrum with 120 colors, but not quite as many options as Prismacolor.

Performance on Dark vs. Light Paper

Colored pencils can behave and look very different depending on the paper’s tone. Here’s an overview:

Brand Dark Paper Performance Light Paper Performance
Prismacolor Rich, opaque pigments cover and blend beautifully on dark paper. Colors may seem slightly muted on white paper in comparison.
Polychromos Polychromos also layer nicely on dark surfaces, but not as vibrantly as Prismacolor. Colors look more bold and saturated on white paper.

Prismacolor really excels when used on toned or dark papers, while Polychromos shows its strength on lighter colored surfaces. This is useful to note depending on your preferred drawing surfaces.

Pencil Resilience Over Time

You want colored pencils that will stand up to regular use and maintain quality. Here is how they compare:

Brand Long Term Performance
Prismacolor The soft wax-based cores can break or deteriorate more easily with heavy pressure. Frequent sharpening wears leads down.
Polychromos Polychromos pencils are very durable over time. Their firmer composition resists breakage and wears down slowly.

Polychromos pencils are the clear winner when it comes to resilience and longevity. Their harder formulation allows them to maintain quality despite frequent use. Prismacolor leads require more care to avoid breakage.


The ability to erase and make changes is handy when using colored pencils. Here is how the two brands compare:

Brand Erasability
Prismacolor The soft, waxy leads do not erase very cleanly, tending to leave behind a waxy bloom.
Polychromos Polychromos pencils erase much more cleanly due to their firmer binder. Removing and reworking color is easier.

Polychromos pencils have better erasability compared to Prismacolor. The harder leads remove cleanly from the paper without leaving a waxy residue. This makes changes easier with Polychromos.


So which brand comes out on top in this Prismacolor vs. Polychromos comparison? Here are some key takeaways:

  • Pigment quality is outstanding in both brands.
  • Prismacolor pencils have a softer, smoother texture while Polychromos are firmer.
  • Prismacolor blends more seamlessly right on the paper.
  • Polychromos pencils are significantly more lightfast.
  • Prismacolor offers better value for money.
  • Prismacolor has a wider color selection.
  • Prismacolor excels on dark paper; Polychromos looks best on light surfaces.
  • Polychromos is much more durable and resilient over time.
  • Polychromos erases cleaner than Prismacolor.

In summary, Prismacolor pencils offer vibrant colors with superior blending at an affordable price point. Polychromos provides outstanding lightfastness and durability for archival works. Prismacolor tends to suit hobbyists and students due to smooth blending and lower cost. Polychromos is ideal for fine artists who need permanence and the ability to create controlled effects. With this comparison overview, you can weigh the characteristics and decide which brand better fits your artistic needs and budget.