Hi all!

What's your favorite brand of colored pencils?  I've been using Prismacolors since high school and LOVE them, but I was recently given a set of Derwent Studio pencils, so it's been eye-opening to explore another brand.  The Derwent Studios are harder than the Prismas, so the colors don't seem to come out as dark, deep or vibrant, but I do like them for certain things - mainly abstract work, as opposed to realist stuff.

I've heard good things about the Faber Castell Polychromos but haven't tried them yet.

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Hi Harry, it's interesting to hear that those lines disappeared when you sprayed with fixative.  That's a good tip for people to be aware of, when adding pastels over Prismacolors!
What kind of sharpener are you using? I've had the same problem with colored pencils breaking and it has frustrated me soooo much...but I did notice that i had far less breakage when I used a sharpener that was specifically made for colored pencils.

Margaret Brock said:
I'm just learning the whole drawing thing and tried various colored pencils but didn't like the results, sooooooo,I decided to treat myself to a box of Prismacolors.

Even with the 50% off coupon at Michael's, I paid over $40 for them. Every one I tried to sharpen broke and kept on breaking. I had to use my "don't mess with me" stare, but the manager at Michael's did give me a refund.

I notice that with all the pencils I try, if the pencil seems to catch in the sharpener, for sure the lead will break. I don't think the pencils break from being dropped, I think there are flaws in the wood or the glue and when the flaw catches in the sharpener, you give it an extra hard twist and that force is what causes the breaks.

I've had the same experience with pencils from the dollar store and the ones I paid $3 each for at the high end art supply.

If the pencils broke from being dropped, every pencil ordered from Dick Blick would be broken. Remember that Fedex employees THROW those parcels.

You would think that with all the complaints, the big names would be searching for a solution instead of publishing articles about putting broken pencils in the microwave.

My current favorite pencils are Crayola Short Colored Pencils, $8.99 at WalMart. In a box of 64, only two have broken, the colors are bright, the go down smoothly, blend well and respond to solvent. I use them while I weep over the hundreds of dollars I spent trying to find better pencils.
I have been experimenting with the Prismas. I eventually bought an electric sharpener and have no problems with breakage. But I tried several hand held ones with no success.  I like the Verithins too for fine detail.  Prismas are over $300.00 for the 132 pencil tin here in Australia. I ordered mine online from the US and it came to about $140.00 including the postage so that was a huge saving even though I know it is still very expensive.  Thank you for suggestion about the crayolas. I'll look into them. I know they are a lot cheaper.  Happy drawing. Pauline

A battery operated or electric sharpener works best with Prismacolors but it absolutely has to be the kind that grinds the wood casing into sawdust.  The ones that shave the wood and leave "peelings" behind tend to bread the pencil leads. Personally, I think the whole thing about broken leads from dropping is a bunch of hooey.  I have pencils that are 30 years old and have been dropped over and over and over and they are just fine.  That said, the lead on certain colors--olive green, dark green, magenta--seem to be a bit softer than the rest and need to be handled more gently.  Also, the colored pigments can build up in the sharpener and that can cause problems but sharpening a regular graphite pencil once in awhile cleans everything out.

Alicia N. Swindell said:

What kind of sharpener are you using? I've had the same problem with colored pencils breaking and it has frustrated me soooo much...but I did notice that i had far less breakage when I used a sharpener that was specifically made for colored pencils.

Margaret Brock said:
I'm just learning the whole drawing thing and tried various colored pencils but didn't like the results, sooooooo,I decided to treat myself to a box of Prismacolors.

Even with the 50% off coupon at Michael's, I paid over $40 for them. Every one I tried to sharpen broke and kept on breaking. I had to use my "don't mess with me" stare, but the manager at Michael's did give me a refund.

I notice that with all the pencils I try, if the pencil seems to catch in the sharpener, for sure the lead will break. I don't think the pencils break from being dropped, I think there are flaws in the wood or the glue and when the flaw catches in the sharpener, you give it an extra hard twist and that force is what causes the breaks.

I've had the same experience with pencils from the dollar store and the ones I paid $3 each for at the high end art supply.

If the pencils broke from being dropped, every pencil ordered from Dick Blick would be broken. Remember that Fedex employees THROW those parcels.

You would think that with all the complaints, the big names would be searching for a solution instead of publishing articles about putting broken pencils in the microwave.

My current favorite pencils are Crayola Short Colored Pencils, $8.99 at WalMart. In a box of 64, only two have broken, the colors are bright, the go down smoothly, blend well and respond to solvent. I use them while I weep over the hundreds of dollars I spent trying to find better pencils.
Thank you for the tips, Donna! I'll have to invest in a good sharpener the next time I have some extra money.

Donna Duquette said:

A battery operated or electric sharpener works best with Prismacolors but it absolutely has to be the kind that grinds the wood casing into sawdust.  The ones that shave the wood and leave "peelings" behind tend to bread the pencil leads. Personally, I think the whole thing about broken leads from dropping is a bunch of hooey.  I have pencils that are 30 years old and have been dropped over and over and over and they are just fine.  That said, the lead on certain colors--olive green, dark green, magenta--seem to be a bit softer than the rest and need to be handled more gently.  Also, the colored pigments can build up in the sharpener and that can cause problems but sharpening a regular graphite pencil once in awhile cleans everything out.

Hi Thaneeya, I believe you you can use them in both ways. As an ordinary pencil or add water and get the watercolour paint effect. I do'n have any yet but thinking of getting some soon.
 
Thaneeya McArdle said:

Hi Donna, thanks for the info on the other brands.  I'm thinking of getting a few colors of each and testing them out.  I've been soooo in love with my Prismas that I never thought of trying other brands til recently.  But now I realize it might be worthwhile to explore what else is on offer. 

The Derwent Inktense sound interesting.  Are they like watercolor pencils?  I'll look more into them.

I'm looking to buy and use some colored pencils. I think I'm going to buy some Prismacolors probably the 48 set, despite what you all are saying about breakage. But, there are so many different types: Prismacolor Premiers, Prismacolor Verithin, Prismacolor SoftCore, Prismacolor Scholar, Prismacolor Col-Erase or at least that's the way Amazon has them listed.WHich ones are you all using?

I use the Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils. I believe these are the same as the Soft Core pencils. I'm very happy with them!

OK, thanks, Thaneeya. Sounds like some have more lengthy descriptions but nevertheless Soft Core=Premier it sees. Ordering now.

I don't know if this will help, but I bought 3 types of Prismacolor pencils this week.(my back to school chill present to myself) The Verithins are very hard and can  be sharpened to a fine point. Premier pencils have a soft core that goes down smoothly and I haven't tried my Scholar set. I also have a couple off-brands, a set of Sargents and a Crayola set. They all seem to work fine for this novice, but I can tell the Premier applies easier and seems to have a richer color. They are hard to sharpen at the moment because you need to be gentle. Since I'm a school teacher, I'm used to shoving it in and cranking on it so that's probably why! 

This is a really excellent thread and the spread of experience covers a multitude of answers. I am interested in Prismacolor pencils myself mainly because the people who's work, and experience, I admire use them.

They are not readily available in the UK, but are none the less acquirable. There is a suggestion that the colours of other brands vary quite considerably to Prismacolor. Can Prismacolor and other pencils be mixed in the same piece of work with satisfactory results? It strikes me that they do have their place.

Its clear to me that the correct type of sharper, and a correct regime of sharpening is very important to their longevity.

Peter

Hi Corbin

Thank you for that information, I will look more closely at them as they are easily available here.

 Regards

Peter

Corbin Dodge said:

I personally prefer FC polychromos over primsmacolor. Prismas blend very well, but I'm not enthusiastic about the waxy texture of them. I find that the FC polychromos produce more even shading, whereas the prismas have a tendency to leave an occasional dark deposit. Also, I feel like the FC's are well suited for colored pencil artists that like to create fine details to their artwork, because they have a little bit harder lead. I think the FC's are well worth the extra expense and I find them to be fun to work with-much more than the prisms

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