Best Colored Pencils

Published: December 11, 2014

This list gives my findings on the best quality colored pencils available.

  1. Caran D'Ache Luminance

    These are amazing colored pencils.  The density of the pigment is very nice and offers great coverage.  They have a wax binder.  They layer nicely, and the range of colors is very balanced and nice.  Lightfast pigments are used and the majority of these pencils will hold their color for up to 100 years in museum-settings. 

  2. Caran D'Ache Pablo

    These are wax based colored pencils, though they feel very similar to oil based pencils.  Their color range is very nice and works very well for botanical subject matter.  Coverage is good and they layer nicely.  Caran D'Ache also has a line of watercolor pencils that work nicely with the Pablo line of colored pencils. 

  3. Faber Castell Polychromos

    Wonderful oil-based colored pencils that layer beautifully.  There is a wide range of colors available and the quality of the cedar casings is outstanding.  They are sometimes available open-stock in the US.  Cores seem to last a bit longer than wax-based pencils.

Caran D'Ache Luminance colored pencils are definitely the rolls-royce of pencils, however they have pricing that reflects their quality.  Also, since art with colored pencils is time-consuming, you want it to last, so the lightfast properties of this line ensure that it lasts for a very long time For slightly lesser quality but still wonderful quality, the Pablo or Polychromos lines are solid artist quality colored pencils that will work well and most have good lightfast properties.