The 10 Best Colored Pencils In 2019

Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer 120 Watercolor Pencil Set

With oil-based core and hexagonal wooden shell, this set from Faber-Castell provides exceptional quality and brilliant results, whether you’re using them wet or dry. While they may come with a premium price tag, they’re certainly worth it for the results you’ll achieve.

Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencil Set

The Prismacolor Premier Soft Core set has a wide range of color options, each with vivid intensity and excellent blending capabilities, all for a great price. This high-quality set features 48 colors as well as a specially-designed sharpener.

Derwent Studio Colored Pencils

These specialty pencils are fantastic for detailed drawings and can be used wet or dry for added versatility. They have a smaller core than most pencils which makes them ideal for finer lines and a great complement to bolder pencil sets.

Coloring PencilsKey Feature
Derwent Studio Colored Pencils
72 pencils in a beautiful wooden box, 3.4mm core sharpened to a fine point.
Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencil Set
48 ultra-smooth pencils, richly saturated pigment and thick core for bold color & shading.
Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil Set
High pigmentation for excellent lightfastness, workable with water whilst maintaining visible contours.
LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor Art Pencils
Well suited for blending, thick core, great for graphics.
Staedtler Ergosoft Watercolor Pencils24 colors, soft break-resistant 0.3mm leads.
Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer 120 Watercolor Pencil Set
Pigment disolves completly when brushed with water, 120 colors.
Caran d’Ache Luminance Colored Pencil SetMiter Saw
40 colors, combined for new shades and tones, finely-ground pigment, resistant to UV.
Bruynzeel Design Colored Box of 48 Pencils
3.7mm core, round barrell, strong and rich colors.
Koh-I-Noor Polycolor Drawing Pencil Set with Laser
3.8mm lead containing oils for water resistance & vivid, broad edge for shading.
Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencil SetAcid-free pigment for bright colour output, smudge & water resistant oil pastel lead.

Things to consider when buying colored pencils

Whether you’re a professional artists, graphic designer or architect, or a student or hobbyist looking to practice your craft, finding the right colored pencils for the job can be difficult. It often depends on personal preference or the project you’re working on, as some pencils can be soft and better suited to layering in thick opaque layers while others are great for detailed illustrations but less so for creating an impact. Likewise, the paper or material you’re drawing onto can also impact how well a colored pencil performs and the results you can achieve. With so much variety and room for error, choosing the right set can be a daunting task.

When choosing the best colored pencils for your needs, the first area to look at is the base of the pigments. Wax-based pencils are softer than oil-based or water-based pencils, so they can be better for providing an intense layer of coverage. However, they’re more prone to breakage and can wear out more quickly if you’re heavy-handed with them. Wax-based pencils can sometimes leave a bloom as well which can affect how intense the color appears on the paper.

On the other hand, oil-based pigments are harder and are therefore less likely to break, but you need to apply more of the pigment to achieve the same level of intensity as you can get from wax-based pencils. Water-based pencils can be used wet or dry, so you have more control over the textures created. In addition to the material, you also need to know whether you’re looking for a hard or soft pencil. Softer pencils are great for creating broad, opaque strokes while harder pencils are better for fine lines and details.

The Derwent Studio Colored Pencil Set provides you with 72 beautifully vibrant colors for sketching, drawing and painting. This set is ideal if you’re looking for versatility, as the pencils can be used dry or used with water for a softer, watercolor effect and interesting color flows. A renowned brand, Derwent is a favorite with artists as the pencils have a waxier feel thanks to the thick wax core that makes for a beautiful texture when drawing. The pencils have a 6.9mm hexagonal barrel that provides robust handling and a comfortable feel when drawing, while the smaller 3.4mm core is great for fine lines and illustration work.


Key features:

  • Comes with 72 pencils packaged in a beautiful wooden box for easy storage
  • Can be used wet or dry depending on the project, so you can draw and paint with one set of pencils
  • The 3.4mm core can be sharpened to a fine point without crumbling

The Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Pencil Set is one of the most popular premium pencil lines in the world, and for good reason. This set is a must for anyone who’s serious about their art, with the velvet-smooth core allowing for excellent blending while dry and when mixed with solvents. Because they’re softer than standard colored pencils, you do need to work more gently with them to avoid breaking the core but it’s a minor issue considering the brilliant and ultra-rich color work that can be achieved with this set. The core measures at 5mm and is encased in an 8mm round barrel. The Prismacolor set is perfect for any level of expertise and promises great results every time. For a digital experience of design see our top picks for drawing tablets.


Key features:

  • Richly saturated pigment and thick cores allow for bold color work and shading
  • Comes with a sharpener that’s designed specifically for these pencils and is easy to clean
  • The set features 48 ultra-smooth pencils in assorted colors

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils have a unique chalky texture that makes them stand out from other pencil brands on the market. Like other pastels, they’re perfect for blending and can be used for both wet and dry applications, so they’re also versatile. The strong pigmentation combined with brilliant lightfastness makes these great if you’re looking for vivid, bold color laydown, even after dilution through blending. This set provides luminous opaque laydown even on the thinnest of paper. The pencils have a 4.4mm charcoal core with a round barrel – the set features 36 color options. The texture when drawing or coloring is similar to charcoal, so it’s rougher than other colored pencils that may be smoother, however the benefit of this set is that the texture can be smoothed out with water for a watercolor effect.

Key features:

  • High pigmentation that provides excellent lightfastness
  • The color can be dry blended and smudged using fingertips or a blending stump
  • The pigments can also be worked with water while still maintaining visible contours

The LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor Pencils provide an exceptionally high caliber product that serious artists and professionals will definitely appreciate. The smooth, oil-based leads are encased in a round barrel that makes for easy and comfortable use, and the set also comes complete with a kneadable eraser, two paper wipers, one sandpaper block, one knife and a sharpener, making this excellent value for money if you’re looking to invest. From graphic designers and artists to architects, this set is ideal for professionals who want a product that will last and stand up to regular use. They’re water resistant, have brilliant lightfastness and they can also work on synthetic materials, wood and textiles as well as paper.


Key features:

  • Particularly well-suited to blending with a great color output
  • The thick core makes these leads less prone to breaking
  • Great for graphics and design work as they’re great for achieving fine lines and exact contours

Staedtler are renowned in the industry for producing great quality products for a reasonable price and the Ergosoft Watercolor Pencil Set follows suit. From the vibrant colors to the soft leads that make them great for coloring, this set is a brilliant choice for beginners who want to practice their artistic craft. The leads are wax-based so they will decay a little faster than oil-based, but the 0.3mm leads are break-resistant so they’re well suited to amateur artists who want something that’s less of an investment but that is still going to deliver great results. This thinner lead means the Ergosoft set is great for creating fine details but is also soft enough that larger areas can be covered easily. Each pencil has a comfortable triangular barrel coated in smooth but grippy paint so you can comfortably hold them without any additional weight or bulk being added to the pencil, ensuring fatigue-free drawing.


Key features:

  • Features 24 colors in a stand-up easel case
  • The pencils have a soft non-slip grip and a triangular barrel for comfortable use
  • Soft break-resistant 0.3mm leads

Praised for many years due to the impeccable quality and highly pigmented leads, the Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer set is one of the best you can buy. These pencils have excellent blending qualities, so you can achieve virtually any color you can think of, and if you want to work with water then the color really comes to life, providing you with numerous options to test your creativity. Faber-Castell have been trusted by professionals for decades due to the great quality of their products and this set is no exception – the pencils have been SV-bonded to be break-resistant and the thick 3.8mm leads are also fade-resistant too.


Key features:

  • The pigments dissolve completely when brushed with water and have a smooth color laydown
  • The secural bonding process (SV) strengthens the leads for minimal breakage and excellent point retention
  • Features 120 different color options

The Swiss-made Caran d’Ache Luminance 40-piece pencil set combines smoothness with the high lightfastness of a permanent lead, meaning their color won’t fade as easily compared to other brands. The pigments used have been specifically chosen for their intensity and UV-resistance, and the casing has been sourced from Californian cedar forests for excellent durability. These leads can be layered almost like oil pastels and are incredibly smooth to work with due to the waxy formulation and incredible color these pencils provide. They work especially well in combination with another, less waxy pencil which can then be topped off with a layer of the Luminance range to really make the colors stand out.


Key features:

  • Swiss-made pencil set with 40 assorted colors
  • The pencils can be used together to blend new shades and tones for various effects
  • Finely-ground pigments used are intense and resistant to UV light

The Bruynzeel Design Colored Box of 48 Pencils is a fun set that provides outstanding color output and tinting strength. The high-quality pigments make it easy to layer colors on top of one another and ensures excellent lightfastness for great color when you’re using them as well as years later. The pencils have a thick core and a super soft wax-based lead that does a great job at competing with the top-end brands on the market in terms of quality and performance. They don’t bloom like other wax pencils are prone to doing and they can also be used on other materials, such as wood, with great results.


Key features:

  • Strong and rich color application
  • Packaged in an aesthetically-pleased wooden case for easy and stylish storage
  • The pencils have a 3.7mm core with a round barrel

Koh-I-Noor’s Polycolor Drawing Pencil Set includes professional-grade pencils that are perfect for artists of all levels wishing to expand their creativity with great quality tools. These pencils blend brilliantly without any waxy build-up and can be layered to create wonderful effects. The leads have special oils incorporated into them to make the colors really pop and also resist water, meaning even without the need for heavy pressure the color will be dense and bold. Encased in durable Californian cedarwood, these pencils are long-lasting and great for professional and amateur projects alike.


Key features:

  • 8mm lead which contains oils to make them water-resistant and vivid
  • Made from Hardtmuth colors and Californian cedarwood
  • The broad edge makes them well suited to shading, while the sharp point is perfect for more detailed drawings

This box of 36 Polychromos pencils from Faber-Castell are incredibly high quality, with unrivalled lightfastness and SV-bonded, break-resistant leads. This set is great for graphics and creative art projects as the color output is vibrant and dense, allowing for great effects. Artists will love the butter-soft laydown of these pencils that’s due to the oil-based leads, with no waxy bloom or smudging to worry about. The pencils maintain a strong, sharp point but are still soft when it’s needed, and they mix easily so they’re perfect if you want to layer or blend tones. The core of these pencils is strong, so it won’t break easily, making them perfect for long-lasting use, whether you’re a professional or an amateur.


Key features:

  • Acid-free pigments that provide bright color output
  • Can be easily blended for highlights, layered effects and transitions
  • Smudge-proof and water-resistant oil pastel lead