Why so many Coloured Pencils?
We are often asked why we carry such a large range of coloured pencils. But what is the difference anyway? Here is a quick review of 8 of our most popular pencils, which we hope will help you to choose the coloured pencils most suited to your needs. Each of the pencils featured are available individually in a choice colours or in a set of assorted colours.
We made our samples below on smooth hot pressed watercolour paper.
Derwent Tinted Charcoal
The pencil core looks and feels exactly like charcoal which does not split or splinter. It is made from tinted compressed charcoal for a choice of earthy tones ideal for landscapes. The pencil strokes give the same familiar whisper on paper as all dry chalky media and the charcoal marks are easily smudged or blended. The charcoal core is naturally water-soluble.
The cedar wood casings are painted at the end of the pencil to give an indication of the pencil lead colour. View the range of Derwent Tinted Charcoal Pencils >
Stabilo Carbothello Pastel Pencils
Stabilo state that this chalk-pastel coloured pencil has a wonderfully dry and dusty stroke, just like charcoal. The pencils are very similar in performance to Derwent Tinted Charcoal pencils. The large choice of highly pigmented colours are bright and clean. The chalky core is naturally water-soluble.
The wood casings are painted along the shaft to give an indication of the pencil lead colour. View the range of Stabilo Carbothello Pastel Pencils >
Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901
The creamy lead feels satisfyingly smooth and leaves a mark with very little pressure. Caran d’Ache claim that these superb pencils are “the most light fast permanent colour pencil ever designed”. They certainly are the best of the permanent colour pencils in our test. The highly pigmented, opaque colours lend themselves well to overlaying, mixed media and gradation.
The cedar wood casings are painted at the end of the pencil in the same colour as the pencil lead. View the range of Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 Pencils >
Caran d’Ache Pablo
The pencil lead transfers colour smoothly and with little effort. There is no grittiness or resistance on the paper and colours blend well. The sharpened lead leaves a fine detailed mark. The lead resists water and is used to include permanent detail with water-soluble pencils or watercolour paints.
The hexagonal cedar wood casings are painted the same colour as the lead and stop the pencil from rolling away. View the range of Caran d’Ache Pablo Pencils >
A soft blendable lead which is slightly more sticky than the other pencils tested. The pencil was tried on a variety of papers and performed best on the papers with more “tooth”. Performance was adequate to good on the smoother surfaces.
The cedar wood casings are painted a reddish brown and the end of the pencil is painted the same colour as the pencil lead. View the range of Derwent Coloursoft Pencils >
Caran d’Ache Supracolor II
The Supracolor pencils feel similar to the Pablo pencils. Supracolor are water-soluble and can be used with permanent pencils to add a wash. These coloured pencils are used alongside watercolour paints or in mixed media work. The pigment dissolves quickly when water is applied.
The hexagonal cedar wood casings are painted the same colour as the lead and stop the pencil from rolling away. View the range of Caran d’Ache Supracolor Pencils >
Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Water-soluble Woodless
Please note that this product is now discontinued
A solid stick of water-soluble crayon covered in a thin film of lacquer, the Cretacolor Aqua Monolith is a delight to hold and handle. The sharpened lead provides a fine detailed line and the “lead” glides smoothly to quickly colour areas from light to dark, depending on the pressure applied. The pigment is soluble in water although as an aquarelle it is not as good as Supracolor II Soft or Derwent Inktense.
A slightly thinner but heavier pencil than the wood pencils, the entire pencil (apart from the fine lacquer coating) being made from pigment. Pencil shavings can be dissolved in water to use as paint. View the range of Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Pencils.
The best of the water-soluble coloured pencils! Used dry, the pencil is a little resistant on the paper and less smooth than some of the other colour pencils, although the colours transfer well. The “lead” is a special formula, when wetted dissolves quickly into a vibrant ink, which is permanent when dry. This allows for layers of colour washes and other exciting techniques.
The pencils can also be used for “painting” on silk and other fabrics as the marks are permanent when the pigment has dissolved and dried.
The cedar wood casings are painted blue and the end of the pencil is painted the same colour as the pencil lead. View the range of Derwent Inktense Pencils >
Water Soluble Coloured Pencils
Here are the results of the three water soluble pencils tested. The Derwent Inktense coloured pencils and the Caran d’Ache Supracolor dissolved very easily and the colour spreads readily. The Cretacolour Aqua Monolith took slightly longer to dissolve.