We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. The LA Times newsroom or editorial staff was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more

Get Creative and Colorful: Best Colored Pencils

An excellent set of colored pencils is a must-have for any art classroom. They're a classic and timeless way to create art, and even if you're not planning to use them for art projects, colored pencils will always be a useful tool for everyone in the classroom. Here are some of the best colored pencils in 2021 to consider when buying for your art classroom.

What are the best colored pencils of 2021?

Zenacolor 120 Colored Pencils Set

This pencil set ranks as one of the best arts and crafts products that will help you connect to your artistic soul. The 120 numbered and unique colored pencils are made with vivid, rich, and pigmented colors, which will enrich your adult coloring books with the right hues and shades. Enjoy precision and smooth application using the 3.3 mm thick lead of the oil-based, pre-sharpened pencils. They'll work perfectly with layering, blending, and shading techniques. These pencils are non-toxic and versatile, so you can put your imagination to work!

ARTIST'S CHOICE Colored Pencil

The Artist's Choice colored pencils include 120 pre-sharpened pencils featuring vibrant colors. Each pencil has its own individual slot so you'll always know if you're missing any. This also makes them very easy to keep track of. Each pack has a wide selection of colors to choose from so you'll always be able to find the right color for your art project. Unfortunately, some customers have mentioned the sharpening has been inconsistent.

Prang Thick Colored Pencil

This pack of colored pencils by Prang have a thick core and are perfect for creating detailed and intricate drawings. They will blend easily and can be used for shading and coloring. Prang offers a number of different choices ranging from a 12 count all the way up to a 288 count. Rest assured that whichever option you choose, you'll be getting a high-quality product from Prang.

SKKSTATIONERY Colored Pencil

If you're looking for options, SKKSTATIONERY has you covered. Ranging from 7" pencils to mini 3.5" ones, multi-packs for a classroom, and even pencils in a roll-up canvas pouch, all your bases are covered. Sporting a thick core and a sturdy grip, these pencils are great for a budding artist or your child's set for art class. These pencils are highly rated and would be a great gift.

FUNLAVIE Colored Pencil

These pencils are marketed as an adult coloring tool, and it's easy to see why. The quality is obvious the second you remove the pencils out of the packaging. They come in a compact cylindrical tube, and the body of each pencil is painted silver with their corresponding color represented by a patch at the end. The pencils come pre-sharpened and are ready for your next bout of creativity.

Artlicious Colored Pencil

The Artlicious colored pencils come in a pack of 50 or 72, but pay attention because the two sets are slightly different. The 50-count pack comes with pencils equipped with a 3.3mm core while the 72-count "PrimoSoft" pack adds a larger 4mm core for extra durability. All the pencils are non-toxic and are safely stored in a stylized case. Artlicious also offers a 50 pack of watercolor pencils for a more distinct look.

Buyer's Guide

These days, colored pencils are considered a legitimate art medium and are also hugely popular with artists and designers. Yes, those hard, gritty sets that were given to us as kids with colors that were too pale or not sharp enough to be satisfying, are now capable of rendering art styles that are detailed and photorealistic or expressive and abstract. As a matter of fact, just like watercolors, colored pencils can also be blended and layered together to develop complex hues.

When purchasing colored pencils, there are certain considerations to keep in mind as not all colored pencils are the same. These pencil crayons come in artist-quality varieties that are as far removed from regular pencils as sports cars are to go-carts. They are designed to allow artists a fine degree of control over texture and detail, creating endless possibilities for sophisticated drawings. Whether you’re a novice, artist, or hobbyist looking to learn more about this versatile medium we have put together this buyer's guide to help you identify what to look for in a colored pencil.

What should I consider before buying colored pencils?

The options of colored pencils available on the market these days are very overwhelming. To navigate the hundreds of options, here is a list of what you should consider before purchasing the best colored pencils for you.

What type of colored pencils should I get?

There are four major types of colored pencils. Even though they serve different purposes, the different types of colored pencils can be mixed on one medium, unlike paints. Here are the types of colored pencils.

Wax-based colored pencils

This is the category that most colored pencils fall into. The right amount of wax in a pencil makes the pencil smoothly glide across the surface of the artwork. The wax in these pencils helps them adhere to the surface and other colors so you can have multiple layers without worrying about smearing. Hard pencils are best for students and soft pencils are best for professionals. Since they are so common, there is something for everyone and every budget.

Oil-based colored pencils

These pencils still contain a little wax but they use oil to bind the pigment and distribute it onto the artwork. They are firmer than wax pencils so they do not break easily. They give less color than wax pencils but this can be useful as it gives the artist more control. However, they are prone to smearing and are harder to erase. Also, they are more expensive than wax pencils.

Water-soluble colored pencils

These pencils’ pigments are bound with a water-soluble gum that allows them to be thinned out with water. This means they can be used dry like other pencils but they can also be used to make watercolor paintings. They can be tricky to get used to but if you like watercolor artwork, you can give these a try.

Color sticks and woodless pencils

These leave out the wood that other colored pencils come with so they allow you to lay down more pigment.

What range of colors do you need?

A pencil set can range from a single pencil to hundreds of pencils. The set you should buy should depend on the work application. Are you doing work with intricate blending that will need multiple shades of colors? If you are, you will need a wide range. Do you find the idea of multiple shades overwhelming and are doing artwork with a simple color story? If this is you, you should choose a set with a smaller range of colors.

What is your experience level?

If you are a beginner at using colored pencils, then you probably do not have a lot of skill yet. Therefore, wax pencils, which are the easiest to use, will be best for you. If you are a professional or an expert, you should choose based on the kind of work you will be doing the most and the consistencies you prefer.

Best Colored Pencils FAQs

Are Watercolor Pencils Different from Colored Pencils?

Watercolor pencils combine drawing with painting. The core of this pencil contains a water-soluble binder. So whenever water is added, it produces a flowing look that is associated with watercolor paints. As a result, watercolor pencils tend to offer less intense colors than colored pencils. It's more difficult to blend colors together, but relatively easy to lighten a color by adding water. Nonetheless, watercolor pencils are a great way to experiment with traditional art.

How do you blend colored pencils for beginners?

You need to have a good grip on your pencil, using no more pressure than what you would use to take notes in class. Alternate between your colors gradually, creating a seamless transition by layering each color over the other until you work your way to the desired blend.

Do real artists use colored pencils?

Artists use colored pencils in their drawings more often than you would think because colored pencils offer a range of possibilities - especially in their hues. While many professional sets include a range of beautiful colors, you can layer them to create even more dimension in your work.

What are pastel pencils?

Pastel pencils, despite their outward appearance, are not colored pencils at all. They are made the same as pastel sticks so they're more similar to paint. However, pastel pencils have been made a little harder so that they won't smear as easily.

What is wax bloom?

Wax bloom is a disadvantage of using only wax pencils. It is an oxidation process that causes the wax in the pigment to rise to the surface. It is a natural occurrence that can take days or hours to appear but only usually happens if you use a lot of dark, heavy colors. It lightens parts of the colors making it look patchy. However, you can easily solve it by wiping it with a cloth and then adding more color. To increase the permanence, you can seal your artwork with a fixative.

bestcovery team.jpg
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
Related Content
Go to top