A common question we always get asked at ACPN is “Which pencils do I buy/ use?”

In this post, we hope to clear that up because we know there are SO many choices it can be very daunting.

The answer isn’t of course a straight forward one! To put it simply:

Every pencil artist is different and you will love and hate different brands primarily for a few different reasons. Here are ta few things to consider before you go to the shop!

  • Your style! You may or maynot have a style yet but as you work you will develop your own style and you may like to layer your pencils layer after layer with a very sharp tip or you many like work quickly and put down a few quick layers. There is no right or wrong but you may find that some pencils will work and blend better than others so if you are struggling with one brand give another one ago.
  • Your support – ie. Which surface you are working on?  Are you working on paper, board, wood or drafting film?  Different surfaces will hold the pencil differently. So I personally find that I use certain brands of pencils work better on some surfaces rather than others. This is due to the fact that they are made of different materials ie. some are held together with Wax & others with Oil.  So eg. I have found that Fabercastell- Polychromos pencils work really nicely on drafting film. That’s not to say that Prismacolors don’t but i find a better result with the Polys. I generally will use all pencils in a combination of brands but i have found this noticeable difference.
  • Colour range.  Some brands have a higher colour range in an area rather than others so if you are planning on doing ie. landscapes where you may need alot of greens, you might like to check out the range in various brands to see if they have the colours you are after.  Included in this one is Lightfastness. (this means  how the colour fade over time) the cheaper pencils and some of the artists quality pencils do have different lightfast ratings so its important to check this out on the brand you choose. If you are creating keepsake pieces of art with many hours put in this is something you really need to be aware of.

So what do you do about all of this?

Well really all you can do is TRY them out for yourself. As you do this you will get a feel for which pencils work for you and notice the difference in various brands.

TIP #1 My biggest tip is to buy just about about 6-7 pencils in one brand (you don’t have to buy the whole tin!) you can do that online or in most good artshops.  This way you aren’t having to fork out a huge investment if they aren’t the pencils for you.

THEN: I always reccommend rather than trying to get a whole range of colours try for at least 3-4 values in one colour. So by that i mean a light red, medium red & dark red & a white. This way you can lay the colours against one another and see how they blend together. Do some little test patches or try for example try doing a subject which is that colour ie. An apple then you will get a good feel how a completed piece will come together.

Yes, Yes but you want some names, don’t you? 🙂

 Ok  .. As a general rule here are a few pencil brands that are common ones for most coloured pencil artists to start out in.

All of these brands are ARTIST QUALITY, in essence meaning that you should be able to achieve, good blending with your pencils and they are good for the majority of surfaces.
Yes they can be worked together and with other mixed media materials, again though this is a personal preference and the best way to know is to practice.

What about those old Derwents that you have in the cupboard?

It is tempting when starting out in coloured pencil art to want to use pencils you already have, you may have a set of pencils you have had in your cupboard for a long time, watercolour pencils, pastel pencils or maybe you picked a cheap pack of pencils recently at the discount shop. There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t use these when starting out if you wish to create artworks,  if you haven’t already please checkout our article before reading the below > Do the “right pencils” really make a difference? 

Did you know?  there are quite a very brands of pencils within the Derwent brand, that would be Derwent: Studio, Artists, Coloursoft, Inktense, Watercolour just to name a few each one is different, so if you trying to layer with the hard Derwent Artists pencils it will be slightly difficult. Coloursofts are softer and blend easier!! 🙂

So i hope this helps you make a decision as to which brand of pencils to use when starting out in coloured pencil art.

Did you find this article helpful? Please comment below or if you have a question post it in our facebook group.

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