Close this search box.

Guide to Using Colored Pencil Set Reviews (Step-by-Step)

Guide to Using Colored Pencil Set Reviews (Step-by-Step)

Colored Pencil Set Reviews 2

A step-by-step guide to finding and using colored pencil set reviews.

There is much more to buying colored pencils. Buying colored pencils usually begins with reading and watching reviews about five or more pencil sets, and these reviews are essential to helping you decide which colored pencil to buy. In-depth colored pencil set reviews, also known as brand reviews, are articles and videos that will “walk” through every aspect of the colored pencil set. This includes descriptions of colored pencils and cases of how the colored pencil performs when used.

This article is written to help you better understand in-depth colored pencil reviews you find online. Understand what you can expect to find in the brand reviews, the buzzwords and what they mean, and how to use the reviews to help make purchase decisions easier. Also, find 50+ links to in-depth colored pencil set reviews on

Colored Pencil Set Reviews
Table of Contents

Other resources. Check out other supporting resources on that you might enjoy.

50+ In-depth Colored Pencil Brand Reviews

In the chart below, find 50+ links to colored pencil brand reviews on I have carefully reviewed, held in my hands, and tested over 60 brands of colored pencils for the type of adult coloring I do. If I like the pencil, and it is fun to use, then it is a tool that will allow me to have many hours of joy in creating beautiful moments in adult coloring. That alone defines if the pencils are worth the investment for me. [TOC] Colored Pencil Reviews

Amazon Basics Premium Arteza Expert Arteza Premium
Black Widow Brutfuner Bruynzeel
Caran D’Ache Luminance Caran D’Ache Pablos Castle Arts
Castle Arts (Metallic Set) Castle Arts (Pasteltint Set) Cezanne
Chameleon Crayola Signature Creyart
Derwent Artists Derwent Coloursoft Derwent Lightfast
Derwent Procolour Derwent Studio Faber-Castell Premium
Farber-Castell Classic Farber-Castell  Goldfaber Farber-Castell Polychromos
Fantasia Premium Holbein Holbein Pastel Tones
Kalour Koh-I-Noor Polycolor Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor
Magicfly Marco Raffine Marco Renoir
Marco Tribute Masters Markart Mitsubishi Uni
Nyoni Phoenixcolor Prismacolor Premier
Prismacolor Premier Verithin Schriprerr Farben Soucolor
Spectrum Noir ColourBlend Staedtler Ergosoft Star-Joy Gold Edition
Tombow Irojiten Zenacolor Color
*The coloring pencil reviews are subjective, based on my personal experience, research, and the performance of colored pencils in activities like coloring books, pages and sheets. My Review seeks to provide as much information as possible to ask the right questions, evaluate the information, and make better decisions about the colored pencils you choose and use. I will update this article as new information becomes available.

Types of Colored Pencil Reviews

Colored Pencil Set Reviews 3

Which colored pencils reviews can I trust? Reviews come in the form of articles, videos and more. You can learn a lot from both types of reviews. Reviews are based on a reviewer’s skill base and experience, and reviewers can range from novice to professional artists. A reviewer’s point of view is valid because that is their experience. For example, consider the purchase of an automobile. Some recommend Chevy or Ford, while others recommend Honda or Subaru. (I like Subaru.)

When I read, watch, and listen to colored pencils reviews, I want them filled with information. Once you have read a few reviews, you will quickly understand what reviews to evaluate and which ones to ignore. I can go through 10 Google listings for pencil reviews in a couple of minutes once I get a sense of what is out there. Once I find a reviewer, blog or website I trust, I keep returning to them because I trust their experience. Let’s take a closer look at the type of colored pencil review you will find. [TOC]

Sponsored vs. Non-sponsored Reviews

Should you view reviews from reviewers who are sponsored for the review or those who are not sponsored? That is an easy question. View both. Why, Colored pencil sets can get expensive, especially when reviewing more than just a few.

I am okay with reading a review from someone given the pencils. As a practice, these reviewers will tell you upfront thatColored Pencil Sets they were given the pencils to review or that their review includes affiliate links. All I want is expertise. They get the freebie; I get years of experience, which is a good trade-off.

In my case, I am not an artist. But I am an experienced adult who continues to love and grow in adult coloring. I have spent hundreds of hours using and reviewing pencils for my use, and I am sharing what I have learned. It’s my opinion. I hope you find value in the articles. [TOC]

Artist vs. Non-artist Reviews

I think there is a place for both types of reviews. It is important to remember that colored pencils are not just used for adult coloring. There are artists, designers, hobbyists, teachers, families and more who use and want to find the best-colored pencils to meet their needs. I want to make sure that at least 50% of the reviews I read have some or all their focus on the type of colored pencils use I will be doing. In my case, my reviews are meant for those who enjoy and want to make decisions for adult coloring in coloring books. [TOC]

Colored Pencil Reviews: a Three-Step Approach

I like to read and view reviews about colored pencils, and I would like to share how I evaluate colored pencils, which includes reading and viewing.

  • Step 1: Google search and read blog articles. I like to start by reading about colored pencils. I start with articles written by experienced colorists and artists that list the top 5, 10 or more pencil sets and explain why. Some lists are best budget pencils to best expensive pencils. These articles help me narrow my focus. Next, I read articles that drill down into specific brands. Why do I read vs. view YouTube first? I can narrow my search to two or three choices in an hour or two.

CAUTION: Stay away from reviews that are nothing more than lists of colored pencils with a link to an online store. Often these lists will have a list of the top 5, 10, or more. What is the list based on? I did not find them to be of any real value.

  • Step 2: Google search and view YouTube. At this stage, I am focused on two or three brands. When deciding on videos to watch, look at the number of views and the year posted. I want to start with a video that is no older than three years and has 500 to several thousand views. When I view videos, I get to listen in on a conversation with someone who is taking the time to share their knowledge. I get a front seat to what is going on. Why do I view videos second and not first? Colored pencil video reviews can easily last 30 minutes, and I want to spend that time with my narrowed selection.
  • Step 3: Amazon reviews. Amazon reviews are essential; in these reviews, you get the experience of others. By this time, you have read and viewed enough about the pencil sets that you can better understand which reviews to listen to. [TOC]

Unpacking Colored Pencil Set Reviews

Colored Pencil Set Reviews 4

In-depth colored pencil reviews are made from my personal experience and the reviewers’ perspective. Some of the reviewers are artists, others are focused on adult coloring, and most of these reviews will cover a broad range of colored pencil characteristics. Let me review what you see, what it means, and why it matters.

On, I (Author Schreiber) write about adult coloring, including colored pencil reviews from the point of view of adult coloring in coloring books. My reviews seek to provide you with as much information as possible so you can ask the right questions, evaluate the information, and make better decisions about the colored pencils you choose and use. [TOC]

What Colored Pencil Set Reviews Contain

What do colored pencil set reviews include? When we look at coloring pencil set reviews, we often hear new terms and evaluations. Sometimes we know what is being talked about, and other times not. The following outlines the categories and elements I review when researching, testing, and evaluating colored pencils. Let’s take a look at each category and describe what it means. [TOC]

Student-grade vs. Artist-grade

When I evaluate colored pencils and want to know whether they are student-grade or artist/professional-grade, once I have this knowledge, I have a foundation of what to expect when evaluating the pencil set. Most brands of pencils willColored Pencil Sets 1 have varying grades of pencils.

  • Student-grade. I expect the pencil core to be harder if it is a student-grade pencil. The formula for the core has more bonding agents than pigment, and colors will be less vibrant and fade over time. Student grade is used for learning colored pencil skills, and you will need to apply more pressure for better saturation.
  • Artist/Professional grade. Artist-grade pencils are usually oil-based and are more expensive. They are known for quality pigments, performance, and lightfast ratings are known for quality pigment. They are more fade-resistant and can be sharpened to a fine point. If they are softcore, they are great for blending, layering, and shading.
  • Student-grade vs. Artist/Professional-grade for adult coloring. A variety of quality pencils in all price ranges provide exceptional coloring experiences. After coloring for a long time, I want quality student-grade and artist-grade pencils for my adult coloring. Of course, so many factors in your choices range from budget, the type of coloring themes you like and the type of paper. [TOC]

Oil-base vs. Waxed-based Pencil Core

I look carefully at whether the pencil core is wax- or oil-based. Each type of core has common characteristics, and pencil cores combine pigment, gum binder, wax or oil and filler material. Each colored pencil brand has unique formulas unique to the brands, and manufacturers will alter these formulas/recipes to create specific qualities for their pencils. This outlines my mental checklist when I evaluate how the pencil stands up to its features and attributes. See the articles, “Oil-based Colored Pencils: What to Know Before You Buy” and “Wax-based Colored Pencils: What to Know Before You Buy.” [TOC]

Softcore vs. Hardcore

I look at whether the colored pencil core is soft or hard. Pencil cores combine pigment, gum binder, wax or oil and filler material. Each colored pencil brand has unique formulas unique to the brands, and manufacturers will alter these formulas/recipes to create specific qualities for their pencils. For example, student-grade pencils tend to be harder, while professional-grade are known for superior quality and can be hard or soft. [TOC]

Pigment Quality

Colored pencil sets range vastly from student grade to professional grade. The pigment will be the most significant difference contributing to quality and price, and more pigment means your colors will look fresh and vibrant orColored Pencil Sets 2 longer. [TOC]

Color Variety

I carefully evaluate the variety of colors presented in the set. For example, an artist has the skill to take just a few colors and blend them into many more colors. Because I am focused on coloring books, I want to have the necessary colors to address my favorite coloring book themes. Since I am reviewing pencil sets on a broad basis, I ask myself questions like

  • Does the pencil set have a good breath of color?
  • Does the colored pencil set have a range of colors to address any coloring book theme (e.g., jungle, deserts, people, shapes, mandalas, flowers, animals, and mythical variations)? If not, what then?
  • Do the pencil sets have too many of one color or not enough of another? [TOC]


Lightfastness is a property of a colorant such as dye or pigment that describes how resistant to fading it is when exposed to light. Lightfast rating is essential to artists, especially when they spend long hours creating art; they will want the work of art to keep its vibrancy for years to come. Lightfast grading scales will vary by manufacturer. [TOC]

Open Stock vs. No Open Stock

When a color in your pencil set becomes exhausted, can you purchase a replacement for the color? This is known as open stock. Student-grade pencil sets (e.g., Low-end to lower mid-range) are commonly not available in open stock, while artist/professional grade (e.g., higher mid-range to high-end) pencils have open stock. If I use artist-grade colored pencils, I want open stock. [TOC]

Colored Pencil Construction

Pencil cores combine pigment, gum binder, wax or oil and filler material encased in wood. The pencil construction can tell you a lot about the quality of the pencil. All colored pencils are not made equal, and the most common colored pencil cores are either wax-based or oil-based. Pencil cores combine pigment, gum binder, wax or oil and filler.

  • Core/Lead Size. Most colored pencils have a core diameter between 3mm and 4mm. The large core diameter will contribute to how long the pencil will last.
  • Wood. Wood is used to encase the colored pencil core, and higher-quality pencil casings are Cedarwood. Be on the lookout for words like “compressed wood.” Better quality woods are less likely to break with dropped or during sharpening. The wood quality can make all the difference in the pencil experience. When you read reviews, look closely at how the wood performs with coloring, sharpening, and related tasks.
  • Round vs. hexagon pencil barrel. When it comes to round vs. hexagonal colored pencil barrel designs, there are pros and cons for each design. The round pencil barrels tend to roll when placed on uneven surfaces when bumped on a surface and can fall on the floor and break the lead. The hexagonal pencil, however, will stay in place without rolling. [TOC]

Performance with Paper

Colored pencils will respond differently to various types of paper, and I want to understand how the pencils perform with different types of paper. When I color, I like to match the pencil to the paper, and many colored pencils work well on all papers. Coloring books are usually not known for having quality paper, and I want to ensure that my pencils work well with my coloring books. For example, a more textured paper will wear down a tip faster but will hold more layers. In contrast, a smoother paper will save on the lead but will not hold as many layers. [TOC]

Colored Pencil Set Reviews: Buying Decision

Colored Pencil Set Reviews 5

Reviews can be overwhelming. In this section, I will expand on how I use the reviews to help me make the colored pencil purchase decision.

Which colored pencil set do I buy? I don’t think there is a straightforward answer to this question, and I think it’s all about your preferences, what you want to color, the paper you will use, and so forth. An excellent example of this would be to go to the amazon reviews of any coloring pencil set.

The review range from comments like “absolutely love these pencils” to “don’t waste your money. If you are in adult coloring, your priorities are very different than someone like me who wants to color different themes in coloring books. However, I have several criteria that I find to be most helpful. [TOC]

Range of Colors

The range of colors in a set of coloring pencil sets refers to the variation of colors I find. For example, if I buy an Arteza Expert Colored Pencils set of 72, I am looking at the range of colors in the set. When looking for a set of colors, IColored Pencil Sets 3 consider what type of coloring book themes I like to color. For example, for

  • For jungle scenes, I want a good range of greens and browns.
  • In flower and garden scenes, I am reviewing the range of yellows, reds, pinks and purples.
  • For water, and ocean scenes, I want to see the range of blues. [TOC]

Purchasing Artist-grade Colored Pencils

When considering Artist-grade pencils, they must be open-stock and have an excellent lightfast rating.

Open-stock replacement pencils. There are a few sets of pencils that offer pencil sets with “open stock.” For example, if a pencil in the set has been exhausted and is no longer helpful, I can buy a replacement. Colored pencil sets in the expensive range, such as Faber-Castell Polychromos, and Caran d’Ache Pablos, offer replacement pencils in open stock. I like open stock for the more expensive sets for two reasons.

  • You do not have to replace the set of pencils. If I had paid $175.00 USD more for a set of pencils, I don’t know to buy a new set to replace a few pencils.
  • Testing and evaluating pencils. If I am considering the purchase of the more expensive pencil sets, I can purchase of few pencils in open stock and test how the pencil feels, colors, blends, and more.
  • Colored Pencil Lightfast. Lightfast is all about how long a color keeps its vibrancy, lasting before fading when exposed to light. Lightfastness is extremely important to artists who will be selling their works of art. The premium/high-end pencil sets, like Faber-Castell Polychromos or Caran d’Ache Luminance, have a lightfast rating. If you are just focused on coloring in coloring books, you will rarely need lightfastness because you won’t be selling your completed pages/works. [TOC]

Blending and Layering Characteristics

I want to see how the colored pencils will blend and layer. Because I try to get larger sets of coloring pencils, I usually find the color I am looking for in the set. But it is not uncommon for me to want to blend two colors to achieve various gradients. I will often layer colors to get a deeper coverage and color. I want to see how smoothly the pencils achieve each task. To test these characteristics in the average-priced pencil sets, I will purchase the 12-pencil set version. [TOC]

Pencil Point Sharpness

Many coloring book themes or sizes of coloring surface (e.g., postcard, miniature size) have small, detailed areas to color, and I want to use a colored pencil that will keep its point longer. I have pencil sets that keep their point very well, others that are better for coloring large areas, and sets that do both. If you are choosing just one set and coloring detailed areas, then a sharp pencil point matters. [TOC]

Cost of Colored Pencils

I will be using USD currency for this discussion. Colored pencil sets range vastly from student grade to professional grade. The prices can range from under $30.00 USD to several hundred USD. I look at the value of pencils compared to price/performance and availability. If I can afford it, I will try to get the largest set because the price per pencil is lower. Colored pencil sets are commonly placed into the following categories:

  • Low-end/budget (Under .50 cents) (e.g., Castle Arts, Cezanne, Magicfly, Zenacolor)
  • Mid-range/average (.51 cents to $1.00 dollar) (Black Widow, Arteza Expert, Spectrum Noir Colorblend)
  • High-end/expensive and premium ($1.00-$2.00) (e.g., Faber-Castell Polychromos or Caran d’Ache Luminance, Derwent Lightfast)


How Big of A Colored Pencil Set to Buy?

Colored Pencil Set Reviews 6

As you review and evaluate colored pencils, consider that many brands have multiple sets (number of pencils in a set) to choose from. Consider the following suggestions.

  • Brand testing. If you have your eyes on a brand of pencils but still want to test them before you buy, purchase 3-5 open-stock pencils (if they have them) or a smaller set (12-24 pencils).
  • Toe Dipping. If you are unsure that you want to get into adult coloring, I suggest starting with 48 to 72 pencil sets. You may move to a more extensive set if you want better low-end to mid-range sets. For many low-budget colored pencil sets, you may only have one set to choose from that have 150 pencils in the set.
  • Adult Coloring is for Me. If you are sure you want to get into adult coloring, I am in favor of getting sets that range from 72 to 150 pencils in a set. You have a good color selection to cover most coloring book themes andColored Pencil Sets 4 projects. As time goes on, you may continue to add to your collection. That is what I have done. It’s not uncommon for me to use pencils from two sets in a project.
  • Replacing Pencils in Pencil Set. When a color in your pencil set becomes exhausted, can you purchase a replacement for the color? This is known as open stock. Student-grade pencil sets (e.g., Low-end to lower mid-range) are commonly not available in open stock, while artist/professional grade (e.g., higher mid-range to high-end) pencils have open stock.

If I use artist-grade colored pencils, I want open stock, and I don’t care about the open stock if I use lower-cost pencils. If a pencil from my colored pencils set becomes exhausted (used up), I can, for example, buy a new set, a smaller set of the brand that has the color, or chooses another color from the other 72-plus pencil sets or learn how to blend for the desired color. [TOC]

Using Reviews: A Personal Experience

I thoroughly enjoy the world of adult coloring. I was hooked when I first picked up the coloring pencil and began coloring. I have spent many beautiful hours coloring, learning, and developing my coloring skills. Over the years, I have had a chance to evaluate, purchase, and experience various colored pencils and coloring books. Allow me to share my personal experience.

I became interested in adult coloring after a severe car wreck where I incurred a traumatic brain injury (TBI). I took up coloring as one of the mental exercises to assist my brain in my ongoing recovery. I fell in love with adult coloring. If you would like to read more about bout my TBI, go to “How A Car Crash Gave Me the Gift of “Living in the Present“.

  • First choice experience. I remember when I bought my first set of colored pencils. I reviewed up to 10 pencil brands, read five or more reviews for each, and viewed many Amazon reviews. The more I looked, the more I hesitated and confused I felt. I ended up buying a cheap brand with lots of colors. That was a terrible choice. I wanted to quit coloring because I was not too fond of the pencil set and the coloring experience they gave me. I did not know there was a difference in pencils.
  • Second choice experience. As I started getting into adult coloring, I was overwhelmed by the choices in prices, variety, colors, and set sizes of coloring pencils. There was discussion about color vibrancy, core strength and softness, oil-based/wax-based, ease of blending, open stock, and so much more. Where do you begin? The more I read, the more confused I became. Finally, I just settled on buying my first coloring book, ColorIt Mandalas for Adults, Volume 1, and SJ Stary-Joy 72 Colored Pencils. That was perfect for getting started.
  • More experience choices. When I became serious about adult coloring, I knew I wanted a better set of coloring pencils. I read and read and read reviews but was still undecided about where to invest my money. Reading was not enough, and I had to get my hands on the pencils to feel touch and see how they responded to the type of coloring I was doing at the time I was looking. As my skills improved, I graduated in quality coloring books and themes of coloring books. I have sets of Caran D’Ache, Farber-Castell, Prismacolor, Castle Arts, Black Widow, Derwent, Holbein, Arteza, and more. [TOC]

If you liked this Article, Please share it with others.


About Us:

We love adult coloring. Whether you are just beginning or becoming an experienced colorist, the mission of Coloring Butterfly is to share our knowledge, passion and skills with you through reviews, tips & tricks, tutorials and more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Thank you for Subscribing!