Art is often limited to painting and sketching on a broad basis, and colored pencils are many times ignored in favor of paints and even charcoal. But they make a great tool not only for coloring book enthusiasts but also for the professionals who need to use colors on a regular basis. So, here are the 21 best available colored pencils for artists who want to get the canvas ablaze with vibrant colors.

1) Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer


These are watercolor pencils with extremely good blending characteristics. This makes even the smaller sets with fewer color options a great hit. These pencils have an oil-based core with a hexagonal wood shell. They are attractively packaged with tin cans or pouches for smaller sets and sturdy wooden boxes for the larger ones which also makes them durable. They produce intense color and when applied with water or solvent can spread across a large area. Sharpening is also easy and with the right amount of sharpness detailed coloring is possible. They might come across as a little clotty in the beginning, but once you add water to the mix they turn out quite smooth. You can purchase singles or sets which have as many as 120 color options. The premium quality of pigments makes them lightfast, too. Although, expensive they are an extremely important investment for serious pencil artists.

2) Caran d’Ache Aquarelle Museum Watercolor


The soft wax-based lead of these watercolor pencils is not very different from oil cores. Their high concentrated pigments are instantly recognizable due to their extremely vivid color production. They can be used dry as well as with water or any other solvent, but the premium quality blending is possible when wet. The 3.8 mm lead and water-soluble cores have a buttery smooth stroke and the colors produced are manipulated with ease. Be it a small detailed area or vast color representation, they are more than equipped for the task. They come in all sizes ranging from 12 to 80. These hexagonal barrels are packed in a strong box or wooden case with a separate box for each pencil. They have a black matte finish outside with the bottom representing the actual color of the pencil with brand and number stamped across it. Cost can be an issue but the quality more than makes up for it.

3) Faber- Castell Polychromos


These are great both for beginners as well as professionals alike. Polychromos means ‘many colors’ which is the highlight of the set. From singles to the giant 120 color set, these pencils offer a bright, vivid coloring with fantastic intensity. The oil-based cores are quite strong and can be sharpened too, which makes detailed work possible. Buttery smooth application and amazing blending qualities hold true for bright as well as dark colors, which are surprisingly easy to with. Although you might take time to balance the color output, in the beginning, the end result is spectacular. The use of paint thinner is advised as a solvent and it helps to release the color better. With extremely attractive packaging of the tin box for smaller sets and wooden one for large, these sturdy pencils have the added bonus of amazing user control.

4) Derwent Procolour


These are a fairly recent addition to the Derwent line. Although the range of colors provided is limited, these pencils form a great middle ground between the softness of color soft pencils and the firmness of Artist Series pencils. The 4mm core is wax and quite soft, but not too brittle. The sharpened tips last long and are hard to break barring when high pressure is applied. The sets come in a range of 12 to 72. But the smaller sets have limited color options, just providing basic hues including primary red and ivory black. The 36-piece set is self-sustaining, but the largest, 72 color set comes with a color chart that ranks the lightfastness of each color. The blending is quite good but buying the larger set is encouraged. The intense color production is another win for Derwent. The tin packaging and optional wooden case are effective for increasing their durability. Hexagonal and round barrels are available, with the lower end representing the color and the whole body a matte grey/black finish, giving it a serious professional look.

5) Derwent Lightfast


The first oil-based in the Derwent line, Derwent Lightfast has colors that won’t fade for 100 years. In the raw output, these pencils produce a deep, intense color. These come in sets of 12, 24, and 36, with a limited choice in color options, which can be overcome with its blending. In addition to the creamy application and smooth strokes, this new line of Derwent has an amazing color control too. The 4mm core size has a round barrel which is suitable for intricate details as well as vast color applications. The color gaps can be filled up with the excellent blending this range provides. The ability to stack over many layers upon one and the absence of wax bloom is notable here. The packaging is a standard tin box and the pencils have a wood-colored barrels with a bit of tarnish. The lower base, again represents the color, above which is a navy blue strip signifying the Lightfast series. The middle of the barrel sports the name along with the trademark “Made in Britain’ sign. The cost is high, compared to its small size but this set is definitely capable of competing with the best in the market.

6) Arteza Professional


Arteza Professional range is a unique set of pencil colors that are cost-effective without compromising quality. At par with its competitors, these pencils have an average wax bloom in spite of having a wax-based core. The colors produced are refreshing and vivid. They might lack optimum intensity sometimes, but at the cost at which they come, these are worth every penny you pay for them. The sets come in 48 or 72 color packs, attractively packaged in a tin box. The unique feature of these pencils lies in the lightfastness rating that comes from 1 to 3 stars. The great blending fills the gap between the two sets up to a certain extent, but the 72 color set is recommended.

7) Caran d’Ache Luminance


Caran d’Ache boats this set of UV-resistant colored pencils which simply pop up in your eyes. Bright, intense colors are produced by these pencils. The cores are wax but resemble oil cores sometimes and have very little wax bloom. Coming in a range of sets of 20 to 72, these pencils have round barrels and a highly vivid almost illuminated color palette. The lighter, earthy colors are amiss here. The lightfastness issues are almost non-existent and smooth, creamy application with excellent blending is a great treat to work with. You can even stack layers of colors or mix them with a solvent to blend. Sharpening them is a hassle free and the tips don’t break even if high pressure is applied. Vast color pallets can be painted just as easily as a delicate stone carving. They are packed in a sturdy box or a wooden case and come in colorless barrels with the bottom stamped in color matching the pencil. The price is as expected of a Caran d’Ache product but so is the quality.

8) Prismacolour softcore


Living up to its name, Prismacolour softcore produces gentle and silky smooth strokes. The color selection is amazing, starting from a basic pack of 12 up to 150 colors and the largest pack is not necessary. The blending is amazing and any color not available in the 150 given, can be easily produced. With a 5mm soft wax core and an 8mm hexagonal barrel, minor complaints of core shattering are heard. Best to use these in vast spaces, the soft core is easily breakable. They can be used both as dry pencils and along with water or any other solvent. Creamy application and consistent color production just add up to its qualities. They come in a tin case are quite affordable, too.

9) Stedtler Professional Watercolor


In a range of Stedtler’s pencils, these ones definitely rank high in the price section, but they more than compensate for that in the amazing quality. The soft-wax base core is covered in a hexagonal barrel. Worthy of their asking price, these pencils produce amazing colors with or without water. The blending and application are in full form, with a color that is as good with solvent as it is dry. The lead stays well, even under pressure, and sharpening them is easy, too. Color options are staggering and the blending really does produce some attractive and amazing colors. The layering of colors is also possible, even with different brands of pencils. Coming in packs of 12 to 60 colors, they also have the advantage of attractive packaging under their belt. The tin box used for packing is sturdy and the look of them is a high-class, definitely a profitable investment for any pencil artist.

10) Caran d’Ache Prismalo Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils


Often compared to the Museum Aquarelle line, these are another set of top-notch watercolor pencils by Caran d’Ache. Made mostly for wet applications, these can be arguably found to be the oldest of the watercolors pencils on the market. They have a harder and smaller lead size of 3.0 mm which makes dry usage a bit difficult. Sets from 12 to 80 are available and staggeringly diverse color options are seen in 40 and 80 count packs. These sets also have the best blending in this range. The colors produced are astonishing, vivid hues. The application is quite smooth and sharpening is a breeze. The packaging is of tin or wooden boxes and the look is ordinary, not easy to distinguish for a novice. With the excellent control in water-based colors, this range is also cheaper compare to Museum Aquarelle but not too different in quality.

11) Holbein Artist


The specialty of the Holbein Artists range is its unique core, made from a mixture of oils, waxes, and sometimes even fats. The said core is 3.88 mm thick and produces incredibly vivid colors. Smooth application and bright colors are a bi-product of this special core, and the color options are immense and diverse for the largest 150 count set. Although they come in packs starting from 12, the largest is always recommended mainly due to poor blending. The darker shades are missing though and layering more than a few colors can be a real mess. The round barrels are packaged in an attractive cardboard box with multiple racks that hold up to 50 pencils each. The smooth application really makes using these pencils a fun time. The price is high but in line with the other premium ranges.

12) Bruynzeel Design Colour


Bruynzeel pencils come with a core of 3.7 mm, a round barrel, and relatively smaller sets. The soft lead and thick wax core result in rich and smooth color application. Little pressure produces impressive color and the layering of colors is also possible. The colors don’t fade for a long time and the high-quality pigments enable dynamic color manipulation. They have round barrels and come in sets of 12, 24, and 48 count packs. This is definitely the cause of poor variety of colors, deeply concentrated in shades of red, yellow, and orange. Sharpening is easy with these beauties and fine as well and large strokes are equally easy in application. The best part of this set is the excellent packaging. The wooden box has pull-out drawers in which foam slots are allotted to every individual pencil. They do compete fairly with other leading brands, although there are many times called a rebranded version of Marco Renoir, a more inexpensive set of similar quality.

13) Derwent Artists


These are the ultimate Artists' set of pencils by Derwent. The 4mm wax-based core is covered by the hexagonal barrel of wood, 8 mm in all. Minor flaking issues are observed and careful sharpening is required, but compared to the advantages, the defects seem small. These pencils have amazing colors intensity, the hues are vivid and the brightness is controlled by the application. A slight waxy sheen after the application is observed but can be easily diluted. They have great blending qualities and layering is quite easy with the sticky texture. The void in smaller sets is filled due to this and though a variety of colors are available to choose from, the packages range from singles up to 120 count sets. The smaller packs come in tin cases and the larger ones in a wooden box. The price is quite affordable, in the lower premium range with the quality of the best. Also, the prices change according to set but it’s wiser to one of the larger sets.

14) Caran d’Ache Supracolor Watercolor


Caran d’Ache Supracolor is ideal for highly-detailed areas requiring good user control. The 3.8 mm core is quite thin compared to its counterparts but it’s highly useful for intricate detailing. In broader areas that need subdued color, the water makes the color spread evenly. The color selection is great and superb quality blending fills in gaps of the smaller sets effectively. Slight lightfastness is seen when used with water, but the effective color manipulation and amazing pigmentation make up for both dry as well as wet applications. The sharpening is easy and the user control is helped by the hexagonal barrels. The sharpened tips pass a fair amount of pressure tests and last long, though some graininess is observed occasionally. The packaging is of the tin case or wooden box, according to your choice, but a wooden box looks amazing. The price is high but they are worth the investment for you.

15) Derwent Studio


They are specialty pencils, perfect for painting the grass, feathers, or hair. Their core is 3.4 mm, smaller than many and harder than most, and is made of wax. It is wrapped in a hexagonal barrel of 6.9 mm. For painting larger areas, there are other options. The blending is good, but not quite up to the mark sometimes. The hardcore is able to handle high pressure and results in a smooth application, but the pressure can harm the paper. Coming in sizes from singles to 72 colors, these petite pencils are more of an addition to the other bigger sets which at better at blending and have a better selection of colors. Tin cases are used for most sets, but the largest one comes in a wooden box. The price is high, but be sure to remember that these are add-ons rather than a self-sufficient set. And remember, they are excellent where are supposed to be.

16) Derwent Watercolor


These are the primary offering of Watercolor pencils by Derwent. They have a small 3.4 mm soft wax core encased in a hexagonal 6.9 mm barrel. Some distinct varieties of greens, blues, and browns are found in this range, mostly in large sets. The color is consistent but lacks some essential vibrancy even though a high amount of color is used. There is good user control and the color output is smooth, but they dry quickly. The softcore is breakable under pressure and a few sharpening issues are also observed. But the layering is effective and the blending good, too. Tin or wooden box is optional for up to a smaller 24 pencil set, but the larger ones until 72 have compulsory wooden exteriors, good for safety and transportation. They are available as singles too and have a blue outer barrel, with the lower end matching the color of the pencil. The price is in the mid-range and really quite affordable.

17) Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor


Lyra Rembrandt is a new addition to the small lineup of the oil-based core. The said core is 4mm thick with a round barrel, but the pencil itself is petite due to the smaller covering which also leads a better user control. The blending is quite good and in larger sets, you get 2 Lyra Splendor blending pencils. But the softcore is prone to breaking and going soft. The color output is quite good, but you require a good deal of pressure to produce it. This coupled with the tip breaking, means they need to be sharpened quite often. The color application is scratchy sometimes, but the feel of premium oil colored pencils is good and available in sets of 12 to 72 pencils. These come in a tin with plastic grovels separating each pencil which has a wooden barrel dipped in color matching the core. The price is premium, but quite affordable compared to its other oil-based counterparts.

18) Lyra Rembrandt Aquarelle


This variety of Lyra also has an oil core which is water-friendly, too. The core diameter of 4 mm makes the application smooth and colors spread easily. The core can be fragile at times and might fracture or break when under a lot of pressure. The lead is quite hard, like wax-based pencils, but the wax bloom is non-existent. The pencils come in a metal tin with a colorless wooden exterior, with tips representing the color of individual pencils. It has been observed that the color marked outside and the actual don’t match perfectly and are several shades off sometimes. Sets range from 12 to 72 colors and the larger sets have a good variety of colors to offer. The price range is quite high, higher than most wax pencils, but cheaper than the premium oil-based ones.

19) Koh-i-noor Progresso Woodless


As the name suggests, these are pencils without the outer wooden core with a diameter of 7.6 mm. The larger areas are thus covered quickly. The core is injected with special oils but is as strong as any other pencil on the market. The lack of an outer core makes extra pressure a hazard. The tip can break or even the whole pencil might snap. But the pressure is not required to produce good colors and is avoidable. The colors are limited due to small-sized packs of 12 or 24. Thick, powerful strokes are possible in spite of the lack of an outside core. The mixing and blending don’t come easy though not impossible. They come in a cardboard box and a corrugated plastic shaft for individual pencils. With the mid to premium price range, this is an excellent option for any coloring book enthusiast who requires basic hues.

20) Derwent Colorsoft


Derwent Colorsoft feels similar to pastel pencils. The wax core is 4 mm in diameter and the 6.9 mm round barrel covers it effectively. The colors produced are vivid and strong, (especially red, orange, and yellow) coupled with easy and state-of-the-art blending, giving the best results. The tip though needs to be sharpened quite often and even if sharpening is easy, keeping it the same way is not. Thick color applications are possible, but never use them in confined spaces for intricate work. Available from singles up to 72 count sets, these pencils offer an overall great color selection. The packs of 12 to 72 are available in metal tins and 18 to 72 in wooden boxes. The pencils themselves are of brown color, the base marking the color. The price is mid-ranged without the wooden box thus making this set a viable option.

21) Caran d’Ache Pablo


These are water-resistant pencils with traits of watercolor hybrid pencils. The strong 3.8 mm diameter core is a mixture of oil and wax and can handle pressure effectively. They are also pretty good for detailing when sharpened. The wax core ensures smooth application and color intensity is quite good too though you may require a few strokes to get to the exact color. But the wax bloom is not present. The color blending and manipulation are also good and the color variety is excellent in the larger sets. From a small 12 to huge 120 pieces sets, these pencils, each having a hexagonal barrel matching their core, come in a metal box or attractive wooden case. This is a pretty good package although it might come in the premium price range.

So folks, select one of these sets and start a new hobby. Get lost in the world of colors and maybe you can create something that you will be proud of, forever.

What better way to appreciate art than to buy one of the paintings or sketches made with the help of one of these pencil sets? Visit and get one of your own pictures converted into art that will live forever.