This is less of a techniques, and more of a tips post. The next one will be a technique!
One of the most common questions I see or get asked is what are the best pencils/pens to start with?
This, obviously depends on a great many factors – what kinds of pictures you’ll be colouring, what colours you prefer, what consistency you prefer and what your budget is.
My number one tip when it comes to deciding is to not go all out and spend a lot of money when you start. You might lash out on a $300 set of pencils to discover you prefer markers, or vice versa. You might buy a certain set of pencils to find out you prefer a firmer point etc.
This post will review three mid level pencils brands that are available quite widely in Australia. I’ve included the Amazon links for these where possible underneath the post.
These all retail for under $20 (AUD) so any one is a nicely priced entry into colouring for adults. In fact, one I still use regularly, and often prefer over artist quality pencils.
1. Crayola Aged Up Pencils
These are a new entry – released by Crayola in response to the adult colouring craze. They are available in 50 colours, in a white cardboard box embellished with green.
The 50 colours are shown below in the colour chart, but these are my thoughts on the colour range. For a mid range pencil, the variety of colours is quite range. There is a good amount of each ROYGBIV colour, as well as desaturated colours as grey and black. Browns and oranges are the two I found a little lacking, or at least similar, but there is enough for most colourists.
The pencils themselves are a cylindrical shape, covered in the colour of the pencil itself. The colour is embossed in metallic on the side so there is no confusion. Don’t underestimate this feature – it can be frustrating when you are stil adjusting to new pencils and can’t remember what the colour you were looking for looked like.
The firm core surrounded by the soft pigment prevents both breakages and the pencil running down quickly which is great!
While colouring, the pencils do feel quite smooth, with the odd touch of scratchiness. This is usually due to a pigment fault, and you will probably encounter this occasionally. It doesn’t disturb the colour, or the paper however!
The colours are not as vibrant as the other entries on the list, but they do later quite well, making up for the lack of pigment. I had issues blending with these, no matter how I coloured, I couldn’t get a smooth blended look out of them!
Overall, I’d rate these 6.5/10 out of these selections.
2. Faber Castell Classic Coloured Pencils
Faber Castell make a lot of art supplies, including Pitt Artist Pens and Polychromos pencils. These are a cheaper, more accessible entry by Faber Castell.
Available in up to 48 colours, for under $20, the colour range is varied. Equal between all colours, there are few overlaps in the entire 48 set. The range of blues I found particularly great!
The pencils are coloured the same colour as the pencil, and are hexagonal shaped, handy to grip and stop pencils rolling away. The number of the colour is embossed on the side of the pencil, handy for picking up again or referring to the colour chart!
In action, these pencils feel nice and smooth. They are definitely not as soft as artist quality pencils, but are definitely soft enough to achieve some decent blending and layering.
These pencils do wear down a little quicker than the other two, but not so much that it’s a problem. I’ve had my 36 set for over 12 months and all are still going strong. I also experience very few breakages with them.
Colour goes on evenly and is consistent throughout layers. I didn’t have any pigment issues, but it is always a possibility!
Layering and blending was the easiest with these out of these selection and these pencils are what I used to learn how to shade and blend with softer pencils.
Overall, I would rate these 9/10 in this level of pencils – and my personal favourite pencil. I grab them more frequently than any other pencil in my arsenal.
3. Micador Colourrush.
Im unsure if the micador brand is available around the world or if it is an Australian company but I did hunt down an Amazon link at the end of this article . This 36 set is available for under $20 in most Australian department stores.
The colour chart shows the distribution of colour, and as with the others, there is quite a good distribution of colours. The lack of variety in the greens disappointed me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the purples – something that is often lacking.
The pencils themselves are hexagonal shaped and coloured the same colour as the lead – with a green coloured base. This makes them easy to recognise when stored with other pencils. Like the Crayola Aged Up, the name of the pencil is embossed into the side of the pencil.
These pencils are something of an anomaly to me. They feel quite firm to colour with, but the colour is amazingly vibrant and the lead wears down quite fast. The vibrancy is comparable to some artist quality pencils, but unfortunately, so is the speed at which they get worn down. I have experienced basically no breakages with these, a minor miracle in the world of coloured pencils!
The colour goes on smoothly and is consistent, incredibly vibrant on all papers I have tried.
Layering was quite easy with these, although I found any paper could only take so much of these because the pigment goes go on thicker. Blending was more challenging, perhaps because of the thick pigment or vibrancy. I struggled to get a clean blended look with these.
Overall, I would give these a 7/10.
They make a good addition to my pencils for pictures or areas that require a pop of colour or some extra vibrancy.
My preference is for the Faber Castell Classics, I find them a fantastic all rounder with a good range of pencils. These pencils are how I learned to colour and I love them.
The other two do have their positives, but as always, take your own circumstances and preferences into account before purchasing! D
Links to Purchase