Appearance & Packaging
Prismacolor Pencils are are available in a wide range of sizes and sets, from 12 to the full 150 pencils. Most sets come in a metal tin, with plastic trays to hold the pencils that pull out.
The pencils themselves are quite appealing, a full colour cylindrical barrel with the name and number of the pencil pressed onto the side.
Ease of Use & Durability
Prismacolor Soft Core live up to their name. They are brilliantly easy to apply to any paper, even a slight brush against paper will apply vibrant colour.
There is no need to press down with these, in fact pressing down and applying one thick layer will result in the colour appearing flat and dull. The key to using Prismacolors successfully is layering, and these pencils are a delight once you get used to that!
Because they are so soft, it is difficult to retain a sharp point for long. This does mean more frequent sharpening, and a pencil that doesn’t last as long as others.
The light layers mean that blending is a dream with these pencils. It is as if they are meant to be combined, to create new blends and textures. I regularly use a blending pencil, but it isn’t necessary to create an even blend.
I’ve had some of mine for six months, used regularly, and only my most used colours are now becoming too short to use. This isn’t as long lasting as some pencils, but certainly better than expected. It is also quite easy and cheap to replace single pencils as needed.
There are many concerns about Prismacolors quality amongst the colouring community. Concerns about broken cores causing pencils to split as they are sharpened, cores falling out and pencil tips crumbling as soon as they are put to paper.
I will only comment on my experience with Prismacolors, which does seem to be quite fortunate. I own 116 Prismacolor pencils, purchased from a range of places, both open stock and in sets. Only two have had these issues. One would break everytime it was sharpened and the other would crumble as soon as it touched the page.
The quality issues aren’t ideal of course, but there are ways to work around it – use a high quality sharpener, never press too heavily, gently heat the pencils to ensure the core is joined.
Prismacolor is unsurpassed in their colour range. 150 colours of every part of the spectrum. Unlike most pencil sets, I don’t think there are gaps in this one.
My most used colours are blue, green and brown, and there are plenty of each to choose from!
Value & Availability
Prismacolor is an artist quality pencil, and has the price tag to match. They aren’t as pricey as some brands, but for the full 150 set, you can expect to pay between $190-$350 depending on your sources. They frequently go on sale on Amazon for $120 (USD) which often works out a great deal cheaper even after shipping and exchange.
To see some work done with Prismacolor have a look at my review of a Chalkboard art style book!
See the current prices on Amazon US via this link.