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The 5 Best Watercolor Pencils

best watercolor pencils

Watercolor pencils are a quite popular among the artistic community. But what are they, really? Well, as you can see in our colored pencil guide the core inside regular pencils is either oil or wax based. These are what most people are familiar with.

Watercolor pencils, on the other hand, have water soluble pigments inside. Understand that whether or not a set of watercolor pencils is good is usually contingent upon what you are going to use them for and who will use them. Kids, for example, using watercolor pencils can settle for a lower quality compared to professional artists who are searching for a unique tone in their artwork. Watercolor pencils typically come in 36 or 72 colors with a few 120 color assortments. Unlike watercolor paints they will allow for some more detailed and unique ways of expression.

That said, here are some of the best watercolor pencil brands:

1. Faber Castell

faber castell watercolor pencils

Faber Castell is among the most expensive name brands on the market, but they are the regarded as the best watercolor pencil brand out there. When you purchase this brand, you get an entire set of polychromos watercolors. This is a large set that comes with 120 different colors. Using this set you can blend and mix colors, producing great works of art. The pigments are high quality and honestly, this set stands alone among the top name brands. These watercolor pencils are very strong because of SV bonding. So, they will not break when you use them every day. They also come with a special tin that protects them when you are not using them. No matter what you want to draw, this set has everything you need to blend or to find the perfect shade.

2, Prismacolor Premier 

prismacolor watercolor

This watercolor pencil set is the second best on the market, manufactured by the Prismacolor brand name. While not as expensive as Faber Castell, it will still cost you. These are an oil based set of 36 colors. The pencils are break-resistant which means they will stay sturdy no matter how often you use them. Their richly saturated pigments give you a bright color, for every color. When you want colored pencils that lay down smoothly and blend with the others in the set, this is the set you want. The cores are soft and thick so you can use them to draw beautiful pictures or complete adult coloring books.

3. Derwent Drawing Inktense

derwent watercolor

Derwent makes a set of 12 ink pencils that are perfect for the artist in you. These are water soluble so they are easy to blend. They have rich colors like sea blue, fuchsia, poppy red, and deep indigo. Each pencil has a 4mm core ideal for all types of drawing. Once your colors dry, they will not fade or run. So anyone who is concerned with water damage or smudging need not worry.

4. Caran d’Ache Classic

neocolor watercolor

Finally, there is the Caran d’Ache Classic set. Here you get water soluble pastels with 40 colors. They are easy to blend, won’t break even if you are a beginner or heavy handed. They can be used wet or dry which makes them durable.

5. JNW Direct Watercolor Pencils

JNW Direct

Last place is for JNW arts pencils.  Although just a generic rebrand and I can't vouche for the quality. You might just want it for the pencil packaging.

Wrapping it up

Overall, consider what you are going to draw. Each picture you draw will have its own colors and each of the brands discussed have different color choices. Try to find a set that contains the colors you want so that you can blend well.

On that note, some brands are better for blending than others. So, if you plan on blending a lot, get the ones that have the softer leads. If you do not want to blend and instead want crisp lines, get a harder lead.

In addition to the colored pencils, you are going to need a pencil sharpener, and a high quality electric one will help save you the most time.

Figure out how serious or dedicated you are to your art. This seems silly, but honestly, if you are buying watercolor pencils for a kid in school, two hundred professional grade pencils is just a waste of money. Stick to school-grade pencils for kids or beginners, and work your way up to artist-grade pencils with time.

If the muscles on the outer edge of your hand and your thumb base are sore when you draw, then you probably push hard on your paper. The colored pencils you choose to get if you are one of the many heavy-handed artists out there can help you to reduce the rate of tips breaking and the time you spend sharpening. Look for those which have a harder lead, a less destructible lead, even if it costs more.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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