10 Best Colored Pencils for Professional Artists and Illustrators

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Written By Liviu Craciun
I am the founder of Huntlancer where my team and I are committed to providing you with the best resources on all things freelancing.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time doodling and experimenting with different art supplies myself and there’s something special about colored pencils. They’re not just your average art supply. They’re like these little magic wands that can bring your ideas to life.

Finding the best colored pencils is a game-changer. It’s like when you find that perfect pair of shoes that not only look great but feel amazing too. The best ones? They just glide over the paper, leaving behind the most gorgeous colors. It’s like they’re part of your hand and you can’t even tell where your creativity ends and the pencil begins.

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Whether you’re just playing around with a simple sketch or getting super detailed in a complex piece, the perfect colored pencil makes all the difference. I’m excited to share with you my top 10 picks. So, let’s dive in and find those perfect colored pencils that aren’t just going to meet your expectations but totally blow them away. This list is for all the artists out there, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been at this for ages. Get ready to find your new artistic best friend!

Here at Huntlancer, we strive to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in art, design and multimedia. We are dedicated to engaging with artists to grow our network and constantly featuring new products that properly reflect the vision of these talented creatives.

Types of Colored Pencils

  • Wax-Based Colored Pencils: These pencils have a core made of wax and pigments. They are known for their smooth application and rich color laydown. Wax-based pencils blend easily and can create a range of effects. However they might be prone to wax bloom over time.
  • Oil-Based Colored Pencils: These have a harder core compared to wax-based pencils made from oil and pigments. They tend to break less and offer sharp lines making them ideal for detailed work. Oil-based pencils have a firmer texture allowing for strong layering and blending without a waxy build-up.
  • Watercolor Pencils: These pencils can be used dry like traditional colored pencils but when water is applied they mimic the effect of watercolor paint. This dual nature allows for unique blending and textural effects. They are versatile offering both the control of a pencil and the fluidity of watercolor paint.

Things to consider when choosing a good colored pencil

  • Pigment Quality: Look for rich, vibrant colors that provide good coverage.
  • Durability: Check if the pencils are sturdy and resistant to breaking.
  • Blendability: Ensure the pencils blend smoothly for creating gradients and layers.
  • Texture: Decide between soft (wax-based) and firm (oil-based) pencils based on your preference.
  • Lightfastness: Opt for pencils that don’t fade over time when exposed to light.
  • Comfort: Choose pencils that feel comfortable to hold, especially for long drawing sessions.
  • Price and Brand Reputation: Consider your budget and the cost-effectiveness of the pencils.

Discover the Best Colored Pencils

Join us below in exploring the best colored pencils on the market each promising to bring your creative visions to life with unmatched color and quality.

Best Wax Based Colored Pencils

Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901

Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 Colored Pencils are a high-end choice for professional artists, celebrated for their exceptional quality and performance. Although they come with a higher price tag their value is evident in their superb blending and shading capabilities. Artists find joy in using these pencils thanks to their fantastic color range, smooth texture, and durability compared to other softer pencils.

Their superior quality is apparent in every aspect, from the authentic wood casing to the high-quality pigments and buttery smooth application. These pencils are great for toned or dark papers. The wax-based composition of the Luminance 6901 pencils makes them an excellent complement to oil-based pencils, like the Faber-Castell Polychromos for example, offering a versatile range for various artistic styles.

Their vibrant colors and compatibility with other high-quality brands, make them a favorite among portrait artists and illustrators who value precision and color richness in their work. The Luminance 6901 series stands out as a top choice for those seeking the best in color pencil artistry.

Prismacolor Verithin Pencils

For artists who are really into details these pencils are a game-changer. They’re tougher and thinner than the regular Prismacolors, so you don’t have to worry about them breaking every time you sharpen them. This is super handy for getting those fine lines just right or filling in small spots without any hassle.

The way they blend colors together is just amazing and the colors themselves are so vivid. The green, for instance is perfect for drawing plants or grass, it looks so real. Plus, they feel great to hold and they even look nice, which is a nice bonus.

These pencils are especially useful for finishing touches such as eliminating tiny white spots left by the paper’s texture or creating precise lines. The durability and precision of Verithin pencils make them a valuable tool for artists who require both detail and reliability in their colored pencil work.

Best Oil Based Colored Pencils

Faber-Castell Polychromos

Faber-Castell Polychromos Blendable Pencils are highly regarded in the art community, often considered among the best oil-based colored pencils available. These pencils come in a premium tin offering a delightful experience with their soft and creamy texture. They boast a wide range of vivid colors thanks to their dense pigments and are known for their excellent color balance.

Their smooth texture is ideal for blending and layering, and they work effectively with solvents enabling artists to achieve various effects without any smudging. Notably, these pencils maintain a sharp point longer than many other brands enhancing precision in artwork. For optimal results they perform best on smooth textured drawing paper making them a top choice for artists who value quality, versatility, and reliability in their colored pencils.

Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils

Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils have an excellent range of colors, with buttery textures that enhance the color-laying process. These oil-based pencils are softer than Polychromos providing a unique feel for artists. Their lightfast rating is exceptional ensuring long-lasting color integrity in artwork.

The selection of beautiful, natural colors in the Derwent Lightfast range is thoughtfully curated, appealing to artists who appreciate subtlety and richness in hues. They offer professional-level results with a creamy consistency that covers and layers effectively. While these pencils are on the pricier side their quality justifies the cost. Artists will find them versatile, with both vibrant and muted colors that cater to various artistic styles providing a super smooth lay-down every time.

Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Colored Pencils

Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor pencils have a creamy, soft texture and impressive blending capabilities. The colors are richly saturated yet maintain a level of transparency that allows for beautiful mixing. These pencils offer a remarkable value range, from the lightest touches to deep, intense tones, covering every subtle nuance in between.

They stand out for their ability to build dozens of layers without producing a waxy bloom ensuring complete coverage over white spaces. As professional-grade pencils, they differ from Prismacolor by offering more subtle, muted tones. These characteristics make them excellent for creating strong colors through multiple layers and are particularly effective for crafting smooth, blurred backgrounds.

Best Water Soluble Colored Pencils

Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils

Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils have an exceptional quality offering a smooth, non-scratchy application. While slightly firmer than Prismacolor pencils they still facilitate easy layering. These pencils excel in both dry and wet applications. Dry, they provide rich and beautiful colors but when water is added, they transform magically emulating watercolor paint perfectly.

Artists appreciate the vibrant, rich colors that seem to leap off the page, especially when water is applied. The color selection is extraordinary, catering to a wide range of artistic needs. These pencils blend beautifully with water producing a rich color payoff, making them a favorite for artists who enjoy the versatility and effect of watercolor in a pencil format.

Staedtler Ergosoft Colored Pencils

Staedtler Ergosoft Colored Pencils have a superior color laydown and ergonomic design. The triangular, coated barrel of these pencils is a standout feature providing exceptional comfort during extended coloring sessions. This makes them an excellent choice for adult coloring enthusiasts, suitable for both large areas and fine details.

The pencils come with a unique folding easel compact and convenient making it easy to color in various settings. The German quality of these pencils is evident in their smooth and soft application.

The innovative design is appreciated, the color cores are encased in a protective white barrier, further enhancing their strength. The vibrant colors of the Staedtler Ergosoft pencils are compatible with other blending tools, such as the Prismacolor Colorless Blender, allowing for versatile artistic expressions.

Best Woodless Colored Pencils

Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless Colored Pencils

Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless Colored Pencils are an excellent choice for artists seeking minimal smearing. These pencils are particularly effective for rubbing drawings, offering a solid alternative to pastels. Their woodless design allows for easy exposure of more lead, enhancing their versatility.

They are ideal for laying down a significant amount of underpainting saving time without compromising quality. These sturdy pencils have a long lifespan and can be sharpened to a very fine point. They layer well and offer a comfortable feel during use. While finding a lightfastness chart for these pencils may be challenging they offer great value for their price, especially compared to more expensive sets. They make a distinctive addition to any artist’s toolkit.

Best Pencils for Beginners and Children

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils are a great choice for both beginners and seasoned artists. I love their curated color palette which simplifies the creative process. Beginners will find this feature beneficial and what I really appreciate about these pencils is their carefully chosen range of colors. It’s like they’ve done the hard work of picking out the best shades for you, which is super helpful for projects that need specific color themes, like drawing flowers or nature scenes.

The pencils have a soft wax which allows for exceptional blending of colors. This feature is complemented by their rich, thick pigments that offer a wide range of vibrant colors. They layer smoothly providing a seamless blend and crisp finish. Plus, they come with this nifty blender pencil, it sharpens up really fine, which is great for getting into those small, tricky areas.

I also love how each pencil is clearly marked with its name and number. It makes it so much easier to keep track of your favorite colors and organize your collection.

Overall, the Prismacolor Premier pencils cater to the needs of artists at all levels, offering a high-quality, versatile tool for various artistic endeavors.

Lyra Waldorf Selection

I like Lyra Waldorf pencils for their exceptional quality. The colors are so bright and punchy, they feel really smooth which makes coloring a breeze. It’s like using high-end crayons but with the precision of a pencil.

What’s cool about these pencils is their shape. They’re chunky and triangular so whether you’re a little kid just starting out or someone with bigger hands they’re super comfortable to hold. The thing that really impresses me is how intense the colors are. You know how sometimes yellow or light colors can be kind of faint? Not with these pencils. Every shade pops making artworks look really vivid.

Sure, they’re a bit more expensive than your run-of-the-mill pencils but for what you get, I think they’re worth the splurge. They last a long time and the quality is top-notch. If you’re into art, or even if you just enjoy doodling and want your work to look great, these pencils are a solid choice.


When you’re on the lookout for the best colored pencils, it’s like embarking on a treasure hunt for your art. These top ten picks are more than just pencils, they’re your partners in bringing those vivid dreams and ideas to life on paper.

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