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Colored Pencils

Colored pencils have always been my bread and butter when it comes to making artwork.  I started focusing on colored pencils in college because I could use them in my dorm room.  I found paint to be difficult to clean up, markers would bleed through paper, and charcoal got everywhere!  Colored pencils were a happy medium between convenience and being able to achieve greater detail than a brush with same color vibrancy.


Majority of my early years working with colored pencils, I used the Premier line from Prisma.  Prisma pencils were a staple in my high school art classes so I continued to use them throughout college.  They are extremely soft and have a large color range.  


I've migrated away from Prisma recently because of the wax bloom that occurs after several layers of color.  The wax bloom creates a film over the pigment causing a dull finish and prevents more color layers on top.  Because of Prisma’s super soft core, it was also more difficult to sharpen pencils to a point for details and are prone to breaking.  Prisma pencils still make up the majority of my pencils, so I started testing out Caran D’Ache pencils.

I heard of Caran D’Ache at one of my shows and decided to try them out.  They are a swiss brand of colored pencils and I have the Pablo line and the Luminance line.  The Pablo line are the first Caran D’Ache pencils I bought.  While they don’t have as vibrant of color, they have the hard lead and last for a long time without sharpening.  I tend to use the Pablo pencils for outlining and fine details.


I started using the Luminance pencils last year.  They are lightfast, meaning the color won’t fade over time, and don’t create wax blooms because they include oil as a binder in the core with the pigment.  The core for the Luminance line is not as hard as the Pablo line, but still more durable than the Prisma.  I find that I can’t add as many layers of color on top of one another as I can with the Prisma, but the Luminance pencils are currently my favorite pencils.

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After trying out the Luminance pencils, I bought some Polychromos Faber Castell pencils.  Since my school had Prisma, I never really tried out Polychromos but I always knew they were a top tier pencil.  I used the Polychromos for a few of my drawings and I do enjoy working with them.  I find their lead to be harder than the Prisma and Luminance, but not as hard as the Pablo.  I have also tried out Derwent Chromoflow pencils and found they are more blendable than the Polychromos, but I like the Polychromos better for overall usability.

If I’m going to be using different lines of pencils on one drawing together, I chose one line to be the “base” and another line to be the details.  The base is usually either Prisma or the Luminance line. I’ll use baby oil to blend sections of color which also helps with planning the various shapes and composition.  The baby oil will lift off some of the wax and pigment after blending so it’s easier to layer more colors on top.  While baby oil is great for blending, it will stain the paper so I mostly use it for backgrounds.  Then I’ll use the Polychromos or the Pablo line for details.

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