• Kirsty Partridge

Coloured Pencil Review: Prismacolor Premier, Faber Castell Polychromos & Caran D'ache Luminance

Today I’m going to be comparing three main coloured pencil brands; Caran D’Ache Luminance, Faber Castell Polychromos, and Prismacolor. I’ll demonstrate a drawing with each and discuss their pros and cons. Let’s get started!

Firstly, let’s have a look at my 120 set of Faber Castell Polychromos pencils. They are really good quality with a thick diameter and lovely inscriptions on the side, which detail the name of that coloured pencil. They have a great light fastness rating, which means that your drawings won’t fade over time.

Next, let’s have a look at my smaller set of 76 Caran D’Ache Luminance pencils. This set comes with two blenders that I like to use. Furthermore, the set is full of natural colors that you will love and use, which is very useful. Similarly, their lightfastness ratings are very high.

Finally, let’s have a look at my set of 150 Prismacolor pencils. This is the biggest set but does come in flimsy packaging. They are the cheapest set (per pencil) but they are also not as good quality – they are thinner, have lower lightfastness ratings and haven’t got such a thick coating of wood.

Lightfastness refers to how fade resistant each colour is when exposed to light.

The lightfastness ratings mean that I would use only the Faber Castell Polychromos and Caran D’Ache Luminance pencils for drawings/artwork that I wish to sell. This will ensure the quality of your work over time. However, those higher lightfastness ratings are partly why they are more expensive pencils. If you are a beginner, I would recommend using the Prismacolors to practice your techniques and drawings skills, otherwise, you’re wasting money on expensive pencils unnecessarily. Also, as a beginner there is no need to have expensive pencils, even a pack of Crayola coloured pencils are fine!

All three pencils sharpen to a beautiful point. The Faber Castell pencils are oil-based and maintain those points for a long time, giving you fine, detailed pencil strokes. However, the wax-based pencils (Caran D’Ache and Prismacolor) don’t last as long because they possess softer leads. Moreover, I found Prismacolors are more prone to breakage.

Here is a demonstration of three different skin tones that I created using the three different types of coloured pencils. The Caran D’Ache are great as you can apply so many layers and glaze colors on top without disturbing the smooth, blended layers underneath. As they are wax-based it is easy to blend them (you don’t need to apply much pressure).

The Faber Castell pencils are harder and therefore need more pressure to blend into a smooth tone. On the other hand, once you have applied more pressure you do still get lovely results. The finer point helps to fill in the grain of the paper as well. Polychromos are well suited to drawing subject matters like animals, due to the high level of detail you can achieve with them. However, I don’t use them as much for portraits.

Prismacolor pencils are wax-based, so can blend easily together – they will need more pressure than the Caran D’Ache pencils though! They also aren’t as good at glazing colors over the top of layers. The smooth finish they achieve is still pretty good for the cheaper pencil!

You can see here that the wax-based pencils give a much fuzzier look, whereas the oil-based pencil in the middle maintains a fine pencil stroke. This is why I believe they are great if you are drawing animals, fur, hair or fine details. Oppositely, the wax-based pencils are great for smooth portraits. I hope this blog has helped you to choose the right drawing tools!

If you would like lots of helpful ways to improve your drawings, check out my online colored pencil courses.

Materials mentioned:

Caran D'ache Luminance 76 set : http://geni.us/Luminance76Set

Faber Castell polychromos 120 set: http://geni.us/Polychromos120Set

Prismacolor 150 set: http://geni.us/Prismacolor150Set

Disclaimer; Amazon links are affiliated.

To see these coloured pencils in action, watch the video below:


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