• Kirsty Partridge

Prismacolor Premier Vs Faber Castell Polychromos Coloured Pencils – Which is Better?

I do a lot of coloured pencil drawings using both Prismacolor pencils and Faber Castell pencils. Naturally, I thought it was about time I compared these two major brands and talk through the pros and cons of each. I’ll also recommend which ones you should use for different things.


Firstly, Prismacolors are wax-based and are therefore smooth, soft and creamy. Polychromos are oil-based and are a lot harder. They are both great at layering – you can achieve multiple layers with all kinds of colors, even if your paper is quite smooth.



In terms of detail, the Prismacolors aren't great (due to the softcore of the pencil.) Polychromos can produce very fine, crisp details. This makes Polychromos great for drawing animals, especially when you have to draw fur. However, I love using the Prismacolors for portraits because they are so creamy, making them easy to blend (drawing smooth skin is a breeze with Prismacolors!)


Both pencils work well with solvent, which is very important for me. Solvent is a common supply used to blend out layers of coloured pencil. I use solvent with both of them all the time! In my opinion though, the Prismacolor is more vibrant with solvent. You can also layer really well on top of the solvent with both brands.



As the Prismacolors are wax-based, they burnish together easier than the Polychromos – but both do a good job. Burnishing is where you apply lots of pressure to your pencil so that it gets rid of all of the white grain of the paper, and pencils that suit this are essential.


A larger range of 150 colors is available with Prismacolors compared to 120 Polychromos colors.


Prismacolors can give bad wax bloom. This happens when you add lots of layers of coloured pencil to your paper, causing a white transparent film to form on top of your drawing. This does not happen with Polychromos.


If you are looking to sell your artwork, then lightfastness is key. This refers to how fast your colors fade over time when exposed to light. Unfortunately, many Prismacolors have quite bad light fastness ratings and will fade much faster than the higher-rated Polychromos. As a result, the Prismacolors are cheaper; about 50p per pencil in a set of 72 compared to £1.20 per pencil in a set of 60 Polychromos pencils. So, if you are a beginner who doesn’t want to splash out then Prismacolors are the cheaper option.


Both coloured pencils are vibrant, pigmented and give rich colors. This is great, but due to the Prismacolors being cheaper they are prone to breakages, especially when being sharpened. As the Polychromos are more expensive they have a much better build quality (they are much thicker for a start).


It can be so annoying when you get smudges in your drawings, so I also included this as a comparison. Erasing smudges is hard! I pressed really hard with my finger and could not smudge either of them really, only a light transfer of color (which wouldn’t be an issue as you don’t press that hard when drawing).


Finally, a very important area for me is the white pencil. I need it to be opaque and go over dark colors. The Prismacolor does exactly that but sadly the Polychromos white is absolutely awful – it’s translucent and doesn’t show up over dark colors. If you're going for the Polychromos set I would recommend getting the white pencil from Prismacolor or Caran D'ache to accompany it.

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To see me run through this comparison, watch the video below:

Materials used:

Prismacolor Premier: http://geni.us/Prismacolor150Set

Faber Castell Polychromos: http://geni.us/Polychromos120Set

Strathmore Bristol 300s Paper: http://geni.us/Bristolsmooth300s

Derwent Superpoint Sharpener: http://geni.us/DerwentSharpener

Disclaimer; Amazon links are affiliated.

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