Coloured Pencils - information, advice and resources for artists

 Find out more about Coloured Pencils

  1. My preferred pencils, paper and supports 
  2. Brands of coloured pencils 
  3. Index of Coloured Pencil Brands and Manufacturers  (separate page - this provides a summary of each brand)
  4. Lightfastness and Coloured Pencils
  5. Coloured Pencil Instruction Books and my book reviews
  6. The Coloured Pencils Community 
This page provides links to advice and information about Coloured Pencils
 on this website plus related art materials and books

My Favourite Brands of Coloured Pencils
I use various brands of coloured pencils. However I make a distinction between what I use for sketching and what I use for fine art and base my choices on test results for lightfastness (referencing the ASTMS 6901 accredited brands and the CPSA workbook).  
The pencils I use  - in order of preference - include
  • Faber Castell Polychromos;
  • Caran d'Ache - Luminance (6901)
  • Talens Van Gogh (6901)
  • Lyra Rembrandt,
  • Derwent Coloursoft
  • Caran d'Ache - Pablos
  • Derwent Artists
  • Sanford Prismacolor / (Berol Karismacolor - no longer available)

Click the link below to find out more about different pencils
Coloured Pencils - Manufacturers, Brands & Reviews
  • links to all the different brands PLUS IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS and news/reviews
  • the 2013 Opinion Polls for Artist Grade Coloured Pencils and Watercolour Pencils

Making a Mark reviews......

Lighfastness and Coloured Pencils
coloured pencils lightfastness - failed to make the grade
click the above link to find out more
It's VERY important to understand that not all manufacturers produce lightfast pencils which meet the technical standards set for calling a coloured pencil "lightfast".

If you want to keep or sell artwork, it's VERY important to find out about which brands and colours are vulnerable to fading - and which brands and colours meet the lightfastness standards

Find out about to test the lightfastness of coloured pencils.  The Colored Pencil Society of America has a Lightfastness Test Result Workbook which is extremely useful.  I think it's essential for any artist who's selling their work.  You have to be a member of CPSA to buy the workbook.

These are my coloured pencils which FAILED to make the grade in terms of lightfastness. 
Which were the main offenders?  Well there were a lot of reds, pinks, purples, and light blues.  For more details click the link above

Paper, supports and other helpful products
My coloured pencil drawings are completed on a variety of media:
  • Arches, Fabriano or Saunders Waterford HP - usually 300gsm. 
  • Arches HP blocks are especially useful for travelling - the block replaces the drawing board.
  • Art Spectrum Colourfix board
  • Wallis Board - in white or belgian mist
  • Canson Mi-Teintes paper - various colours
  • Ampersand Pastelbord
  • Bristol Board

Colored Pencil Books by Ann Kullberg

Amazon UK: Colored Pencil Secrets for Success: How to Critique and Improve Your Paintings
Colored Pencil Secrets for Success: How to Critique and Improve Your Paintings 
Most coloured pencil artists will know Ann Kullberg and/or have one or the other of her two books on drawing with coloured pencils (see below for more details). I regard them as art instruction standards.
Amazon UK: Colored Pencil Portraits
Ann Kullberg is a very popular workshop instructor. This is her first book and focuses on her particular area of expertise - creating portraits using coloured pencils.
Amazon UK: Capturing Soft Realism in Colored Pencil Capturing Soft Realism in Colored Pencil 
Would-be portrait artists need to be able to draw backgrounds as well as people. This book is all about how to create the look of realism without actually working on every last detail to the nth degree. This book provides approaches to for both interior and exterior subject matter.
Colored Pencil Book by other authors

Colored Pencil Painting Bible: Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Ultra-Realistic Effects by Alyona Nickelsen
In her first book Alyona Nickelsen reveals her techniques and processes for achieving intense colour in her coloured pencil paintings. These include layering, the proper use and advantages of the translucent properties of the medium, as well as her use of odorless solvents to achieve rich, luminous color and ultra-realistic effects - all backed up with highly detailed step-by-step demonstrations.

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Colored Pencil Books by Janie Gildow

 Amazon UK: Colored Pencil Solution Book Colored Pencil Solution Book
by Janie Gildow and Barbara Benedetti Newton. 

This book focuses on basic art concepts and answering lots of common questions asked by artists wanting to learn more about how to use coloured pencils - plus provides the answers to some questions people frequently haven't yet thought to ask. 

Amazon UK Colored Pencil Explorations Colored Pencil Explorations
by Janie Gildow
For the coloured pencil artist who wants to take the next step. Techniques incorporate the use of pastel, solvents, airbrush, watercolor, acrylic, ink and more. Each chapter clearly demonstrates how readers can re-create techniques in their own work.

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Amazon UK The Colored Pencil: Key Concepts for Handling the Medium The Colored Pencil: Key Concepts for Handling the Medium, Revised Edition
by Bet Borgeson. 
The first book I bought and still a standard. This best-seller is a book which many professional coloured pencil artists read as they were starting out with coloured pencils. It provides the information on materials, lessons on color mixing and techniqLinkues, and demonstrations of various methods for drawing.
Amazon UK Colored Pencil for the Serious Beginner Colored Pencil for the Serious Beginner: Basic Lessons in Becoming a Good Artist

by Bet Borgeson.
This is a primer for those wishing to learn how to use coloured pencils by somebody who is an articulate teacher and author. This book is not for people wanting to learn how to draw - it's for people who have mastered the basics and now want to develop their art using coloured pencils