Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Color Pencil Comparison (part 2)

This it Part Two. Click here to go to Part One

My colorful history.
I've been coloring long before I was stamping. I bought my first Prismacolor pencil in 1979 for 40 cents each in the art department at Gimble's Department Store. I think I started with 3 or 4 and added to my collection as often as a jobless teenager could. Actually there were two brands for sale. Eagle Prismacolor and Venus Spectracolor. I tried them both, but even then I preferred the Prismacolor brand. Finding those pencils changed my opinion of coloring. I never liked to color before then. I hated crayons and coloring books. The only color pencils I knew of had two colors in each barrel, one on either end. Does anyone else remember pencils like this? and they had very hard core were difficult to color with. I think they were made for drawing or labeling maps or something like that.

Colored with Prismacolor Premier Color Pencils (Stamps by smARTworks)
printed background paper( Thomas Kincaidcollection)

I was genuinely impartial on my fact finding mission, because I did it for my own curiosity. But, I was excited to prove that Prismacolor Premier Pencils ranked among the best-- in my opinion! Knowing that the Blick "store brand" was equal to Prismacolor in every test, gives me permission to try more colors of other brands, something I hadn't even considered before. I also I am also happy to say that I discovered a whole new "different" love.

colored with Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Oil-Based Colored Pencils
(rose leaf stamp by Rubber Stampede,rose and saying by smARTworks)

The Lyra pencil is quality pencil at a comparable price. They are not quite as soft as Prismacolor, but even that has it's benefits. The points don't break as easily, so it's easy to maintain for detailed coloring. They too have a colorless blender made specifically for their pencils. The only problem I have with them is there was no purple in the 24 set. How can you not have a best secondary color in a whole pack of 24 pencils? You know what that means don't you? I have to buy the bigger set*! I also like the quality of Faber-Castell. But, at some point, I'm going to have to stop buying pencils.

*I did check out the larger set and there are no purples in it either. I wonder if purple isn't a color that they can achieve that light fastness standard. The Lyra brand has a higher light fast rating on some of the colors. The Light Fast line of the Prismacolor pencils only had one color even remotely close to purple in the entire 48 color set. I would also like to know where the Stampin' Up color pencils rate among the "artist quality" brands. But, I'll have to save that curiosity for another day.

Prices and Availability
Another observation from my quest. Shop around because prices vary tremendously sometimes even within one store or chain. I went to several Hobby Lobby stores in the course of this search. Because they don't have bar codes and scanners, everything has a price sticker. Evidently there was a price increase because there were pencils on the shelves with different prices. For instance, that pack of 24 Lyra pencils was marked 24.99. The one behind it was 21.99. Of course I picked up the cheaper one and used my coupon. I also purchased a set of water soluble ink pencils in one store at $15.99 and another store the same set was $19.99.

Again, I love it that Prismacolors has the most colors and are available everywhere, from Office Depot to Staples to Michaels and Hobby Lobby. (by the way, Hobby Lobby has an online store now, Crafts Etc.) Hobby Lobby and Michaels have 48 colors open stock. Dick Blick sells all the colors open stock and sets and their prices are significantly less than the big stores. There are other online art supply sites, but I cannot recommend them personally. If you have a personal recommendation post a link in the comment section and I'll add the links to the bottom of this post.

My conclusion: Use what you have. The pencils I tried for the most part are all good. For some it was like comparing oranges to tangerines. While there are some differences, either would get the job done. If you're looking for a recommendation because you don't have any good color pencils, I would definitely recommend Prismacolor, for the quality, availability, color selection, and price.

Different Colors Available
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils ~132,
Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils ~120
Caran d'Ache Pablo Colored Pencils ~120
Blick Studio Artists' Colored Pencils ~ 72
Derwent Coloursoft Pencils ~72
Derwent Artist Pencils ~72
Prismacolor Premier Lightfast Colored Pencils~ 48
Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Premium Oil-Based Colored Pencils ~ 36

I don't know what I'm going to do when I start teaching the Water Coloring for Stampers class.....


Sheila M. Schmucker said...

Hi Jackie, I thought that I would let you know my opinion on watercoler pencils as I have tried most brands. The very best that I have found are "Albrecht Drurer by Faber Castelle" Expensive and not readyly available at all our local stores. However for the longest time I used the "General Kimberly"
brand found at Michaels and HL. They are easy to blend and they have a fairly good color range. A good second choice. Hope this helps. Sheila (Jellystamp)

Flossie's Follies said...

Wow, thanks for the information, I have the prismacolor pencils and love them. Gimbels, wow I remember Gimbels, as I child I would go to their Christmas village.

Sarosa said...

Oh well, so my Caran D'ache are not the best... it's just as well, I haven't gotten over the humiliation of being the last kid to be able to color inside the lines in elementary school, so in all likelyhood I'll never be great at watercoloring anyway! :-) Of course, I can always say it's the fault of my pencils... ;-)

I had double sided pencils as a kid, they were striped, were yours?

Re: purple: I think you may be right that it's a color difficulty issue. In the bunches of markers I have, the "good" purples are almost all the same shade (I have a variety of manufacturers represented), the rest are really more gray than purple. Perhaps that is why purple, in days gone by, was reserved for royalty; it was not easy to produce??

Susan T said...

Thank you for doing this, Jacki. I've read every word, and appreciate all the time it took you to do the "testing." Think I now know what I want for Christmas... a few more Prismas!

Dawn Bibbs said...

Outside of Crayola, I don't know much about colored pencils and crayons :-). But I will say that you do quite a comparison. Good job!! :-)

Kelly Sampson AKA Emmiestamps said...

Beautiful cards Jackie!! thanks for all the info too!

Michelle said...

Thank you so much for posting all of this info for us. I have a number of brands of colored pencils (I have to agree with your rating of Prismas!), but I definitely learned a lot about some of the brands that I don't have. Have you ever compared watercolor pencils? I just ordered the biggest set Prismacolor has for my Christmas from hubby. Can't wait!

Anonymous said...

Jackie - I can whole heartedly recommend Mr. Art as an online seller. They have a VIP club where you purchase a membership for a year for a price (I think, $25) and then you are entitled to DEEP discounts for a year. (I bought a set of pastels my niece wanted which retailed for $92 for $39, as an example of pricing.) I have found them to be prompt shippers and the product in the box is always as advertised. I think they have some different items that are more used in the papercrafting world.

stampergrl said...

Thank You so much for doing this comparison! I am in the market for some good colored pencils, and it seems as though Prisma is the way to go...I would be interested to know how they compare to the SU Pure Color Pencils and khor-i-noor though.
Thanks again!

jacki jones said...

I haven't used SU Pure Color Pencils. The Khor-i-noor pencils are very smooth and obviously blend easily with either technique. The major problem I have with either of these is the lack of colors. I get so many choices with the Prismacolors.

JPQ said...

Lightfast purples are problema and something on stuff what used coloured pencils what makes lightfastness porrer than any other seriuous art medium. one manufacturer pigments are mostly good stuff but something else in these pencils is huge problem... and i must say Albrecht Dürer is in own class only watersoluble coloured pencils what i have no suprises when i mix.