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33 Colored Pencil Brands Tested for Pigment

Best & Worst Pigmented Colored Pencils

– Posted in: Colored Pencils Coloring Reviews

See the results of my colored pencil pigmentation tests–the top 10 best and worst colored pencils for pigmentation! I tested 33 different colored pencil brands to discover which ones had the most pigment and the results were surprising. One of my favorite brands, the Irojiten Recycled fell in the bottom 10 and two of my top favorites, Prismacolor Premier and Faber-Castell Polychromos, didn’t even make the top 5! So where did your favorite brands fall?

How I Tested

To test I first colored out red, blue and green swatches for each brand/line. I then used Gamsol (an odorless mineral spirit) to break down the waxes, oils and fillers and draw out the pigment. I then measured how much full and partial pigment each color created and took an overall average to determine a final score. The top 10 scores made the best list and the bottom 10 made the worst.

My Caution

My intention with this test was to find a non-subjective, measurable way to test colored pencil pigmentation. After several hours of coloring and testing I discovered that there was no way for me to be truly consistent with the testing–there were too many variables that came into play such as pressure, number of strokes for coloring and smearing, amount of Gamsol used, etc.

Therefore, I want to caution you to not use these tests alone to decide which colored pencils to buy or not buy. It just wouldn’t be fair. Instead, use it for what it is…just one factor in what makes a good or bad colored pencil. There are many other things to consider when making an investment in these coloring tools.

Video Results

Top 10 Best Pigmented Colored Pencils

  1. Blick Studio Artists’ Colored Pencils:
  2. Caran d’Ache Luminance:
  3. Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless:
  4. Soho Urban Artist:
  5. Derwent Coloursoft:
  6. Faber-Castell Polychromos:
  7. Prismacolor Premier:
  8. Sargent Art Construction Paper:
  9. Koh-I-Noor Polycolor:
  10. Prismacolor Verithin:

My Favorite Colored Pencil Paper:

Top 10 Worst Pigmented Colored Pencils

As I mentioned, I realize that this test is imperfect and to be fair to these brands I want to be careful to not draw too much attention to them; therefore, if you wish to see the brands that scored the lowest in this test please watch the video.

Testing Charts

Here are photographs of my testing charts. As always, please note that the process of taking a photo, saving it for the web, uploading to my site and then you viewing it on a variety of different devices such as computers, phones and tablets means that what you see in these charts can be very different than what I see in my studio under good lighting. So please don’t rush to judgement based on what you see here. 😉

Click Images Below to See Larger Versions

Soho, Conte & Blick Studio Colored Pencils

Soho Urban Artist, Color Collection by Conte & Blick Studio Artists

Artist's Loft, Studio Series & Marco Raffine Colored Pencils

Artist’s Loft, Studio Series Deluxe & Marco Raffine

Prang, Sargent Art & Sargent Art Construction Paper Colored Pencils

Prang, Sargent Art & Sargent Art Construction Paper

Bruynzeel, Pentel & Derwent Colored Pencils

Bruynzeel, Pentel Arts & Derwent Coloursoft

Crayola Twistables, Spectrum Noir Colorista & Spectrum Noir ColourBlend Colored Pencils

Crayola Twistables, Spectrum Noir Colorista & Spectrum Noir ColourBlend

ColorIt, Crayola & Crayola Color Escapes Colored Pencils

ColorIt, Crayola & Crayola Color Escapes

Cra-Z-Art, Caran d'Ache Luminance & Caran d'Ache Pablo Colored Pencils

Cra-Z-Art, Caran d’Ache Luminance & Caran d’Ache Pablo

Tombow Irojiten, Tombow Recycled & Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

Tombow Irojiten, Tombow Recycled & Faber-Castell Polychromos

Koh-I-Noor Tri-Tone, Staedtler 1270 & Staedtler Ergo Soft Colored Pencils

Koh-I-Noor Tri-Tone, Staedtler 1270 & Staedtler Ergo Soft

Colored Pencils by Prismacolor Col-Erase, Koh-I-Noor Polycolor & Koh-I-Noor Woodless

Prismacolor Col-Erase, Koh-I-Noor Polycolor & Koh-I-Noor Woodless

Prismacolor Premier, Prismacolor Scholar & Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Premier, Prismacolor Scholar & Prismacolor Verithin

Pigmentation Test Chart

Pigmentation Test Chart
Pigmentation Test Chart
Pigmentation Test Chart

12 Comments… add one

Related Posts

12 comments… add one
  • irene September 4, 2017, 3:14 pm

    Thanks for the charts. Personally, I think I would have gone further on the Luminance, looking at the photo on my computer, thus making it the clear winner. 🙂 But still surprised at how others performed! Glad to see the Koh-I-Nor woodless doing so well! Wish they had more colors now.

  • Karen Sherwood September 4, 2017, 3:24 pm

    Hi Jennifer,
    I was disappointed that you did not include the Black Widows and Scorpions.

    • Jennifer Stay September 5, 2017, 2:47 pm

      I would like to have included them as well. 😉

  • Sally Bahner September 4, 2017, 5:18 pm

    Very interesting. It took me a while to move from markers to pencils, but the first set I bought was the Utrechts (now Blick). Those pencils really got me hooked on that medium. I’ve gotten several other brands since then. In comparison, I think different pencils work different with different paper, which determines the pencils I use for a given project.

  • Terry Taylor September 6, 2017, 9:59 pm

    I would like to receive your colored pages I watch your last you tube video and it was great.I am a beginner artist and looking forward to learning more you are truly bless may god continue to bless you and your family.

  • Barbara September 7, 2017, 7:08 pm

    Jennifer, thank you so much for all the informative videos! I’ve learned so much from watching them. I’d like to move up from my Sargent pencils to a set of Prismacolor Premier. Do you think that buying on eBay as opposed to a business like Blick would carry a risk that the pencils may have been dropped and possibly broken?

    • Jennifer Stay September 8, 2017, 10:08 am

      You’re welcome Barbara. 🙂 Regarding eBay…it’s hard to say. I guess it would depend on who you’re buying from. If it’s an art company selling on eBay then they could be more careful with their products. If it’s an individual…who knows. Sorry I’m not much help there.

  • Diane Thoroughman September 10, 2017, 4:37 pm

    I wish you could have tested Holbein colored pencils, but I do understand that with them being so expensive, you probably could not afford them. If you ever do get some, please test them too.

    As for the human factor, I would suggest that 3 people each do the testing at the same time, but each person uses a different brand of low odor thinner.

    Thank you for taking the time to do this test.

    Sincerely, Diane

    • Jennifer Stay September 11, 2017, 11:38 am

      Great ideas Diane! Thank you for the comment. 🙂

  • Charlene September 14, 2017, 11:03 pm

    I can’t believe that the Prismacolor Premiere did not score higher. They are supposed to be one of the best brands. I am not surprised by the Verithins though. I noticed they tend to become dull rather quickly because they are a thinner lead. I also press hard when I’m working with pencils.

  • Teena Rassega October 30, 2017, 9:45 am

    My big complaint about coloring pencils is when the colors look so pretty in the pencil but that color never comes out true when using the pencil. I have been using a lot of gel pens lately over the top of pencils.

    • Jennifer Stay October 31, 2017, 2:49 pm

      Yeah, that is one of the fun things about gel pens!

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