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Best Art Pencils

Updated on February 12, 2020
Zuzanna Szafranska profile image

Student and artist. Just putting thoughts into words. Opinions are all mine.

So coloured pencils are a staple in every pencil case. Both artists and people who just like to enjoy their doodles and scribbles.

They are such a versatile item that can be very easily mixed in with any type of medium, for example I use them under pens for bolder more opaque colours and on top of pens for texturing. You may even find a use for them with oil and acrylic paint. They collaborate very well with charcoal - pencils just nicely cleaning everything out and smoothing out charcoal (you can experiment by putting pencil over charcoal and that eliminates the need of hairspray over those areas)

If used right they can create some interesting things on a canvas

Best Overall

So I'll just get straight to the point and start the list with the very best.

The best coloured pencils for artistic purposes is honestly a no-brainer. Every artist taking their craft seriously knows Prismacolor.

The brand could be considered expensive for the average individual - however - it is worth every penny. The base is so soft and glides on ever so smoothly on paper and it is super easy to blend and layer.

I personally recommend getting a pack of 72, as that will give you plenty of colours and shades to work with. A pack of 132 or more I would only recommend if you are very experienced and/or doing hyperrealism, if you are neither the amount of pencils to choose from will be overwhelming. A pack of 72 is what I personally use as it just gives plenty to play with and enough for standard realistic/semi-realistic drawings.


  • Extremely soft
  • Glides on smoothly
  • Easy Blend
  • Easy layering


  • Expensive

Cheap Alternative

Crayola. Don't let does babies fool you that they're for kids, cause they are the very best for artists on a budget.

These pencils are what I usually refer to as a Prismacolor dupe. Crayola pencils also have a soft base (but not as soft as Prismacolor) and are genuinly very good pencils for their price.

Unfortunately the most shades Crayola offers seems to be 50, which is a solid amount and realistic art can be done with these but that may provide some difficulty.


  • Cheap
  • Quality exceeds the price
  • Can be bought in almost any art store
  • Application is smooth


  • Blending is not so great
  • Almost no layering

Honorable Mentions

These pencils I have personally not used but have heard that they are worth your time.

  1. Arteza - I haven't had the pleasure of testing these yet, but have heard only positives of this company. I have heard about this company after seeing their watercolour pens (which i want to try even more) but their pencils still look amazing. Their art supplies are more on the expensive side - as with any good quality art supplier. But their items are not overpriced - you pay for what you get.
  2. Faber-Castell - This company I only stumbled upon just recently when I was searching for good quality pencils. They appear to be very good, but the price is up there. Overall would recommend if you have spare money on hand.

What to look for when shopping for pencils

  1. A soft tip - hard tips are not necessarily bad as they can be used to add texture to drawings. Soft tips will look smooth to the eye instead of rugged like the hard ones.
  2. Round base instead of square. High quality pencils will usually be rounded - you know the type that is more comfortable to hold - instead of the squared pencils which are the ones that make your hand sore and red, and gift with blisters along the way (in some cases)

© 2020 Zuzanna Weronika Szafranska


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