What are the best coloured pencils?

What are the best coloured pencils?

Compare the Pear

Which coloured pencils are the best?

Compare the Pear is where Mrs Red takes similar art brands, does individual pear drawings or paintings, using the brands individually and then you can compare the differences! None of the brands have been given to Mrs Red by a Supplier or Brand, so the comparison is honest and aimed to help you make decisions about which brand to go with.


ThisCompare the Pear challenge see’s 4 different brands of coloured pencils go up against each other to help you decide which coloured pencils are best for you to use for drawing and colouring in. These are not aquarelle pencils, meaning you cannot add water to create a watercoloured effect.


The intention behind Compare the Pear is to compare the products and colour choice will always be similar but I haven’t tried to match colours for colours. For this comparison, I purchased the tin of 12 colours in each brand.

Which coloured pencils are being put to the test?

Derwent Coloursoft 

made in United Kingdom

set of 12 $48.95

Faber-Castell Polychromos 

made in Germany

set of 12 $45.95

Prismacolor Premier

made in Mexico

set of 12 $33.95

Jasart Coloured Pencils 

unsure where made

set of 12 $26.95

Arto Sketchbook

The paper that has been used for all four drawings is Arto by Campap, made in Malaysia. 150gsm, A4 sketch book with a perforation along the spiral bound edge. It is a mixed media paper which I have used in the past with acrylic gouache paint and other coloured pencil drawings. It is smooth and a slightly off white colour. I have been very happy with it and would recommend for a student grade paper. You can purchase the A4 size here. I did keep a thin piece of card between the page I was using and the next page, just to make sure I did not emboss the next page,  ruining the next colouring.    

What I was looking for in comparing the 4 different types of coloured pencils, was blending ability, ease of shading and how much pressure the pencils needed to lay colour down.  Also, smaller details like how easily the pencil was to sharpen and also hold. And to my knowledge, none of the pencil tins had been dropped or damaged and I didn’t experience any breaking leads.


As you will see in the YouTube video (link further down), I only work on one drawing at a time and the never looked back to compare against another drawing, apart from shadow. My style does change from the first (Derwent) to the fourth (Jasart) but this also had something to do with the texture of the pencils as well.


So, let’s dive in and see which coloured pencils are best for you!

Derwent Coloursoft

This was the first pear drawn and there is quite a bit of difference between the outcome of first coloured pencil drawing and last. To blend colour I had to work quite hard, not in pressure but just going over and over and yet I still feel the final result is a fairly light pear. By the time I was laying the brown pencil down, I felt the paper would not take anymore layering. A slightly waxy feeling was occurring, especially in the shadow area where I was applying a little of the blue and purple to the bottom of the pear.

The pencils all sharpened well, and I didn’t have any breaking or crumbling of the lead. Nice choice of colours in the set of 12 although the light green was very bright. Didn’t like that only the end of pencil was the colour of that actual pencil. The rest of the outer surface was a matte brown. If you were serious about this brand, I would purchase a larger set, so you get more colour options.

Faber-Castell Polychromos

This was the 2nd pear drawn, and I much preferred the choice of greens in the set of 12. The light green was a real apple green and the dark green being a little off, could have been darker. Interestingly, I never sharpened one of the colours during this whole coloured drawing. I found the same thing happening when it came to blending a darker colour over the top in that it took longer but was still able to get the colour down. When it came to adding some shadow colour at base of pear, the same thing happened like the Derwent’s, the blue and purple didn’t really go down on top of the greens and browns. It felt slightly waxy at that point in the drawing. Also, the only purple was more of a burgundy/red wine colour than a violet as you can see in the shadow.

Pencils didn’t need sharpening during this coloured drawing and there was no crumbling or splintering of lead either. I prefer the pencil to be incased in the colour of the pencil too as it makes it easier to always know you have picked up the right colour. A nice colour range for the set of 12 as long as you were not after a violet kind of purple.

Prismacolor Premier

This is the3rd pear that was drawn and as mentioned earlier, I only ever looked at the other drawn pears for the shadowing, as I wanted to feel like it was the only pencil drawing, I was doing. All colours chosen to go in the set of 12were an excellent choice. The greens were both very natural greens. Layering was definitely the easiest to control with these coloured pencils to the point that I had to always maintain very light pressure otherwise the darker colours would dominate. I got the most texture from these coloured pencils as well, as you should be able to see in the examples. There was nothing I didn’t really like about this set.

The pencils sharpened well, I like the earthy colour mix and that the outer casing was the colour of each pencil. They did not chip or splinter and never felt waxy. 

Jasart Coloured Pencils

The fourth and final pear drawing in the comparison of which is the best coloured pencils to buy! This is not a well-known brand and there is not a lot of history on them, other than Jasart makes them which is a reputable art brand. The colours were very similar to the Prismacolor’s however, there was only one light brown, no white and as their replacements, the 12 set contained pink and peach. To be honest, in a 12 set, who really needs white? The Jasart coloured pencils performed similar to the Prismacolor in that colour blended easily over the top and I didn’t have to work at it to lay a colour down. Yet, the texture is similar to that of the Derwent’s and the Faber-Castells.

They sharpened nicely, again no chipping or splintering of the coloured lead however just like the Derwent’s, only the end tip of pencil had the colour on it with the rest being incased in a black matte, so you do have to keep checking that you are about to lay down the right colour.  

Tonal Scale

Finally, another quick test I did, was a tonal scale in the dark blue of each brand. Why? To see the difference in how dark to light each colour would give. A‘cheap’ coloured pencil contains too much wax in the lead and therefor will not be a strong colour when pressure applied. They all performed beautifully with the Prismacolor being the hardest to go into the light shade with. When the lead hits the paper, it’s going to leave a mark! That’s why it stops short, I couldn’t go any lighter, similar with the Derwent. Both the Faber-Castell Polychromos and the Jasart Coloured Pencils didn’t really have a dark blue in the 12 set, as you can see in this tonal scale.


If you want to see Mrs Red doing a tonal scale in graphite pencil, click here to watch a 3 minute video. Then have a try yourself and if you have a cheap coloured pencil and a good quality one, try and little experimentation yourself. I will soon get around to doing a comparison against a cheap and quality coloured pencil blog post.    

So, which coloured pencils are best?

Price wise, the Prismacolor or the Jasart Coloured Pencils are the way to go for the 12 set as there is a visible saving. When it comes to quality, again these two pencils have come out better, with Prismacolor being a clear favourite for Mrs Red. The mix of colours that you get in the set of 12 were great but tend to favour drawings with a more natural aspect to them. They are more earthy, if you know what I mean.


What are you buying coloured pencils for? Who is using the coloured pencils? What is your budget? Can you afford a tin of 24 or 36 or more! Which pencil can you also purchase individually as well as a set? These questions all need to be answered as well.


As an 18year old and in first year of university, doing my Graphic Design Bachelor, I saved up and purchased the wooden box of Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer coloured pencils (120 pencils) and then the following year purchased the watercolour version of the same brand. I still have them and to this day, still use them. The reason I went these, not only because computers were still a new thing that students only dreamed of, but I could always replace a single pencil when I wore it right down to a stump. They cost around $300 then and 30 odd years later, they are still only a fraction over that price. Pretty darn good investment!


Mrs Red’s online art supply store stocks all of these brands of pencils in the 12 set and the size sets can also be purchased with a delivery expected 7-10 days after purchase. Click on the names of the brands at top of this post to go straight to the store.


And please make sure you watch the YouTube video below, to watch the individual pear drawings come together. If you have any questions, please comment below and if you have a suggestion for Compare the Pear, please let me know via create@mrsreds.com.au as I would love to compare art materials that you want compared.

Mrs Red 


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