My FAVOURITE Coloured Pencils!

Hi guys! I’ve had a few people ask which
pencils I use for my coloured pencil pieces and why, so hopefully this video will explain
my choices and how I make them. Whilst I discuss the brands of pencils, I’ll be showing a
timelapse of the completion of a recent pet portrait commission and you’ll be able to
see how I put the different pencils to use. So in this portrait I start off by using my
Derwent Drawing pencils. I own the full 24 set of these pencils and I’ve always wished
they would come in a larger selection. I tend to find myself starting off most pieces
with Derwent Drawing pencils as they have such quick laydown and allows me to block
in my base colours easily. Their coverage is fantastic- their generously wide cores
are highly pigmented, have a soft and buttery consistency and are relatively opaque as coloured
pencils go. Like most Derwent coloured pencils, these are considered wax based. With this piece, I’m working on pastelmat,
so I just loosely scribble in a few layers of the colours and then I’ll use my liquid
solvents- in this case Zest-It- to blend out my pencil strokes. If I wasn’t working on
pastelmat I’d be more careful with my pencil strokes as they may not have dissolved quite
as easily. I initially bought the Derwent Drawing pencils
to supplement my limited selection of natural and pale tones in my original Polychromos
60 set. But even now that I have a much larger range in my pencil collection, I still frequently
use these pencils as they still offer unique selection of colours and their laydown makes
short work of blocking in the base layers. I find that the muted colour palette the range
comes in is very inspiring- the warm pale colours and the cool darker shades can push
me to think creatively and playfully with the shadows and light and really add a sense
of drama and atmosphere to a piece. The Derwent Drawing white is an incredibly
useful pencil in its own right as its arguably the most opaque white pencil on the market
and its thick, waxy laydown allows it to cover over pencil layers relatively well. They are
highly lightfast pencils- with 23 out of the 24 achieving the highest rating of 8 on the
Blue Wool scale, and 1 pencil coming in close with a 7. So although I love these pencils, of course
every brand has its drawbacks and disadvantages. So as I mentioned, this set only comes in
24 colours and are almost exclusively earthy and muted tones, so they don’t lend themselves
to bright and colourful subject matter. However, It’s certainly not impossible to create
a completed picture with this limited palette alone- you just have to be selective with
the subject matter and maybe a bit crafty with your colour mixing. I did a review on
the 12 set last year and I think I did ok to create a completed image, and I don’t think
it looked like it was missing anything despite being made with just a handful of different
colours. And similarly, their softness is a double-edged
sword- because they are so waxy and creamy, they fill the grain of the paper more quickly
than a harder coloured pencil and as a result the amount of layers you can apply will be
more limited. They also don’t maintain a sharp point and are likely to crumble if sharpened
to a fine point. As such they’re not the best suited for fine and delicate details. In the description box below and the cards
in the top right, I’ll leave a link to the review and demo video for these pencils, and
video reviews for some of the other brands I mention in the rest of the video. Moving on to the next pencil brand- Faber
Castell Polychromos. Polychromos are the cornerstone of my coloured
pencil work. I started off with the 60 set but ended up upgrading to a 120 set and I’ve
since bought refills open stock of my favourite colours. These pencils are incredibly versatile.
They are translucent but pigmented and as such they lend themselves brilliantly to work
where layering and blending feature. The laydown is soft and smooth- but neither chalky or
waxy, but the cores are hard enough that they can still be sharpened to a fine point, perfect
for detailing. I use them in this piece to refine the colour I laid down with the Derwent
Drawing pencils and build up value and detail as I layer. Polychromos have been claimed to be oil-based
by their manufacturer and they work with products designed for oil-based pencils. However, there
is debate on whether Polychromos are Wax or Oil based. All coloured pencils contain wax,
but some brands or lines of coloured pencils contain oil, and it’s the proportion or presence
of the oil which can influence whether a company calls their pencil oil or wax based. But formulas
are proprietary information and a well guarded secret, so we can never know for sure besides
what we experience and expect from a wax or oil based pencil or what the company tells
us. These pencils have a very good lightfastness
rating all round- out of the 120 set there are 102 that rate 3 stars or 7 or 8 on the
Blue Wool Scale, 16 that rate 2 stars- which equate to a 5 or 6 on the blue wool scale
and only 2 that rate 1 star- which corresponds to a 3 or 4 . The full 120 set has an excellent range of
colours suited for all types of subject matter, although I felt like the next size down- the
60 set- was very heavy on the reds and yellow side of the spectrum and limited in the earth
tones, greys and greens, as well as having very few pale colours. But that brings me onto the weaknesses of
this set: -Even though the 120 set has a much better
selection of pale colours than the 60, the overall set still is a little weak in this
area. -Although I love these pencils for their translucency
and ability to carefully layer, this can also be considered as a drawback as it can be difficult
to lighten up a colour or layer pale colours over the dark ones. I find this to be more
of an issue on watercolour paper though as the slightly abrasive surface of pastelmat
seems to allow some dark-to-light work. Additionally, because these pencils aren’t
as soft or opaque as the Derwent drawing pencils, their laydown isn’t the fastest. You’re probably already noticing how I mix
my brands together to overcome weak spots of certain brands- well it doesn’t stop
here! So next up we have the Derwent Artists Black
& White. This is a small 6 set of pencils which is also very affordable- I recommend
them as a small addition to your coloured pencil collection if you’re looking to expand.
All 6 pencils are highly lightfast and will not fade according to Derwent. Similar to the Derwent Drawing pencils, I
also bought this set to supplement my Polychromos 60 set I had originally bought as I felt like
I was lacking a good range of pale and dark colours. This little set contains 3 whites
and 3 blacks- there’s a pinkish white, a bluish white and a standard neutral white
as well as a greenish black, a bluish black and a standard neutral black. The 4 tints and shades included in this 6
set are very unique colours that I constantly find myself dipping into. These pencils are
hard and sharpen to a fine and hardwearing point, and their waxiness allows them to lay
on top of layers of Polychromos well. My favourite way of using them now is to use
the whites in this set in a glazing technique, where I blend out my polychromos layers with
liquid solvents and whilst the page is still damp I’ll apply the pencil to create fur
details. The solvents help pull extra pigment from the pencils, but also allows the whites
to blend into the colours applied below. The standard black and white are less unique
and I suppose less valuable than the other 4, but even so I find myself using them a
lot, just because I use white and black often anyway. So that brings me onto the disadvantages of
the Derwent Artists Black and White: -4 out of 6 are unique, the last two are just
regular black and white. Perhaps it would’ve been nice to have a very pale cream colour
and a brownish black instead. -And these pencils have limited applications
owing to their limited range of colour/values. Next up with have a little honourable mention-
the Caran d’Ache luminance pencils. I have a very small selection of colours- 4 I think-
but I’m not sure if I used any of them to any great extent in this drawing. I like to
use these pencils in a similar way I use the Derwent Artists Black & White pencils- I have
a couple of white pencils and a couple of dark colours. They are waxy pencils and sharpen to a fine
point that’s good for details. They aren’t as hard as the Derwent Artists pencils though.
They are very expensive as coloured pencils go though- the most expensive in fact, if
I’m not mistaken- which for me is their biggest drawback. I’ve yet to experience
these pencils much, so I can’t give much feedback on them apart from the application
I’ve used them for. Finally, my newest addition to my coloured
pencil collection- the Caran d’Ache pablos. I bought these to expand my colour range and
also thought that owing to their hard and highly pigmented nature, they’d be good
at adding in details. I bought the 80 set as well as a bunch of pencils open that I
thought would be useful additions to my collection. So far they’ve been excellent and their
hardness and excellent pigmentation makes them perfect for adding in details over the
top of other layers. In this piece I found the Pablos to be just what I needed for some
of the dog’s colour which would’ve been more time intensive to achieve through mixing
and layering. According to Caran d’Ache, these are wax based like the Luminance, although
some may argue that the Pablos act more like an oil based pencil. I’ll leave a link to
a post made by Alyona Nickelsen- the artist behind the Brush and Pencil products, who
explains this debacle. I have to admit that I’m not incredibly
well acquainted with the pablos as I’ve yet to really use them for anything other
than detailing. But they seem to work very well with my other pencils. Some drawbacks
seem to be that some of the pencils have lower lightfastness ratings and overall the colour
selection seems to be a little strange- with very few yellows and reds, but lots of blues,
neutrals and earth tones. I thought I’d also mention some pencils
I have tried but don’t use- or at least I don’t use very often.
I have a 72 set of Prismacolor Premier pencils that I bought a year and a bit ago. I think
they’re a great value for money pencil with very quick, creamy laydown and bright colours.
I don’t use them frequently as the whole set has mixed lightfastness ratings- about
half of the 120 set doesn’t have lightfastness ratings that would meet my requirements. Their laydown is similar to the Derwent Drawing
pencils- so they are perfect for fast coverage, but they don’t have the generous core or
lightfast ratings to match the Derwent Drawing pencils. I prefer the subtle layering that
can be achieved with the more transparent polychromos- whereas the creamy and opaque
prismacolor premier pencils seem to mix together more. So it’s certainly down to personal
preference and how you like to use your pencils. On a similar note, I have a 72 set of very
old Derwent Studio pencils. These also have pretty poor lightfastness ratings overall,
and they aren’t very pigmented compared to the polychromos or pablos. I have used
the more lightfast pencils in some pieces though as the set has a great range of ochres
and browns, but I find that the for the majority of other colours, other brands I use suit
my needs better. Their hard cores contain the same wax-based formula as the Derwent
Artists pencils- like the Derwent Artists Black & White pencils I mentioned earlier-
so the more pigmented colours are excellent for fine detailed work.
I have various other sets that I’m waiting to review before I can give my opinion on,
and of course there are other brands that I’d like to test. I’d love to know what
your favourite pencils are and why! So here’s the finished piece, he was great
fun to work on and my first A4 portrait commission. The scale certainly made it easy to capture
all the little details and I hope I get more commissions of this size. So I hope you found this video interesting
and helpful- leave it a like if you did! As always, if I didn’t answer your question
here in the video feel free to leave it in the comment section below and I’ll answer
it as soon as I can. Just a little reminder, I have a giveaway running until the 3rd of
March 2018 which I announced in one of my previous videos, so if you haven’t checked
it out I urge you to soon! I’ll be announcing the winner in one of my next videos, so make
sure to stay tuned and subscribe and ring the notification bell if you haven’t already! Thank you very much for watching, hope you
have a lovely week and I’ll see you in the next video.


  • Rohit Babar

    Nice .

  • Claudia Sketches

    Apologies for the incredibly delayed upload! I wasn't happy with the video I made that was scheduled and decided to not upload it (I'll make it again another time). With this video I had some technical issues with my new microphone- which I eventually fixed and managed to get this video completed. What do you guys think about the new audio? 🙂

  • Snorlax

    From what I know, the type of binder in the pencil matters less than the amount of it. As a comparison, the Pablos are waxed based, and the Polychromos oil based. You might wonder how then are their performance so similar. This is pretty simple. The method of making the pencil is the same, i.e forming the lead out of pigments and clay before soaking it into the wax and/or oil. It is really justa difference of whether oil or wax is used. Sure, they have different properties and the manufacturer uses them in certain ratios to achieve a specific effect. I'm not claiming that wax and oil work the same in the pencil, just that it mostly depends on the method and the manufacturer can compensate for the properties of the chosen binder by altering the ratios of ingredients. Prismacolor and Luminance are both wax based afaik

  • K Gibson

    Awesome BEAUTIFUL picture!

  • michael mc ewan

    Derwent drawing pencils my favourite, think that is one of your best drawings, yet fantastic work, love the way you explain everything always very helpful

  • Pam Sanby

    Lovely picture

  • Nephtalie Albert

    Claudia, is it possible for you to create a mixed media piece with colored pencils and the Sakura Koi Brush Pens? Oh and I saw in a comment that you watched Bleach, who's your favorite character?

  • Pam Sanby

    Some of the people I follow on YouTube have a system of 'Happy Mail', whereby subscribers send you items of art equipment so's you can try it out and do a review. Some of the YouTubers also have a public Amazon wish list. Also i want to thank you for your generous tips, lessons and suggestions. My art has improved loads since following you. 🙂

  • Em's Art Studio

    Great drawing and thanks for all the information about different types of pencils. I've just invested in some polychromos but now I'm uncertain about whether I need to invest in some sort of blending fluid like you used. What are the firs and against such for blending in this way?

  • Aury Arts

    Amazing skill technique Lady😀😀😀😀 New Follower and great video review ❤️❤️❤️ Big hello from Italian Artist

  • Barb Bell

    Another beautiful piece Claudia, I love watching and listening to your videos. Very helpful information always. Thank you for making them.

  • Sathish Kumar

    I really wonder till now you haven't get the chance to work with prismacolor yet?

  • mark brown

    Another great video, very informative 🙂 I LOVE the Blick Studio pencils and use them in conjunction with Koh I Noor Polycolors, Prismacolor and Polychromos 🙂

  • PackingMessyCans

    Draw a corgi and a shiba inu please 😩😩

  • Artolific By Aryan

    Now I see

  • Patrick Fischer

    Beautiful🐕,and a thorough review,thanks🌞

  • Lynn L

    Wow Claudia, this is gorgeous, beautiful job!

  • sambeawesome

    Love your descriptions of the pencils 🙂 I'd love to be able to give colored pencils a shot, but unfortunately my health doesn't allow it x'D Gorgeous portrait though, wow! 😀

  • Sharon Nolfi

    Great review and portrait!

  • Pencil Subway Art

    Hi Claudia! Because of your review on the Derwent drawing pencils, I went out and purchase the 24 tin set. They are currently my favorite pencils! Thank you for providing a great review and showcase your skilled and beautiful artwork! I'm waiting for July when the Derwent lightfast pencils will be availble.

  • Kimbearlys Original

    This is fantastic. Great video. Wonderful! How many hours did this take? Love it! Thanks for another great video. I love the Pollychromos pencils. 🙂

  • Virginia Estep

    Have you heard of Arteza color pencils? I bought a set of 72 for 29 dollars,65 percent discount. They lay down color really well,almost like prisma color but do not break. Most of the pencils have excellent color ratings. I thought I mention them.

  • Marion Wigzell

    Beautiful drawing Claudia. What a gorgeous dog. Prismacolor are still quite expensive in Oz. I bought the full set on sale for $140 (less than half price). The 24 set of Derwent drawing are $56 (being the cheapest I can find). Is the pastelmat comparable to Mitentes? Thanks Marion 🙂

  • Maureen Nevers

    Wow … Just what I wanted to know! Hearing your rationale for one pencil set over another based on your intended outcomes and their features was so helpful. I admire how you can talk about the advantages and disadvantages of a set very objectively. You have such a great way of putting abstract thoughts into words.
    P.S. I have the Closed Caption feature on, so your spoken words are visible…I smiled each time you said “Derwent” and it showed “dough and”, and Caran D’Ache was “Karen -“. 😁

  • Emma Devost

    So grateful for all the information that will help me with my future pencil purchase.

  • SunShines Art

    When are you going to choose the winners of your giveaway ? 😻

  • Guru Jad

    Lovely technique in coloring.. I like viewing the development of a painting.. how each stroke become important and a sign of something coming later… The result is very beautiful. Hope they liked it.

    And best luck with your commissions. 😀

  • alien creation

    DERWENT! increase the colour range!

  • Jaline

    Beautiful drawing and thank you for all the information. I would like to have your opinion on the Irojiten colored pencil I have the 3 sets but have not used them. I wish you lots of success.

  • Helen Gillis

    Indeed – Caran D'ache Luminence are the most expensive pencils.

  • Helen Gillis

    Amazing dog portrait Claudia. Amazing.

  • jane hurley

    Very impressive work

  • D D

    You should have a million subscribers

  • Patricia Ward

    Absolutely fantastic!!!

  • Neroholic

    Can i ask what do you blend with at 0:44? 🙂 It just brings the colors out so much! And whats your opinion on blending with baby oil?

  • Heather White

    I agree about the Derwent Drawing pencils – very over looked imo. They are wonderful to use for landscape, animal and human portrait.

  • María Laura Malventano

    Hi Claudia! Amazing work😉 I'm considering buying these pencils, but I'm in doubt partly becauae I don"t use solvents. Would you recommend anyway? Thanks! 😀😉😍

  • ML09 Baker

    I am a newbie to CO and I absolutely LUV watching your videos. Your voice is amazing along with the expertise of your knowledge base. Girl you so rock, please never stop your videos..❤️

  • A B

    Hi, nice Channel! I have a question: I only have/use the Polychromos, and ask myself which other Brand would perfectly fit to the Polychromos? I thought about a wax color pencil, but which? I mainly looked for the Pablo’s, Luminance is too expansive! When having the Polychromos, is there a need for another kind of color pencil?

  • Claudia Sketches

    Hi again! Since uploading I've made a blog, and have a few blog posts that might be useful if you're looking to purchase coloured pencils.

    -An overview of all brands I own and have tried:
    -Lightfastness rating comparison and overview between popular brands:
    -In-depth look at each brand's ratings:

  • Black Demon heart

    Your colored pencil portraits are heavenly! You deserve WAY more subscribers!

  • Margaret Smith

    Hi, new subscriber. I found your reviews, very informative and really helpful.
    Would it be possible for a review, on the Marco Renoir pencils. I would really like your honest and informative opinions, of this brand.
    The dog portrait was beautiful. Can’t wait for your next video 😊🇬🇧

  • Sue Allen

    They have 36 count sets on eBay and the derwent colour soft come in an even bigger count

  • adrian

    Great video again! 👍

  • Juno7325 ball

    Been watching your work Claudia and taking your advice, I have decided to buy the 60 pencil set from Faber Castell they sound like very good pencils. I'm only just getting into watercolour pencils and watercolour work. My Art as always been in photograph, but I have had a burning desire to try my hand at drawing and painting again, I enjoy your work, and also the details of the pencils light fast test etc thank you for your help with my new hobby.

  • The Art Adventure

    Well done…
    Awsome wor👌

  • icewon

    Hi, was wondering how long do you usually take for drawing portraits like the one in this vid? 🙂

  • M.c Suresh


  • Krystle and April

    This video is great… you're so thorough in how you explain things. I like that because I'm a really fussy shopper who will agonize forever over which thing to buy. I just won a Jerry's Artarama gift certificate so I'm on the hunt for some new art supplies, and since I haven't tried anything by Derwent yet this was really helpful. I own Prismacolor, Luminance, and Polychromos, and to answer your question in the video currently I'd say my favourite is Polychromos, for the excellent detailing capabilities along with the great layering abilities. Thanks for your videos, I'll keep watching them if you keep making them! 😉

  • Charlotte S

    Hi Claudia
    have you ever tested Derwent artist colour pencils. I really like the colour range but are they good?

  • becky quick

    Claudia I love your work!!! I was wondering would it be possible to use watercolor pencils or ink to block in then the colored pencils to avoid solvents. Most solvents still carry a risk even if small can add up after years of use.This is my concern with colored pencils. Do you use watercolor pencils?

  • Lisette svensson

    Thank you for a lovely video! Hope someone can answer my concern; when you say you draw with the pencil to add fur details whilst the paper is still damp, dosnt this damage the tooth of the paper and/or the pencils themselves?

  • IPJ Bradley

    That's a very nice portrait, I'm a just bit envious of your abilities. I'm new to art and colored pencils so this was very helpfull. Thankyou.!

  • Stan Stevens

    Wow, so much information! Tremendous video and extremely informative. I'd never thought of mixing different brands before (yet it seems such a sensible thing to do!). I Used to use the Derwent studio pencils back in the day. I've recently bought a 120 set of the Faber-Castell Polychromos, after much deliberation, to get back into drawing and am pretty pleased with them so far, Though now I think I'll be investing in a few additions from other brands.

    I find your level of expertise, Claudia, extremely inspiring: I really need to up my game!


    Got the answer here thanks 😄🙏🎨

  • Tricia T-B

    Great video and information about colour pencils. I have mostly Prismacolor because I was living close to the states until a couple of years ago and they were easy & cheaper to get. But I also have the latest W&N 12 set, just for fun. I have a 24 set of Arteza premier. The expert set is better I have been told, but these are okay for me. I am not doing saleable art with any of them. I also have a couple of Caran D'Ache Luminance and a couple of Pablo, which I like better than the Luminance. And lastly I have two or three Polychromos and similar Derwent Colorsoft. I have a couple of Berol Prismacolor from my son's school days 30 years ago and they are softer than all of the others put together and a no-name purple and green which are even softer and creamer than the Berol, and that I have absolutely no idea what they are !

    Like your videos and all the info and hope I haven't waffled on too much


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