Normally when I review a product I either love it or hate it. That wasn’t the case with these graphite pencils from Caran d’Ache. There were some things I did love, and some things that I just felt “meh” about.
The Good (or amazing in this case)
First, the best thing in my opinion about these pencils was that the wood casings are color coded. WHY aren’t other pencil manufacturers doing this?!?! It’s not like the concept is new, our colored pencils are color coded as a standard. Why then aren’t graphite pencils? Well, Caran d’Ache really did a great job on doing this with their pencils. Why would you want a color coded graphite pencil? I mean grey is grey right? Each pencil has a number indicating the hard or softness of that pencil, but the writing is always fairly small. Having a color on the outside of the pencil makes it SO much easier and faster to know you’re grabbing one of your B leads or a lighter H.
The pencils themselves are a bit thicker than the average graphite pencil. This meant they did not fit into my electric sharpener, but I had plenty of hand held sharpeners around that they fit fine into. They were quite comfortable to hold and work with.
The Less Good (but not quite bad…seriously, weirdest review ever)
Now for the things I didn’t love, I don’t think I would have felt this way had I not previously used the Faber-Castell 9000 pencils. If I had used these first I think I would have raved about them. It’s hard not comparing the two because they are both quite good, but these were just that bit too soft for my taste. I burned through the tips super fast, so I was constantly sharpening them to keep a fine point. This made getting fine detail a bit more work. Even the 2H and 4H pencils were soft enough to burn through the tip.
With the pencils burning through the sharp tips so fast, this meant that it was pretty easy to end up with a gritty look. The pencils themselves feel really REALLY smooth going down, but what happens is when the tip is starting to blunt, the graphite is hitting the top of the paper and not really getting into all the little crevices. The bits of white paper showing through contribute to that grittier look. That’s not to say a gritty look is bad, it totally comes down to personal preference. I prefer a smoother look myself though.
The darkest pencil in this set is a 9b. It is VERY dark, darker than the Generals Layout Extra Black that I used to use. It was not quite as dark as the 8b in the Faber-Castell 9000 from what I could see, plus it was more prone to shine.
I will do a separate video comparing these two pencils, but those were some of the most obvious differences I noticed. I really think had I used these before having experiencing the Faber-Castell 9000 I would have raved about them. They are SO much better than most of the other pencils I’ve used in the past. I was in no way unhappy about my finished piece, but there were times while working on it I wanted to grab my mechanical pencil for my darker details, or even the 2h out of the faber-castell set for some of the smoother blending.
In the end, I think it will come down to personal preferences and the look you’re trying to get. I’m sure the paper you choose will also make a difference. I used the Stonehenge that comes in the pad, this is very similar to Bristol Vellum in how smooth it is. These pencils are sold open stock (individually), so if you’re not sure, I would pick up just a couple to see how you feel about them.
Supplies used in this video:
Caran d’Ache Grafwood (amazon affiliate links)
15 pencil set
6 pencil set
Tombow Mono Eraser
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