I’ve used these pencils before in combination with other colored pencils but never by themselves. There was a lot I loved about them and a lot that I… didn’t.
These come in sets of 72. Their lightfast ratings are quite good and can be found on the lid of the tins. My tin is an older one however so I don’t have those ratings. I found a blog where someone shared the ratings on her tin. The two that appeared to not be lightfast I pulled from my set. Two out of 72 isn’t bad at all!
These are an oil based pencil but they feel like they have more wax in them than the Faber-Castell Polychromos oil based colored pencils. If you sharpen these to a very fine point (as in with the Kum long pointed sharpener), the tips will crumble a bit if you add much pressure. This, combined with the waxier feel of the pencils made getting fine detail a bit difficult compared to what I have been able to do with my polychromos. These dont take as many layers as the polychromos or Luminance colored pencils I normally use.
On the flipside, these blend SO WELL. Whether you’re blending with the splender blender that comes in the set (this is a colorless blender made specifically for these pencils) or with odorless mineral spirits (OMS) as I do, the results were great every time. The color lays down VERY fast. I found that I could be quite sloppy in my application, moving the pencil in a very lazy way that would normally leave pencil lines showing had I done this with other brands I’ve used. Once I blended out with the OMS, the lines worked out completely. These created the blurry background I was going for quite quickly and easily. This was probably my favorite thing about these pencils.
The white in this set is about as useless to me as the white polychromos. They are just too translucent for my taste. They work for lightening areas up a bit when you’re blending with them, but not much. I quickly switched to my Luminance white with these. I didn’t love the results I got with the Derwent Drawing Chinese White. Because these didn’t layer well to begin with, that really soft pencil just didn’t want to stick well. I tried it a couple of times but really preferred how the Luminance worked better with these.
Towards the end of this project I was not happy with how few highlights I was able to get on the seahorse, so I mixed some Colored Pencil Touch-Up Texture and Colored Pencil Titanium White from Brush and Pencil to create a mixture of white that I could paint onto the paper with a synthetic hog hair liner brush. This gave me super fine, VERY white details. I know a lot of artists will use acrylic paint or gelpens for this but I don’t because those are water based…meaning they aren’t completely compatible with our wax and oil based colored pencils causing archival issues. This new method however is MEANT for colored pencil! I was pretty excited about what a difference this made in the peice!
I really liked some of the colors in the set but I felt like it was really lacking in the blues, tans and grey tones. Don’t worry though, you will have yellow pencils coming out of your ears with this set…just what we always wanted right? I will never understand why colored pencil companies think we need so many yellows compared to other tones. The colors marked on my set (which is older so it is possible that this has been improved on) were SO INACCURATE!!! I had to keep a paper next to me just to scribble on in-between every single color change. This really is unacceptable and wasted SO much time for me. You may have heard me complain about the Derwent Inktense pencils not being marked that accurately…holy wow those things look perfect in comparison to how far off the colors were on these casings.
I do see why so many artists love these pencils. They are fairly low cost compared to some others, have pretty good lightfast ratings and you can get great results with them. While I did have to adjust my usual techniques (mostly how I layer) to make these work, it didn’t take that long for me to figure out how best to apply them. For me, I won’t likely be doing more projects with these pencils alone. I think they worked best when combined with my polychromos.
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