5 Best Colored Pencils for Beginners in 2024

colored pencil drawing of a squirrel next to a bunch of colored pencils and a box of faber castell polychromos

Explore the vibrant world of colored pencils with my guide to the best sets for beginners. 

From budget-friendly options to professional-grade tools, I compare top brands like Prismacolor and Faber-Castell, helping you find the perfect fit for your creative journey. 

Dive in and discover the best fit for you!

Disclaimer: In the name of full transparency, please be aware that this blog post
contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a
small commission for me (at no extra cost for you).

What are the Best Colored Pencils for Beginners?

  1. Prismacolor Premier Soft Core
  2. Faber-Castell Polychromos
  3. Arteza Pro Series Colored Pencils
  4. Derwent Chromaflow
  5. Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor

1. Prismacolor Premier Soft Core

Effortless Blending for Beginners

For aspiring artists looking to explore the world of colored pencils, the Prismacolor Premier Soft Core set is a popular choice.

Softness for Seamless Blending

As the name suggests, these pencils boast soft cores that glide effortlessly across the paper. This makes them ideal for blending and layering, allowing you to create smooth transitions and rich depth in your artwork. Whether you're practicing shading techniques or bringing portraits to life, the soft cores offer a forgiving and expressive experience.

Vibrant Colors to Captivate

With a stunning spectrum of colors available, Prismacolor Premier Soft Core sets burst with pigment-rich vibrancy. From bold hues to subtle shades, you'll find the perfect tones to express your creative vision. This variety encourages experimentation and helps you develop your color sense.

Beginner-Friendly Price

Compared to some professional-grade options, Prismacolor Premier Soft Core sets fall within a more affordable range, making them an accessible choice for beginners. This allows you to invest in quality without breaking the bank as you hone your skills.

Weighing the Considerations

While these pencils offer enticing features, there are a few aspects to consider. The soft cores, while ideal for blending, can be prone to breakage if applied with too much pressure. Additionally, smaller sets offer a limited color selection, which might prompt an upgrade as your skills progress.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
 Soft cores for easy blending & layeringProne to breakage
Wide color range (150 colors)Not lightfast
Vibrant colorsWax-bloom
Beginner-friendly price point

Overall

If you're a beginner searching for soft, blendable pencils with vibrant colors at a reasonable price, Prismacolor Premier Soft Core is a strong contender. Just be mindful of the softer cores and potentially limited color options in smaller sets.

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2. Faber Castell Polychromos

Professional Quality for Aspiring Artists

a box of faber castell polychromos colored pencils next to a drawing of a lamboghini aventador svj in purple

Among colored pencil enthusiasts (including me), the Faber-Castell Polychromos set holds a revered position. Renowned for their professional-grade quality, these pencils cater to both beginners and seasoned artists alike.

Unmatched Pigment Quality

Polychromos boast exceptional pigment quality, translating to vibrant, lightfast colors that resist fading over time. This ensures your artwork retains its brilliance for years to come, preserving your creative expression for future generations.

Smooth Application & Layering

The pencils feature harder cores compared to some beginner-oriented sets. While requiring slightly more pressure to apply, this translates to exceptional control and precision. This makes them ideal for intricate details and layering, allowing you to achieve smooth transitions and build realistic depth in your work.

Artist-Grade Lightfastness

Unlike some budget-friendly options, Polychromos colors are renowned for their exceptional lightfastness. This means your artwork won't succumb to the dulling effects of UV light, ensuring your creations retain their vibrancy for decades.

Broad Color Selection

Polychromos offer a truly expansive color range of 120 colors, with shades catering to various artistic styles and subjects. Whether you're drawn to landscapes, portraits, or abstract compositions, you'll find the perfect hues to bring your vision to life.

Investment for Serious Learners

Compared to other options, Polychromos carry a higher price tag. However, their professional-grade quality and longevity make them a worthwhile investment for aspiring artists who are serious about their artistic journey.

Considerations for Beginners

The harder cores might require a slight adjustment for beginners accustomed to softer pencils. Additionally, the premium price point might not be ideal for casual exploration.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Vibrant and intense pigmentation
Can be difficult to blend
Wide color range of 120 shadesHighest price point
Smooth application & excellent control
Harder cores require more pressure for layering
Highly lightfast, ensuring artwork longevity

Overall

If you're a committed beginner or aspiring artist seeking superior pigment quality, lightfastness, and precise control, then Faber-Castell Polychromos offer an investment in your artistic growth. However, the higher price tag and harder cores might not be the best fit for casual exploration or those on a tight budget.

You can read my full review of the Faber-Castell Polychromos here.

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3. Arteza Pro Series Colored Pencils

Value and Vibrancy for Budget-Conscious Beginners

For aspiring artists seeking affordable quality to kickstart their colored pencil journey, the Arteza Pro Series set emerges as a compelling option.

Budget-Friendly Entry Point

Compared to professional-grade brands, Arteza Pro Series pencils boast a significantly lower price tag, making them an attractive choice for beginners who want to experiment without breaking the bank. This allows you to explore different techniques and styles without a hefty upfront investment.

Decent Pigment Quality

While not reaching the pinnacle of professional-grade brands, the pencils offer respectable pigment quality for the price point. Colors appear vibrant and blendable, providing a solid foundation for developing your color sense and exploring basic techniques.

Soft Cores for Effortless Blending

Similar to Prismacolor Premier Soft Core, these pencils feature soft cores that glide smoothly across the paper. This makes them ideal for blending and layering, allowing you to create smooth transitions and add depth to your artwork.

Wide Color Range for Exploration

With a broad selection of colors, the Arteza Pro Series set offers ample options for exploring various artistic styles and subjects. Beginners can experiment with different hues and combinations, fostering their understanding of color theory and expression.

Considerations for Longevity

As with most budget-friendly options, the pigment lightfastness might not match professional-grade brands. This means colors might exhibit slight fading over extended periods. Additionally, the soft cores can be prone to breakage if handled roughly.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Budget-friendlyNot be as lightfast as premium brands
Good blendabilityThe soft cores are prone to breakage
Decent pigment quality & soft cores

Overall

If you're a budget-conscious beginner eager to explore colored pencils and develop your artistic skills, the Arteza Pro Series set presents a balanced combination of affordability, decent pigment quality, and enjoyable blending. However, if lightfastness or long-term preservation are high priorities, you might consider professional-grade alternatives like the Faber-Castell Polychromos.

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4. Derwent Chromaflow

Vibrancy and Smoothness for Expressive Artists

For artists seeking smooth application, vibrant colors, and expressive potential, the Derwent Chromaflow set presents a compelling option.

Vibrant Hues to Captivate

Formulated with rich pigments, Chromaflow pencils offer striking, bold colors that stand out on both light and dark paper. This makes them ideal for creating artwork with visual impact and exploring a diverse range of color expressions.

Smooth Layering & Blending

The pencils feature soft cores that glide effortlessly across the paper, facilitating seamless blending and layering. This allows you to create smooth transitions, subtle shading, and build depth within your artwork.

Creative Exploration for All Skill Levels

Whether you're a seasoned artist or a curious beginner, Chromaflow's vibrant colors and smooth application encourage artistic exploration and experimentation. They're particularly well-suited for creating expressive artwork, bold statements, and playful color studies.

Considerations for Lightfastness

While praised for their vibrancy, it's important to note that some users report potential concerns with lightfastness, meaning colors might fade over extended periods. If long-term preservation is a key priority, you might consider professional-grade brands known for their exceptional lightfastness.

Limited Color Range

Compared to other options, Chromaflow currently offers a somewhat smaller color selection. While the available colors are vibrant and expressive, the range might not cater to specific artistic needs that require a wider palette.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Smooth application & blending
Limited color range
Vibrant colors
Durable leads

Overall

If you're an artist seeking vibrant colors, smooth blending, and a foundation for expressive exploration, the Derwent Chromaflow set presents a strong contender. However, if lightfastness is a top concern or you require a very broad color selection, you might consider other options to best suit your needs.

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5. Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor

Balancing Quality and Affordability for Budding Artists

For beginners seeking a balance between budget and quality, the Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor set emerges as a compelling contender.

Value Champion for Quality-Conscious Beginners

Compared to professional-grade brands, Polycolor pencils carry a more affordable price tag, making them an attractive option for beginners who want to invest in decent quality without breaking the bank. This allows you to experiment and develop your skills without a hefty upfront cost.

Soft Cores for Effortless Blending

Similar to Prismacolor Premier Soft Core and Arteza Pro Series pencils, these boast soft cores that glide smoothly across the paper. This makes them ideal for blending and layering, allowing you to create smooth transitions and add depth to your artwork.

Decent Lightfastness for Lasting Creations

While not reaching the exceptional lightfastness of Caran d'Ache Luminance, Polycolor offers acceptable lightfastness for most beginner needs. This means your artwork will resist fading significantly over time, ensuring your creations remain enjoyable for years to come.

Wide Color Range for Exploration

With a broad selection of colors, the Polycolor set offers ample options for exploring various artistic styles and subjects. Beginners can experiment with different hues and combinations, fostering their understanding of color theory and expression.

Considerations for Color Vibrancy

Compared to some brands like Faber-Castell Polychromos, colors in Polycolor sets might appear slightly less vibrant and saturated. While still decent for most needs, if intense color saturation is a top priority, you might consider alternatives.

Limited Availability in Some Regions

Depending on your location, these pencils might not be as readily available as other brands. Checking online retailers or art supply stores beforehand might be necessary.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Budget-friendly option for beginners
Less vibrant colors
Smooth blending and layering capabilitiesLimited availability in some regions
Decent lightfastness
Not as lightfast as professional-grade brands
Wide color range

Overall

If you're a budget-conscious beginner seeking soft cores, decent lightfastness, and a good color range to develop your artistic skills, Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor offers a balanced value proposition. However, if intense color vibrancy or immediate availability are key concerns, you might explore other options that better suit your needs.

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Comparison Between the Best Colored Pencils for Beginners

FeaturePrismacolor Premier Soft CoreFaber-Castell PolychromosArteza Pro SeriesDerwent ChromaflowLyra Rembrandt Polycolor
PriceAffordableHighBudget-FriendlyMid-RangeAffordable
Core HardnessSoftHardSoftSoftSoft
Blending & LayeringExcellentVery GoodGoodVery GoodGood
Pigment QualityGoodExcellentDecentVibrantDecent
LightfastnessNot Artist-GradeExcellentNot Artist-GradeNot Artist-GradeDecent
Color RangeVery WideVery WideWideLimitedWide
BreakabilityProne to breakageLess proneProne to breakageLess proneLess prone
Best ForBeginners, layering & blendingSerious beginners & professionalsBudget-conscious beginnersExpressive artistsBudget-conscious beginners
ProsSoft cores, affordable, beginner-friendlySuperior lightfastness, smooth application, broad color rangeAffordable, decent pigment quality, wide color rangeVibrant colors, smooth application, unique effectsAffordable, soft cores, decent lightfastness, wide color range
ConsProne to breakage, limited color selection in smaller setsHigh price, harder coresLightfastness not artist-grade, prone to breakagelimited color rangeLess vibrant colors, limited availability in some regions

How to Choose Your First Colored Pencil Set

Excited to explore the world of colored pencils but feeling overwhelmed by the choices? Don't worry, picking your first set doesn't require an art degree! 

Here are some key factors to consider:

1. Budget

Colored pencils range in price from budget-friendly to professional-grade. Set a realistic budget that fits your needs and remember, expensive doesn't always mean better for beginners.

2. Skill Level

Are you a complete newbie or have some artistic experience? Opt for soft cores for easier blending and layering if you're starting fresh. Experienced beginners might explore harder cores for more control and detail.

3. Color Range

Consider what kind of art you want to create. Landscapes might require many earthy tones, while portraits benefit from flesh tones and subtle variations. Choose a set with enough colors to explore your interests.

4. Lightfastness

If preserving your artwork for years is important, look for "lightfast" pencils that resist fading. However, for casual sketching, this might not be a top priority.

5. Experimentation

Don't be afraid to try different brands and types! Many art stores offer individual pencils or small sets, allowing you to test colors and textures before committing to a larger set.

The most important factor is to have fun! Choose pencils that feel comfortable in your hand and inspire you to create.

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