5 Best Colored Pencils for Professional Artists

realistic cardrawing of a ferrari portofino next to a box of derwent lightfast colored pencils

Artistry is not just about talent or skill - it's also about the tools an artist chooses. 

When it comes to drawing and illustration, the right colored pencils can make all the difference, providing vibrant colors, ease of use, and longevity. 

With countless options on the market, we're diving into the top colored pencils that professional artists swear by.

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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 professional artists?

  1. Caran d'Ache Luminance
  2. Faber-Castell Polychromos
  3. Derwent Lightfast
  4. Prismacolor Premier Soft Core
  5. Derwent Chromaflow

1. Caran d'Ache Luminance

Realistic Car Drawing of a ferrari sf90 in purple next to a box of Caran d'Ache Luminance Colored pencils

Caran d'Ache Luminance colored pencils stand as a paragon in the world of professional art supplies. Hailing from Switzerland, these wax-based colored pencils are renowned for their exceptional lightfastness, ensuring artworks remain unchanged over extended periods of exposure to light.

Key Features

  • Smooth, Creamy Texture: Luminance pencils glide effortlessly on paper, providing a seamless blending experience for artists.

  • Intense Pigmentation: Every stroke is vibrant, thanks to the rich pigments used in their formulation.

  • Durable Leads: Despite their creamy consistency, the leads are break-resistant, ensuring a longer lifespan for each pencil.

  • Extensive Color Range: Luminance offers 100 distinct colors, allowing artists to capture the exact shade they need for their artwork.

  • Certified Lightfastness: Meeting the ASTM D6901 standards, artists can be confident their works will retain vibrancy for years.

When considering the cost, Luminance pencils sit at a higher price range. However, the investment proves worthwhile for professionals who prioritize lightfastness and creamy texture in their medium.


  • Exceptional lightfastness
  • Creamy, blendable texture
  • Highly pigmented


  • Higher price point compared to some other brands

The Caran d'Ache Luminance colored pencils offer a superior drawing experience for artists, with an emphasis on long-lasting vibrancy. Their commitment to quality and performance makes them a top choice for those seeking the best in their art supplies.

Read my full review here.

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2. Faber-Castell Polychromos

realistic car drawing of a lamborghini aventador svj in purple next to a box of faber castell polychromos colored pencils

A testament to German engineering and craftsmanship, Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils have long been favorites among professional artists. These oil-based wonders are revered for their intense pigmentation and precision in detailed work.

Key Features

  • Vibrant Pigmentation: Polychromos pencils are known for their bold and bright colors that make artwork pop.

  • Oil-Based Core: Unlike many colored pencils that are wax-based, these have an oil core, which means they're perfect for fine details and can be sharpened to a very fine point.

  • Wide Color Range: Boasting a range of 120 shades, artists are spoiled for choice, allowing for rich diversity in their creations.

  • High Lightfastness: Polychromos pencils ensure that your artwork will not only be vibrant upon creation but will also stand the test of time against fading.

Although they offer many advantages, it's worth noting that, due to their oil-based nature, they might be a bit challenging to blend compared to their wax-based counterparts. Additionally, while they offer an extensive range, some artists feel the collection could offer more diversity in skin tones and purples.


  • Intense and vibrant pigmentation
  • Harder core ideal for detailed work
  • Impressive lightfastness


  • Can be a bit more challenging to blend due to the oil-based nature
  • Limited diversity in some color ranges

The Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils are a perfect choice for professionals who seek precision, vibrancy, and longevity in their colored pencils. Their reputation as one of the best in the market is well-earned and recognized by artists worldwide.

Read my full review here.

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3. Derwent Lightfast

realistic cardrawing of a ferrari portofino next to a box of derwent lightfast colored pencils

Hailing from the UK, Derwent Lightfast colored pencils have carved a niche for themselves in the professional art world. These pencils are specially designed to offer maximum lightfastness, a crucial feature that ensures artwork remains as vibrant as the day it was created, even after many years.

Key Features

  • Outstanding Lightfastness: Derwent's primary claim to fame with the Lightfast line is its exceptional resistance to fading. The majority of the pencils in this line boast an impressive LFI or LFII rating, living up to Derwent's statement of being 100% lightfast under museum conditions.

  • Oil-Based Core: Unique to this brand, the Lightfast pencils feature a creamy, soft oil-based core. This texture allows artists to achieve precision in their work while also enabling easy blending.

  • Thick Cedar Wood Barrel: Beyond protecting the pencil's core, the cedar wood barrel makes sharpening a breeze and lends a luxurious feel to the pencils.

  • Diverse Color Palette: With 100 shades available, artists have a vast array of colors to pick from, ensuring that their work can achieve the depth and nuance they desire.


  • Exceptional resistance to fading (lightfastness)
  • Creamy, oil-based core allowing for detail and blending
  • A robust and pleasing barrel design
  • Highly pigmented shades


  • The premium price might be a barrier for some

The Derwent Lightfast colored pencils are for those who view their artwork as a lasting legacy. With their high lightfastness ratings and superior quality, they are an excellent investment for artists who refuse to compromise on durability and vibrancy.

Read my full review here.

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4. Prismacolor Premier Soft Core

For many artists, both budding and seasoned, Prismacolor Premier Soft Core colored pencils are synonymous with quality, blendability, and vibrant colors. Originating from the United States, these pencils have firmly anchored their reputation as a staple in the art community for decades, continually delivering reliable performance.

Key Features

  • Blendability Mastery: The defining feature of the Prismacolor Premier Soft Core is its exceptional blending capability. The soft, wax-based core allows artists to meld colors effortlessly, creating smooth gradients reminiscent of a painter's strokes.

  • Rich, Opaque Colors: These pencils boast high-quality pigments that radiate vibrancy and opacity, ensuring that every artwork stands out.

  • Comfortable Design: The round barrel design not only offers a comfortable grip but also allows for effective control, catering to both detailed work and broad strokes.

  • Extensive Color Range: With 150 shades in the lineup, artists are spoilt for choice. This vast range ensures that every hue, tone, and nuance an artist might need is within arm's reach.

Considering the quality, the Prismacolor Premier pencils are pretty reasonably priced.


  • Unparalleled blendability
  • Comprehensive range of 150 colors
  • Vivid, high-quality pigments
  • Available both as individual pencils and in sets


  • The leads, while soft and blendable, can be more fragile, demanding careful handling

The Prismacolor Premier Soft Core colored pencils are a dream for artists who place blendability and color range at the top of their priority list. While they do necessitate a gentle touch due to the softer leads, their performance, versatility, and color payoff make them an enduring favorite in the art community.

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5. Derwent Chromaflow

When it comes to striking a balance between blending capabilities and affordability, Derwent Chromaflow colored pencils truly stand out. These pencils, crafted with an oil-based core, combine the virtues of softness, strength, and ease of blending, making them a brilliant choice for artists who want to achieve smooth transitions without splurging on higher-end brands.

Key Features

  • Oil-Based Core: Derwent Chromaflow's soft, oil-based core is both blendable and durable, resisting breakage during both sharpening and drawing.

  • Elegant Design: Beyond their performance, these pencils exude luxury with their sleek black barrel, colored ends, and gold lettering.

  • Color Range: The set offers a decent array of 72 shades. However, some artists might find the range of skin tones to be somewhat limited.

It's worth noting that while Derwent underscores the high standards of these pencils, their exact lightfastness isn't overtly mentioned on the official website. Nevertheless, they claim that the Chromaflow pencils' lightfastness aligns with other products within a similar price bracket.


  • Soft yet durable core that's perfect for blending
  • Luxurious design with a premium look and feel
  • Affordable without compromising on quality


  • The limited variety of certain tones, like skin colors

To encapsulate, Derwent Chromaflow colored pencils are an ideal pick for artists who crave the blending capabilities often found in more premium brands but at a more affordable price point. Their wide color range, blendable core, and chic design make them a valuable addition to any artist's toolkit.

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Why Should You Use Professional Colored Pencils as a Professional Artist?

For professional artists, the choice of art materials can significantly impact the quality of their work. Using professional-grade colored pencils offers numerous advantages that elevate an artist's work and ensure longevity. Here's why they matter:

  1. Lightfastness: One of the hallmarks of professional-grade colored pencils is their resistance to fading. Over time, artwork exposed to light can fade, altering the artist's original vision. Professional pencils offer superior lightfastness, ensuring the artwork remains vibrant for years to come.

  2. Pigment Quality: Higher-quality pigments mean more vivid, consistent, and true-to-color results. This ensures that the colors artists lay down are what they intend, providing accuracy in every stroke.

  3. Blendability: The ability to blend colors smoothly allows for more sophisticated shading, gradients, and color transitions. Professional pencils often offer superior blendability, enabling artists to achieve a painterly effect and more depth in their artwork.

  4. Durability: No one likes a pencil that constantly breaks. Professional-grade pencils are crafted with durability in mind, ensuring they can withstand the rigors of intense art sessions.

  5. Extensive Color Range: Having a broad palette at one's disposal can be crucial. Professional sets often come with a diverse range of colors, allowing artists to capture nuances and subtleties in their artwork.

  6. Reputation & Presentation: For artists selling their work or showcasing in galleries, using professional-grade materials can add to their reputation. It signals a commitment to quality and ensures potential buyers that the artwork will stand the test of time.

While it's possible to create stunning artwork with any tool in skilled hands, professional-grade colored pencils give artists an edge. They provide the reliability, quality, and longevity that professionals need, ensuring that every piece they create is a true reflection of their skill and vision.

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