5 Best Colored Pencils For Realistic Drawings

A realistic colored pencil drawing of a light blue porsche 992 gt3

Selecting the right colored pencils can be a crucial decision for artists aiming to achieve realism in their work. 

In this article, we explore the top 5 colored pencil sets known for their exceptional qualities in creating lifelike drawings, detailing their unique features and strengths. Whether you're a seasoned artist or a beginner, understanding these options can guide you to the perfect choice for your artistic endeavors.

What Are the Best Colored Pencils for Drawing Realism?

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

1. Faber-Castell Polychromos

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

Excels at: drawing details

Perfect for: drawing hair, animals, flowers, cars

Color range: 120 colors

Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils are perfect for drawing realism due to their hard oil-based core that allows for fine detailing. You can easily sharpen them to a very fine point, and they maintain this sharpness for a long time, making them ideal for intricate work. 

Their vibrancy and exceptional lightfastness ensure that the colors remain bright and true for years. With a generous palette of 120 colors to choose from, you have the flexibility to find just the right shades to mimic real-life hues and tones. 

This abundance of color options, combined with their durability and precision, make Polychromos an excellent choice for anyone looking to create realistic drawings.

ProsCons
Vibrant and intense pigmentationCan be difficult to blend
Great for drawing details
Limited diversity in skin tones and purples
Can be sharpened to a fine point
Very lightfast
Wide color range of 120 shades

Read my full review here.

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2. Caran d'Ache Luminance

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

Excels at: blending and drawing smooth color transitions

Perfect for: drawing portraits, cars, clouds, landscapes

Color range: 100 colors

Caran d'Ache Luminance colored pencils are renowned for their soft core, making them exceptional for drawing realism, particularly in portraits and subjects requiring soft blending. 

The softness of the core allows for smooth color transitions, enabling artists to create subtle shades and blurry effects with ease. This also means that light colors can be applied over darker ones, adding depth and complexity to the artwork. 

With a range of 100 vibrant and lightfast colors, the pencils offer plenty of choices to match real-life tones. These characteristics make Caran d'Ache Luminance pencils an excellent choice for artists who want to create lifelike images with beautiful color transitions and soft blending effects.

ProsCons
Exceptional lightfastnessHigher price point
Very easy to blend
Not great for fine details
Highly pigmented
Break-resistant leads
Available in 100 color

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

Excels at: blending and drawing details

Perfect for: drawing landscapes, cars, portraits

Color range: 100 colors

Derwent Lightfast colored pencils are fantastic for drawing realism, with 100 colors available to artists. 

Their very lightfast nature ensures that the colors remain vibrant over time, reflecting the true essence of the subject. 

Richly pigmented and available in many natural shades, these pencils are not only perfect for capturing fine details but also provide excellent blending capabilities. 

The combination of detail and blendability makes them highly versatile, and suitable for various realistic artworks. 

Whether you're working on intricate landscapes or lifelike portraits, Derwent Lightfast pencils offer the color variety and quality needed to create stunningly realistic drawings.

ProsCons
Exceptional lightfastnessHigher price compared to some other brands
Easy blending

Good for drawing details
Highly pigmented and saturated colors
Thick cedar wood barrel for easy sharpening
Diverse color range of 100 shades

Read my full review here.

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4. Prismacolor Premier Soft Core

Excels at: blending and drawing smooth color transitions at an affordable price

Perfect for: drawing portraits, anime characters, landscapes

Color range: 150 colors

Prismacolor Premier Soft Core colored pencils are a popular choice for those interested in drawing realism without breaking the bank. With a vast selection of 150 colors, artists can find just the right shades to mimic real-life objects and scenes. 

These pencils are known for their exceptional blending abilities, allowing for smooth transitions and the creation of intricate textures. Their very opaque pigments contribute to their vivid and lifelike representations. 

However, it's worth noting that they are prone to wax bloom, and the leads can be quite fragile. 

Despite these drawbacks, their affordability and versatility in blending make them a well-liked option for creating realistic art.

ProsCons
Excellent blendabilityMore fragile leads
Wide color range (150 colors)Bad build quality
Opaque pigmentsNot lightfast

Prone to wax-bloom

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5. Derwent Chromaflow

Excels at: blending and details at an affordable price

Perfect for: drawing portraits, hair, animals, landscapes, cars

Color range: 72 colors

Derwent Chromaflow colored pencils are an appealing option for artists aiming to create realistic drawings, particularly due to their ability to capture details and blend smoothly. 

Available in a selection of 72 colors, they offer a satisfying range for capturing the nuances of real-life subjects.

These pencils are designed to provide a smooth flow, enabling both precision in detailing and seamless blending to achieve lifelike textures and shades. Additionally, their relative affordability makes them accessible to both beginners and more experienced artists alike. 

The combination of detail, blendability, color variety, and cost-effectiveness makes Derwent Chromaflow a valuable tool for drawing realism.

ProsCons
Good for drawing detailsNot Lightfast
Easy blendingLimited number of skin tones

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Conclusion

In the quest to create lifelike and realistic drawings, the right set of colored pencils can make a significant difference. 

Faber-Castell Polychromos stand out with their hard oil-based core and extensive color range. 

Caran d'Ache Luminance offers amazing blending capabilities with a soft core, ideal for soft and blurry effects. 

Derwent Lightfast pencils bring forth vibrant and natural colors, offering both fine detailing and blending. 

Prismacolor Premier Soft Core provides an affordable yet effective solution with 150 colors and great blending features, despite some build quality concerns. Lastly, 

Derwent Chromaflow combines detail, blendability, and affordability in 72 available colors. 

Each of these sets has unique features catering to the varying needs and preferences of artists, contributing to their esteemed reputation in the world of realistic drawing.

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