3 Best Lightfast Colored Pencils in 2024

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

Whether you're a professional artist or a passionate hobbyist, the longevity of your artwork matters. After all, you've invested time, energy, and emotion into your pieces. 

Selecting the right colored pencils with high lightfastness can be the difference between a masterpiece that lasts generations and one that fades within a few years. 

As the colored pencil market has expanded, a few names have stood out for their exceptional lightfast qualities. 

In this article, we'll explore the top three brands known for their resilience against the fading power of light.

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What Are The Best Lightfast Colored Pencils?

  1. Caran d'Ache Luminance D6901
  2. Derwent Lightfast
  3. Faber-Castell Polychromos

1. Caran d'Ache Luminance D6901

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 are a pinnacle of excellence among wax-based colored pencils. Crafted in Switzerland, these pencils are celebrated not just for their quality but for their unmatched lightfastness, ensuring your artwork remains vibrant for decades to come.

Key Features:

  • Smooth and Creamy: Artists adore the Luminance pencils for their creamy texture, making blending and layering a dream.
  • Rich Pigmentation: These pencils don't skimp on color. Each pencil packs a punch of intense, rich pigment.
  • Durability: Even with their creaminess, the leads are designed to be break-resistant.
  • Extensive Color Range: With 100 shades available, artists have a broad palette at their fingertips.

Lightfastness: Caran d'Ache sets the bar high with their lightfastness standards. Their Luminance pencils meet the rigorous ASTM D6901 standards, assuring artists that their creations will stay vibrant for years. The assurance of longevity is priceless, especially for those creating pieces for galleries, sales, or family heirlooms.

Price: Quality comes at a price, and the Luminance pencils are no exception, but many artists see it as a worthy investment for peace of mind and exceptional performance. Click the button below to check the current price.


  • Exceptional lightfastness
  • Creamy, blendable texture
  • Highly pigmented
  • Break-resistant leads
  • Available in 100 colors


  • Higher price point

In conclusion, Caran d'Ache Luminance colored pencils are a top-tier choice for artists who prioritize longevity and quality in their work. While they come with a higher price tag, the investment ensures vibrant and lasting artworks that stand the test of time.

Read my full review here.

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2. Derwent Lightfast

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

Originating from the UK, Derwent Lightfast colored pencils have specifically been designed with artists' needs in mind. Their primary promise is to deliver unmatched lightfastness, ensuring your artwork remains as vivid as the day it was created, even under museum conditions.

Key Features:

  • Oil-Based Core: Unlike many colored pencils, the Derwent Lightfast pencils possess an oil-based core. This not only provides a soft and creamy texture but also facilitates precision and detailed work.
  • Lightfast Ratings: The majority of these pencils boast an impressive LFI or LFII rating, a testament to Derwent's commitment to maintaining the vibrancy of your artwork.
  • Cedar Wood Barrel: Durability is further enhanced with the pencil's thick cedar wood barrel. Not only does it add an element of luxury to the drawing experience, but it also makes sharpening a breeze.
  • Diverse Color Palette: With 100 colors in the lineup, artists are spoilt for choice. Whether you're looking to capture the subtle hues of a sunset or the bold colors of contemporary art, the Derwent Lightfast range has got you covered.

Price: Premium quality often carries a premium price as is the case with these pencils. Click the button below to check the current price.


  • Exceptional lightfastness
  • Soft, creamy oil-based core enabling both precision and blending
  • Thick cedar wood barrel ensuring easy sharpening
  • Highly pigmented and saturated colors
  • An extensive color range of 100 shades


  • Higher price compared to some other brands

In essence, Derwent Lightfast colored pencils stand as a testament to what can be achieved when craftsmanship meets innovation. The brand has managed to encapsulate the best qualities desired by artists |???| from lightfastness to a delightful drawing experience. Though the price point might be a hurdle for some, for many professionals and serious hobbyists, the investment is well worth the assurance of long-lasting vibrancy in their artworks.

Read my full review here.

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3. Faber-Castell Polychromos

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

A legacy brand with deep roots in Germany, Faber-Castell's Polychromos colored pencils are nothing short of a work of art themselves. Known for their striking vibrancy, they promise to breathe life into every artwork.

Key Features:

  • Oil-Based: The Polychromos pencils are distinctively oil-based, which gives them a harder core compared to many other pencils. This ensures detailed and precise work.
  • Intense Pigmentation: These pencils shine in their color delivery. With rich, deep hues, they transform any piece into a vibrant spectacle.
  • Diverse Shade Range: Offering a whopping 120 shades, the Polychromos line ensures that artists never feel limited in their color choices.
  • Sharpening Precision: Despite their harder core, these pencils sharpen to a fine point, offering artists a meticulous edge for their work.
  • Lightfastness: While they have their unique star rating system, Faber-Castell ensures a high standard of lightfastness. With the majority of the pencils boasting a 3-star rating, artists can rest assured their work will resist fading for over a century.

Price: While the Polychromos pencils are a premium product, their price remains competitive. Click the button below to check the current price.


  • Vibrant and intense pigmentation
  • Harder core, perfect for detailed work
  • Can be sharpened to an ultra-fine point
  • Impressive lightfastness ensures longevity
  • A wide color range of 120 shades


  • Can be slightly challenging to blend due to the oil base
  • Some artists desire a more diverse range in skin tones and purples

To sum it up, Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils are a jewel in the art world. Their rich history and commitment to quality have earned them a loyal fanbase across the globe. While there might be a learning curve associated with blending, the stunning results and long-lasting artworks make them a staple for many artists, both novice and seasoned.

Read my full review here.

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What is Lightfastness and How is it Measured?

Lightfastness refers to the resistance of colored materials, such as pigments in colored pencils, to fading or discoloration when exposed to light. Over time, most colors are susceptible to some degree of fading when exposed to sunlight or even indoor lighting. However, materials with high lightfastness resist this fading and maintain their original color for extended periods.

Measurement Standards:The most common measure of lightfastness in the art world is the ASTM D6901 standard, an international guideline set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The ratings are:

  • LFI: Excellent lightfastness, with colors expected to remain vibrant for over 100 years in normal museum conditions.
  • LFII: Very good lightfastness, where colors should resist fading for 25-100 years.
  • LFIII: Not sufficiently lightfast for artists' materials.

There are other systems too, like the Blue Wool Scale, which uses blue wool swatches exposed to light to determine fading levels. Faber Castell, as I mentioned earlier, uses its star rating system.

  • ***: Maximum Lightfastness. Maximum Fade Resistance of 100+ years.
  • **: Very good lightfastness. Very good fade resistance 25+ years.
  • *: Good lightfastness. Good fade resistance 5+ years.

Understanding lightfastness and the system used by the brand you're considering is crucial. It ensures you're making an informed choice, especially if you're creating artwork meant to last generations or for professional sale.

While the science behind measuring lightfastness involves controlled tests and comparisons, for artists, it boils down to this: choosing pencils with a high lightfastness rating ensures that your art remains vibrant and true to its original colors for as long as possible.

Does Lightfastness Matter When Using Colored Pencils?

When delving into the world of art, especially with colored pencils, one might wonder how significant a role lightfastness plays. After all, with numerous factors such as pigment quality, texture, and blending capabilities in play, is lightfastness truly a top concern?

Significance for Professional Artists

For professionals, lightfastness is not just a fancy term; it's a commitment to longevity. When you're selling artwork or showcasing it in galleries, clients expect that the piece will maintain its vibrancy over the years. A high lightfastness rating can become a selling point, assuring potential buyers of the artwork's lasting quality.

Art Preservation

Even if you're not a professional artist, think of personal projects or gifts. Wouldn't you want that portrait you drew for your family or that landscape of a memorable vacation spot to remain as vibrant as your memories? With lightfast colored pencils, the beauty of these moments can be captured and preserved for years to come.

Investment Value

High-quality art materials often come with a steeper price tag. Understanding lightfastness ensures you're investing wisely. If two pencils provide equally vibrant colors and smooth blending but differ significantly in lightfastness, the more fade-resistant option is a better long-term investment.


While lightfastness is crucial, it's essential to remember it's not the only factor. If an artist is creating drafts, sketches, or pieces meant for short-term display or reproduction (like illustrations for a book that'll be printed), lightfastness might not be the top priority.

In conclusion, while lightfastness might not be critical for every colored pencil endeavor, it's a paramount factor for artworks meant to stand the test of time. Whether you're a professional or a hobbyist, understanding and considering lightfastness ensures that the vibrancy and beauty of your creations remain untouched by the relentless march of time.


Colored pencils have seen a tremendous evolution over the years. No longer just a childhood art supply, they've grown into a sophisticated medium favored by both budding and professional artists. Among the myriad of qualities to consider, lightfastness stands out as a testament to an artwork's longevity.

In our exploration, we delved into three frontrunners in the lightfast colored pencil world: the Swiss-made Caran d'Ache Luminance, the UK-crafted Derwent Lightfast, and the German marvel, Faber Castell Polychromos. Each brings its unique qualities, but they're united by their commitment to durability and vibrancy over time.

Yet, as we've discussed, lightfastness isn't the be-all and end-all. It's one of many factors that play into the selection of the perfect colored pencil. For some artists, it might be the pinnacle, while for others, blending capabilities, pigment intensity, or even price might take precedence.

But one thing is clear: understanding lightfastness and its implications is crucial for anyone serious about their artwork's longevity. In a world where memories fade and moments are fleeting, having art that stands strong against the test of time is a rare and valuable treasure.

As you continue your artistic journey, may your colors remain ever vibrant, and your artwork, ever enduring.

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