Faber-Castell Polychromos - A Complete Overview

Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils are renowned for their high-quality performance and vibrant colors.

In this article, we will delve into the world of Polychromos, providing an overview of the brand's history and product line.

We will also discuss the main features and characteristics that set these pencils apart from other colored pencils on the market.

What Are Faber-Castell Polychromos?

Faber-Castell Polychromos are a line of professional-quality colored pencils known for their highly pigmented, oil-based cores.

These pencils are favored by artists and hobbyists alike for their ability to create detailed and vibrant drawings with exceptional precision.

The Polychromos product line was introduced in 1908 and has since become one of the most highly regarded colored pencils in the world, recognized for its unparalleled quality and range of colors.

Features and Characteristics of the Polychromos

Polychromos pencils have a sleek, round barrel that allows for a comfortable grip.

Each pencil is color-coded to match the core's pigment and features the Faber-Castell logo, color name, and color number embossed in gold on the barrel.

Faber-Castell produces Polychromos pencils using high-quality materials and a unique production process.

The cores are made from finely ground pigments bound in oil, which ensures smooth application and rich color laydown. The cores are also encased in sustainably sourced, premium cedar wood for added durability.

Faber-Castell Polychromos are available in 120 individual colors, as well as gold and silver. These pencils can be purchased in various sets, ranging from 12 to the complete 120-color range.

Comparing Faber-Castell Polychromos with Other Colored Pencils

Polychromos pencils are often compared to other professional-grade colored pencils, such as Prismacolor Premier and Caran d'Ache Luminance.

1. Faber-Castell Polychromos vs. Prismacolor Premier

  • Core Composition: Polychromos pencils feature a harder, oil-based core, whereas Prismacolor Premier pencils have a softer, wax-based core. The oil-based core of Polychromos pencils allows for greater control and precision, while the softer wax-based core of Prismacolor pencils facilitates easier blending.

  • Blending: Due to their wax-based core, Prismacolor pencils tend to blend more effortlessly compared to Polychromos pencils, which require more patience and practice for smooth blending.

  • Layering: Polychromos pencils excel at layering, as their oil-based cores do not cause wax buildup. Prismacolor pencils can become muddy when too many layers are applied.

  • Color Range: Polychromos offers a range of 120 colors, while Prismacolor Premier offers 150 colors. Both sets provide a wide selection for artists to choose from.

2. Faber-Castell Polychromos vs. Caran d'Ache Luminance

  • Core Composition: Polychromos cores are harder than those of Luminance as Polychromos pencils have an oil-based core and Luminance pencils have a softer, wax-based core.

  • Lightfastness: Caran d'Ache Luminance pencils are known for their exceptional lightfastness, ensuring that colors remain vibrant and resistant to fading for extended periods. While Polychromos pencils are also lightfast, Luminance pencils have a slight edge in this aspect.

  • Price: Luminance colored pencils are generally more expensive than Polychromos pencils, making Polychromos a more affordable option for artists who still want professional-quality materials.

  • Color Range: Polychromos offers a range of 120 colors, while Luminance offers 100 colors, giving Polychromos a wider selection.

Benefits of Using Polychromos

Polychromos colored pencils offer several benefits for artists and hobbyists:

  1. Precision and detail: The hard, oil-based cores allow for greater control and accuracy when drawing intricate details.

  2. Vibrant colors: The high-quality pigments provide rich and intense colors, which make artwork stand out.

  3. Fade resistance: Polychromos pencils are lightfast, ensuring that colors remain vibrant for at least 25 years or longer.

  4. Affordability: While still a professional-grade product, Polychromos pencils are relatively inexpensive compared to other high-quality colored pencils.

Techniques and Styles that work best with Polychromos

Polychromos pencils excel in the following techniques and styles:

  1. Detailed and realistic drawings: The hard cores and precise points make them ideal for creating detailed, intricate artwork.

  2. Layering: The oil-based cores allow for multiple layers without wax buildup, which can result in a muddy appearance.

  3. Mixed media: Polychromos pencils can be used in conjunction with other art materials, such as watercolors, inks, or pastels, to create unique effects and textures.

Artwork Created with Polychromos Pencils

Many artists have created stunning and diverse artwork using Polychromos colored pencils. Here are some of my favorite examples:

Drawing made by Kirsty Partridge
Drawing made by Georgina Kreutzer
Drawing I made

What Artists Think of the Polychromos

Artists and users alike praise Polychromos pencils for their quality, vibrancy, and ability to produce fine details.

Many consider them an essential tool in their art supplies collection and appreciate the balance of affordability and performance they offer.

They are definitely one of my favorite colored pencils and I use them in every drawing I make.

Overview of All Features

Barrel materialCedar wood
Barrel finishGlossy
Pencil length17.5 cm (6.9 inches)
Core size3.8mm
Core binder/typeOil-based
Color availability120 colors
Color intensityHigh
Color laydownSmooth and even
Color rangeIncludes a good selection of hues, tints, and shades, but lacks skin tones
LightfastnessVery good to excellent
Smudge resistanceHigh
Break resistanceHigh
Holding its pointExcellent
Availability of open stockAvailable, so you can replace individual colors as needed
Recommended surfacesFine grain paper
Blending toolsCan be blended with blending stumps, tortillions, and solvents
Manufacturer originGermany


In my opinion, Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils are an excellent choice for artists and hobbyists who are looking for a high-quality product at a relatively affordable price. Despite some challenges with blending, the precision and vibrant colors offered by these pencils make them a valuable addition to any artist's toolkit.

If you're considering investing in a set of professional-grade colored pencils, I highly recommend giving Faber-Castell Polychromos a try. With their extensive color range, exceptional quality, and suitability for various techniques, these pencils have the potential to elevate your artwork and unleash your creativity.

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