Oil-Based Colored Pencils: A Comprehensive Guide

Colored pencils often come in two types: wax-based and oil-based. Today we'll dive a bit deeper into the world of oil-based colored pencils.

In this article, we'll cover the advantages and disadvantages of using oil-based colored pencils, as well as tips on how to use and store them. So, let's get started!

What Are Oil-Based Colored Pencils?

First things first, what exactly are oil-based colored pencils?

Well, they're a type of colored pencil that uses oil as a binder instead of the wax or water found in other types like wax-based or watercolor pencils.

This unique composition gives oil-based colored pencils some nifty characteristics that set them apart from their counterparts.

The main components of oil-based colored pencils are pigments, which provide the color, and a mix of oils and other ingredients that hold everything together.

This blend creates a harder core compared to wax-based pencils, which results in some distinct advantages.

What Are The Advantages of Oil-Based Colored Pencils?

You might be wondering, "Why should I consider using oil-based colored pencils?" Great question! Here are some perks that make them a favorite among artists and hobbyists alike:

  1. Intense color: The oil binder in these pencils allows for rich, vibrant colors that really pop on the page. Say goodbye to dull, lifeless drawings!

  2. Harder core: The core in oil-based colored pencils is generally harder than those in wax-based ones. This means you can easily draw tiny details and maintain a sharp point for longer, which is perfect for intricate work.

  3. Less wax bloom: Wax-based colored pencils can develop a hazy, white film called wax bloom over time. Oil-based pencils don't have this issue, keeping your artwork looking fresh and vibrant for longer.

How To Use Oil-Based Colored Pencils

Now that you're intrigued, let's talk about some practical tips for making the most of your oil-based colored pencils:


To maintain a sharp point, you can just use any regular sharpener. Though in my experience mechanical sharpeners work better. To sharpen, a gentle hand is key. Avoid applying too much pressure to prevent breakage.

Layering Colors

Oil-based colored pencils excel at layering. Start with lighter shades and gradually build up to darker ones for smooth transitions and added depth.

Use light layers and apply more and more pressure the more you layer.


While blending might be a bit trickier compared to wax-based pencils, using a blending pencil, a colorless blender, or a solvent can help achieve those seamless gradients you're after.

But if you like to just use colored pencils, be patient and use lots of layers. By doing so you can create amazing and smooth gradients.

And remember, practice makes perfect! Don't be afraid to experiment with different techniques and styles that work best for you and your oil-based colored pencils.

Popular Brands of Oil-Based Colored Pencils

So you're ready to try out oil-based colored pencils, but where do you start? Here are two of my favorite brands of oil-based colored pencils:

Faber-Castell Polychromos

These high-quality pencils offer a fantastic range of colors and are known for their excellent lightfastness and vibrant and saturated colors. The leads are durable and encased in beautiful wooden barrels, making them a joy to use.

Derwent Lightfast

As the name suggests, these pencils are known for their lightfast properties, which means your artwork won't fade much over time. With a smooth texture and a wide color selection, Derwent Lightfast pencils are definitely worth considering.

What makes these pencils more special in my opinion is that they are actually quite easy to blend.

Each brand has its unique characteristics, so it's essential to explore and find the one that suits your needs and preferences.

Potential drawbacks of oil-based colored pencils

Of course, no art tool is perfect, and oil-based colored pencils are no exception. Here are some potential downsides to consider:

  1. Blending challenges: As mentioned earlier, blending oil-based colored pencils can be a bit more difficult compared to their wax-based counterparts. However, with some practice and the right tools, you can still achieve stunning results.

  2. Covering the paper: Oil-based pencils are quite hard so it can be a challenge to get the pigment in all of the crevices of the paper. But with some patience and lots of layers, you can get rid of all the white spots poking through.

It's important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding if oil-based colored pencils are the right choice for you and your projects.


And there you have it! We've covered the ins and outs of oil-based colored pencils, from their unique composition and advantages to practical tips and potential drawbacks.

While they may not be suitable for everyone or every project, they certainly offer some fantastic benefits that many artists and hobbyists love.

So why not give them a try? Experiment with different techniques, styles, and brands to find the perfect fit for your artistic needs. Who knows, you might just discover a whole new world of creative possibilities with oil-based colored pencils.

Happy drawing, and let your creativity soar!

If you enjoyed this article check out other articles about colored pencils:

Be the first to comment!

Adding comments is temporarily turned off...


There are no comments yet.