Faber-Castel Polychromos Colored Pencils VS. Crayola Watercolor Pencils (Episode V of the Coloring Nerd's Supplies Guide)

by Michelle M. Johnson

Aaaaand, the title of this blog post is misleading; I am NOT going to be comparing/contrasting Faber-Castell's artist quality Polychromos Colored Pencils against Crayola Watercolor Pencils, an art tool from a company most folks associate with elementary school.

I am, however, going to share with y'all my next installment of the Coloring Nerd's Supplies Guide, give you a review of two very popular colored pencils (also my most recent personal acquisitions for the studio) hopefully in time for your holiday shopping lists, and call into question the idea that some colored pencils are for artists/serious colorists and some are not. 

But, not necessarily in that order.

Look, coloring is for *everyone*, and that means *everything* that you can make art with is for coloring by everyone! Whether your colored pencils come with the label "artist's quality" (which Faber-Castell Polychromos do, and it is a label that is legitimate - they are VERY well made colored pencils!) or with the bright reminder that they are NON-TOXIC (which all Crayola products do, and that certification is VERY important - kids put everything in their mouths!), unique and beautiful art can be made with both, especially if that art your are making is coloring art!

Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils are NOT just for folks who are comfortable calling themselves "artists," and Crayola Watercolor Pencils are NOT just for young children. 

There is most definitely a *price* difference between these two colored pencils (I'll talk about that later), but art comes from the artist, NOT the material they use to create said art!

Both of the colored pencils I am reviewing in this episode of the Coloring Nerd's Supplies Guide are fabulous, great fun to color with and have been great additions to my ever growing collection of coloring tools!

So, on to why I love both of these pencils so much and why I think they are for EVERYONE.


Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

The 120 set of Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils
is absolutely beautiful, comes in a sturdy metal tin, and has
three velvet lined trays of gorgeous colored pencils!
Faber-Castell Polychromos are a German made pencil that is oil based. Their colors are brilliant and saturated, they layer extremely well, and they are quite durable for an "artist's quality" colored pencil (in my cat filled studio, Polychromos pencils have taken tumbles on to my hard wood floors...and NOT broken, not even the pencil's tip!!). These pencils also sharpen well, hold a point nicely under medium pressure (with hard pressure coloring, every pencil requires more frequent sharpening), and are extremely comfortable to hold (while the casing of these lovely pencils does shine attractively, they are not slippery or overly smooth, something that is very important to me as my autoimmune diseases make gripping difficult at times). These pencils are lovely to color with on smooth white cardstock, toothy Kraft cardstock, and hot press watercolor paper (I have tried my Polychromos out on ALL of the HCWT Coloring Shop's coloring experiences), a quality few colored pencils on the market have.

Where these pencils perhaps fall short is in their price tag; Faber-Castell colored pencils ARE expensive - I bought them on Amazon this summer, and per pencil they were $1.34 (notice I say "expensive" not "pricey" - these pencils are worth their price tag). That is more expensive than Prismacolor Premieres, one of the more popular colored pencils in the coloring world. However, having both the full set of Prismacolor Premieres and Faber-Castell Polychromos, I can honestly say that Polychromos outshine the Premieres in every way.

Below is a bit of a coloring example I created to show just how lovely these colored pencils blend.



I picked a stark white colorable gift tag from my new "Happy Everything, Y'all" set, two disparate colors, and then I set to coloring.


Not only did the Polychromos fully cover all the bright white of the tag's cardstock, but with minimal effort, I was able to blend these two very different colors more or less seemlessly (any clumsiness to the color blend in these photos is all my own - I was working very fast so as to have some pictorial elements in this blog post). Add that my hand didn't ache after creating such deep colors (these are extremely soft core colored pencils, so one doesn't have to press super hard to get solid color to lay down), and these pencils have rocketed themselves up to the very top of my "most favorite coloring tools" list!

They do come in smaller sets than 120 (those are less expensive and make a perfect gift for all of the artsy folks in your life, including yourself) but the collector in me absolutely loves having every color this company makes in the Polychromos line of pencils (I'm an art supplies nerd to my very core)!

Crayola Watercolor Pencils

I have the 12 colors set of Crayola Watercolor Pencils, but they do come in a set of 24 colors, also.

Crayola Watercolor pencils are unfortunately *really* hard to find! In fact, until I was doing research into a top secret HCWT Coloring Shop product that I'm launching in 2020, I had no idea that Crayola even made watercolor pencils!

But, make them they do, and available they are at Hobby Lobby (where you can find a 12 count set only) and on Amazon (where you can find the 24 count set).

I have the 12 count set, and this collection of watercolor pencils has the exact same colors in it that the regular Crayola Colored Pencils set has EXCEPT the watercolor set comes with a lovely pink (which they call "magenta") - something the simple colored pencil set does not have (which I find incredibly frustrating, btw).

To test out these lovelies, I decided to really make them work (I mean, they're designed for kids, right, so they should be tough, don'tcha think?) by coloring with them on a Kraft-colored cardstock colorable gift tag, a paper that is incredibly toothy and rough.

I forgot to take a photo of what my coloring looked like BEFORE I added water to this gift tag, but I was honestly shocked; the Crayola Watercolor Pencil pigment laid down color quite nicely on such a dark, textured surface. I did have to use a fair amount of pressure, so I don't know that I would enjoy coloring with these pencils *just* as pencils for long periods of time, but that isn't how one typically uses watercolor pencils.

While not shockingly pigmented once water was added, I still found the colors of the Crayola Watercolor Pencils to be quite rich and easy to blend.



They worked so well on a paper that wasn't designed for watercolor, I was super curious as to how Crayola Watercolor Pencils would work on my shop's Fabriano 90lb hot press watercolor paper!



And, I was pleasantly surprised at how subtle Crayola Watercolor Pencils are; they are easily blendable both before and after adding water. They are also great fun to use on watercolor paper when you dip the tip of your pencil into your water and then color onto your paper, smoothing around a sort of paste-like color.



The end result on this poinsettia colorable gift tag was just what I wanted: muted, leafy colors, creating the appearance of vein in the leaves, which is how I see poinsettia's in real life. The subtle blue wash in the background was created effortlessly by lightly brushing the two blue shades in the set over the paper, and then adding water with a thoroughly wet brush. 

These may not be "artist's quality" watercolor pencils, but art can most definitely be made with them. That you can play around with these pencils for under $10 (the price for Crayola Watercolor Pencils varies dramatically, I assume because they are indeed so hard to find) *and* enjoy experimenting with them with the very young artists in your life makes Crayola Watercolor Pencils an A++ art supply in my book, one that I am very happy to have "discovered!" 

The Take Away

I absolutely love both Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils and Crayola Watercolor Pencils! And, even though we all know I have more than my fair share of coloring supplies (hello, author of the Coloring Nerd's Supplies Guide right here), I feel absolutely zero guilt about having added these two quality pencils to my studio BEFORE I had used up all of my other art supplies!

Whether you consider yourself an artist (you are, btw) or you love someone who does, having access to some level of both of these art supplies is highly recommended by this coloring nerd. 

There are "artist's quality" watercolor pencils (I have my personal eye on Faber-Castell's recent addition, their Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils - I'm hoping Santa thinks I've been good enough this year to warrant the full set), but magic can still happen with even the simplest of art supplies (thank you, Crayola, for continuing to be a quality company). And, a top of the line art tool *can* feel intimidating and seem not the least bit unnecessary (you know what I mean - telling yourself you don't "need" expensive colored pencils because "it's *only* coloring"), but folks, YOUR ART DESERVES THE BEST! Add that art supply companies typically do their best to be green producers, supporters of the arts, and donate back to their communities, well, buying more art supplies for your awesome coloring passion is an all around good thing! 

Now, go out there and make some ridiculously awesome coloring art!

Comments

  1. Wow I really feel like I understand the quality of the Faber-Castell Polychromos based on this blog post alone! I picked up a set of watercolor pencils at You're So Crafty last year by Staedtler and I like those a lot! I wonder how they compare to the Crayolas...

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    Replies
    1. I really love the Crayola Watercolor Pencils and have zero faults about them to share.
      I cannot, however, say the same about Staedtler Watercolor Pencils, unfortunately:( Those suckers are SO fragile, and break ridiculously easily when sharpening...which is the first thing I look at when reviewing an coloring tool. I experienced Staedtler Watercolor Pencils at a local library that ordered them for a workshop I was teaching...and after they performed so poorly at that even with the participants, I decided not to investigate them further.
      How do you find these pencils?

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