Anyone can enjoy coloring, but you can get even more out of this relaxing hobby with the right colored pencil set.
As an artist myself, I’ve always loved drawing with colored pencils. They’re hard to beat for the range of colors, ease of blending, and vivid shades they create.
In this simple guide, I’ll share the essential factors to look for when buying a colored pencil set. I’ll help you decide which color pencil set to go for and find something that fits your budget!
How to Choose the Best Colored Pencils for Coloring Books: Buying guide
You might think that every colored pencil must be pretty much the same. But there’s a lot more to coloring pencils than you’d have thought!
The best quality colored pencils make for a dreamy drawing experience. They produce rich, saturated colors that you can blend to create different shades.
To help you find the best color pencil set, here’s a quick guide on what to look out for when shopping around!
The Different Types of Colored Pencils
There are three main types of colored pencils for adults:
- Wax-based pencils
- Oil-based pencils
- Watercolor pencils
Each type of pencil has its qualities and pros and cons. For example, wax pencils are very easy to blend and layer. But, they can create a wax bloom, and the leads tend to break with minimal pressure.
In contrast, oil-based pencils are more durable as they have a harder pigment. The downside is that it makes them harder to blend and layer up smoothly.
Finally, we have watercolor pencils, which you can use to can create gorgeous artwork. But they’re not such popular pencils for adult coloring books.
Watercolor pencils work best for landscapes and freehand drawing. When you add water, it looks just like a watercolor painting. But they don’t give the crisp, vivid look that works best in coloring books. And you don’t want to ruin your coloring book by getting it wet!
For coloring books, you want as many colors as possible. That will allow you to create vibrant and true-to-life colors for your drawings.
Make sure to check how many pencils come in each box before you buy them.
But you should also look at the range of shades included. Are there any key colors missing? You don’t want to wait until you’ve bought a set to discover that it’s not exactly what you need.
(Image credit: Lucas George Wendt)
Are the Colored Pencils Easy to Blend?
The next factor to consider is whether the coloring pencils are easy to blend.
If you can layer the pencils together, that opens up all sorts of possibilities for new shades. You can create exciting combinations and smooth transitions. As a result, your artwork will look fantastic!
Art quality colored pencils tend to blend very well together. The general rule is that the softer the pigment, the easier it is to blend.
But it’s worth noting that pencils with softer pigments tend to wear away quickly. So, if you go for a soft-core pencil, you may go through them quicker than harder pencils. It can work out more expensive, so you’ll need to decide what your priority is. Blendability or affordability?
(Image credit: Davidsonluna)
Are the Pencils Lightfast?
If you want to display your artwork, you should look for lightfast pencils. This means that the pigment won’t fade or discolor over time.
The American Standard Test Measure defines how lightfast a pigment is. The range uses Roman numbers from I to V, with I being the most lightfast. The lower the number, the longer the pigment will last.
If you want vibrant color pencils and drawings that will last, buy lightfast pencils.
You’ll find coloring pencils for adults at every price point, so you need to work out how much you’d like to spend on them.
There are some excellent budget options out there. So don’t worry if you have a tight budget right now!
But if you can afford a little more, you can get some luxury pencils that are such a joy to use. The more you spend, the brighter and creamier coloring pencils tend to be.
Whatever your price range, check out my list of the best adult coloring pencils below! There’s something for everyone, and I’ve picked only the best from many other options.
The Top 3 Adult Coloring Pencils: A Quick Comparison
If you’re short on time, then here is a quick summary of the three top coloring pencils for adults!
For beginners on a budget, I recommend starting with the Fantasia pencils. These very affordable pencils come in sets of 12 to 18 pencils. The colors are bright, and they lay down color and burnish well. You can create some gorgeous drawings with these pencils without breaking the bank.
If you can afford a little more, you could consider going for the Prismacolor Premier pencils. These soft-core pencils blend beautifully. And with 40 different colors, you get a nice range of shades to use. Plus, they are lightfast, so your pictures shouldn’t fade, even when exposed to light.
But if you want to splurge, my top recommendation is the Caran d’Ache Luminance range. These pencils are popular among professional artists, as they are a luxury to draw with. They are lightfast and produce vibrant colors. But most importantly, they don’t create wax bloom, unlike many other wax pencils. So, if you have spare money, go for the Luminance pencils. You won’t regret it!
The Best Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring Books
Best Affordable Large Pencil Set
(Image credit: Prismacolor)
Prismacolor Premier pencils are perfect for beginners and enthusiasts. This low-cost set contains 40 vibrant shades for a very affordable price.
These pencils have a soft core that makes them perfect for blending and shading. They are easy to use and feel silky on the page.
If you’re serious about coloring, you’ll love how smoothly the colors blend together. The box contains a wide range of shades, suitable for any drawing. And while you can get some wax bloom from these pencils, a fixative should fix that!
Another bonus of the Prismacolor Premier colored pencils is that they are lightfast. That comes in handy if you like to display your artwork. With Prismacolors, your drawings should stay bright and beautiful, without any fading.
One downside of the softcore is that they wear away very quickly. So, you could find yourself replacing these pencils on a regular basis if you use them a lot.
Some users have also found that the core can slide out of the wood. This fault seems to be quite frequent, so you’ll need to take care when sharpening the pencils. You can buy a special sharpener designed for soft-core pencils to avoid it happening.
The Prismacolor Pencils are some of the most popular pencils for coloring books. They are vibrant, lightfast, and excellent for blending. With all these factors, they offer great value for money.
- You get 48 pencils with a good color range for an affordable cost
- These pencils blend well and won’t fade over time
- The pencils are very soft, so they wear away quickly and can cause wax bloom
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Caran d’Ache Luminance
Best Luxury Adult Coloring Pencil
(Image credit: Caran d’Arche)
If you’re prepared to splash out, consider investing in these beauties! The Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils are some of the best premium coloring pencils around in 2023.
The Caran d’Ache pencils are packaged securely in a sturdy tin that holds each pencil in place. You won’t need to worry about them rolling about or getting mixed up.
These pencils have wax cores, allowing them to blend beautifully. You can create realistic drawings with shadows and highlights using Luminance pencils. But unlike many wax pencils, they have been specially designed to reduce any wax bloom.
The pigments are very high-quality, creating bright and saturated colors.
As for lightfastness, these pencils score the highest rating possible. So, they are durable, and your drawings should last for decades to come without any fading. Their archival quality makes them a favorite for professional artists.
Caran d’Ache is a brand you can trust. Although they don’t come cheap, the Luminance pencils are so worth the money.
- Some of the best coloring pencils for adults are vibrant, lightfast, and easy to blend.
- They come in beautiful, sturdy packaging so you can take them anywhere
- These pencils are very expensive
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Best Artist-Grade Oil Pencils
(Image credit: Lyra Rembrandt)
If you’re looking for oil-based coloring pencils, take a look at the Lyra Rembrandt range.
Although these pencils don’t come cheap, they cost less than the Caran d’Ache pencils. And as they come in packs as small as 12 pencils, you can buy a smaller set to try them out. Or, you could treat yourself to the set of 105 pencils that comes in a gorgeous wooden display box!
These pencils feel lovely to use, and you can easily achieve lighter or darker shading. They fit nicely in your hand and apply effortlessly to the page. You’ll get rich shades that you can blend to create nuance.
These oil-based pencils are great for blending and mixing shades. And you won’t need to worry about wax bloom at all!
The Lyra pencils come packaged in a compact yet strong metal tin. So, you can take them anywhere safely for drawing on the go.
As a bonus, you can also use these pencils on other materials like textiles and wood.
The Lyra Rembrandt pencils conform to lightfastness standards and are of archival quality. Their mid-range price makes them attractive to hobbyists as well as professionals. Anyone can enjoy drawing with these fantastic oil pencils.
- These oil-based pencils blend and layer effortlessly
- They lay down color smoothly and are lightfast
- The Lyra Rembrandt pencils aren’t cheap, so they are not for anyone on a budget
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Derwent Inktense Pencil Set
Best Colored Pencils for Clean Lines
(Image credit: Derwent)
When you’re drawing in a coloring book, you need a precise pencil for those intricate details. That’s exactly what Derwent has created with their Inktense pencil range.
These pencils are designed to fit comfortably in your hand. The hexagonal shape provides an excellent grip. They sharpen to a very fine point, making it easy to perfect even the tiniest details. That’s what makes these pencils so ideal for coloring books!
This range has high pigmentation, so these pencils lay down colors smoothly. You can create gorgeous, rich artwork with Inktense pencils.
What sets the Inktense pencils apart is how well they hold their point. With many other pencils, you may struggle to get precise lines and results. But this range provides the accuracy you’ll need for coloring detailed designs.
These pencils are unique as they bring together the best of pencils and ink pens. If desired, you can apply water to create an ink effect that, once dry, is permanent.
These pencils are manufactured in England with attention to detail. Each set has a good range of colors and comes in a sturdy tin. The pencils look stylish, and you can easily find the pencil you need thanks to the color-coded ends.
A set of Derwent Inktense pencils and a coloring book would make a fantastic adult coloring book kit. You could treat yourself or gift it to a friend!
- These pencils are perfect for detailed designs as they are very precise
- The colors are vibrant due to high-quality pigments
- They are not the best for filling large spaces due to their thin points
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Castle Art Coloring Pencils
Best Mid-Range Adult Coloring Pencils
(Image credit: Castle)
The Castle Art pencils are another of the top picks for coloring pencils. These high-quality pencils offer excellent value and look amazing on the page.
They lay down color well, and you can also have fun blending different shades together. With 72 different colors, you can draw anything you like with realistic results. The colors are very deep, so your designs will look vivid and eye-catching on the page!
What I like most about these pencils is that they get the balance just right between hard and soft cores. They are very creamy but not as soft as the Prismacolor pencils so they will last longer.
The packaging of this color pencil set really stands out. They come in a gorgeous metal box with three trays, allowing you to keep your pencils tidy and organized.
Each tray is divided into color families, so you can quickly find the necessary pencil. Plus, every pencil is numbered, so you can always put them back in the correct order.
The pencils themselves are also made to the highest standards. Each pencil is made from premium basswood, and the core is centered, making it easy to sharpen. The pencil barrel is round with a smooth black finish that feels and looks great.
As with most wax pencils, you get some wax bloom that can make your drawings look shiny. But despite that, these pencils are some of the best-colored pencils for coloring books.
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Fantasia Colored Pencil Set
Best Budget Color Pencil Set
(Image credit: Fantasia)
You can still find some quality coloring pencils even if you’re on a budget. Check out this set of 48 pencils that comes in at a very affordable price.
The Fantasia pencils blend nicely and aren’t too soft or too hard. That makes it easy to put down color and layer it up for interesting effects.
Anyone can get started with this set! The pencils have concentrated pigments and bright colors, making your art look great. The range of colors is excellent, other than when it comes to skin shades.
While these pencils don’t have that premium feel, they still tick all the boxes. Burnishing and layering are easy with these pencils. So, they’re ideal for learning how to use colored pencils without breaking the bank.
There might be some tiny imperfections. But they are hard to spot and shouldn’t stop you from enjoying coloring!
Fantasia pencils are perfect for beginners, children, or anyone on a tight budget. With this set, you get an excellent selection of pencils for every type of coloring.
- This set of 48 pencils is very affordable
- You get a good range of colors that blend well
- They don’t feel as premium as other brands
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The Wrap Up
Coloring is both relaxing and fun, allowing you to unleash your creativity. It’s also a fantastic hobby for promoting mindfulness.
But you don’t have to stick with the Crayola sets you used as a kid! Some excellent coloring pencils for adults to take your drawings to the next level.
You can layer, blend, and create stunning results with the right coloring pencils. They will look vibrant, bright, and eye-catching, making for a very rewarding experience.
WIth pencils for every budget on this list, there is something for everyone. Let me know which coloring pencils are your favorites in the comments below!
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