5 Best Colored Pencils For Realistic Drawing 2021

Last Updated on September 3, 2021 by Michael Vega

Best Colored Pencils For Realistic DrawingChildren live in a world of the rainbow with the jam of colors. In their world, colors and colors are everywhere to make our life happy with their colorful activities.

Colored pencils are one of their magic wands to make their creative imagination alive. It is mus knowing the colors to make a sketch perfect.

These pencils have been often categorized as children’s products like toys and candy in the past, but in recent times, adults and even professionals are using colored pencils to enliven their sketches and realistic drawing.

Coloring books have evolved into a favorite grown-up activity over the years, leading the demand for color pencils skyrocketing to an all-time high.

Thanks to the surged demand, the market is now flooded with a myriad of color pencil options. How can you pick the best colored pencils for realistic drawing from such a vast assortment of choices? My colored pencil review article might help you make the perfect decision.

Best Colored Pencils For Realistic Drawing 2021 – Review & Comparison

Using the first Three Pencils and after extensive research for No. fourth and fifth of the list, I have made shortlisted 5 items to feature in my review list. They are:

1. Derwent Inktense Colored Pencils

Derwent claims that their Inktense line of pencils are the best colored pencils for Realistic drawing you would find in the market. I am not going to debate whether it’s right or not but it must be acknowledged that these pencils allow you to create vivid ink-like effects once washed out with the water-the transition from pencil to ink is just one wash away!

You can achieve a subtle equilibrium between the delicacy of pencil art and the verve of ink with these pieces. Technically, these pencils are more akin to crayons or oil pastels rather than traditional color pencils.

The magic happens when these pencils are dipped into the water, but they can do a very decent job when they are dry as well. The color becomes permanent after drying with absolutely zero color dispersion.

As the shade becomes durable upon drying, these pencils are safe to use on various surfaces like fabrics, paper, canvas, etc. You can quickly cook up some personalized colors by mixing them up or by diluting the darker shades into the water.

You won’t find many colored pencils that can rival the vibrancy Derwent Inktense pencils offer, but you will get more satisfactory results with traditional color pencil sets if your artwork demands lighter pigments rather than an outburst of color.


Will these pencils work with coloring books?
Ans: Yes, they will. They will not bleed through to the next page.


2. Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor is the best coloring pencils brand in the world of colored pencils and in the US. They were as much influence as Windows is right now in the computer operating system market. Their prime days are over, but still, they are one of the most popular choices made by colored pencil buyers.

The Prismacolor Premier pencils are wax-based pencils with thick and creamy cores, making them more durable, smoothly applicable, and easily synthesizable.

Their assortment of colors is quite impressive (up to 150!) which gives you a whole lot of options to spark up your drawings. Did I already mention that they can be blended with each other effortlessly? You can boost your color library by custom making some hues that are not commonly seen.

good colored pencilsI feel their velvety color texture makes them very flexible regarding the application and enables you to showcase your creativity on several patterns and surfaces.

From beginners to skillful professionals, Prismacolor Premier colored pencils have served them all with utmost excellence and cemented their positions as one of the good colored pencils on the market.

A wide range of shades, excellent pigment quality, simple application, marvelous mixing, and made it nearly impossible for me to exclude these Prismacolor pencils from my colored pencils review list.


Does this set come with a colorless blender?
Ans: No, but Prismacolor does make them. You’d have to buy them extra.
What's the difference in the pencils that have lightfast written on them?
Ans: Lightfastness is the ability of a color to retain its original characteristics and/or withstand the effects of light over time. Pencils with ‘lightfast’ printed on them are rated for their lightfastness.


3. Derwent Coloursoft Colored Pencils

The Coloursoft series was Derwent’s answer to the Caran d’Aches Luminance series and Prismacolour’s Premier Soft-Cored line; both of which are famous for their soft tops and silky texture. Did these pencils live up to the hype? They sure did! Coloursoft pencils won over the connoisseurs with their subtlety and highly blended nature.

Their soft colors can accommodate the administration of multiple layers without giving out the impression that the picture has been layered. It can emulate a harmonious blend of color you’d expect to see on an oil painting. The creamy, delicate core is well protected by a chunky wooden barrel to prevent internal breakage.

It claims itself as the professional best coloring pencils from the very first introduction in the market.
The color collection offered by Coloursoft is very diverse as you can find a lot of sparkling bright hues as well as dull, faded shades. However, there are certain drawbacks that you should know about before buying these pencils.

Derwent’s Coloursoft pencils rank lower on the lightfastness scale compared to other Derwent pencil lines meaning their endurance to light exposure is inferior to other Derwent pencils. And also these pencils shouldn’t be an ideal pick for intricate, comprehensive drawings because their soft leads will not be able to provide the sharp finish necessary for such detailed work.


Are these colors erasable?
Ans: Yes, they are.
Are these pencils oil-based or water-based?
Ans: These pencils are mainly wax-based. The colors don’t blend with water but do blend well with the Tombow colorless blender (which is a water-based ink). They also mix well with each other.
Can these be used with an ordinary sharpener?
Ans: Yes, I’ve used an ordinary pencil sharpener to sharpen them myself.


4. Faber Castell Colored Pencils

Faber-Castell has been producing color pencils and other related products in a Bavarian town called Stein since 1761.

They have been around the colored pencil industry for quite a while now, and it would have been a significant surprise if I didn’t mention any Faber-Castell product on this good colored pencils list.

The particular pencils we will be talking about today belong to the Polychromos series, which have been produced by the company since 1908. Wonder why this line has been continued for more than a century and how it garnered a legendary status over the years?

The Poluchromos series has its meticulous build to thank for its evergreen popularity. The pigmentation quality of these pencils is unbelievable!

Basic Color of Colored Pencils Being oil-based, you can effortlessly layer your drawings without having to worry about wax bloom. Besides the oil-based lead makes the colors glowing brightly.

These pencils have a fantastic lightfastness score to guarantee the longevity of your artwork. The outer body of the pencils is crafted with fragrant California cedarwood, which keeps the core safe from external shocks.

The white color seemed a bit too translucent to me but other than that; I couldn’t find anything else to complain about these high-end sets of pencils.



Do you need to use baby oil or whatever oil to blend the colors or can I just mix them without the oil?
Ans: These are oil-based colored pencils. No need to use oil. They blend very well with just one layer.
Can these oil-based pencils be used together with wax-based pencils like Luminance? Would they layer and blend with wax pencils?
Ans: I have used them with the Prismacolors which is a wax-based pencil, and I have no problems putting either one over the other. Some colors work better than others, and that goes for both pencils even with their type. But the Polychromos blend well with my Prisma, so I would imagine they blend with Luminance.


5. Caran D’ache Luminance Colored Pencils

I’m going to wrap up my colored pencils article by mentioning another high-end item cherished by coloring aficionados. Caran d’ Ache Luminance is a premium option for those who are looking for pungent color palettes, light immune shades that can breathe life to even the most highly detailed artwork.

Fair warning, if you need to work with lighter colors, this is definitely not the set you are looking to buy.

The colors are immense with minimal wax bloom even though the pencils are wax-based. The lead has a creamy texture, but it is quite durable and can be easily sharpened to a slender shape. You can check the Guide for Erasing Colored Pencil.

I loved applying it to specific areas as you can put on a lot of color with every stroke. The vibrant touch these pencils can give to your artwork is rarely seen not to mention how easily you can pile layers of colors with absolutely zero color bleed.

The pencils are comfortable to grip and respond well to different application pressures. Caran D’ Ache Luminance is not the one to go for if you are on a tight budget, but if you can afford it, these pencils won’t disappoint you.

This color pencil is absolutely good for artists and professional uses.


What is the difference between Caran D’ Ache Pablo and Caran D’ Ache Luminance?
Ans: Pablo is a bit harder. Most of the colors are very close to a 6B hardness when compared to Graphite. They are perfect as an all-around permanent color pencil (not water-soluble).

The Luminance is much more lightfast. Because of their softness, they have incredible surface coverage. They can be blended very easily and the colors are extremely concentrated and vivid.


How To Choose The Best Colored Pencils For Realistic Drawing

What factors should you consider when buying a set of colored pencils? I’m afraid; no clear-cut formula helps you pick out the quality colored pencils for you.

Preferences vary from person to person, but we will try to discuss some critical issues that you should take into consideration before purchasing colored pencils.

What Are You Going To Do With Them?

There’s a reason there are different types of coloring pencils out there; each of them is specialized to carry out individual applications. What’s suitable for one kind of use might prove counterproductive for a different type of use.

You need to be absolutely sure about the work you would be doing before buying a set of pencils. Are you going to work with a complex design that requires pinpoint control?

Or richer, more vibrant hues have topped the list of your priorities? The medium you would be working with also needs to be taken into account.

How Much Color Diversity Do You Need?

Color variation of pencilsThe best colored pencils for realistic drawing set can come with only a few or hundreds of pencils. The size of the color box you would be buying is down to your need for colors. How wide does your color range need to be?

Do you feel your work will remain incomplete without a stroke of chromatic variance? Are you plotting a vibrant display of color transition? Or just the primary colors will do you, right?

A vast arsenal of colors is always convenient to own, but if your artwork rarely demands such melange, then it would be wiser to purchase a more compact set of pencils. The pencils have also a different variation that’s called watercolor, It has some particular advantages. You can check the Watercolor Pencils vs Colored Pencils.

How Good Are You With Pencils?

Some pencils are purposefully made to suit more meticulous users while some are designed to facilitate new or amateur artists. Entry-level color pencils are very easy on the hand and feature a robust lead for efficient color administering and of course, for an extended lifetime. If you are more experienced, you might prefer buying pencils with softer leads that have superior blending abilities.

Reliable Brands

Brand NameAbout the Brand
DerwentDerwent takes pride in being the first British pencil company, which has been producing a wide range of quality art materials since 1832. Derwent is responsible for numerous innovative items that have navigated the pencil industry to new frontiers.
PrismacolorPrismacolor is a leading name in the US color pencils industry. For 80 years, the company has been providing premium quality products to art enthusiast and professionals in accordance with their evolving needs.
Faber-CastellFaber-Castell is one of the oldest industrial giants in the world specialized in manufacturing stationary products. The company was originally formed in Germany but now has branched out to many parts of the world.
Caran D’ AcheCaran d’ Ache boasts a rich heritage of 100 years that saw the Swiss company gaining worldwide fame for their top-class writing and drawing materials. To this day, the company continues to manufacture their products in their Geneva workshop under strict quality control measures.


Hope you enjoyed reading my realistic drawing pencils list. All the colored pencil brands have their own appeal of coloring and quality. I’ve tried my best to remain subjective and portray the pros and cons of each item mentioned in this article. I have also the Guide for Watercolor Pencils that you can read.

If you find my article helpful please, help me reach out to a broader audience by sharing this piece with your friends on social media. What did you think of the article?

Did you think I left out any items that deserved to be included on the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Please, leave your feedback in the comments section.

If you want to know about How to Color and also the 10 Colored Pencil Techniques, you should read this.

Last update on 2021-09-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

One Response

  1. Debra A Persinger November 11, 2020

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