Sunday, October 22, 2017

Comparing Lighfast Ratings and Prices of Four Popular Colored Pencil Lines

Comparing Colored Pencil Lightfast Ratings (4 popular lines)

            I am comparing the lightfast ratings of four popular colored pencil lines, and the results are quite surprising!

          I will be comparing the lightfast ratings as well as pricing on Faber-Castell Polychromos, Prismacolor Premier, Caran d'Ache Pablos, and Derwent Coloursoft colored pencils.The purpose of this exercise is to compare the general lightfast ratings of the complete lines of four of the most popular brands of colored pencil. I am not including lightfast information on each individual color of these lines. This is merely an overview to gauge what lines are worth investing in and what lines are not.

          I am basing my comparison on my own calculations done from information on lightfast ratings from each company (when applicable) combined with lightfast information set out by the Colored Pencil Society of America. If you would like to see the Colored Pencil Society’s complete chart which includes each color and its lightfast rating from all of the most popular lines you can join the CPSA at this link They will keep you updated on all the newest lightfast information and colored pencil news. This is a great way to stay up to date especially since there are a few companies out there that are not always forthcoming with their lightfast information.

          All the pricing seen here is based on pricing at prices may vary at other shops, however I have always found Jerry’s prices to be reasonable. Pricing done in US dollars.

*This blog is not sponsored in any way by any of the companies mentioned.*

Key of terms-

Fugitive= Not lightfast, will most definitely fade

Acceptable= Fairly good lightfast rating but there is a chance it may fade over time

Highly Lightfast= Extremely lightfast with very low chance of fading over time

Let’s get Started!!

Faber-Castell Polychromos

120 full line

3 rated acceptable

14 rated fugitive.

That means that 103 are highly lightfast! That is about 86% of the complete set. (Only 14% not highly lightfast)

If you also want to use the pencils that are rated acceptable, that would mean that 106 of the pencils in the set are usable, that is about 88% of the whole set.


Full 120 tin set $193.50

This breaks down to $1.61 per Pencil

$1.83 per pencil if using only highly lightfast AND acceptable

$1.88 per pencil if only using highly lightfast

Open stock price is $1.69. May be cheaper to buy open stock if only buying highly lightfast and acceptable rated colors.

Prismacolor Premier

150 full line

8 rated acceptable

40 rated fugitive

That means that 102 are highly light fast (only 1 less than Polychromos) hat is about 68% of the whole line, with about 32% not being highly lightfast.

If you also want to use the pencils rated acceptable that would mean that 110 (4 more than Polychromos) of the pencils in the set are usable, that is 73% of the whole set.

Prices- *Right now as of 10/21/17 the Prismacolor Premier complete set of 150 is only $69.99, the list price however is $151.19, so I will show price breakdowns for both.*

Full 150 set @ $69.99:

This breaks down to-

$0.47 per pencil

$0.64 if you want to only use highly lightfast AND acceptable

$0.69 if only using highly lightfast

*150 set at full price- $151.19:

Breaks down to-

$1.01 per pencil

$1.37 when using only highly lightfast AND acceptable

$1.48 when using only highly lightfast

$1.29 open stock (Cheaper per pencil to get the set when at the $69.99 price, but cheaper to buy open stock when sets are at full price if looking to only use acceptable and highly lightfast rated pencils.)

Caran d’Ache Pablo

120 full line

43 rated acceptable

35 rated fugitive

That means only 42 are considered highly lightfast (That is 60 less than Prismacolor and 61 less than Polychromos!) Which means only about 35% of the whole set is highly lightfast, and about 65% is not.

If you want to use the pencils with and acceptable rating as well,  85 of the pencils in the set are usable (that’s 24 less than Prismacolor and 21 less than Polychromos.) That is almost 71% of the whole set.


Full 120 tin set $244.99

This breaks down to-

$2.04 per pencil

$2.88 if only using highly lightfast AND acceptable

$5.83 if only using highly lightfast (crazy!!!)

$2.49 open stock (Definitely cheaper to buy open stock if you are looking to get highly lightfast and acceptable lightfast rated pencils)

Derwent Coloursoft

72 full line (78 less than Prismacolor and 48 less than Pablo and Polychromos)

4 rated acceptable

12 rated fugitive

That means that 56 are highly lightfast (14 more than Pablo, 46 less than Prismacolor, and 47 less than Polychromos,) that means that 78% of this line is highly lightfast, and only 22% is rated fugitive or acceptable.

If you want to use the pencils rated acceptable as well as the highly lightfast, that would mean that 60 of the pencils in the set are usable (that’s 25 pencils less than Pablos, 50 less than Prismacolor and 46 less than Polychromos. Keep in mind though this is a much smaller line than the others.) That is about 83% of the whole set that is usable.


Full tin set of 72: $109.19

That’s about $1.51 per pencil

$1.82 per pencil if using highly lightfast AND acceptable

$1.95 per pencil if only buying highly lightfast

Open stock price is $1.46 (Which means whether you are buying only lightfast or not it is always cheaper to buy this line open stock)

Things that I took away from this:

  • Prismacolor seems to have a very bad reputation for lightfast ratings, however, it technically has only 1 less highly lightfast pencils than Polychromos, and 4 more acceptable rated pencils. And comes out leagues ahead of the Pablos and Coloursoft. (However, this does not negate the other numerous quality control issues that Prismacolor has.)

  • The Pablo line has the least amount of highly lightfast rated colors of all four lines, surprising considering it has 48 more colors in its line than Derwent Coloursoft. Also surprising since they are produced by the same company as Luminance and Luminance are the highest lightfast rated line of colored pencils on the market.

  • When factoring in lightfast ratings the best bang for your buck is going to be with the Prismacolors (whether on sale or not.) However, Polychromos are really not that much more expensive, and as mentioned before have less quality control issues.

  • The most expensive line is the Pablo line. The Pablos only have about 85 usable pencils when only using highly lightfast and acceptable rated pencils. (This means that I personally will not be investing in the Pablo line anytime soon.)

  • The Coloursoft line offers less colors in general. However, the percentage of acceptable to highly lightfast pencils in the line is quite high at 83% being usable. Coming in second only to Polychromos as far as percentage of usable pencils within a line goes. That being said, you throw out the least amount of colored pencils from the Polychromos line when only using highly and acceptable lightfast pencils. Yet, because of the fact that Prismacolor has more in it's line from the start, Prismacolor has the most as far as the actual number of usable pencils in a line. (Useable being acceptable and highly lightfast rated pencils)

I hope that this information helps others when it comes time to invest in new pencils. I know it is going to help me!!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

10 Tips for Creating Realism

   1.  Start small! Start with an item and draw it every day until you are confident. When you first do a full picture start with a small canvas so you do not feel overwhelmed. 

   2.  Break your piece down into individual sections, this will also help you “see” what you are drawing instead of what you think you should see.

   3.  Realism is like a puzzle made up of small abstract shapes. Train your eye to look for those shapes.

   4.  Do not be afraid to push your values! High contrast usually makes for a more interesting image!!

   5.  When starting out, if you struggle with color, work in black and white to get a feel for detail and values. You can always glaze later if you want to. 

   6.  When working in color, use a view finder if you are having trouble figuring out what color you are trying to recreate. Take a white piece of paper, punch a hole in it and put it up to your reference, this will help you to identify the color more easily.

   7.  Speaking of identifying color, shadows are never just black! 

   8.  Experiment with your chosen medium a bit before jumping into a realism piece, practice blending and layering, watch tutorials, read about your medium etc.

   9.  Do not be afraid to ruin it!! We all have times when we are not happy with a piece, it’s part of being an artist, do not let that fear ruin your desire to push your own boundaries!

   10. Realism takes time! Both to develop the skill and when creating each individual piece. Be patient with yourself!