How to Find the Best Colored Pencils

How to Find the Best Colored Pencils That Will Not Cost You a Fortune?

Latest posts by Radica Maneva (see all)

    Humans have loved creating art for all of history. Drawing with colored wax mediums actually dates back to the Greek Golden Age.

    Do you love using colored pencils? If so, coloring and drawing are great activities that can enhance creativity. The more you draw, the more artistic skills you will gain and you can better express yourself.

    Out of all of the artistic mediums, colored pencils are the easiest to use, come with little clean-up, and there are plenty of colors to use. But there are certain things that parents need to keep in mind, such as the safety of the colored pencils.

    Here’s how to find the best colored pencils.

    What to Know Before Choosing a Colored Pencil Brand


    By far the most important factor that you need to consider is safety. While it’s rare, some colored pencils may be made of harmful substances and heavy metals. If these ingredients make their way into your bloodstream, the effects can be toxic.

    Some dangerous ingredients to look for include:

    • Azo dyes
    • Plasticizers
    • Nitrosable substances
    • Nitrosamines

    Be sure the colored pencil brand only makes their colored pencils with safe ingredients. Look for labels such as “non-toxic.”

    Child-Friendly Colored Pencils

    As stated previously, there are certain considerations that parents need to make when letting their child play with colored pencils. The pencils should be thicker and the lead shouldn’t be sharp. Triangular-shaped pencils are ideal, but the pencils should at least be jumbo-sized.


    The material of the colored pencil also depends on safety. Many colored pencils are made of lacquered plastic, which could have been made with harmful plasticizers. Since you may put the pencil in your mouth, it’s recommended you exercise caution when using plastic colored pencils.

    Try finding wood colored pencils. Wood is usually not made with solvents, toxic colors, or heavy metals. There’s a lesser risk of these ingredients entering your body.

    How We Picked These Colored Pencils

    Colored Pencils

    No matter your purpose for using colored pencils, you should always use the best. Even kids should use colored pencils that deliver nothing short of vibrant and rich color.

    But there are many factors involved when choosing colored pencils. For example, some kids just enjoy the occasional coloring activity and others are serious about their art. So we judged by the colored pencils that offer the most quality and the most popular.

    We included both wax and oil-based lead here. Oil-based lead is the better option, especially for serious artists, but wax-based lead is easier to find and is more affordable. We also included water-soluble pencils for those who want to experiment with watercolors.

    Durability is also an aspect to consider. When putting force on your colored pencils, the last thing you want is for the pencils to break. These pencils won’t snap or break easily.

    Of course, the color range is a major focus. You will never get bored with the wide amount of color options that these colored pencils offer.

    These colored pencil kits are available in various price ranges, as low as $5 to as much as $60. That’s because these colored pencil sets all offer something different. While most kids will only need cheaper colored pencils, serious artists may need higher quality and more expensive colored pencils.

    Overall, these colors are all easy to use and deliver an excellent color payoff. The colored pencils you choose should depend on your preferences and the medium you’re using.

    Our Colored Pencil Recommendations

    Crayola Colored Pencils

    Crayola Colored Pencils

    Crayola is one of the most renowned names in art for a reason. They make a variety of child-friendly art and craft supplies. Crayola art supplies are passed down throughout generations, which is another reason why parents trust Crayola colored pencils first.

    It’s no surprise that their classic colored pencils are at the top of this list. They’re extremely affordable and have a diverse color selection. All you have to do is sharpen them in order to get the best use out of them.

    Crayola Write Start

    Crayola Write Start

    Another Crayola product is next on this list. If your child is extremely young and is using colored pencils for the first time, the Write Start colored pencils are thicker and better for smaller hands. The lead also doesn’t get too pointy, resulting in fewer injuries.

    Alex Toys Artist Studio Metallic Pencils

    Alex Toys Artist Studio Metallic Pencils

    Are you getting bored with traditional colors? This is where Alex Toys colored pencils come in. They offer a variety of unique colored pencils and the metallic ones are a favorite among artists. You will love the unique flash effect and how they can use them on black paper.

    Everyday Essentials Premium Colored Pencils

    Everyday Essentials Premium Colored Pencils

    Everyday Essentials creates a colored pencil collection that’s similar to the quality you get from big box brands such as Crayola. Their kits come in as many as 72 colors. The colored pencils come in a convenient canvas bag as opposed to a box. This makes the colored pencils easier to carry around.

    Pilot Color Eno 0.7mm Automatic Mechanical Pencil

    Pilot Color Eno 0.7mm Automatic Mechanical Pencil

    Do you hate traditional pencils? There are mechanical colored pencil alternatives, and we recommend the ones from Pilot Color. They offer an extremely fine point, better for detailed pieces.

    They’re also erasable, unlike many colored pencils. Since these are mechanical pencils, they’re recommended for older children who are more experienced with colored pencils.

    Crayola Twistable Silly Scents

    Crayola Twistable Silly Scents

    If you’re introducing colored pencils to kids, you’ll want to do so in a fun way. We recommend trying these Crayola Twistable Silly Scents. These colored pencils are available in scents such as blueberry, orange, lemon, pineapple, cotton candy, and even beach.

    Parents will also love these pencils because the lead twists out at the end — there’s no need to sharpen these pencils. There are 12 pencils in a pack so your child has plenty of color options.

    Staedtler Ergosoft Colored Pencils

    Staedtler Ergosoft Colored Pencils

    These colored pencils are recommended for kids because of their triangular shape and they’re also ideal for the serious artist in your family. They come in Staedtler’s patented easel case that’s easier to transport and protects the pencils.

    Even though they’re more expensive than the average brand, the price is worth it. Because of the inner core, the pencils are durable and the lead is prone to breakage. This kit includes 24 colors so your artistic child has plenty of color options.

    Derwent Watercolour Pencils

    Derwent Watercolour Pencils

    If you’re getting serious about art, it may be time to invest in watercolor pencils. Derwent is the best first watercolor pencil kit.

    They’re standard watercolor pencils, with a hexagonal barrel and contain 3.4mm of lead. However, all you have to do is saturate the tip of the pencil slightly with water and you can create watercolor-like effects.

    You can also use a little bit of water to blend the colors for a more interesting effect. At a relatively affordable price, these watercolor pencils are a must.

    Faber-Castell Polychromos

    Faber-Castell Polychromos

    Even though we recommend you find oil-based colored pencils, most of the pencils on this list are wax-based. However, the Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils are oil-based, making them easy to use and extremely pigmented.

    These pencils are also break-resistant, water-resistant, smudge-proof, and fade-resistant. You also receive 60 colors in the set. The only downside is the price. At $60, these colored pencils are only ideal for a serious artist.

    Prismacolor Premier Soft Core

    Prismacolor Premier Soft Core

    Prismacolor is another extremely well-known brand of colored pencils next to Crayola. The lead has a soft core, making it easy to blend the colors together. The kit also includes tools to benefit artists, such as a non-pigmented pencil to blend colors. You’ll also receive your own pencil sharpener.

    This kit is recommended for serious artists as well as those who are new to art. You’ll receive 48 colors and it’s cheaper than most professional-grade colored pencil sets.

    Who Should Be Using Colored Pencils?

    In short, anyone can use colored pencils! But there are some special considerations when kids use colored pencils. All parents know kids should be able to use colored pencils and express their creativity. But is your child ready for colored pencils? Or should they use crayons?

    First, you shouldn’t give colored pencils to a child who’s too young. If your child is older than the age of three, you can start giving them colored pencils as long as they’re thicker, shorter, and not too sharp.

    In addition, not all kids will appreciate colored pencils. If your kid is extremely creative and is showing an interest in art, then they will love a set of colored pencils. This guide is also ideal for teachers to know which colored pencils to buy that will appeal to all students.

    How to Choose the Right Colored Pencils for Your Child

    Colored Pencils Drawing

    The Right Size

    If you’re using colored pencils for yourself, you can benefit from a variety of different sizes and shapes. But if young kids are using colored pencils, you need to be mindful of the shape.

    While colored pencils offer many benefits for kids, they may not be the easiest to use. That’s because most colored pencils are long and thin, difficult for your child’s little hand to grasp.

    Don’t worry — plenty of brands make colored pencils that are ideal for children and make drawing and coloring more comfortable for them.

    First, look for colored pencils that are naturally thicker in size. These are easier to hold and overall more comfortable for little hands. The thicker size is also easier to use, perfect for children who are new to drawing and writing.

    You’ll also want to find shorter colored pencils. They’re similar in size to a child’s fingers, making them easier to use and control.


    There are different colored pencil bases you can choose from. Try and find oil-based. Oil-based colored pencils are softer than wax-based and have a better color payoff.

    This makes them easier to work with so you don’t have to be too rough with the pencils. They also produce brighter colors than wax-based colored pencils.

    Keep in mind, most colored pencils on the market are wax-based. Wax-based color pencils are perfectly safe, produce great color pay-off, and are affordable. But oil-based pencils are the best option for a serious artist.

    Great Color Options

    It’s always fun working with a variety of colors, there’s no doubt about that. That’s why it’s beneficial to buy a box of colored pencils with various different colors. They’re fascinated by different shades and the different pictures they can draw.

    Buy a colored pencil set that has a wide variety of colors. You should also make sure the kit includes both bright and dark colors.

    Triangular Pencils

    If you can, find triangular-shaped pencils for your kids. Their little fingers can grip these pencils easier than round pencils, resulting in better control and maneuverability.


    Question: What Is the Difference Between Oil-Based and Wax-Based Colored Pencils?

    Answer: We mentioned that we included oil-based and wax-based colored pencils on this list. But what is the difference?
    Colored pencils have a material that binds the pigment together. This material is either vegetable oil or wax. Wax-based colored pencils are more blendable than oil-based pencils but oil-based pencils are longer lasting and are better for fine details when drawing.
    Not sure what to get? Choose both! Both types complement each other and you can make stunning artwork using both.

    Question: What Colored Pencil Grade Should I Get?

    Answer: Colored pencils are available in a few different grades, including:
    • Scholastic
    • Student
    • Artist/professional
    Most kids will be fine using scholastic-grade colored pencils. These are commonly called Elementary School pencils, such as the ones from Crayola.
    But if your child is serious about art, they should use student-grade colored pencils. They’re high-quality but not to the standard of artist-colored pencils. Most kids won’t need artist-grade colored pencils.
    Is it time to upgrade to professional colored pencils? If you need your colored pencils to be more pigmented and to last longer, then opt for artist-grade colored pencils.

    Question: How Many Pencils Should Be in a Kit?

    Answer: Ideally, your kit should have as many pencils as possible. That’s because an artist will want a variety of different color options. There are also different kits that contain types of colors for different purposes.
    If you’re buying your first set of colored pencils, make sure it contains at least 24 or 25 colors. Otherwise, buy extra colors as you see fit.

    Question: How Should You Hold a Colored Pencil Pencil?

    Answer: Hold your fingers close to the tip of the pencil, wrapped around the pencil gently. Some methods, such as shading, may call for a different grasp technique. But if you’re a beginner, this technique will likely be fine until you’re ready to advance.

    Buy Some Colored Pencils Today

    If you’re on the lookout for colored pencils, there are many factors that you need to consider. From durability to safety and even color payoff, buying colored pencils is a more daunting task than expected. This is especially true if you have a child on your hands.

    Now that you know which colored pencils to buy and even received a few recommendations, you can let your imaginations soar and create beautiful works of art.

    You may also want to try oil pastels! Read our oil pastel guide next.

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