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The Best Colored Pencils for Coloring Books in 2023

*Remember, none of the article’s links are affiliate links. I get no financial gain from your following my advice; this is simply my viewpoint.*

As the world becomes increasingly digital, more and more people are seeking outlets, for their creative energy, that don’t involve a screen. Enter the world of adult coloring books, which have exploded in popularity in recent years.

But if you’re going to invest your time and money in this hobby, you want to make sure you’re using the best tools possible. And when it comes to coloring books, that means colored pencils.

Colored pencils used to be simple tools for basic coloring, with few color options. These days, though, they offer endless shades, blending capabilities, and realistic textures.

Not all colored pencils are created equal, though. Some are hard and scratchy, while others are so soft they smudge. Some have a limited color range, while others boast an impressive array of shades. We did the research and testing to determine the best-colored pencils for coloring books so that you can focus on the fun part: creating beautiful art.

Our guide will help you choose the best-colored pencils to take your coloring to the next level, whether you’re a professional or a beginner. 

Benefits of using colored pencils

Coloring pages have been a source of joy for people of all ages. Coloring itself has mental and emotional benefits, but the tools we use can also contribute to stress relief and mindfulness.

Blending can be meditative, forcing us to focus and slow down. Using traditional colored pencils can create a sense of accomplishment as we bring black-and-white pages to life with color.

High-quality colored pencils, in particular, can enhance the artistic experience. They offer precision, control, and the ability to blend colors seamlessly for a professional look.

So it is always a good idea to invest in a good set of blending pencils to experience the positive effects on your pages and state of mind.

Selection Criteria for the Best Colored Pencils for Coloring Books 2023—Buying Guide

Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just starting out, colored pencil art tools come in a range of hues and textures that can add dimension and depth to your work. From rich, vibrant colors to smooth, creamy textures, these pencils are sure to take your coloring game to the next level.

Imagine creating stunning works of art with just a few simple strokes of a pencil. Whether you’re looking to experiment with different coloring techniques or simply want to dabble in a new art form, colored pencils are the perfect option for any level of artist.

Whether you’re a fan of bold and bright shades or subtle and nuanced tones, there’s a colored pencil set out there for you. And with so many options on the market, the possibilities are truly endless.

So why not give it a try and see where your creativity can take you? With colored pencils on hand, your imagination is the only limit to the masterpieces you can create!

Wax-based vs. Oil-Based Colored Pencils

Different types of colored pencils employ different binder ingredients, such as oil or wax, to keep the pigments together. There is a direct correlation between the binder used and the colored pencils’ feel, blending abilities, and general effectiveness.

Colored pencils that use oil as a medium tend to be smoother and softer to the touch. They have a smoother, more luxurious application and are easier to use. However, due to the wax binder, the texture of wax-based colored pencils is more robust. A somewhat firmer touch and a more defined stroke are also possible with these pencils.

When it comes to blending, oil-based colored pencils are unrivaled. While it is possible to accomplish comparable blending effects with wax-based colored pencils, it may take more time and practice.

Colored pencils, whether oil- or wax-based, can be stacked to get a greater sense of depth and intensity. To avoid a waxy buildup, however, oil-based pencils can be applied in successive layers. When working with wax-based pencils, extra care must be taken to avoid an accumulation of wax that could compromise the final product.

Gloss and sheen may be achieved with oil-based colored pencils because of the oil content. This sheen has the potential to enrich the visual experience. Colored pencils made from wax are less reflective and more matte or satin in appearance.

Lightfastness is the degree to which pigments can withstand prolonged exposure to light without gradually discoloring. While lightfastness might vary by brand and shade, oil-based colored pencils typically outperform wax-based ones. High-quality, fade-resistant pigments are commonly used in oil-based pencils.

The final decision between oil-based and wax-based colored pencils should be dependent on the artist’s preferences, the effects they hope to achieve, and the methods they plan to use. Wax-based pencils are often preferred for their stiffness and control, whereas oil-based pencils are favored for their smoothness and blendability by some artists. You should try both out to find out which one works better for you.

Colored Pencil Cores and Color Range

There are a few things to think about in terms of color selection when purchasing colored pencils for coloring books. 

An excellent set of colored pencils for adult coloring books should include a diverse palette. Try to find collections that feature a wide range of colors. Having a wide variety of hues at your disposal expands your artistic horizons and helps you render realistic images of the various coloring book subjects.

Don’t forget to verify the saturation of the primary color. Colored pencils can range from pastel-like subtlety to vivid, highly saturated centers. Take into account your own tastes and the final look you’d like to create when choosing a coloring book design. Look for highly pigmented pencils if you prefer bright, saturated hues.

Some colored pencil sets include a color chart or guide with swatches of each color to help you choose. This can be useful for pinpointing specific colors and gauging their intensity. It’s helpful for choosing the proper colors when coloring because you can see how they look on paper.

Take into account how nicely the different colors of pencils mix with one another. Shading, layering, and mixing are frequently used in coloring books to create the illusion of depth and dimension. Try to get colored pencils that will mix invisibly without leaving any lines or streaks. Pencils with softer leads can be more easily blended.

Metallic, neon, and special effect hues are just a few examples of supplementary hues available in certain colored pencil sets. You should look for packs that feature these supplementary hues if you want to give your coloring book some distinctive highlights or accents.

Soft Core vs. Sharp Point

Soft-core colored pencils are well-liked for their luxuriously even coverage of color. They work wonderfully to achieve smooth transitions between two colors or shades. Coloring books with soft-core pencils are ideal if you like to do subtle color shifts and transitions. Sharp-pointed pencils, on the other hand, are ideal for sketching fine lines, coloring in small, detailed regions, and so on.

Sharp-point pencils, with their fine and sharp tips, are ideal for tasks that need a high degree of precision and control. Sharp-point pencils will give you the precision you need to color intricate patterns and small areas or to add minute details to your coloring book.

When it comes to coverage and layering, soft-core pencils are typically the way to go. The softer centers make it easier for the dye to spread out evenly and cover more ground. They’re also easier to mix, which means you can make gradients and layer colors with less hassle. While sharp-point pencils can still be used for layering, you may need to apply more pressure and work harder to get the same effect.

Due to their softer composition, soft-core pencils tend to dull more quickly and require sharpening more frequently. This might not be a problem if you like taking frequent breaks to sharpen your pencils or if you have no problem with taking a few minutes out of your day to do so. However, sharp-point pencils may be more practical if you like to color without interruptions because of how long they stay sharp.

Pencils with firmer cores are less likely to break than those with softer ones, and sharp points last longer before dulling. Sharp-point pencils are less likely to break in transit or if you color with a heavy hand, so they may be a better option if you frequently take your coloring equipment around. Sharp-point pencils are also more convenient for on-the-go use since their points stay sharper for longer. 

It’s important to remember that some artists prefer to have both soft-core and sharp-point pencils available when coloring. This opens up a wide range of options for coloring methods and styles. Trying out both types can help you find the optimal combination for your coloring requirements and preferences.

Student-Grade Colored Pencils vs. Artist-Grade Pencils

For years, artists have been demanding quality pencils. Today, there’s an overwhelming selection of colored pencils on the market. However, not all pencils perform the same. That’s why settling for low-quality pencils is not an option for professional artists.

Thankfully, manufacturers have created artist-grade pencils that don’t just retain pigmentation but also offer a durable core to resist water damage and breakage. They provide a smooth texture, intricate color blends, and easy handling. Thus, the best brands for quality pencils are those that professional artists prefer. These pencils are made of top-quality materials that last long and provide seamless color application. They’re also formulated to produce long-lasting, subtle, and character-filled pigments.

On the other hand, if you’re a student or just starting out with colored pencils, you might want to pick up a set of student-grade colored pencils. In addition to being more pocket-friendly, they also contain features that make them ideal for educational purposes. 

Yet, lightfastness ratings for student-grade colored pencils may be lower than those for professional-grade pencils. This implies that over time in direct sunlight, the colors could possibly fade. When using student-level colored pencils, it’s crucial to think about the final use and lifespan of your artwork.

Student-grade colored pencils, despite the aforementioned drawbacks, are made with novices in mind, making them ideal for learning. They provide an excellent introduction to the world of coloring, color theory, and the fundamentals of art. Before shelling out money on better pencils, they allow you to get a feel for the medium and see if it’s right for you.

Watercolor pencils for versatile coloring

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re looking for watercolor pencils to use with various coloring book mediums. 

Colored pencil marks can be easily transformed into watercolor-like washes thanks to the water-soluble properties of watercolor pencils. Try to find pencils that can be easily dissolved in water. This means the pigments may be easily mixed with water to produce brilliant, uniform washes without any lumps or granules. Try out the pencils on some scratch paper to see how well they reactivate and spread when wet.

Watercolor pencil sets with a large color palette are another thing to keep in mind. Your coloring book’s variety and accuracy in depicting different aspects will greatly benefit from a wide range of color options. Check to see if the set has a sufficient variety of hues for shading and highlighting, in addition to the primary and secondary colors.

Watercolor pencils should have the capacity to mix well and layer multiple colors. The pigments, when activated by water, should mix readily and result in seamless color transitions. The goal of layering is to achieve greater depth and intensity. 

Keep in mind that watercolor pencils are multifunctional because they may be used both dry and wet. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for creative expression in coloring books.

Ergonomic designs for comfort

When looking into colored pencils for coloring books, try to find those with a comfortable design. The handle must be easy on the hands and provide a safe, nonslip grip. When coloring for long periods of time, having a pencil with a cushioned or textured grip will assist in preventing hand fatigue and give you more precise control.

Think about the size and contours of the pencil’s barrel. If you have larger hands or just prefer a wider grip, you might find that the thicker barrels or triangular shapes of some colored pencils are more pleasant to use. The barrel of an ergonomic pencil may be somewhat thicker or curved to better match the form of your hand, hence decreasing fatigue and increasing comfort.

Thinking about the colored pencils’ heft is important. When coloring for extended periods, you may find that lighter pencils are easier on your hands and fingers. Though, some people may find a heavier pencil more comfortable to color with because of the extra stability and control it provides.

The length of the colored pencils is another factor in their usability and comfort. Those who prefer a looser or less clenched grip may find a longer pencil more to their liking. However, shorter pencils might be more convenient and simpler to manipulate, particularly when coloring in small areas or fine details.

Look for colored pencils that have a feature that prevents them from rolling. To keep them from rolling off your desk or table, some pencils are flat or hexagonal. With this function, you won’t have to waste time chasing after your pencils as often.

If you have the option to do so, it is recommended that you experiment with a variety of ergonomically designed colored pencils to find one that best suits your needs. Try them out for a little while to determine if they feel right in your hand and provide the desired level of ease of use. 

Non-toxic pencils for safety

In today’s health-conscious world, regulators are scrutinizing the safety of everyday products. Colored pencils are no exception, as consumers worry about toxic pigments and binders.

Fortunately, manufacturers now offer non-toxic options, carefully selecting materials free from harmful chemicals like lead and phthalates. These safe colored pencils are suitable for children and adults alike.

Why not try these non-toxic options and see what bright, beautiful creations you can bring to life?

Top Product Recommendations for the Best Colored Pencils for Coloring Books 2023

Best Oil-Based Colored Pencils: Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and Sets
Best Wax-Based Colored Pencils: Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
Best Artist Grade Colored Pencils: Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Colored Pencils
Best Student Grade Colored Pencils: Arteza’s Colored Pencils 
Best Watercolor Colored Pencils: Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils 
Best Budget Set of Colored Pencils: Crayola Dual-Ended Colored Pencils

1. Best Oil-Based Colored Pencils—Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and Sets

 View Prices: US$281.89, Blick Art Materials

Best Colored Pencils Selection Criteria

About Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and Sets

If you’re looking for oil-based colored pencils, go no further than the Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencil set of 120 products. The coloring experience with these high-quality pencils is enjoyable, and the end results are striking. 

The Polychromos pencils are well-known for their superior pigment quality. Each hue is extremely saturated, letting you color in stunning detail. Lightfast pigments also prevent your artwork from losing its vibrancy over time.

What caught me by surprise was how much these pencils glide on paper like butter, making it easy to blend colors—the Polychromos pencils’ oil-based composition made blending, layering, and shading a breeze. You can make beautiful gradients and give your coloring book pictures an incredible sense of depth and dimension thanks to the seamless blending of the colors.

The set holds 120 pencils, which offers a wide selection of colors to work with. Your options for bringing coloring page illustrations to life will be practically endless, thanks to the abundance of colors at your disposal. So, you can always find the ideal shade for every component, whether you’re working on minute particulars or expansive landscapes.

The exceptional quality of the materials used means that the core of these pencils will not easily break. The 3.8mm thick core guarantees reliable performance even after repeated uses. You may color with complete peace of mind, as the pencil can withstand the pressure of varied intensities without snapping.

The Polychromos pencils also have an ergonomic form that makes them easy to hold for long periods of time. The hexagonal barrel is easy to grasp and won’t wear out your hands after hours of coloring. Coloring fans can enjoy superior command and comfort thanks to its design and the pencils’ judicious heft.



 View Prices: US$281.89, Blick Art Materials

2. Best Wax-Based Colored Pencils—Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

 View Prices: US$77.53, Amazon

Best Colored Pencils Selection Criteria

About Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

If you’re looking for wax-based colored pencils, the Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils, Soft Core, 132 Pack is an excellent choice. Artists have come to recognize and appreciate the high quality and adaptability of these pencils. 

They sport a soft core that makes them blend seamlessly onto paper. The formulation, which is based on wax, makes for a silky and creamy application, yielding brilliantly saturated hues. You can get stunning, blended effects in your coloring book pictures with very little work.

The Prismacolor Premier set has a broad color palette, with 132 different hues to pick from, allowing you to give your coloring books a whole new dimension. This diverse palette, spanning from bold primary colors to muted neutrals, provides limitless scope for expression and fidelity in representation.

The ability to blend and layer is also exceptional with these colored pencils. The pliable center makes it easy to blend colors for natural-looking shading, gradients, and other effects. Adding depth and intensity to your coloring pages is as simple as layering several colors on top of one another.

Prismacolor Premier pencils are renowned for their rich, vibrant colors and high level of saturation. Due to the high concentration of pigments, the colors in your coloring books will be vivid and striking. Whether you’re coloring small details or larger areas, you’ll be impressed by the vividness and depth of the colors produced by these pencils.

Prismacolor’s premier colored pencils are also ergonomically designed for extended use. The hexagonal barrel is comfortable to hold, allowing for fine control over even the longest coloring sessions. The pencils are comfortable to handle and use for long periods of time because of their excellent balance as well.

Finally, Prismacolor Premier pencils are built to last, even with regular use, thanks to their break-resistant and long-lasting cores. Your coloring adventure can continue with confidence, knowing that your pencils will survive the distance.



View Prices: US$77.53, Amazon

3. Best Artist Grade Colored Pencils—Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Colored Pencils

View Prices: US$75, Amazon

Best Colored Pencils Selection Criteria

About Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Colored Pencils

When it comes to high-quality colored pencils fit for an artist, the Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Colored Pencils are a great option to explore. These pencils were of such high quality and performance that they made coloring an entirely new and exciting experience for me. 

The Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor pencils include high-quality pigments that produce remarkable color saturation, earning them a reputation among professional artists. You may create striking and dramatic coloring book illustrations with the help of these artist-quality pencils. Colors don’t change or fade, so your artwork will look great for a long time.

Lightfastness is essential for protecting colored pencil artwork over time, especially for professionals. When it comes to lightfastness, the Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor pencils really stand out. This implies that your colored pages won’t gradually lose their brightness after being exposed to sunlight for long periods of time. 

The Polycolor pencil’s smooth and creamy core makes it easy to draw and erase without smudging. Coloring with these pencils is a breeze because of how nicely they merge and layer. The smooth, creamy consistency is ideal for blending colors and achieving seamless gradients. The visual impact of your coloring book illustrations will be greatly improved by your ability to layer various colors to create depth, texture, and dimension.

The Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor pencil set has a wide variety of colors to work with. You have a lot of leeways to bring coloring book pages to life with nuance and accuracy, thanks to the abundance of colors at your disposal. With such a wide palette at your disposal, you may create highly detailed and authentic coloring effects.

Lyra’s Rembrandt Polycolor pencils are a representation of the company’s dedication to producing high-quality art supplies, and the brand is trusted by artists all over the world. These pencils are made with such care that coloring with them is a pleasure. Many painters and colorists swear by Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor pencils because of their quality and consistency.



View Prices: US$75, Amazon

4. Best Student Grade Colored Pencils—Arteza’s Colored Pencils

 View Prices: US$199.98, Amazon

Best Colored Pencils Selection Criteria

About Arteza’s Colored Pencils

If you’re looking for student-grade colored pencils for coloring books at a reasonable price, the ARTEZA Colored Pencils, ten pack set of 48 pencils, of 480 pencils total, could be a good option to look into. These pencils hit a nice middle ground between quality and price, making them a decent option for kids, students, and budget-conscious colorists, as well as schools and art classes. 

The ARTEZA colored pencils are both reasonably priced and comprehensive, coming in a set of 480 pencils, so you’ll have no trouble bringing your coloring pages to life with a rainbow of colors, while sharing with the students in your class.

These colored pencils have a wide range of brilliant and saturated hues, perfect for sprucing up your coloring book pages. The ARTEZA pencils may not have the same pigment strength as more expensive alternatives, but they nevertheless provide a wide range of colors for you to use in your coloring books and other creative adventures.

These pencils’ smooth core makes them straightforward to apply to paper, and it also facilitates blending. They merge well enough to create seamless transitions and subtle shading effects. Basic blending techniques can be accomplished, even if the quality of the blend is not as high as with professional-grade pencils.

These colored pencils are not easily broken, and they can survive heavy use without becoming worn down. They aren’t as high-quality as artist-grade options, of course, but they hold up nicely during coloring sessions and sharpening, so you can get your coloring books done without any hassle.

The pencils’ spherical barrels are a regular design feature and make for a pleasant writing experience. Though they lack sophisticated ergonomic details, their silky texture and light weight make them comfortable to use for long periods of coloring without causing your hands to tire.

For those just beginning out in art or curious about the world of coloring books, the ARTEZA colored pencils are an excellent choice. They’re a good way to get some coloring practice in without breaking the bank on high-quality pens and pencils.

Coloring books aren’t the only thing these pencils are good for; they can also be used for sketching, drawing, and adult coloring books. They can be used for a variety of purposes, making them a useful addition to any beginner’s art kit.



 View Prices: US$199.98, Amazon

5. Best Watercolor Colored Pencils—Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils 

 View Prices: US$518, Amazon

Best Colored Pencils Selection Criteria

About Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils 

An excellent set of watercolor colored pencils, the Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils mimic the feel of working with watercolors, letting you create striking, lifelike effects in your coloring pages. They have a soluble center that, when activated with water, turns into a vibrant, saturated watercolor. They are perfect for creating gorgeous washes, gradients, and watercolor effects in your coloring books, as the pigments dissolve easily, allowing for smooth color application and flawless blending.

Unlike other pencils, the highly pigmented hues in each pencil are activated with water but maintain their brilliance. Watercolors are known for their vibrant colors and expressive strokes, and you can now replicate a similar spirit in your coloring book images.

The 72-color set housed in a wooden box offers an almost infinite variety of tones and tints, as they blend very easily. Using this wide range of colors, you may accurately depict different elements, and you’ll be able to select the ideal shade for any part of your coloring pages, be they of magical worlds, intricate patterns, or beautiful landscapes.

The Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils are noted for their remarkable lightfastness, which will keep your artwork looking great for years to come. Your coloring book pages will retain their vivid colors over time due to the pigments’ fade resistance. Your colored pages will retain their freshness for as long as you want to exhibit and enjoy them.

The set comes in a lovely wood box, perfect for storing your watercolor pencils while still looking attractive. The box is great for storing and transporting your pencils since it keeps them neatly arranged, safe from damage, and simple to access.



  View Prices: US$518, Amazon

6. Best Budget Set of Colored Pencils—Crayola Dual-Ended Colored Pencils

 View Prices: US$15.99, Amazon

Best Colored Pencils Selection Criteria

About Crayola Colored Pencils

Crayola’s 36-pack of dual-ended colored pencils for adults is a fun and reasonably priced option for colorists. Crayola, a well-known brand in art materials, has produced a pair of colored pencils with consistent performance and vivid hues, making it a great option for colorists of all skill levels who are looking for a set that will not break the bank.

These colored pencils have two distinct hues on either end, thanks to their innovative dual-ended construction. You have an extensive color pallet at your disposal, with 36 distinct hues from which to choose. Due to their complimentary dual-ended design, you can easily swap between colors and merge them into one another when coloring.

As these pencils sport soft and creamy cores, they provide a smooth and fuss-free application; and as they aren’t too waxy, you won’t have to worry about your colors smudging or accumulating wax bloom while you use them. They are so easy to use that coloring becomes a relaxing and enjoyable activity.

These colored pencils, like all Crayola products, are guaranteed to be safe and non-toxic. As they’re comprised of safe components, they can be used by artists of any age, including young ones. You can relax while coloring because these pencils meet or exceed all applicable safety requirements.



View Prices: US$15.99, Amazon

Tips for maintaining pencil longevity

Coloring is a popular activity that allows you to relax and express your creativity by bringing beautiful images to life on a page. However, caring for your colored pencils is crucial if you want to create stunning masterpieces with them.

Here are some tips for maintaining the longevity of your pencils:

1. Keep your colored pencils sharp, and store them in a dry place away from direct sunlight or high temperatures.

2. Use sandpaper to remove any dirt or residue on the pencil shaft.

3. Consider investing in a pencil case to keep your pencils organized and prevent them from rolling around in your bag.

4. Handle your pencils carefully, as each has a specific pigment that requires a gentle touch to avoid breakage.

Remember that better-quality pencils are worth the extra investment for a better coloring experience. Enjoy your coloring!

Conclusion—The Best Colored Pencils for Coloring Books 2023

In conclusion, the world of coloring books is a vast and magnificent realm that requires the perfect tools to unleash one’s creative potential. The use of colored pencils has become a vital component in bringing life to the black-and-white pages of these intricate designs.

It is important to choose the right kind of pencil to achieve the desired results. Each colored pencil brand brings its unique qualities and traits to the table, making it a task to find the perfect one that resonates with you. Some offer impeccable blending capabilities, while others boast an array of shades for one to experiment with.

It takes experimentation, reflection, and conviction to find the right tools to bring one’s imagination to life. So, go forth and delve into the world of colored pencils and unleash your creativity in ways you never could have imagined before.

Faber-Castell is well-known in the art world as a manufacturer of exceptional art materials. Professional painters and amateur colorists alike agree: Polychromos pencils deserve their stellar reputation. This trusted manufacturer never fails to deliver on quality and performance.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for wax-based colored pencils, go no further than the Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils, as they will give you the means to produce beautiful and expressive artwork thanks to their easy application, a wide variety of colors, blendability, and color brilliance. Long coloring sessions won’t be a problem thanks to these pencils’ sturdy construction, plastic-free cores, and ergonomic shape. 

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