Coloured Pencil Buying Guide

Views 133 Likes Comments Comment
Like if this Guide is helpful
These days, coloured pencils are much more than something an artist uses to prepare a sketch in preparation for painting. eBay Australia has a great selection of  coloured pencil sets to choose from such as the traditional  artist and  designer pencils, through to  watercoloursoluble graphitepastel pencils and  more to experiment with.

Choosing a coloured pencil set

With a bewildering array of coloured pencils and brands available today, it is difficult to know what the differences are and which pencil will suit your creative project.

Like any artist materials, coloured pencils vary in their pigment intensity, light fastness, solubility, texture and blendability. Artists need to understand the differences to achieve their desired effect. Using the right materials from the beginning will free you to achieving your creative vision!


Many artists spend some time and considerable money searching for the perfect coloured pencil. Problem is coloured pencils range widely in their relative hardness or softness, and in feel from waxy to buttery to chalky, across brands and across different ranges within brands. As there’s no grading system used by manufacturers for this variance, artists often find themselves buying a number of different sets before they settle on their favourite.

While some artists and styles may require a soft pencil most of the time, many artists will use different textures of pencil at different stages of a drawing or to achieve different effects. Similar to working with pastels, a coloured pencil artist may use a hard waxy pencil to lay down a darker tonal layer before building and blending highlights and colour over the top using a soft, chalky or pastel pencil.

Coloured pencils can be ranked from hard to soft as follows:
Derwent Studio
Faber Castell Polychromos
Derwent Artist
Derwent Signature
Derwent Pastel
Van Gogh
Caran D’Ache


Watercolour or soluble pencils have grown in popularity over the last 10 years because of their versatility and ease of use. Watercolour pencils provide a comfortable transition from drawing to painting for the inexperienced artists, while offering plenty of possibility to professional artists in layering and mixing dry and wash techniques.

While most coloured and graphite pencils can be washed to a certain extent, specialist ranges of watercolour pencils provide better transparency and a more painterly or ink like effect. Watercolour pencils can be applied dry then washed and blended or applied directly onto wet areas similar to wet in wet painting techniques.

eBay Australia has a great range of water-soluble pencils to choose from including  artist and  student quality watercolour pencils,  water-soluble graphitesubtle tinted colours or  intense ink-like and  woodless watercolour sticks .

Pigment intensity ranges from greatest intensity and saturation at top of the following list to those that result in a more subtle wash at bottom:

Light fastness – student and artist ranges
Pencil manufacturers aim to offer a wide range of hues in their pencil sets to ensure artists have every colour of the rainbow at their disposal. However, not all colours are as lightfast, which means they will fade and discolour over time. It can be distressing as an artist to find your finished work so visible changed over time and so unlike the original. Colours can fade to yellow or brown hues or simply fade away. So it pays to check that you are using lightfast rated coloured pencils if you’re serious about keeping or selling your artwork.

In 2003 the Coloured Pencil Society of America released a new international lightfastness standard (ASTM D6901) for coloured pencils similar to that for acrylic, oil or watercolour paints. The new standards have ensured coloured pencil artists can charge prices for artwork on a par with painters because of confidence that the works will not fade.

So, light fastness is an important consideration if you’re serious about selling your coloured pencil art. Only a few manufacturers have met the international standard to date, although more are expected to follow.

Lightfast rated brands and ranges include:

Selecting the right paper and accessories
It is important to consider the right paper or support to use before you start your coloured pencil artwork. There are a wide range of artist papers available and the texture or quality can have a dramatic effect on the finished artwork.

  • Archival or acid free  papers should be used if you do not want the paper to break down and deteriorate over time.
  • Rag or linen papers are popular with coloured pencil artists – they are made from non-wood fibres.
  • Hot pressed  papers have a smooth or slick surface so pencils will often develop a burnished feel with less pigment staying on the surface.
  • Cold pressed  papers accept coloured pencils well – you can erase, layer and blend.
  • Rough  papers are simply that – you can see a noticeable texture on the surface of the paper.
  • Sanded  papers used by pastel artists can be used for coloured pencils if you want to apply many layers of soft or pastel pencils.
  • Watercolour  papers and heavy papers or boards (200gsm plus) should be used with watercolour or soluble pencils to avoiding warping and pooling of colours.
Other useful accessories include  kneadable erasers and  gum eraserspaper stumps for blending,  fixativebrushes for watercolour, and  erasing shields for special effects.

Finding drawing supplies on eBay

Once you know what coloured pencil supplies you want, go to the  Crafts portal , click Art Supplies, and then Drawing , and start searching the listings.

You will also need to search the other categories in the list on the left to find instructional books , brushes for blending watercolour pencils, and watercolour and heavy papers that hold up to using wet pencil techniques.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for you can search  eBay stores , add the item you’re looking for to Want it Now or sign-up for a store email newsletter to find out about new products as they are added.

Have something to share, create your own Guide... Write a Guide
Explore more Guides