12 Best Colored Pencils for Artists in 2021 (December)

12 Best Colored Pencils for Artists in 2021 (December)

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Looking for the best colored pencils for artists in 2021? Look no further!

We can have all the most inventive gadgets in the world, but for artists, nothing will ever replace the power and feel of colored pencils. Growing up, we’re taught to believe that our pencils are some of our strongest tools. True enough, times have only validated that claim.

Whether for drawing pleasure or writing purposes, pencils have been workplace staples that have helped us accurately articulate our ideas.

As such, we’ve dedicated an entire feature to cite all of the best colored pencils in 2021 artists can purchase today!

12 Best Colored Pencils for Artists in 2021 – Overview

  1. Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists’ Color Pencils (Editor’s Choice)
  2. Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
  3. Crayola Colored Pencils Multi-Pack
  4. Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
  5. Castle Art Colored Pencils
  6. Derwent Colored Pencils
  7. Sargent Art Premium Coloring Pencils
  8. Marco Renoir Art Wooden Colored Pencils Set
  9. Prang Thick Core Colored Pencils
  10. Black Widow Colored Pencils
  11. Magicfly Oil Based Colored Pencils
  12. Caran d’Ache Pablo Colored Pencil Set

Also see our posts on the best Best Mechanical Pencils for Artists and the best pens & pencils for artists.

What to consider when buying colored pencils


Like many traditional art forms, colored pencil drawings and illustrations require having to layer and draw over existing lines and shades. To make these colors naturally cohesive and visually palatable, serious artists must consider how colored pencils mesh well with each other. 


The whole point of optimizing colored pencils is to produce dynamic and vibrant works of art. On that note, pencils created with more pigment levels generally appear richer. Consequently, a ton of pigments naturally lose their luster as they are exposed to light over time. That said, it’s best to optimize lightfast pencils for more complex and larger art projects. 


All pencils break, and that’s a given. As such, pick sets that are made with premium wood. High-quality wood pencils are less likely to break when you accidentally drop them or after a fresh round of sharpening. It also isn’t new knowledge how the firmer pencils are easier to use. 

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All things considered, the colored pencil sets that you choose for yourself have every power to dictate how stellar, realistic, and inspiring your works of art turn out. So to help you in your quest for the best-colored pencil artworks, we’ve jotted down all the top colored pencils in 2021 to help you streamline your search.

The Top Best 12 Colored Pencils for Artists in 2021

1. Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists’ Color Pencils (Editor’s Choice)

Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists' Color Pencils
Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists’ Color Pencils. Image credit: Faber-Castell/Amazon.

Arguably the epitome of what premium colored pencils should look and feel like, the Faber-Castell Polychromos are the best in this category.

Well-reviewed, high-rated, and a staple to thousands of artists, this pick consists of smooth and stable pencils that blend effectively and beautifully.

They’re also easily erasable should you encounter a hiccup. Available in 5 stunning sets, this find is easily any artist’s favorite and it isn’t hard to tell why. 

Pros Cons
➕ Firm and durable ➖ A tad expensive
➕ Easy to hold

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Latest Price on Amazon:

Faber-Castel 110060 Polychromos Colored Pencil Set In Metal Tin, 60 Pieces
  • Polychromes Colored Pencil Set In Metal Tin 60pc
  • Acid free. Imported
  • Color pencils can be laid down with delicate or strong strokes to unfold their vibrant colors


2. Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils. Image credit: Prismacolor/Amazon.

Available in 4 dynamic sets, this pick blends colors naturally and makes for spectacular tools in finishing tiny details and corners that require saturated strokes. One of the best in its section, the Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils is a crowd favorite for a handful of creative and technical reasons. 

Pros Cons
➕ Good color range ➖ Lead breaks easy
➕ Easy to use


Latest Price on Amazon:

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils | Art Supplies for Drawing, Sketching, Adult Coloring | Soft...
  • Soft, thick cores are perfect for shading and shadows
  • Lightfast, richly saturated pigments
  • Ultra-smooth, even color laydown
  • Thick, robust leads resist cracking and chipping
  • 72 premium colored pencils

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3. Crayola Colored Pencils Multi-Pack

Crayola Colored Pencils Multi-Pack
Crayola Colored Pencils Multi-Pack. Image credit: Crayola/Amazon.

The Crayola Colored Pencils Multi-Pack extends more than your ample share of options for each popular color. Here, a pack contains only 12 basic colors. Nonetheless, each of the colors has 12 pieces, varying in hue and shade. This means artists are treated to a stellar range of 240 colors overall. It also doesn’t hurt how this pick’s box already double as the pencil holder. It’s great for starters and even better for classroom and shared experiences. 

Pros Cons
➕ Presharpened pencils ➖ Not ergonomically-friendly
➕ Box doubles as a holder


Latest Price on Amazon:

Crayola Colored Pencils, Bulk Classpack, Classroom Supplies, 12 Assorted Colors, 240 Count, Standard
  • CLASSROOM SET: This Crayola Classpack features 240 Colored Pencils in 12 assorted colors with 12 Sharpeners in 3 colors.
  • BULK COLORED PENCIL SET: Includes 20 coloring pencils of each color: White, Black, Brown, Violet, Blue, Sky Blue, Green, Yellow Green, Yellow, Orange, Red Orange & Red.
  • ORGANIZED STORAGE: Presharpened pencils are separated by individual sections in the organized storage box.
  • SCHOOL SUPPLIES: Great for homerooms, art classes, after school programs, and more!
  • SAFE & NONTOXIC: Ideal for kids, ages 5 & up.


4. Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils. Image credit: Prismacolor/Amazon.

Perfect for artists in the fashion space, the Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils produce rich colors that are both lightfast and do not smudge easily. They blend amazingly with other colors, making it easy to replicate shades and colors the pack may not have. Whether you’re a beginner, a design mogul, or otherwise, you’re going to love this find.

Pros Cons
➕ Metal tin protects the pencils ➖ Smaller sets have limited colors
➕ Blends easily with other shades


5. Castle Arts Colored Pencils

Castle Arts Colored Pencils
Castle Arts Colored Pencils. Image credit: Castle Arts/Amazon

With over 14,000 Amazon reviews and counting, the Castle Arts Colored Pencils is one of the better-reviewed finds among the bunch. Made of fantastic wood and waxy leads, this set is arguably the best-colored pencil kit you’ll find in its price category. They’re easy to hold, work on several paper surfaces, and easily look and feel premium too!

Pros Cons
➕ Great quality for the price ➖ Sometimes come with a chemical smell
➕ Affordable


Latest Price on Amazon:

Castle Art Supplies 72 Colored Pencils Set | Quality Soft Core Colored Leads for Adult Artists,...
  • MADE TO MAKE IT EASY Essential range of 72 pencils arranged in color families; named, numbered and color-coded for unerring selection: flip up your choice of pencil from the 3 layers of the handsome...
  • SOFT YET DURABLE Latest advanced formulation by in-house artists and technicians results in cores with soft, buttery laydown that also defy crumbling under pressure and hold their point.
  • A JOY TO USE Intensely pigmented, rich, creamy colors for smooth coverage and effortless layering, blending and burnishing to add texture and achieve the perfect shade – on paper, eggshell, canvas,...
  • BUILD YOUR SKILLS Unique fold-out tutorial enables you refine your colored pencil skills by re-creating the stunning unicorn illustration on the sleeve cover.
  • TESTED, TRUSTED AND GUARANTEED Tested by our studio experts to beat competitors. Trusted by ultimate judges – our 1.5 million customers worldwide; backed by unique money-back-PLUS guarantee.

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6. Derwent Colored Pencils

Derwent Colored Pencils
Derwent Colored Pencils. Image credit: Derwent/Amazon.

If you’re a huge fan of watercolor art, you’re going to enjoy using Derwent Colored Pencils. The pencils in this kit impressively mimic watercolor aesthetics, allowing your illustrations to look and blend cohesively. Derwent’s pencils also make it easier to layer and achieve vibrant hues. This is perfect for a stretch of artists, but those looking to complete watercolor-like creations without necessarily using a watercolor set will easily fall in love with this contender. 

Pros Cons
➕ Rich and vibrant colors ➖ Leads break easily
➕ Layers perfectly


Latest Price on Amazon:

Derwent Colored Pencils, Inktense Ink Pencils, Drawing, Art, Metal Tin, 24 Count (0700929)
  • VIBRANT SHADES – The round 4mm soft lead core is perfect for bold expressive drawings. The highly pigmented colour is easy to apply and produces a vibrant finish. Includes a range of 24 colours
  • WATER SOLUBLE – Expand your creative possibilities. Water soluble pencils can be used dry for expressive drawings, or washed out with water to create a bright, yet translucent ink-like effect
  • PERMANENT COLOUR – Pigments dry quickly and permanently when washed out, minimizing colour bleeding. Once dry, colours can be placed next to each other or layered, without fear of colour bleeding
  • SURFACE VARIETY – Switch up your artistic canvas. As the colour dries permanently, it’s great on fabrics such as silk or cotton. Can also easily be used on paper. Modify the use to fit your...
  • COLOUR CREATION – Make custom shades by mixing colours together. You can also obtain lighter shades of the same colour by adding water. Mix colours to create a truly unique piece of art


7. Sargent Art Premium Coloring Pencils

Sargent Art Premium Coloring Pencils
Sargent Art Premium Coloring Pencils. Image credit: Sargent/Amazon.

One of the cheaper options is the Sargent Art Premium Coloring Pencils which are perfect for non-professional art projects, this set is an awesome solution for when you just want to articulate your ideas and draw and color your heart away.

Still, the pencils here are smooth, blend fairly, and are easily erasable. If you’re looking for a colored pencil set that’s straightforward and does exactly what it’s designed to do, you can’t go wrong with this one. 

Pros Cons
➕ Affordable ➖ Colors are not as dynamic as other sets
➕ Easily erasable


Latest Price on Amazon:

Sargent Art Premium Coloring Pencils, Pack of 50 Assorted Colors, 22-7251
  • For ages 3+, Thick 3.3 millimeter leads
  • 50 Colored Pencils for artists and illustrators of all ages; 48 different colors, plus an extra black and white pencils
  • Subtle colors with a variety of shade and hue variations.
  • AP Certified
  • Features color coordinated barrels matching each lead


8. Marco Renior Fine Art Wooden Colored Pencils Set

Marco Renior Fine Art Wooden Colored Pencils Set
Marco Renior Fine Art Wooden Colored Pencils Set. Image credit: Marco/Amazon.

Another great affordable alternative to many premium sets is the Marco Renior Fine Art Wooden Colored Pencils Set. Available in metal tin containers, the pencils here produce creamy and vibrant colors. The set doesn’t contain shade receptions, making sure you get your money’s worth. Perfect for a ton of projects, those primarily looking to sketch will love this the most. 

Pros Cons
➕ Easy to use ➖ Colors could be richer
➕ Compatible with many types of paper


Latest Price on Amazon:

Premier Marco Renior Fine Art Wooden Colored Pencils Set for Sketching/Drawing/Coloring, Soft Core...
  • ◆ A wonderful oil-based colored pencil set for coloring books.
  • ◆ Provides an artist with a wide range of materials in a compact, portable & nice metal tin case.
  • ◆ Soft core makes coloring and drawing delightfully vivid. Ultra-smooth, even color laydown.
  • ◆ Pre-sharpened long pencils that are strong and durable.
  • ◆ Environmental friendly material which is harmless to your health.


9. Prang Thick Core Colored Pencils

Prang Thick Core Colored Pencils
Prang Thick Core Colored Pencils. Image credit: Prang/Amazon.

Just because Prang Thick Core Colored Pencils is the cheapest alternative on the list, doesn’t mean it’s bad! It’s simply meant for those still exploring the coloring and sketching space. This set’s nearly 3,000 Amazon reviews mostly praise it for being a superb coloring companion. It blends nicely with other colors and doesn’t easily break too! 

Pros Cons
➕ Rich colors ➖ Fragile packaging
➕ Blends effectively


Latest Price on Amazon:

Prang Thick Core Colored Pencils, 3.3 Millimeter Cores, 7 Inch Length, Assorted Colors, 50 Count...
  • Smooth core delivers vivid, blendable colors and soft laydown
  • Durable pencils with long lasting core provide bright colors and resist fading
  • 3.3mm break resistant core holds up under pressure
  • Real wood casing ensures consistent, easy sharpening
  • Includes 50 brilliant colors, AP certified non-toxic


10. Black Widow Colored Pencils

Black Widow Colored Pencils
Black Widow Colored Pencils. Image credit: Black Widow/Amazon.

Also one of the more affordable picks on the list, the Black Widow Colored Pencils is an awesome find for artists looking to make the most of water-soluble pencils. And thanks to their hexagon shape, these pencils are easy to hold and use, too! All that said, there’s a lot beginning artists will love here, and one of them is how sturdy and reliable these pencils are. 

Pros Cons
➕ Easy to hold ➖ Limited color range
➕ Rich color


Latest Price on Amazon:

Black Widow Colored Pencils For Adults - 24 Coloring Pencils With Smooth Pigments - Best Color...
  • ✅ SILKY SMOOTH COLORING! The buttery, smooth tips of these colored pencils practically purr across the page of your favorite adult coloring book or drawing. The soft, wax points lay down color...
  • ✅ VIBRANT COLORS WITHOUT DUPLICATES! 24 vivid colors, shades and hues in this set. Colors like Starry Night, Lady Bug and Zephyr Blue are pre-sharpened ready to pop off the page. Every color pencil...
  • ✅ RICH PIGMENTS THAT BLEND AND LAYER LIKE VELVET! These coloring pencils have a wax core which means they blend, shade and layer seamlessly without smudging or strain. The deep, rich pigments result...
  • ✅ PENCIL CORE DOESN’T BREAK WHEN SHARPENED! The soft wax core and tips of these art colored pencils don’t crumble and break when sharpened or when pressing down to extract darker shades when...
  • ✅ COMFORTABLE TO HOLD AND COOL TO DISPLAY! The sleek barrel of these colored pencils is Spider Black, which adds elegance and a touch of cool to your art supplies. The hexagon shape means the pencil...


11. Magicfly Oil Based Colored Pencils

Magicfly Oil Based Colored Pencils
Magicfly Oil Based Colored Pencils. Image credit: Magicfly/Amazon.

If what you’re looking for are oil-based drawing solutions, you’re going to have fun with Magicfly Oil Based Colored Pencils. Made with 100% non-toxic materials, these pencils are perfect for artists of all kinds, regardless of one’s level of expertise. From shading and layering to sketching and basic coloring, this kit is sure to keep you productive and busy.  

Pros Cons
➕ OIl-based ➖ Blending can be difficult
➕ Durable


Latest Price on Amazon:

Magicfly 72 Colored Pencils, Professional Oil Based Colored Pencils for Adult, Art Colored Pencils...
  • 【Easy color identification】Each pencil is labeled with its color name, color number & lightfastness for identificating color easily.
  • 【Rich coloring effects】All 72 colors are greatly brilliant and saturated, making your drawings more Vibrant and vivid, different from the ordinary colored pencils do. Multiple colors also offer...
  • 【Premium quality】Made from 100% Safe and non-toxic materials, ensuring your health. Break-resistant cores offer a better drawing experience and longer lifespan.
  • 【Easy to use】These oil based colored pencils for adults and kids lay down smoothly and layer/blend effortlessly across your paper. High level tin box packing with trays inside provides good space...
  • 【Multipurpose】this art Pencil is suitable for beginners and experts, perfect for drawing Arts, coloring books, blending& layering, sketching, shading etc.


12. Caran d’Ache Pablo Colored Pencil Set

Caran d'Ache Pablo Colored Pencil Set
Caran d’Ache Pablo Colored Pencil Set. Image credit: Caran d’Ache/Amazon.

One of the more premium finds on the list is Caran d’Ache Pablo Colored Pencil Set. Overtly leaning towards the pricier side, this pick is a dream come true for many serious artists. Loaded with 120 dynamic colored pencils, this set is water-resistant, excellently holds up to sharpening, and sports hard leads, ensuring that you can sketch as passionately as you need to without worrying about breakages. A perfect example of what professional colored pencils should be like, this set is worth every buck!


Latest Price on Amazon:

Caran d'Ache Pablo Colored Pencil Set Of 120 Metal Box (666.420)
  • Creamy - soft - water-resistant
  • Set of 120 pencils
  • Ideal for shading - mixied media
  • Exceptional covering power and superb lightfastness
  • 3.7mm leads


More Top Gear


The Top 12 Colored Pencils for Artists in 2021

Overall, the Best Colored Pencils in 2021 are all amazing picks, each targeted to certain audiences and expertise levels. Find a set that resonates with you the most and tailor-fit your selections to the kinds of art projects you naturally gravitate towards. At the end of the day, the best colored pencil sets for you may not be someone else’s.

All in all, we hope this list has helped you narrow down your choices.

Good luck and stay creative!

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