11 min. read

The Best Colored Pencils of 2023

Colored pencils have the magical ability to make anything appear beautiful.

The Best Colored Pencils of 2022

There are lots of ways you can create cool and interesting pictures with a pack of colored pencils. And, every back-to-school season, a set of high-quality colored pencils is a need, whether for art classes or assignments that call for a little extra flair.

However, because there are so many different colored pencils to choose from, it can be difficult to find the perfect one. While not always light, a good starter set should suffice for the vast majority of budding artists.

When the colored pencils are truly good — with bold and accurate colors not only in the box but also on the page — you can see huge potential realized in front of you. Keep reading for our top picks, which are all sold in packs of at least 20 different colors, come in a variety of shades, and are easy to sharpen for hassle-free use.

How We Picked

  • Rich Pigment

    High-intensity pigmented colored pencils produce more vibrant artwork and last longer on paper. We chose those with high pigment content, so you don't have to worry about your art looking faded.

  • Comfortable Hold

    A comfortable pencil grip enables you to be both stable and flexible. The outside of your hand is a base to keep your stroke steady, and your thumb and fingers work together to make fluid, precise movements.

  • Durable

    When it comes to durable-colored pencils, high-quality materials are essential. If inferior materials are used, your colored pencils will constantly break and you will have to replace them. It is preferable to invest in one or two high-quality, dependable sets.

  • Price

    We considered colored pencils that are affordable but at the same time have good quality and come in a variety of shades. These pencils are affordable but also totally useful to a user.

Our Top Picks

Best Pick

Prismacolor’s Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor’s Premier Colored Pencils

Unrivaled pigment quality with leads that can be sharpened to a precise point.

These pencils have a soft core that brings out the soft side of any illustration or art project.

Buy Now

The Prismacolor pencils allow you to switch between bold lines, delicate blends, and silky shadowing with ease. Additionally, when you need to replace or add colors, they're also widely available.

The pencils are well-made and simple to sharpen, and they are packaged in a sturdy metal box.

Runner Up

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Colored Pencils

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Colored Pencils

Extremely comfortable to hold.

These pencils have excellent ergonomics with a triangular-shaped frame.

Buy Now for $24.03

They are among the best watercolor pencils available for the price. The color laydown is far superior to that of less expensive brands, and the triangular, coated barrel makes them so easy to hold.

There are only 24 hues, which could seem insufficient, yet they perfectly complement one another in terms of shade and color value.

Most Cost-Effective

Prismacolor Scholar Pencil Set

Prismacolor Scholar Pencil Set

They have a silky-smooth texture.

Strong, supple leads that keep cases of breakage at bay.

Buy Now for $15.69

These pencils are PMA-certified nontoxic, and come in an assorted set of 24. They are designed with professional artist quality for every level of expertise and are designed with professional artist quality for every level of expertise.

For easy usage, simply unclip the cover flap, fold it back, and snap the two halves of the cover together to form a handy easel.

Everything We Recommend

Best Pick

Prismacolor’s Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor’s Premier Colored Pencils

Unrivaled pigment quality with leads that can be sharpened to a precise point.

Buy Now

Runner Up

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Colored Pencils

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Colored Pencils

Extremely comfortable to hold.

$24.03

Buy Now

Most Cost-Effective

Prismacolor Scholar Pencil Set

Prismacolor Scholar Pencil Set

They have a silky-smooth texture.

$15.69

Buy Now

Who This Is For

This is for artists and color enthusiasts! Whether a beginner or a professional artist looking to advance their painting career.

Colored pencils vs. markers
Even though you can mix various marker colors to create custom hues, colored pencils still outperform them in terms of color. Colored pencils have a much wider range of color options than markers. Colored pencils come in a variety of colors and shades.

There are even Prismacolor boxes with 150 colors. It’s difficult to find markers with the same number of different colors.

Additionally, controlling markers is far more difficult than controlling colored pencils. The vibrancy of markers is generally unaffected by the pressure applied to them. As a result, their colors are always bright and vibrant. To achieve a lighter color, use markers with less vibrancy.

Do I really need it?
Colored pencils are incredibly useful. They enable the use of light, translucent colors for transparent effects, which is great for shading and coloring and imparting a translucent quality to your artwork.

Alternatively, fine-touch-colored pencils can be used to create bold, opaque colors by either pressing the pencil hard onto the paper or layering and blending. Typically, you will work from light to dark and gradually build up your colors until you can mimic other painting techniques.

How many should be in a set?
Sets of 48 colored pencils are a good compromise between price and the number of pencils provided. More than 48 colored pencils may provide a variety of exciting and enjoyable colors for the avid colored pencil collector, but it may also result in a large number of unused colors.

Less than 48 colors may restrict even the most casual artist’s creativity. The main disadvantage of purchasing large sets of colored pencils is the significantly higher cost. If you’ve never used colored pencils before, start with a small set and gradually expand as your skills and love for the medium grow.

Why You Should Trust Us

Our goal is to suggest the best supplies or tools for any artist based on different requirements. We’ll make sure you receive good value for your money by doing the research for you, whether you’re looking for top-notch equipment or beginner’s essentials.

How We Picked

We scoured the Internet for information on how to use art supplies and read customer reviews from real users; we sought advice from experts; and, of course, we relied on our own accumulated expertise as artists, teachers, and craftspeople.

We also considered specific features that are essential with reference to colored pencils.

We looked at colored pencils with rich pigments since high-intensity pigmented colored pencils tend to last longer on paper. Cheaper colored pencils “break down” faster, and the color literally fades away/falls off the paper. We went for those rich in pigment so that you have to worry about fading.

Durability was also a significant factor in our evaluation. When it comes to durable-colored pencils, high-quality materials are essential. The materials will be directly responsible for the pencils’ durability.

If inferior materials are used, your colored pencils will constantly break and you will have to replace them. It is preferable to invest in one or two high-quality, dependable sets. We also went for pencils that are easy to hold.

A suitable pencil grip enables you to be both stable and flexible. The outside of your hand is a base to keep your stroke steady, and your thumb and fingers work together to make fluid, precise movements.

We also focused on colored pencils with a variety of shades since this is essential, especially for those creative tasks. Lastly, we considered colored pencils that are affordable but at the same time have good quality and come with a variety of shades and features.

Our Picks For You

Best Pick - Prismacolor’s Premier Colored Pencils

Best Pick

Prismacolor’s Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor’s Premier Colored Pencils

Unrivaled pigment quality with leads that can be sharpened to a precise point.

These pencils have a soft core that brings out the soft side of any illustration or art project.

Buy Now

Why It’s Great:

This is an excellent choice for most people, ranging from older elementary-school-age children to adults because they are both enjoyable to work with and reasonably priced.

The soft cores of Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils bring out the soft side of any illustration or art project. There are 150 colored pencils with creamy cores inside the box that are ideal for fusion, shading, and blending.

Colored pencils from Prismacolor have unrivaled pigment quality and lead that can be sharpened to a precise point. That means you can effortlessly switch between bold lines, delicate blends, and silky shadows.

If you need to replace or add colors, you can find them at art supply stores and online. The pencils are well-made, easy to sharpen and come in a sturdy metal box.

Potential Flaws:

Minor issues like breakage and lead shattering have been reported. However, you can overlook these drawbacks considering how cheap they are and how much fun they are to use.

Other Features:

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils offer a number of features at a reasonable cost. These pencils should typically sustain even the most "passionate" use due to their robust core and premium workmanship.

Different sizes of Prismacolor Premier colored pencils are offered. In a tin case, there are possibilities for 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 96, 132, and 150 counts. It has a classic and inviting appearance.

The Premier Colored Pencils from Prismacolor include thick, sturdy leads that are resistant to chipping and cracking, as well as rich, brilliant colors. You can also make your illustration or painting creation more refined.

These adult coloring pencils' rich, creamy cores make them perfect for blending, shading, layering, and creating shadows.

Runner Up - Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Colored Pencils

Runner Up

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Colored Pencils

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Colored Pencils

Extremely comfortable to hold.

These pencils have excellent ergonomics with a triangular-shaped frame.

Buy Now for $24.03

Why It’s Great:

They are great for adult coloring, for both large and small spaces hence can be suitable for professional artists.

Ergosoft colored pencils are slim colored pencils that are mainly appropriate for adults. They do have a non-slip surface that is soft to the touch for the user. The ergonomics of the pencils are excellent thanks to their triangular shape, which is extremely enjoyable to hold in the hand.

They are available in either a practical stand-up Staedtler box or a decorative tin, and they have the Staedtler ABS feature.

Potential Flaws:

The main shortcoming could be the rubbery/matte coating, which gets caught on the sharpener.

Other Features:

They have a lovely, tidy easel design while in use. Additionally, they mix seamlessly and combine with watercolor brushes well enough to keep everything organized. Without a doubt, these rank among the best watercolor pencils for the money.

They are usually much easier to grasp and use thanks to the triangular, coated barrel and far better color laydown than cheaper versions. The foldable easel is compact and practical to have around when coloring.

In fact, the perfect gift would be a set of Staedtler markers and a coloring book that can be utilized in bed, a chair, or even at a table with the easel placed on a tiny nightstand.

Most Cost-Effective - Prismacolor Scholar Pencil Set

Most Cost-Effective

Prismacolor Scholar Pencil Set

Prismacolor Scholar Pencil Set

They have a silky-smooth texture.

Strong, supple leads that keep cases of breakage at bay.

Buy Now for $15.69

Why It’s Great:

This is an art pencil of high quality designed for beginning artists and crafters. The silky-smooth texture and strong, supple leads of Prismacolor Scholar Colored Pencils will appeal to everyone, from beginning art students to experienced crafters.

These Scholar Colored Pencils, like other Prismacolor art supplies, have rich, vibrantly pigmented colors as well as soft, creamy leads that allow students to practice blending and shading and grow as artists.

These premium coloring pencils have strong cores packed with vibrant pigment that minimize breakage while still providing a creamy, blendable texture.

Potential Flaws:

They don't have as high a pigment concentration as the premiers, which is to be expected, so the colors aren't as vibrant, but they're still a good pencil set.

Other Features:

These Prismacolor Scholar Colored Woodcase Pencils have a smooth, creamy texture, beautifully pigmented colors for a vivid presentation, and are ideal for advanced students and artists.

Also featured is a strong point that won't break under the typical strain and a color-coded wood enclosure for quick identification. These 24 different nontoxic, PMA-certified pencils are available in sets.

To quickly and easily use the cover as an easel, just unclip the cover flap, fold it back, and snap the two sides of the cover together. The upright design of the pencils makes it easy to remove, use, and replace them.

After usage, the cover folds back into position and clicks shut, keeping the pencils safely stored in desks and bags.

Almost Made The Cut - Sargent Art Pencils

Almost Made The Cut

Sargent Art Pencils

Sargent Art Pencils

Neon colored pencils in a variety of bright colors.

It has a wooden body frame that is environmentally friendly and hence can be disposed of easily without harming the environment.

Buy Now for $7.00 ($0.14 / Count)

Why It’s Great:

It is an excellent choice for artists who work with color on various types of paper and canvas. It is non-toxic and non-hazardous, and it comes pre-sharpened and ready to use.

This colored pencil is environmentally friendly because of its wooden material and hence does not cause environmental pollution.

Another great feature is that the colored pencils come sharpened for the first time, eliminating the need to sharpen before use. As soon as you unpack, it gets right to the point.

Potential Flaws:

These should be adequate for beginners. True "artists" looking for blendable, highly pigmented pencils, on the other hand, are highly unlikely to like them. They are best suited for students or learners who are unable to afford the more expensive brands.

Other Features:

These neon-colored pencils promote creativity in their use thanks to their assortment of vivid, bright colors. Perfect for users of all experience levels. 12 distinct, vivid colors make up the wonderful choice in this pair of neon-colored pencils.

Considering that they are constructed of wood, they are environmentally beneficial. can be directly disposed of without endangering the environment. The pencils are all secure and non-toxic.

These colored pencils have thick 3.3-millimeter leads and barrels that are color-coordinated with each lead. The kit comes in a box with a peggable, transparent window.

In addition to an extra white and black pencil, you will receive 50 colored pencils in a total of 48 different hues. It is also AP-approved, so the cost was well spent.

Care and Maintenance

The pencils need to be cleaned, especially after sharpening. You will notice that the pencil will be covered in traces of lead after sharpening. Always use a paintbrush to remove the color traces and the wood fragments from the pencil.

Your colored pencils should always be hand-sharpened. Sharpening your pencils with a knife or utility knife enables you to have greater oversight over the shape, length, and support you give your lead. Lead, being more solid, can also be utilized in a mechanical pencil.

For colored pencils to be durable and long-lasting, avoid leaving your pencils in direct sunlight, for this is very destructive. Store the pencils in a cool and dry place. Lastly, avoid dropping or stepping on the pencils for this might lead to breakages.