9 Best Pencils for Coloring

You can take your coloring pages to a whole new level with the right colored pencils. The coloring craze that’s taken the world by storm has led to additional pencils being offered in the market. That makes it tougher to know which ones are the best pencils for coloring in. It makes it easier, however, for colorists to find good pencils that will fit both their needs and their budgets.

Adult coloring has turned into a phenomenon at this point. It’s a highly beneficial hobby that is not only fun, but can help adults improve upon their mental, emotional, and physical health. As you learn to color using more advanced techniques, you may find yourself looking to upgrade from the pencils you borrowed from the kiddos. So let’s talk about what you should look for.

Here’s How to Compare Colored Pencils

We’re going to start with a quick discussion about things to consider when you’re looking to buy the best pencils for coloring.

  • Pencil material – Colored pencils are made of wood that has a center that is pigmented. The core can be either wax-based or oil-based. It will have varying levels of other added materials as well.
  • Binder – The binding agents are the waxes and oils that hold the pigment in the core. You can have pencils with a high amount of binder and some with lower levels. The binder is important to consider because it determines how the color lays down on the page and whether you’ll be able to do things like blending and color mixing.
  • Lightfastness – You want pencils that have a high level of lightfastness. This means the color will be more resistant to fading from light exposure.
  • Cost – There are colored pencils in many different budgetary ranges. Consider your budget so you know how much you’d like to spend on your pencils. You’ll likely be able to find a set that gives you what you want in terms of capability and quality at the right price.

What Are the Best Coloring Pencils for Adults?

Now, let’s get to the pencils. You can do adult coloring with any kind of colored pencils but you’ll find that they’re not all the same. There are varying levels of quality, different kinds of leads, differing numbers of color options, and pencils that can produce effects that others cannot. The following is a list of pencils that we found to be the best for an array of different reasons.

1. Prismacolor Premier

Prismacolor is a leader in the industry of colored pencils. The Prismacolor Premier pencils are professional-grade tools that have a soft wax-based core. Though these are fit for a professional artist, they’re great for beginners too who want to learn to use more advanced techniques.

The soft lead makes it easy to blend and mix with these. You’ll find the laydown to be smooth and the color to be very vibrant. They also layer well.

You can make beautiful mandalas and other coloring pages with the 120 colors that come in a storage case that flips open for an easy-to-see display.

One thing to be aware of with these is you can get some wax bloom with them. Wax bloom happens when there are a lot of binding agents. It’s white space that appears within the pigment when you draw. It dilutes the color.


        • A large variety of colors
        • Easy to blend and color mix
        • High quality
        • Color names are clear


        • Wax bloom can occur
        • Lead is soft and might break

2. Derwent Inktense

This line of colored pencils is really good for doing more detailed artwork. The colors are more vibrant than many of the other brands. The lead is dye-based rather than the traditional wax- or oil-based leads.

The lead is a bit harder than some of the other options. Because of that, they’re not as good for blending as other pencils are. You’ll like these if you like taking pictures with precise lines and lots of detail.

These pencils come in a wooden case that’s not only good at protecting them, it’s also beautiful to look at. You can purchase sets of up to 72 colors in the Derwent Inktense line.


        • Great for detailing
        • Sharp, vibrant colors
        • Hard lead not prone to breaking
        • Sturdy wooden case


        • Not suited for blending and mixing
        • Less color options relative to other brands

3. Caran D’Ache Luminance

Caran D’Ache Luminance colored pencils are unique in that they give you the capability to put a finishing touch on your pictures that can make them look like oil paintings.

They have a high level of lightfastness and will look smooth when layered. They may not feel very smooth during lay down though. They can feel a little crumbly because of how soft the lead is, but that’s what makes them so good for layering.

While you can use these as a sole set and make incredible pictures with them, many colorists and artists use them in combination with other brands of pencils that have harder lead. You can do the foundation of the pictures with the harder colors. Then use the Luminance pencils to add “luminance” to the page. They can be the finishing set for some of your projects.

We should note that these are usually more expensive compared to other brands. They are high-quality pencils that are artist-grade.


        • Produce unique oil pastel look
        • Wooden case with individual slots for pencils
        • High level of lightfastness
        • Easy to blend and mix


        • Pricey
        • Fewer color options than some brands

4. Staedtler Ergosoft

This is a great option for beginners. Staedtler Ergosoft colored pencils are priced lower than most of the other brands on our list but are still of professional quality. They have a soft lead that is well-suited to coloring.

The vibrancy of the colors is on par with some of the more expensive options. The lead is wax-based and you’ll be able to try out different blending techniques with them because it’s soft.

You can find these in sets of up to 72 colors. They are made with a triangular grip shape that gives the colorist good control over the laydown of those colors.

You’ll find there is a bit of wax bloom when you color with these. Be aware that they have a lower level of lightfastness relative to other colored pencils that are available.


        • Relatively inexpensive
        • Vibrant colors
        • Soft lead good for blending
        • Comfortable triangular grip


        • Lower lightfastness
        • Wax bloom occurs

5. Faber-Castell

Faber-Castell may be one of the best options for colored pencils on the market. However, we placed them further down our list because they can be expensive and may not be the best choice for everyone.

These pencils are durable, polychrome artist tools. Polychromos is a combination of wax, vegetable oil, and high-quality pigment. You’ll get colors that are ultra brilliant with a high level of lightfastness.

One of the coolest things about these pencils is how they can mix and blend like a soft-lead pencil but keep a hard tip that’s good for details. Polychromos pencils lay down smoothly and layer very well.

Faber-Castell is well-known for being consistent in their quality and what you can expect from their brand. They have a great color coding system, but there aren’t as many colors included in their sets.


        • Great reputation for reliability
        • Smooth lay down
        • Easy to blend and color mix
        • Durable and artist-grade
        • Eco-friendly


        • Pricey
        • Fewer color options

6. Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor

These are not colored pencils for the masses. These are the ones you buy as a gift for the special artist in your life. Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor colored pencils are very high-quality art implements.

They are oil-based so they lay down super smoothly. You’ll be able to blend, color mix, and layer to your heart’s content. The lead is a mid-range hard and soft.

These have a moderate level of lightfastness as well. You can make professional-looking pictures with these pencils with up to 105 different colors to choose from.

They also come in a gorgeous wooden box that offers great protection. Each pencil has its holder in the box too.


        • A large variety of colors
        • Oil-based core
        • Artist-grade, high-quality pencils
        • Wooden case with individual holders


        • May not be the best for beginners
        • Pricey

7. Holbein Artist

Holbein Artist colored pencils come in a large variety of colors which is one of their huge benefits. They’re a bit different than other pencil options in that their cores are made up of wax and pigment, but also fats and oils. The coloring experience will be different than what most people are used to.

The core of these pencils makes for a very vibrant color on the paper. It’s very easy to get bold colors in your pictures without having to go over and over a part of your art. You’ll find that the color goes on very smoothly and that you can get different effects as you get more experienced with using them.

These will probably be better for colorists and artists who are a little more versed in coloring and how to get specific results from colored pencils. Beginners may find the lead to be too soft and hard to control. This lead gets a little messy when you’re trying to blend it or you do too many layers so the experience will help users to produce better output.


        • Up to 150 colors
        • Application color on the outside of the pencil
        • Smooth lay down
        • Bold color without much effort
        • Extremely vivid color


        • Very pricey
        • Not good for blending
        • Very soft lead

8. Prang

Prang colored pencils are a good budget-friendly choice for those who are just taking up coloring. These are good pencils for children to use too so if you want to share them within the family, these are a great option.

These are relatively inexpensive compared to the other brands on our list. They’re non-toxic and highly durable.

The colors are very bright. Some sets go up to 288 pencils. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a color you need that isn’t in the available sets of Prang colored pencils.

The lead is wax-based and somewhat hard. They’re not soft enough to make blending or layering very easy, but you can do some color mixing with them. The pencils all come pre-sharpened, but be aware that the lead is a little more brittle than our other options so it may break fairly easily.


        • A good option for the whole family, non-toxic
        • Inexpensive
        • Vivid colors
        • Up to 288 colors are available


        • Lead more prone to breaking
        • Wax-bloom can occur
        • Not suited for blending and layering

9. Pluqis

Pluqis colored pencils are less expensive than many of the professional grade options but are vibrant like the higher quality pencils are. They’re extra durable and they sharpen easily and to a fine point.

You can use these pencils to do some blending and layering that will add more depth to your pictures making them more interesting. The lead is soft enough to allow you to blend colors but not so soft that you don’t have control over the effect you’re trying to create. It won’t smudge all over the place and make a big mess like lead that is softer.

The pencil structure is hexagonal. Hexagonal pencils are less comfortable to hold for a longer period but you will give you more control over the movement of the pencil during your coloring session.


      • Inexpensive
      • Bright color
      • Good for blending and layering
      • Hexagonal body for better pencil control


      • Fewer color options
      • Wax bloom can occur

The Final Decision Is Yours

Ultimately, you will make the final decision on what the best pencil for coloring with is. We say that because you know your skill level, your budget constraints, and what it is you want your colored pencils to be able to produce. That being said, we hope that this guide helps you to make that decision by giving you information about different pencils and what they have to offer.

Consider what you want to spend, then look at what kind of effects you want to be able to create in your pictures. Remember that if you want to keep your pictures for a long time then lightfastness is going to be more important for you. You’ll want to choose a brand that has a high level of lightfastness so your pictures won’t fade later on. Choose pencils that have the type of binding agent that will help you get the outcomes that you want for your artwork.

The other thing you need to think about is the storage of your colored pencils. Some of the sets on our list are packaged in nice wooden boxes or something else that’s good for protection. If you choose a set that’s not well-protected, you may have an additional cost for a storage option for your colored pencils.

Ready to use your pencils, but not sure how to start? Try my free adult coloring eBook and sign up for my email newsletter HERE!

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Shawn C

Hi! I’m Shawn and I Love Coloring and Art and the people in it! I created this website as a resource to help those who are considering getting into adult coloring. My website is your one-stop destination for all the inspired instruction and resources you need to start and grow your adult coloring hobby. From geometric to floral to zen doodles and from time to time even mandala’s when I am in the mood. I have researched and gathered the information to help you in your goal of starting your adult coloring hobby.

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