As a beginner, selecting the right products will determine how your path to making art progresses. Picking pencils that are suitable for beginners is a must.
Regardless of what you’ve heard or believed in the past, picking out the right colored pencils is more complex than just buying a random set and hoping for the best. This is especially true if you have hopes of getting good at it. What you will soon learn is that all colored pencils are created differently.
If you don’t plan to make art with colored pencils into a regular practice, as basic set is fine, but for those seeking to make quality art, you should dig a bit deeper. The best trait to look for as a beginner is workability in your pencils. As a newbie, you’ll want to find something suited for practicing with.
As long as the tools you choose are made well and fit for basic techniques, it’s a great start. Keep in mind that softer leads mean easier blending, but usually cost more. Although you will find premium grade pencils like this easier to work with, make sure you have pressure control down before upgrading to them. Seek out pencils that have good give but save the soft cores for later.
The Best Colored Pencils for Beginners
Each of the products on this list was selected for quality based on the brand name, value for the money, and user reviews. Any of these items would be a great choice for the beginner colored pencil artist.
- Faber Castell Polychromos
- Reeves Colored Pencils, Set of 36
- Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless set
- Fantasia 12-piece Set
- CREATIVE ART Pablo 120 Set
Faber Castell Polychromos
The Faber Castell Polychromos pencils are waterproof, non-smudge pencils with break-resistant leads and unbeatable lightfast pigments. Lightfastness of colored pencils refers to how well the art will hold its color when exposed to natural light, over time.
“I definitely suggest these,” said Color with Iris. “I’d say that if you want ONE set of amazing pencils for coloring or art in general, this is a strong contender for being that one. They’re a good choice for multitaskers as they can do fine detail and fuzzy stuff as well and have a good range of vibrant hues and muted ones.”
The colors in this set of 72 pencils have been matched to other lines by Faber Castell and are absolutely perfect for beginner artists. Enjoy blending them without oil stains on your paper or hand soreness.
Other pencils are difficult to apply in layers and thus lead to hand cramping, but that is not a problem with this set. Use them comfortably for hours and hours. After purchasing a high-quality set such as this, you will never want to go back to cheaply made art products. They come packaged tightly to prevent lead breakage during shipping.
The colors included in this set are smooth and vivid, allowing for a beautiful and smooth experience of creating art every time you use them. They fit well in your hand and last a long time, making sure you don’t have to replace them any time soon.
Reeves Colored Pencils
These pencils are crafted for color brilliance and the smooth layering of each hue. Reeves colored pencils come with very strong leads that will not break easily once sharpened and will stand up to drawing pressure and heavy marking.
“Reeves Colored Pencils are one of the better budget and student-oriented options out there on the market,” said Best Colored Pencils. “Anybody looking to get a good set of starter pencils should definitely consider these.”
The leads are long-lasting and can be used for days before you have to sharpen them. The pencils are soft and smooth, covering the paper and will sharpen smoothly instead of chipping or shredding in the sharpener. Harder pencils have leads that break or wood that won’t sharpen smoothly, but neither of those issues arise with this Reeves set. The leads have a creamy texture that offers even blending.
Those new to making art with colored pencils may not realize how much of a difference purchasing a quality product can make. This 36-piece set is great for beginners and offers rich colors that are far more vibrant than other brands. Instead of being waxy, they have a powdery texture that aids with full coverage on paper.
Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless Set
Encased in lacquer material, the Koh-I-Noor woodless pencil set offers solid, pigmented, and rich color in each individual piece. In fact, they offer up to five times more color than your average, traditional wooden colored pencils.
“A woodless colored pencil with great versatility for use,” said Pencil’s Place. “Koh-I-Noor colored pencils are an excellent choice for beginner artists. Made with a medium-soft core, this brand makes colored pencils that are extremely easy to sharpen and produce rich, bright colors.”
These pencils give amazing laydown properties for successful blending and layering without all that messy, waxy buildup. They each create even, dense strokes with light, easy pressure. These tools will maintain great light permanency and durable, vibrant finished pieces.
Made in the Czech Republic, each pencil in the 24-piece set is perfectly suited for casual sketching and coloring, along with more serious work. Due to their affordability, these pencils are fit for use by older children, as well. The lead in these pencils is neither too hard nor too soft and produces very bright, saturated colors.
They sharpen well, are easy to blend, and last a long time since there is no wooden casing around them. Since they are made of graphite only, be careful when using these. If you do accidentally break one, you may just sharpen it again. If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly pencil set and want to make a purchase that will last you a long time, these are a good choice.
Fantasia 12-piece Set
For those seeking extra thick leads that are easy to blend, the Fantasia 12-piece set is a good choice. The scratch-free, soft application will make beautiful art and the colors in the set combine perfectly with all other Fantasia colors.
“Despite only coming with 12 pencils,” said Best Colored Pencils, “This Fantasia set still offers a nice variety of colors. Couple with Fantasia’s quite good blending ability and your color possibilities open up quite a bit.”
These pencils are premium quality and product high-color concentration due to the fine pigments used in their construction. In order to create different effects and tones, just blend together the colors included. One feature that stands out about this set is the fact that it comes with a nice tin case with a hinged top.
For artists interested in mixed media, these pencils can be used on various materials other than paper, such as board, fabric, wood, and more. You will find instructions included on the lid of the set. Although these are well-suited for beginners, intermediate or even advanced artists would be impressed with their quality.
The rich texture of the leads helps the colors to go on smoothly and they also layer and erase well. Since there are only 12 pencils included in the set, some artists may wish to buy more to have more color variety and choice. The tin case for this set has a groove for each pencil, protecting against breakage.
CREATIVE ART Pablo 120 Set
When you’re ready to upgrade your pencils, the CREATIVE ART Pablo 120 set will be a great selection. They can be used along with other artistic mediums and also layer with other pencils (Pablo pencils or other types) beautifully. Unlike other products, these won’t create a waxy bloom when layered.
“The Pablo defies all the laws surrounding other colored pencils,” said Harry at the Art Gear Guide, “Whilst sporting an incredibly hard and durable core, the application of the pigment is like laying butter. The two should not go hand in hand, yet they do.”
You will find a wide variety of colors in this larger set and you couldn’t ask for a better tool for pieces requiring a lot of blending. In many artists’ eyes, Pablo pencils are the best of the best. Oil-based instead of wax-based, they offer amazing luminance and, though not as cheap as other brands, fit well in your hand.
These water-resistant pencils are great for mixed media and projects that require a lot of shading. They have incredible light fastness and great covering power and come with 3.7mm leads.
The colors are rich and bright with creamer leads than Faber Castell pencils, for example.
These pencils come packaged well in a storage tin, with two separate tins for safe layering and preventing breakage. In addition, they come sharpened and ready to use right out of the box. Once used and re-sharpened, the pencils will hold a point very well and adhere to the page exceptionally.
A high-quality set and considered a luxury item to many artists, these are perfect for the colored pencil beginner. These pencils are not water-soluble and are instead considered “permanent” pencils, meaning they won’t run if water is applied to them.
Colored Pencil Techniques for Beautiful Art
Colored pencils are great for use not just on their own, but with other mediums such as paint or markers. A big part of mastering any art form is learning different techniques to make your medium work for you.
Good art has plenty of depth, quality shading, and good use of color. Let’s look at some of the ins and outs of these methods so you can make amazing art each time.
- Hatching: Hatching is a technique used in art to create shading or tonal effects with parallel and closely spaced lines. For this technique, evenly spaced, regular, and rapid lines are created, leaving some of the underlying color or plain white page to show through.
- Cross-Hatching: This is similar to the hatching technique described above, but involves doing so at right-angles. You can do this with varying colors or through many layers to make a finished piece that has lots of texture and depth.
- Shading: Shading in art is used to depict different darkness levels on paper by applying color more densely or using a darker shade in areas that are darker, and using lighter shades or less density in light areas. Patterns of light, as in objects with shaded or lighter areas, can help to create an illusion of depth in your art. In order to do this successfully, use a side-to-side, straightforward motion to create an even and smooth layer of the color you’re using.
- Burnishing: Burnishing means using your colored pencil with a strong pressure that creates a smooth surface on the paper and dark or very saturated color. With certain types of colored pencils, particularly the waxier types, a jewel-like or translucent effect can be created.
The techniques given to you in this section will help you bring your art to the next level. You won’t be a beginner for long!