Watercolor pencils are a great way to create watercolor art without the mess. This often-overlooked art medium is also a good way to create watercolor art for people who have little or no experience in painting. If you’re ready to create your own watercolor masterpiece but haven’t found the right tools to do so, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of the ten best watercolor pencils.
Watercolor Pencils FAQ
Below, you’ll find the most frequent watercolor questions we found on the internet. If you already know this stuff, skip on down to the products!
1. What Are Watercolor Pencils?
Watercolor pencils look like traditional pencils, but they have a colored core and a wooden casing that is usually painted to match the core. The cores are oil- or wax-based with bright pigments. While you can use watercolor pencils as you would normal colored pencils, you can also use them with water to create beautiful semi-transparent watercolor shades.
2. How Do You Use Watercolor Pencils?
There are four main ways to use watercolor pencils:
- Without water
- Dry and wet
- Wet pencil tip
- Wet paper
When using watercolor pencils without water, it feels like using crayons and provides similar results. With the dry and wet technique, you draw with the watercolor pencils first, going back over your drawing with a wet paintbrush to blend and spread the colors. Using the wet pencil tip technique, you dip the pencil tip into the water before each use, achieving a paintbrush look with a method that offers more control.
The wet paper method is the reverse of the wet pencil tip method. Using the wet paper method, you first dampen your paper and then draw on it using the watercolor pencils dry. The damp paper instantly turns the pencil color into watercolor on contact.
Watercolor pencils can be used on a variety of media, but you will need thicker paper if you are using any of the wet techniques. Also, the pencils can be sharpened with an ordinary pencil sharpener.
3. Where Can I Buy Watercolor Pencils?
You can purchase watercolor pencils from any store that sells art supplies, including Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. For fans of online shopping, all the watercolor pencils featured on our list are available on Amazon.com.
How We Reviewed the Best Watercolor Pencils
In reviewing watercolor pencils, there are several things to consider. First, there is the quality of the colored core: material, thickness, softness, and pigmentation are all important core considerations. The quality of the wood is also important, as stronger wood makes the pencil more durable and less susceptible to breaking.
Finally, there is the packaging and color variety. Many high-quality sets come in metal tins or boxes, making them easy to transport and great for gifts. Color variety may be less important to beginners, while professional artists may prefer a wider range of options.
What We Reviewed
- Derwent Colored Pencils, Watercolor
- Prismacolor Premier Water-Soluble Colored Pencils
- ARTEZA Professional Watercolor Pencils
- Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils
- Cretacolor Watercolor Pencils
- Caran d’Ache Supracolor II Watercolor Pencils
- Koh-I-Noor Mondeluz Aquarell Drawing Set
- Staedtler Karat Aquarell Premium Watercolor Pencils
- Artgraf Water Soluble Graphite Pencil
- Derwent Graphitint Pencils
Derwent Colored Pencils, Watercolor
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The Derwent brand offers some of the best watercolor pencils for beginners. Their inexpensive price tag makes them a good choice for students or aspiring artists who want to test watercolor pencils as a medium. These watercolor pencils are available in several sets, from 6 colors to 72 colors. They come packaged in a metal tin or wooden box, which makes them great gift options.
The 4-millimeter lead core is soft and highly pigmented, making these watercolor pencils great for bold illustrations. These easy-to-use and versatile pencils can be used dry or mixed with water to create a translucent effect.
The colors are a little duller than some other pencils on this list, so they are not preferred by professionals. However, the colors will liven up when water is added, and they are easily mixed when wet. The colors dry quickly and permanently, allowing colors to be layered without bleeding.
Prismacolor Premier Water-Soluble Colored Pencils
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The Prismacolor Premier Water-Soluble Colored pencils are a great inexpensive choice for the novice artist and are considered the best watercolor pencils for coloring books. The 4-millimeter oil-based core is soft without being too soft, making these pencils easy to use for fine lines and intricate designs. Their main limitation is that they only come in 36 colors.
The Prismacolor pencils can be used wet or dry, creating a bright, creamy wash upon contact with water. The rich, vibrant colors are easy to blend and layer. The soluble pigments lay down smooth and can create a shimmering effect with water. These pencils are also highly durable and break-resistant.
ARTEZA Professional Watercolor Pencils
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The ARTEZA Professional Watercolor pencils are the best watercolor pencils for sketching. Although they can be used wet or dry, their cores are not as soft as other brands, making the pigments less water-soluble. They come in a set of 72 vivid colors which are easily blended and layered. They are packaged in a sturdy and attractive tin, making them a great gift for the art lovers in your life.
ARTEZA’s watercolor pencils are a great option for children, as they are break-resistant and 100% non-toxic. The six-sided wooden casing makes the pencils more ergonomic than the usual five-sided casing. Also, the bright, lightfast pigment doesn’t fade over time, giving your artwork longevity.
ARTEZA has had a good reputation for quality and they offer a money-back guarantee on their products.
Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils
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The Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils are often considered the best watercolor pencils for professional artists. The company has been around since 1761 and is one of the leading brands in colored pencils. If you want to get the best and have the money to spend on it, go with Faber-Castell—their quality is unparalleled.
The cores of these watercolor pencils are smaller than those of other brands (3.8 mm), giving you the option to create very fine lines. The vivid pigments are completely water-soluble, laying down smoothly and blending easy.
The colors are rich and vibrant, and these watercolor pencils can be purchased singularly or in sets of up to 120 colors in a handy tin case. They may be out of the price range for beginners, but serious artists will attest that they are worth every penny.
Cretacolor Watercolor Pencils
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The Cretacolor Watercolor Pencils are versatile and easy to use. Unlike most colored pencils that come in a wooden barrel-shaped body, these are made of a solid cylinder of graphite coated with a thin lacquer which prevents the color from rubbing off on your fingers.
Even without the wood casing, they are break-resistant and easy to sharpen. They come packed in a metal tin with 72 colors.
These uniquely designed pencils are great for amateurs and professionals alike. Their cores are softer than other brands, which makes them dissolve beautifully in water but less than ideal for finer details. Cretacolor is another respected brand that has been making quality art products for over 200 years.
Caran d’Ache Supracolor II Watercolor Pencils
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The Caran d’Ache Supracolor II is another high-end option for those looking for the best watercolor pencils money can buy. They are one of the most expensive options on this list, but these superior-quality pencils can last a professional artist for years with stunning results.
Like many of the watercolor pencils listed, this set of 120 pencils comes packaged in a metal tin. A unique feature of the packaging is that the trays in the tin are divided into three color palettes: Introductory, Landscape, and Marine.
The small 3.8-millimeter core makes these watercolor pencils great for fine details, but they are also highly water-soluble, dissolving without clumping. They can be used wet or dry and in a variety of applications. The core is break-resistant with deep, vibrant colors. These colored pencils are not recommended for beginners but are the preferred choice of skilled professionals.
Koh-I-Noor Mondeluz Aquarell Drawing Set
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The Koh-I-Noor Mondeluz Aquarell Drawing Set is another great option for quality colored pencils at a low price. Although the packaging doesn’t explicitly use the word “watercolor,” these pencils are water-soluble and can be used wet or dry.
They come packaged in tins sets from 12 to 72 colors. Although these pencils are suitable for professional use, they don’t come in as many colors as some higher-end brands.
The pigments are concentrated, lay down easily, and are great for both dense strokes and easy blending. The colors are vivid and permanent, so your art will resist fading. They are easy to use regardless of your skill level. The quality of these watercolor pencils for the price is a great value.
Staedtler Karat Aquarell Premium Watercolor Pencils
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If you’re looking for a cheap set of watercolor pencils for beginners, the Staedtler Karat Aquarell Premium Watercolor Pencils are a great choice. The sets come in a variety of packaging choices, from 24 to 35 colors, in metal tins or a box with a bonus paintbrush. Staedtler is a reputable company that has been around since 1835.
The cores of these pencils are not as soft as some other colored pencils on this list, which means they are strong, long-lasting, and great with fine lines; however, this means they are less water-soluble.
They do blend with water, but not as easily as other brands. These pencils are sturdy enough for children and good enough for some professionals.
Artgraf Water Soluble Graphite Pencil
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Although watercolor pencils are usually oil-based, Artgaf offers a unique product in their soluble graphite pencils. When sketching with them dry, they look like ordinary pencils. However, once you add a little water, the colors spread into translucent gray paint.
You can create a variety of gray shades with these pencils, which makes them great for monochrome art or to add shading to your colored pieces.
The disadvantages of these graphite pencils are that they do not come in a range of colors and they can take a long time to dry. However, the strong 5-millimeter core can be sharpened to a point, making these pencils great for details and fine lines.
The set of two includes a 2B and a 6B pencil. These are great pencils to add to your artist’s toolbox for creating interesting effects.
Derwent Graphitint Pencils
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If you are intrigued by the soluble graphite idea but want more than the monochrome colors provided by the Artgaf set, then you may want to give the Derwent Graphitint Pencils a try. These easy-to-use pencils come packed in a metal tin in sets of up to 24 colors. They dissolve instantly in water and dry quickly, leaving a permanent tint.
These are not colored pencils to use for brightly colored art pieces. What is unique about these pencils is the shades they create, which is a soft color with the gray tones of graphite. They create darker, earthy tones, which is great for more somber pieces or to add depth to works created with brighter pencils.
While most professional artists wouldn’t prefer these as their sole colored pencil set, they are a great addition to supplement a brightly colored pencil set.
The best watercolor pencils for you will depend on what you are looking for. If you are new to using watercolor pencils and don’t want to invest a lot of money, a Derwent Watercolor Colored Pencils set is a great place to start.
If you are a professional artist looking for the best watercolor pencils that money can buy, you will probably prefer the Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils or the Caran d’Ache Supracolor II Watercolor Pencils.
We hope we have been able to provide you with all the information you need in choosing your new set of watercolor pencils, whether you’re just beginning your artist’s toolbox or bulking up your existing one.