Last updated: August 15, 2021

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The crayon is known as an excellent painting accessory. The diverse application methods characterise its use. From wax-based colouring pencils to oil-based colouring pencils, products from numerous manufacturers are commercially available.

With our big coloured pencil test 2021 we want to help you find the best coloured pencil alternative for you. We have compared a wide range of products, from wax-based pencils to oil-based pencils, and listed the advantages and disadvantages of each. This will make your purchase decision easier!




Summary

  • The coloured pencil is a useful alternative to the ordinary pencil and coloured felt-tip pen without losing their respective advantages. Its use has an extremely positive and calming effect on mental states.
  • From hobby painters to artists and designers, children as well as adults can fulfil their creative needs. The versatile uses offer an easy and professional utensil for everyone in their hobby and profession.
  • From wax-based coloured pencils to oil-based coloured pencils, the coloured pencils are right at your nearest market.

The Best Crayons: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying coloured pencils

What are coloured pencils?

Basically, the coloured pencil is an essential drawing utensil. The drawing pencil is known under the term colour lead pencil or the colloquial term colour pencil.

The coloured lead pencil is used in everyday use as a writing and drawing instrument as well as in professional use as an artist's utensil. From general experience, the casing is made of wood with a light coating of lacquer.

The most important distinguishing feature is the colour of the coloured pencil lead.

Compared to a pencil, a coloured pencil is distinguished by its coloured lead. The colour intensity can be increased or decreased simply by changing the pressure.

At first glance, a coloured pencil can easily be mistaken for a pencil. The main feature remains the colour of the lead. Instead of a leaden shade, there is a wide range of colours - from yellow and orange, to red and green, to blue and purple.

What types of coloured pencils are there?

Depending on the base material, there is only a limited selection of types of colour pencils for sale. Nevertheless, there is a wide range of colour options to choose from in order to obtain a diverse colour spectrum. There are two versions of the colour pencil:

  • wax-based coloured pencils
  • oil-based coloured pencils

The wax-based colour pencils consist of a mixture of wax and other binders such as clay and talc. On the other hand, the oil-based coloured pencils combine a mix of oils, fats and other binders.

In addition to the base material, the production technique also affects the hardness and quality. The production technique of the colouring lead differs depending on the producer due to the type of drying and pressing.

Crayons made from artificial materials are more popular than those made from pure materials.

Despite the durability of natural pigments, crayons made from synthetic pigments are considered to be of equal quality. Natural pigments include plants, rocks, earths and minerals. Especially the excellent price-performance ratio makes crayons made from synthetic ingredients extremely attractive.

A small side note: In most quality comparisons, wax-based coloured pencils stand out as the test winner among crayons.

What properties do coloured pencils have?

Coloured pencils are convincing because of their diverse properties. In particular, the wide range of colours includes yellowish, reddish, greenish and bluish hues. The unique colour spectrum of the crayons appeals especially to artists!

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Colour intensity is an important quality aspect of coloured pencils.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Ramakant Sharda)

The coloured pencil benefits from excellent ink coverage. The stronger the coverage of the respective colour, the more extensive the application. This means that the user gets a better result by changing the pressure and drawing technique.

In addition to colour intensity, hardness and break resistance are among the decisive properties. Therefore, a high-quality colour pencil should offer a balanced relationship between the degree of hardness and the breaking strength.

Who are coloured pencils suitable for?

The colourful pencils are suitable for beginners up to professional artists for drawing and colouring. For children and adults, drawing training has a very calming effect on mental health. Especially, toddlers in kindergarten and pupils in primary school like to occupy themselves with the coloured pencil.

It is especially useful for people of any age with a lot of creativity who need a simple writing and drawing tool to practice their hobby on a regular basis.

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From toddlers under 3 years of age to kindergarten children between 3 and 6 years of age to school children over 6 years of age, coloured pencils are suitable.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Aaron Burden)

In addition to recreational use, the coloured pencil can also be used as a professional utensil in professional life. Whether for drawing building designs as an architect or for making sketches of clothes as a designer, the coloured pencil can be used almost everywhere in everyday working life.

What are the alternatives to coloured pencils?

Coloured pencils are available in a wide variety of sizes, designs and materials. In the following section, we give you an overview of the alternatives.

Art Description
Pencil A pencil is a regular pencil with a lead greyish lead. The two main advantages are the ease of use and the quick removal of faulty drawings with an eraser.
Felt-tip pen A felt-tip pen is a high-quality pencil that has a lead made of polyester fibres or other fibre materials. This alternative is suitable for use as a crayon, highlighter, foil pen and other markers.

Each type of coloured crayon has its own advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before buying. However, the colouring pencil is characterised by its excellent break resistance, its extensive application possibilities and its good price-performance ratio.

Decision: What types of colour pencils are there and which one is right for you?

On the one hand, deciding between the two options depends on the basic material of the colour pencil lead. On the other hand, the preferred properties of the products have to be considered. Therefore, there are two types to choose from:

  • Wax-based coloured pencils
  • Oil-based coloured pencils

The colour pencil types each come with advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your preference, quality and presentation, another type is more suitable for you. In the following section, we would like to make the decision easier.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of wax-based coloured pencils?

A wax-based crayon is a coloured pencil whose colour lead consists of wax and other binding agents. Depending on the drawing technique used, the lower colour pigmentation and the soft lead prove to be very advantageous. Especially the easy mixing and blending of colours ensures an excellent result.

Advantages
  • Lower degree of hardness
  • Softer transitions
  • Higher breaking strength
  • Numerous application possibilities
Disadvantages
  • Lower colour intensity and precision
  • Lower durability
  • Rarely suitable for professional use

What distinguishes oil-based coloured pencils and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Compared to a wax-based colour pencil, the oil-based colour pencil consists of a mixture of oil and other binding agents. The higher degree of hardness guarantees the precision of the lines and the harder transitions. Its use is characterised by the easy application of several layers of colour on top of each other.

Advantages
  • Higher colour intensity and precision
  • Longer durability
  • Often suitable for everyday and professional use
  • Numerous application possibilities
Disadvantages
  • Higher degree of hardness
  • Harder transitions
  • Lower break resistance

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate coloured pencils

In the following, we present the aspects you can use to decide between the variety of possible coloured pencils.

The criteria that you can use to distinguish between the different choices and then compare them with each other include:

In the next section, we will explain which criteria are essential to consider when buying coloured pencils.

Pencil characteristics

As already mentioned, there is a wide range of products with many different properties on the market. The features vary depending on the pencil. Among other things, there are four aspects that distinguish the colour pencil sets from each other:

  1. Colour range
  2. Colour intensity
  3. Degree of hardness
  4. Break resistance

In an assortment box, the colour assortment can be identified by the number of pens. As a rule, there is only one of each colour in a set. Therefore, for example, a 75-pencil set contains a colour assortment of 75 different colours.

The colour intensity depends on the hardness and breaking strength of the lead. This means that the colour pigmentation is significantly influenced by the base material. Soft leads are suitable for wiping and smudging techniques, whereas hard leads are characterised by the ease with which the colour intensity can be adjusted.

A simple rule applies here: the softer the coloured pencil leads, the more intense the colour saturation and the smoother the transitions.

When purchasing coloured pencils, the indication of the degree of hardness should be taken into account. The degree of hardness has a decisive influence on the breaking strength of the colour lead. Ultimately, the breaking strength can vary due to the core material and the sheath material.

Material

From wax-based pencils to oil-based pencils, a range of different designs is commercially available. Depending on the preferred degree of hardness, break resistance and colour intensity, the optimal product for the interior and exterior material varies.

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From pure real wood to wood with a lacquer coating, the outer material protects the colour lead.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Zdenek Machacek)

Real wood and wood with a lacquer coating are highly recommended as outer shells for colour pencils. In addition to the robust properties, the ergonomic handling in particular shows a clear purchase advantage. Pencils with a lacquer coating are predominantly on offer. In addition, you can choose between the core material.

For the protection of the coloured pens, it is mainly cases and pencil cases that prove useful. On the one hand, there is little or no damage due to the reduced vibration caused by repeated dropping. On the other hand, pencil cases are considered an easy storage option.

Quality

The brand and price is an essential indicator of quality. Nowadays, it is common to compare a coloured pencil and its quality based on the manufacturer. In the huge assortment of coloured pencils, there are a variety of cheap as well as expensive alternatives.

Well-known quality seals come from organisations such as Stiftung Warentest, WWF, FSC and PEFC.

When buying, the pencils can be distinguished on the basis of various seals. Crayons that bear at least one environmental seal are particularly advantageous. In this case, the crayons fulfil the respective criteria for the seal.

As a rule, well-known manufacturers and brands such as Stabilo, Faber-Castell and Staedtler stand for a good price-performance ratio. On the other hand, producers such as Lyra, Sanford and Arteza are popular for professional use by hobby and professional artists in a higher price range.

Trivia: Interesting facts about coloured pencils

What do I have to look out for when children use coloured pencils?

Because of their daily use, children in particular have high demands when it comes to coloured pencils. In addition to a good non-slip grip, a soft colour lead is advantageous. It is especially important that the crayons are age-appropriate and free of any harmful substances.

We provide you with a simple overview to show you at a glance which pencil characteristics are advantageous at which age:

Age Pencil shape Hardness and break resistance Ingredients and colour selection
Up to 3 years Easy to grip and thick Very soft lead, high break resistance No toxins, no wood splinters
3 to 6 years Easy to grip, thick, round or triangular Soft lead, high break resistance No toxins, no wood splinters
Over 6 years Triangular Hard lead Large colour selection

A little tip for mothers and fathers: You save yourself a lot of work and effort if you only buy your toddler and kindergarten child under 6 years old crayons with water-soluble and easily washable colour.

How do I remove crayons from walls and wallpaper?

The removal of children's paintings on walls and wallpaper depends on the cleanability of the particular wallpaper and the particular drawing tool. There are different solutions depending on the washability of the wall surface:

  1. Water-resistant wall or wallpaper: Careful removal with a dry dirt and cleaning eraser from the trade is suitable.
  2. Wash-resistant wall or wallpaper: Easy removal with a damp wipe and mild soap is beneficial.
  3. Scrub-resistant wall or wallpaper: In addition to a mild cleaning agent without any bleaching agents, cleaning with a brush or sponge shows success.

Image source: Traut/ 123rf.com

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