You would probably agree that watercolor pencils are among the most versatile art tools any artist could have. Regardless of whether you use them dry or with water, you can explore different techniques and achieve amazing effects like you are using watercolor paint.
Aside from that, you can exhibit colorful finishes, seamless blends, sharp lines, detailed strokes, and a spectrum of vibrant tones. However, it is not quite a cinch to achieve all these without the best watercolor pencils.
When choosing the right watercolor pencils, you should take note of the following key features:
- The highlight of these watercolour pencils is their amazing versatility, particularly the ability to perform well when mixed with or dipped into the water. This relays artistic tweaks that can spruce up your artwork with a wide range of effects. Thus, it is imperative to know that you are buying water-soluble or aquarelle pencils.
- The very top-rated watercolor pencils should be able to blend perfectly and seamlessly when you layer or mix colors. Typically, you want soft yet durable cores that can deliver creamy textures and opaque lines as well as render effortless color applications.
- There is no fun with dull shades, which is why a rich color range makes a lot of difference. Watercolor pencils usually come in sets, revealing a vast array of bright colors. Whether you are a beginner, hobbyist, or a professional artist, a beautiful and vivid color range allows you to play with colors and discover blending and coloring techniques.
With all the aforementioned aspects in mind, you can tell that these watercolor pencils are more than just your typical colored pencils. They offer incredible versatility that can deliver amazing results, especially if you have the top-tier watercolor pencils on hand.
But of course, your skills, techniques, and preferences also matter when looking for your ultimate pick. This in-depth review and guide will help you out.
Table of Contents
- Top 12 Watercolor Pencil Reviews
- 1. CastLe Art Supplies Watercolor Pencils
- 2. Arteza ARTZ-8073 Watercolor Pencils
- 3. Prismacolor 4066 Premier Water Color Pencil
- 4. Magicfly Magicfly-MF167 Colored Pencils Set
- 5. Crayola 68-4304 Watercolor Colored Pencils
- 6. Arteza ARTZ-8143 Watercolor Pencil Premium Set
- 7. Faber-Castell FC117524 Durer Watercolor Pencils
- 8. Cool Bank Professional Watercolor Pencils
- 9. Zenacolor Watercolor Pencils
- 10. Art Magic Watercolor Pencils
- 11. Faber-Castell FC114648 Watercolor Pencils
- 12. AGPTEK Watercolor Pencils
- What to Look for When Buying Watercolor Pencils
- Are Derwent Watercolor Pencils Good
- What Brush Is the Best for Watercolor Pencils
- Are Colored Pencils the Same as Watercolor Pencils
- What Brand of Watercolor Pencils Is the Best
- Are Watercolor Pencils Worth It
Top 12 Watercolor Pencil Reviews
1. CastLe Art Supplies Watercolor Pencils
When looking for the best value watercolor pencils, this set is one of the first things that come to mind. At a budget-friendly price range, there is a lot to enjoy in this beautiful watercolor pencil set; they are highly pigmented, durable, and water-soluble.
When mixed with water, you can feel the soft and creamy tips blend and dissolve beautifully. You can wet the tip or pick up color from the pencil tip. Either way, these pencils create effects similar to what watercolor paints deliver.
Since they look like ordinary pencils, these watercolor pencils are much easier to hold and control. Therefore, it is a delight to showcase a vast array of watercolor finishes and effects, especially if you are not used to using watercolor brushes.
Although the tips are soft and creamy, they are break-resistant. This means that you can sharpen them easily. The leads can also hold their point, allowing you to produce consistent lines and even intricate pencil marks.
In addition, you get to revel in the bold and vivid colors of these water color pencils. As mentioned, they have intense pigments that can add stunning pops of colors and bring your watercolor artwork to life.
The blendability is pretty impressive as the colors go well smoothly. The transition from light to dark shades and vice versa is effortless. Even when you use the pencils dry, you can create beautiful gradients.
2. Arteza ARTZ-8073 Watercolor Pencils
One of the downsides of using watercolour pencils is the tendency to bleed through dry paper, similar to what usually happens with traditional watercolor paints. Fortunately, that is not the case with this Arteza watercolor pencil set.
When you add water to these aquarelle pencils, they can present a beautiful layout of colors without bleeding through coloring or sketching pages. That is probably a key selling point for colorists and artists, as these pencils can exhibit neat and precise techniques.
Moreover, the pencils lay down color smoothly without looking chalky like some watercolor pencils do. They lend creamy textures that allow you to produce effortless strokes, especially if you want to capture breathtaking sceneries for plein air painting.
Amazingly, these pencils can deliver a range of vibrant colors regardless of whether you use them dry or with water. Without water, the colors blend nicely even when using a regular colorless blender.
I must say that some of the colors seem to have duplicates. However, the blendability and versatility of these watercolour pencils allow you to build every color to create deeper or lighter shades. That is why I still find them reliable for developing stunning color combinations and smooth gradients.
Another impressive feature is the lead or core durability. Sharpening the soft and creamy tips of these watercolor pencils can be challenging. Thankfully, the cores are break-resistant regardless of whether you use a regular or an electric sharpener.
3. Prismacolor 4066 Premier Water Color Pencil
Every time I get my hands on Prismacolor watercolor pencils, there is a professional feel in their quality and performance. With that said, this Premier watercolor pencil set has a similar vibe even when you use them dry or wet.
These watercolor pencils have soluble binders that allow you to achieve the wonderful effects and textures of watercolor paint. That is probably what to expect with watercolor pencils. But with these Prismacolor water soluble colored pencils, I discovered that you can maximize the coloring and painting techniques.
Similar to the usual technique, you can dip the tip into the water or use wet watercolor brushes to paint the areas you have just colored. This liquefies the colors and transforms them into watercolor paint.
But since these watercolor pencils have intensely pigmented colors, you can build and blend a variety of colors seamlessly. It is fascinating how they saturate richly and quickly without losing their vibrant hues.
One of the best techniques I discovered is where you can draw or swatch different colors on a separate sheet and use a wet brush to mix any colors in the swatches to create a new color to achieve shimmering textures.
The versatility of these brushes allows you to explore a vast color range and amp up your customized palette. With that said, I have always thought of Prismacolor as the best brand of watercolor pencils for artists with advanced and professional skills. But amateur colorists and artists can also use them since they are easy to use.
Besides the excellent solubility, these quality watercolor pencils perform just as great without water. You can simply use them as regular color pencils to produce crisp and precise details and lightfast shades as well.
4. Magicfly Magicfly-MF167 Colored Pencils Set
It is a wonderful treat to have a large collection of watercolor pencils without spending a massive outlay. With that in mind, amateur artists and colorists will probably find their favorite pick from this Magicfly watercolor pencil set.
At a budget-friendly price range, this set offers more than you need with its selection of 72 colors. Aside from that, it includes a sharpener and two brushes, which are the essentials to start with watercolor painting.
As soon as you open the box, the stunning collection of vibrant colors is eye-catching. I like how they keep it simple and classic with their design, similar to regular colored pencil sets. But when you sift through their solubility, you would be surprised by how they look once the colors dry.
The technique that works best is to use a wet brush to paint the colors you have colored. Dipping the watercolor pencils could also work but I noticed that they do not look as smooth as when using wet brushes.
Nevertheless, the results look neat and sleek when you blend them, leaving watercolor effects the same as typical watercolor paint. It has a vibrant color selection and each pencil stands out with its respective hues; there are no duplicates.
Furthermore, the colors look effortlessly smooth and nice when dried and not cakey or chalky as some watercolor pencils do. Plus, these water-soluble pencils work great with the included small brushes, especially when producing fine point and crisp details.
How about when used dry? I would say they work better as watercolor paint. I noticed that the cores are much softer than usual and can break if you use them for full coverage.
5. Crayola 68-4304 Watercolor Colored Pencils
It is better to start with a few colors when learning a particular art medium such as watercolor pencils. Hence, this Crayola watercolor pencil set is among the best picks for novice watercolor painters and kids.
The basic shades in this set pave the way for practicing and experimenting with different color combinations. Impressively, the rich color range adds a nice pop of colors regardless of whether they are used as watercolor paint or ordinary coloring pencils.
Upon trying it out as a dry watercolor-colored pencil, I noticed that the soft yet durable core can render vivid strokes. It is nice that the pencils all came pre-sharpened for a quick color swatch. Fortunately, the quality did not disappoint as expected from this trustworthy brand of art supplies.
Of course, it comes down to the transition from dry to wet medium. The first time I tried it was with a wet brush to create washes. Amazingly, the colors appeared as vibrant as they should be and looked like the typical watercolor paint.
Aside from that, dipping the pencils into the water or writing on wet paper will deliver similar watercolor results. Therefore, it can create bright strokes of colors and beautiful washes with very minimal mess.
Speaking of mess, these watercolor pencils render colorful washes and blends without watercolor paint splatters. I love how the colors layer smoothly, allowing you to produce bold watercolors according to your preferred depths and shades. Plus, the pencils are non-toxic.
6. Arteza ARTZ-8143 Watercolor Pencil Premium Set
Arteza is one of my favorite brands for quality and affordable art supplies for all levels, one of which is these student-grade watercolor pencils that render vibrant hues and excellent solubility.
At a first glance, they look like your usual colored pencils packed in a cylindrical case. Besides the neat storage and appearance, these watercolor pencils are water-soluble and can produce stunning effects.
When mixed with water, this watercolor pencil set renders vibrant hues that blend and layer smoothly, making it suitable for adult coloring and artistic gradients. Aside from that, the cores are soft and creamy, allowing you to glide effortlessly on dry paper.
Although the cores are soft, they do not break easily even when being sharpened. The high-grade basswood enhances the pencil’s durability to make sure it will not split or wear out quickly.
Another thing I noticed is the color names and codes. This makes it easier to identify the colors, especially as some colors might appear identical. Luckily, this set of watercolor pencils does not have duplicates. You can tell the differences in shades if you swatch them.
7. Faber-Castell FC117524 Durer Watercolor Pencils
Faber-Castell has always been among my go-to picks for the top watercolor pencils brand. With that said, it is no surprise that this Faber Castell watercolor pencils review reveals a sleek and elegant set that offers promising results.
First and foremost, the appearance and feel can already show that these are premium quality watercolor pencils. They do not feel flimsy, which is seemingly true because of the soft, thick yet durable cores as well as the sturdy pencil material.
These Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils are creatively designed with fully water-soluble leads. When dipped into the water or used with a wet brush, the pencils provide a vibrant and fade-resistant color laydown that can blend and layer smoothly.
Besides the unsurpassed lightfastness, it is pretty amazing to see how the pencils produce effects similar to what a watercolor paint does. These watercolor pencils deliver consistent strokes and washes, leaving you with smooth and beautiful gradients.
As expected with these professional-quality watercolors, the pencils render creamy and rich pigments. You can also use them as dry or a normal colored pencil set without compromising their consistent and bright colors.
Although these are tagged as professional-grade watercolor pencils, amateur colorists or artists need not shy away from this set; they are easy to use. They also come in a metal tin can, which is compact enough for traveling.
8. Cool Bank Professional Watercolor Pencils
What not to love when you have an extensive collection of watercolor pencils for adult coloring or creative watercolor projects? That was my thought when I came across this Cool Bank watercolor pencil set.
The three-layered metal tin storage is already quite impressive, but much more with the wide selection of colors that can perform satisfactorily. Since there are a lot of options for coloring, you can develop your skills, particularly for watercolor pencil painting and other creative watercolor projects.
These pencils are water-soluble, making them a reliable tool for unlimited watercolor blending techniques and washes. You can use a wet brush or dip the pencil into the water to create stunning watercolor effects.
Amazingly, these pencils have decent-quality pigments when used with water. I must say they are not as rich as other brands but they do not look dull either. I think the outstanding feature of these pencils is their excellent blendability.
When you layer and blend the colors, the hues jive seamlessly, allowing you to produce beautiful gradients. Moreover, the blendability and solubility pave the way for more artistic watercolor washes.
Whether you use these watercolor pencils for card making and adult coloring, you can get these creative tasks done beautifully. When used as dry colored pencils, the soft and creamy cores lend great color quality. Apart from that, the assortment presents distinct shades and depths.
With a color selection as massive as this, duplicates are sometimes inevitable. However, I did not seem to have any issues with that in this set. Unfortunately, the problem lies in the lightfastness; they fade too quickly, especially when used as dry pencils.
9. Zenacolor Watercolor Pencils
These Zenacolor artist watercolor pencils are a unique choice for their fine and precise soluble leads. Typically, watercolor pencils have thick cores that can render full coverage. While that works great on large areas, the consistency can be challenging for smaller details.
Good thing these watercolor pencils have soluble leads that can produce fine and precise applications. When used as dry colored pencils, they can exhibit vibrant hues and fill in areas with effortless color blends.
These ones work very well with a wet synthetic brush to obtain rich pigment or combine colors for a custom palette. Luckily, this set already includes a brush. You may also dip or dissolve the leads into the water to get the colors out of them for watercolor washes.
Impressively, layering and mixing the colors produce effects similar to traditional watercolors. Since the leads are much finer than usual, they can present accurate and consistent strokes, suitable for making intricate details or coloring small areas.
Aside from that, the leads are soft yet break-resistant. They can hold their shape even when being sharpened and the body feels durable as well. I also like the color label in each pencil, letting you identify and sort out the colors easily.
10. Art Magic Watercolor Pencils
It is much easier to get started with watercoloring when you have the essentials. With that said, this Art Magic watercolor pencil art set includes an eraser, a sharpener, a blending brush, and a water brush apart from the 48 watercolor pencils.
If we delve into this watercolor pencil set, perhaps the most impressive aspect is the large variety of colors. This opens limitless possibilities with shading and experimenting with combinations of colors.
Of course, these are aquarelle pencils. Just a heads-up, the solubility level is average and not as good as the other ones in this list. Nonetheless, they deliver artistic effects when used with a water brush or a wet blending brush.
With frequent brushing, you can obtain pigments and capture the quality of watercolors. Thus, you can showcase paintings or art pieces with good watercolor washes as well as color blends. Moreover, it is another advantage that the colors are highly blendable, allowing you to achieve smooth gradients.
Thanks to the soft leads, there is no trouble blending and shading the colors even when you use them dry. Since they are sturdy and break-resistant, these leads can deliver colorful illustrations without breaking too quickly.
Besides that, the unique hexagonal shape ramps up the comfort when coloring. This also helps you color and create washes with better precision and control.
11. Faber-Castell FC114648 Watercolor Pencils
Like most Faber-Castell watercolor pencils I have tried, this Goldfaber Aqua watercolor pencil set does not disappoint with its versatile performance and high-quality features.
As expected, these watercolor pencils provide a wide range of vivid tones that do not wane down whether you use them for dry or wet techniques. But when used with water, they are highly soluble, allowing you to rework the pigments with a brush or wet paper.
Although this brand is popularly known for pencil or watercolor sets for professionals, this particular variant is specifically designed for beginners, students, and hobby artists. However, this does not mean that the pencils have inferior quality.
Sifting through their features, these are premium quality watercolor pencils that provide beautiful and consistent color laydown. Yet their quality and performance are not equal to Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer or Prismacolor professional quality pencils.
Nonetheless, the colors blend pretty well, allowing you to mix colors and create wet techniques. When you lay down the colors and draw with them, these pencils glide smoothly on paper. Plus, the hexagonal barrels lend enhanced comfort, control, and precision.
Moreover, they have soft yet sturdy cores that sharpen easily without breaking or splitting. There is no chipping wood or pigments as well.
12. AGPTEK Watercolor Pencils
One of the reasons why AGPTEK is a popular and reliable choice for aquarelle pencils is their consistent quality and highly pigmented tones. These watercolor pencils have soft and creamy cores that deliver brilliant colors.
What is more fascinating is that the colors look more vibrant when mixed with water. Instead of looking sloppy and dull, the liquefied colors blend present vibrant tones that can produce beautiful washes.
With their versatility, you can use the pencils on dry paper, then run a wet brush through to create watercolor paints. Another trick is to dip the brush and get the pigments from the pencil tip or dip the tip into the water.
No matter which style you try, these watercolor pencils blend and layer the colors well, adding depth to your painting. But when used as a dry pencil, this watercolor pencil for artists performs like any usual colored pencil.
Additionally, the hexagonal barrels make them much easier to hold and use. Thus, this allows you to work on your pieces even for long periods. When you are all done, you can just put them away in their nice carry case for neat and travel-friendly storage.
Aside from that, these pencils are non-toxic, making them safe to use all the time, especially for kids.
What to Look for When Buying Watercolor Pencils
Watercolor pencils are water-soluble colored pencils. This makes watercolor pencils easily dissolve in water whether with a wet brush or dipped into the water, allowing you to obtain pigments and create wet effects.
This feature is a no-brainer for watercolor pencils. However, you should know that not all water-soluble colouring pencils have similar solubility properties.
Some watercolor pencil sets or aquarelle pencils dissolve quickly in water and provide similar textures and qualities as traditional watercolor paint. Some brands are the other way around; they offer water-soluble pencils but may require frequent brushing or dipping before you can liquefy the pigments.
With that in mind, it is imperative to determine if your watercolor pencil set has excellent solubility that can deliver promising results. In this way, you can perform various watercolor designs as well as render smooth color gradients and blends.
One of the impressive aspects of watercolors is their blendability. The most trusted watercolor pencils can produce effortless gradients and different depths of shades when mixed with water. Therefore, the high-quality watercolor pencils sets should provide seamless blendability to achieve the authentic textures and features of traditional watercolor paints.
You may consider water-soluble pencils with soft and creamy cores as they lay down colors nicely. As these features showcase the vibrant tones and colorful watercolor techniques, they also spruce up the versatility of pencils. Thus, this allows you to mix and layer colors to create a custom color palette with a wide range of shades.
- Rich Color Range
A vast array of colors makes a picturesque watercolor painting. Thus the top-rated watercolor pencil set should provide a rich color range. While the vivid colors can give life and beauty to your watercolor art, you can also elevate your watercolor blending and shading techniques.
The best pencil for watercolor should be durable enough to withstand sharpening and frequent use. Long-lasting and sturdy watercolor pencils have soft yet dense and durable cores as well as bodies that do not split when you use them whether dry or wet. Besides their capability to glide effortlessly on surfaces, these watercolor pencil cores or leads do not break easily when being sharpened.
- Ergonomic Shape
Watercolor pencils can either have round or hexagonal-shaped bodies. With that said, the right watercolor pencils are not just about colors and versatility. They should be comfortable to use as well. Thus, it is important to settle for ergonomically designed barrels or pencil shapes that feel nice in your hand, especially if you are working for long periods.
Some consider watercolor pencil sets with a hexagonal shape or triangular shape as they enhance comfort, precision, and control. Some go for round shapes because of the familiar feel. Perhaps, the only significant difference is that round pencils easily roll off the table while hexagonal pencils or triangular barrels do not.
- Brand Reputation
When the options feel overwhelming, one quick route is to look for the best watercolor pencils brands. This includes Derwent watercolor pencils and other popular and trustworthy brands as mentioned above. Furthermore, these brands are pioneers in the industry of art supplies and can provide a variety of sets that will best suit your skills and techniques.
For example, Crayola, Arteza, and Cool Bank have sets ideal for beginners while Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer, Derwent Inktense pencils, and Prisma watercolor pencils are artist-grade sets and the top-rated watercolor pencils for advanced artists.
Are Derwent Watercolor Pencils Good
Yes, they are, particularly if you look for top-tier watercolor pencils for professional and advanced users. Among their top-rated and popular watercolor pencil sets are the Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils because of their exceptional blendability and versatility.
What Brush Is the Best for Watercolor Pencils
When it comes to the type of brush, both natural and synthetic brushes work great with watercolor pencils. Despite their higher price point, many artists still prefer brushes with natural bristles because of their exceptional durability and absorption.
Although there are differences in overall durability and quality, synthetic bristle brushes also display excellent absorption and shape retention. Plus, they are much cheaper.
On the other hand, watercolor brushes come in various shapes and sizes. With that said, it is better to start with round brushes between 6 to 8. These mid-range round brushes are versatile and reliable for making bold colors, solid lines, and intricate details as well.
Are Colored Pencils the Same as Watercolor Pencils
No, they are not. Although watercolor pencils and normal colored pencils may appear similar, they greatly differ from each other. Watercolor pencils are way more versatile than colored pencils because of their water-soluble binders or cores.
Thus, you can use watercolor pencils with a wet brush or damp paper to draw watercolor painting strokes and effects. One more trick is to dip the tip of the pencils into the water to create thick lines. Some artists swatch their preferred shades on paper and run a wet brush over them to combine the colors and produce opaque watercolors.
Furthermore, these watercolor sets can be used dry or like any typical color pencil set. Therefore, they provide promising results, especially if you work with mixed media.
What Brand of Watercolor Pencils Is the Best
Every brand has its lineup of the most trusted watercolor pencils for hobbyists or amateurs, advanced users, and professional artists. If you are looking for the best brand, it is imperative to determine what level you are at or skills you have.
The brands listed in this watercolor pencil review offer watercolor sets that include premium pencils for different levels. Many artists consider Prismacolor watercolor pencils for professional users as well as Faber-Castell and Derwent watercolor pencils.
The most reliable watercolor pencils that do not break your bank, Arteza, AGPTEK, Castle Art Supplies, and Magicfly are some of the popular brands to try. Cool Bank, Art Magic, Crayola, and Faber-Castell Goldfaber Aqua are considered to be the right watercolor pencils for beginner watercolor artists, hobbyists, and amateur colorists.
Are Watercolor Pencils Worth It
If you love working with mixed media or trying to develop your skills and techniques with watercolors, then you should treat yourself with a set of watercolor pencils because they are worth it.
They are incredibly versatile, allowing you to unleash your creative freedom whether as wet or dry coloring pencils. Moreover, these pencils are an excellent starting point for those having a hard time controlling and making precise applications with watercolor brushes.
To sum it up, watercolor pencils are versatile coloring tools that can help you develop skills and techniques in watercolors as well as create messy-free watercolor art pieces. Whether you are an amateur or an advanced artist who loves using mixed media, you can express your creativity and endless artistic possibilities with these amazing pencils.
Therefore, the best watercolor pencils will lead you to three crucial factors: solubility, blendability or versatility, and vivid color selection. With these in mind, you can figure out your ultimate pick among the overwhelming options and brands on the market.
Art has always been a part of my life; it influences my upbringing and later my career choice. For me, it is always a part of my parenting technique. So for whichever purpose that you come to art, you can start here with us.