Well, l could talk about pencils all day! And l could probably write at least a dozen blog posts. But today l want to talk about something that isn’t often discussed and most artists don’t even think about it when purchasing pencils.
Value for money.
There are just so many pencil brands on the market. You can spend anything up to around $5 per pencil. You can buy them for less than $1 per pencil.
Now l am always going to tell you that personally, l would rather have fewer colors of higher quality, than a 100 colors of a poor quality pencil. But the point l would really like to make is that whilst you might think you are getting a bargain with the cheap pencil sets (and occasionally you might be) they usually work out more expensive in the long run. This is the reason why.
Cost per use. The purchase price is one thing. The cost to use a pencil is another. To give you an example, in the USA Prismacolor are not far off half the price of Faber Castell Polychromos - a full set of 150 Prismacolor at Dickblick will cost you $124.99, a full set of 120 Faber Castell Polychromos will cost you $179.99. The Prismacolor cost 83c per pencil and the Polychromos $1.50 approximately.
So the Prismacolor seem to be a real bargain.
But .... l can use half a Prismacolor pencil easily in one piece because 1. The core is so soft it wears down fast and 2. They are terrible to sharpen, sometimes taking several goes with breaking cores until you get a useable point.
So my Prismacolor pencil costs around 40c per piece.
My Polychromos never break, the core is harder and the point does not wear down fast. Polychromos pencils will last me many, many pieces before they need replacing (so long that l have no idea how many pieces l get from one pencil) and in the long run work out much cheaper than the Prismacolor.
The cost may be even higher with the entry level pencils because they also tend to have less pigment as well as more breakage issues. Meaning a lot more layers and a lot more sharpening.
You could also add to this the cost of replacing pencils that only come in sets. If you use all of one color you must buy another full set to replace it (or buy a different brand open stock).
If you take all these factors into consideration what appears to be cheap on first impression may actually be more expensive. Personally I would buy fewer of the high quality pencils. Add to them as you can afford it. Not only will you save money in the long run but you will find it much easier to create beautiful work as you will be working with tools that make the job so much easier.
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