As l get asked this question all the time l thought l would answer it here. This is of course only my personal opinion, but l will give you my reasons.
Anyone who knows me will know that l use several brands of pencil (and if you want to read about the other brands and see a comparison photo click the link at the bottom of this blog). I love colored pencils, each brand has its own unique textures, many unique colors and each has things l particularly like them for.
But if you could only purchase one set, which set would that be? Without a doubt, hands down, Faber Castell Polychromos!
Why? There are so many reasons. This pencil has very high pigment levels and the color lay down is very smooth. It is very difficult to overwork the layers with these pencils. Some of the other brands you need to be careful because you can easily build pigment to a point where you can’t add more layers, the color just balls up on the surface. I have never had this happen with Polychromos.You can layer, upon layer, upon layer, which l found really useful as a beginner when layers perhaps didn’t turn out quite the right shade or to look quite how l wanted them to. It does take more layering than some of the other brands to get the vibrancy, but you can get it and learning the patience of layering is no bad thing.
The color range is excellent and they blend beautifully either by just letting the pencils do the work or with a little odorless mineral spirits. So new colors are easily made and shading is seamless.
They sharpen to the finest point of any of the brands that l use and best of all they hold that point really well. No other pencil l use is as good for fine detail. The Panther Chameleon you see above was worked almost entirely with Polychromos- it was the only pencil that would hold a fine enough point for the detail l needed to get. Every piece l work on the edges and detail will be sharpened with my Polychromos. This is especially helpful when you are a beginner and you feel awkward anyway. Trying to get really fine detail with Holbeins feels a bit like trying to cut a slice of bread with a carpenters saw!
They are very good value for money, much more affordable than the other brands l use. And for those that are thinking that you can get a full set of Prismacolors for a third of the price of the Polychromos - you can, but you won’t save any money. In two and a half years of drawing l have used up only eight Polychromos completely (excluding black and white which l go through a lot of), l can use half of a pencil on one piece with Prismacolor because they are so soft they just vanish. I watch them disappear in front of my eyes! And that is if you haven’t lost half your Prismacolor trying to sharpen it before you even begin! Long term the Polychromos are much cheaper. (And it is easier to get a good result).
Polychromos are also widely available to buy open stock in all the colors so you can easily replace just your favorite color not have to buy a complete set of pencils.
So, if you can only buy one brand these are the ones l would choose.
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