So as I now own both Faber Castell Polychromos and Prismacolor Premier pencils, I thought writing a little comparison may be useful to anyone who is tossing up between the two! About a year ago, since I decided I wanted to try my hand at drawing in colour I’ve been using Prismacolors. I bought these as I’d seen a few artists use them and I wanted a relatively good-quality pencil. I didn’t really know what to expect in the way of coloured pencils as I draw predominately in graphite, so I assumed they were all quite similar in blending and coverage (they’re not). Since I’ve used my new Polychromos, I’ve noticed a massive difference in the way I can draw with them compared to the Prismacolors. Although the end result may be relatively similar, I find the drawing process is quite varied. I think it’s important to find something that suits you …or doesn’t irritate the shit out of you. Below I’ve listed some comparisons:
The Polychromos are a bit more pricey than Prismacolors at $104.95 vs $84.95 for a tin of 36 at my local art store (I bought mine online). Personally, I’m prepared to pay more for something I’m happy with!
In terms of colour and vibrancy, I find both to be quite interchangeable. Below I’ve picked colours that are fairly similar and used the same amount of pressure. All examples are on Bristol paper.
The Prismacolors are a little tricky to blend by themselves, although the Prismacolor colourless blending pencil is pretty good at picking up where the standard pencils left off. However, if you blend too much I find you end up scratching the waxy buildup off (also known as your colour) and then you have to fix the nice, uneven, waxy mess on your paper. The Polychromos definitely layer better as the Prismacolors do not play nicely in this department at all (at least for me). I end up with the same waxy issue if I try to layer too many colours on top of each other.
One of my pet peeves with the Prismacolors is that they aren’t erasable… Not one bit. If you make a mistake, you rock that black line through your work. Below you can see the comparison. For me, it makes a world of difference when you can erase the mistake enough to colour over it and pretend it never happened.
They two have very different lead types; the Prismacolors are wax-based and the Polychromos are oil-based. Personally, I find the oil-based lead to be smoother and give a better coverage and the wax-based to be… waxy. I love detail and I was always a bit underwhelmed by the ability to attain the fine detail that I can with graphite. I thought this may have just been a coloured pencil vs graphite pencil issue, however with the Polychromos it gets much closer to the detail that I want. Another misfortune that the Prismacolors have is that the lead is very notorious for breaking. This is a tad annoying as I feel like I am wasting a fair bit of the pencil sharpening it back to a point. A feature that I really like about the Polychromos is the ‘extremely break resistant’ (as they called it) lead. I’ve been drawing with them for about a week now and haven’t had any snap, which is great. I also manage to get the lead to sharpen to a finer point. I quite can’t seem to get there with the Prismacolours, whether it is because I’m scared to sharpen it too much in case it snaps, or because of the waxy lead. The lead in the Polychromos is also bonded to the wood, so if the lead breaks, you don’t lose the whole lot.
I’m quite a ‘clumsy’ drawer and tend to drag my hand through the work (because I can’t seem to draw from the top left… One day I will learn). However, neither of the pencils seem to smudge (yay).
This post may seem like it has turned into a Prismacolor roast; I didn’t intend it that way! The Polychromos just purged a lot of the doubts I had about coloured pencils. So, in conclusion, the Faber Castell Polychromos get the gold star.
What do you prefer?
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Testing out my new Polychromos 😍💕 … On this exciting nose texture…
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This one almost didn’t make it to the scanner due to the fact I keep eating over my artworks… However, here it is!
Prismacolor on A3 Bristol paper.
I need a name for this little one! Before he gets scanned in and uploaded in full I want to see if anyone can think of a name that beats the one I have in mind! (It shouldn’t be too hard 😅) Ideas?!