Best Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring Books

Having a hobby on adult coloring books is a fun exciting and exciting thing to do where you can uncover and enhance your creativity. This is also a stress-reliever and a very good way to unplug from social media. Few of the reasons why a lot of people are addicted to it. To immerse yourself on this hobby, you should be able to pick up a good coloring book and a suitable media to color it with. Most adult coloring books have intricate designs so it’s ideal if you use media with pointed tips for coloring. Leave the Crayola to the kids. So on this article, I’ll focus on not only what’s suitable but on the best colored pencils for adult coloring books. Choosing which colored pencils to use is really exciting as there’s a lot of options out there. This can’t be overwhelming if you know the basics of colored pencils.Colored Pencils

Characteristics of Good Colored Pencils

To be able to decide which colored pencils to choose, I’ve listed below some characteristics of colored pencils that you may consider:

Easy to layer

Layering is a technique where you color a layer at a time to achieve the desired intensity of colors. It could be just one color or a combination of different colors. A good colored pencil should be easy to layer and should not create a build up of wax when you do several layers. The build up is called wax bloom where it forms like a whitish wax and no matter what you do, the colors don’t layer anymore.

Layering is also where you apply layers of at least two colors to achieve a new color. This is where a knowledge or understanding of the color wheel becomes handy. In the color wheel, you’ve got red, yellow and blue as primary colors. For instance when you mix red and yellow, you get orange. When you mix blue and red, you’ll get a violet. And when you mix yellow and blue, you’ll get a green. Knowing which color to mix, to achieve a certain color specially if you only have few sets of colors that are available, is really an advantage.

Huge range of colors

Although you can layer and blend to achieve desired colors, a huge range is very handy to save time. Most pencils come in basic colors say pack of 12 up to 150 pcs or more.

Open Stock Availability

In coloring, you’ll use some colors more frequent than the others. So if you bought a set, it’s not practical to buy another set just to replenish some colors. Some brands have open stock option which means you can buy the pencils individually. This is great if you wish to just replenish your set or if you wish to build up on colors. Let’s say you only bought 24 colors but the full set is 150. You can gradually build up your set by buying only the colors that you need. This is great for those who can only spare some budget on a certain number of pencils.


High quality colored pencils are not cheap but some budget friendly pencils can do the job too in creating an artwork. So it would really depend on how much you are willing to spend on colored pencils. As I mentioned above, if you want some high quality pencils and you are working on a budget, you could consider a small set first, blend some colors and gradually buy some open stock or go for a bigger set.


One of the techniques in using colored pencils is to keep the tip sharpened to achieve a well blended finish and really cover the paper. Some pencils are too soft that it breaks when sharpened or used with a heavy hand. So be mindful of breakage as it’s money down the drain.


This is an extra feature that you might want to consider if you would like the color to last. Lightfastness is the feature where the color lasts when exposed to UV. If you would like to frame your work, you might want to consider this feature. Please note that colored pencils with lightfastness are really pricey.

Types of Colored Pencils



These are budget friendly colored pencils designed for students and for crafts. These are not as pigmented as the artists quality pencils and are not easy to blend and layer but you can still come up with a great artwork on these pencils. These come in different sets. These colored pencils are not sold as open stock so you won’t be able to replenish if you used up some colors.

Popular Brands:

  • Faber Castell Classic
  • Guang Hui (Hero) Colored Pencil
  • Prismacolor Scholar Art Pencils
  • Staedler Color Pencil Sets

Artist/Professional Quality

If you’re wiling to spend on colored pencils, this range would be the best way to go. These are highly pigmented, easier to blend and layer. Most of these have lightfast quality. Major brands are also sold as open stock.

Popular Brands:

  • Faber Castell Polychromos
  • Prismacolor Premier
  • Caran d’Ache Luminance Colored Pencils
  • Caran d’Ache Pablo Colored Pencils
  • Derwent Artist Pencils Sets
  • Holbein Colored Pencils
  • Staedler Ergosoft

Which One to Choose

If you’re new to adult coloring books and you’re still trying to figure out if this hobby is for you, it’s good to start with the student/craft colored pencils I’ve mentioned above. That way you’ll have a feel if this is really for you and you won’t waste your money on artist grade if later on you realised it’s not for you. But if you’re into it and you’ve got the money to spend, I suggest you go for the artist grade pencils. Faber Castell Polychromos and Prismacolor Premier is highly recommended and I’ve encountered a lot of colourists using the other above brands as listed.

Bear in mind that you can mix and match different brands in one page. Below is an example of the page I did for Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden. This is a combination of Faber Castell Classic and Faber Castell Polychromos.

Secret Garden
Secret Garden by Johanna Basford colored by Emmy of

Try and Build-up

Deciding which colored pencil to use is very personal. You need to find what works for you. I would suggest trying a small set and then upgrade to bigger sets if you like it. As you go along, you might find yourself collecting different brands of colored pencils which is very common for adult coloring book enthusiasts.

Hope this article is helpful to you. Please fill-out the comments section below, if you have some questions or feedback.


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