The Best Coloured Pencils for Artists 2019

From manga makers to watercolour creators, we've got a pencil for everyone.

So you're a digital artist - but that doesn't mean inspiration won't strike when you're near a piece of paper.

Maybe your portfolio is a mix of both traditional and digital, or you just damn well prefer to sketch and colour a piece before transitioning to your tablet or laptop. After all, deciding on what colours you want beforehand can shorten your workflow when inside Affinity, Adobe or Procreate.

We've profiled drawing pencils on Digital Arts and now it's time to find the best of the countless coloured pencils out there. It won't be a surprise to find big names like Faber-Castell in our essentials round-up, but we've also got other, cheaper names to recommend (along with some who are of an even higher prestige).

All our selections below are rich in colour, sturdy in make and perfect for layering or burnishing. 

They also come in some frankly gorgeous looking tins, meaning your little art corner will look just as tasteful and stylish as your work.

Cretacolor Artist Studio

Cretacolor Artist Studio

Cretacolor make exceedingly good drawing pencils, so of course their coloured ranges are worth an investment.

We like their 72 piece Artist Studio not only for its 24 watercolor pencils and 24 coloured pencils but also its bundle of graphic and sketching pencils (19 in total).

It's a bit of a bargain overall, and while not as prestigious as competitor pencils from Faber-Castell and Caran d'Ache, they should suffice for any digital artists who simply want to play with tones and shades before they go into full production mode.

Prismacolor Manga Colours

Prismacolor Manga Colours

Everyone loves East Asian culture these days, and who doesn't love manga?

We know many Digital Arts creatives love to dabble in manga with software like Clip Studio Paint, so it was hard not to include a pencil set for all those creators who love to create their own personal Japan in the studio.

Prismacolor's manga set is the best on on the market, coming with 18 Soft Core and 5 Verithin Premier coloured pencils in a cute like box which weeaboos will love.

Soft Core pencils are ideal for the subtle blending and shading of a magical girl's complexion, while Verithin pencils help you draw in the crisp details of a roving mecha or flamboyant visual kei cape.

In other words, essential pencils for manga-ka everywhere.

Caran D'Ache Pablo

Caran D'Ache Pablo

This prestigious set from the la-di-da Caran d'Ache is named after a Pablo. Which one, you ask? Picasso of course, cher ignare.

With 120 pencils in a spanking metal box, the Pablo set gets rave reviews online and it's not hard to see why. Strong lead, fantastic colour range and nicely blendable, these are the choice for fine artists.

Highly recommended for those who are as serious about their traditional art as their digital.

Faber-Castell 111th Anniversary

Faber-Castell 111th Anniversary

This limited edition set features 36 of the original colours from the original 1908 release of Faber-Castell's flagship Polychromos range.

With Polychromos colours spread and layer with ease thanks to the oil based binding of the pencils, making your tools resistant to both water and wax bloom.

In superficial stakes, we love the metal tin and adorning art here, and encourage you to buy this limited 2019 set before stocks vanish.

Derwent Inktense Watercolour Pencils

Derwent Inktense Watercolour Pencils

Our top pick for those who want to work with watercolours gives you 36 pencils in a loving aquatic packaging.

Derwent are a reliable name with reasonable prices, and wet or dry these colours will shine off the page.

Permanent when dry, a lot of artists love how these colours work well on fabrics. Good to know when making your next tee.

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

It's a princely sum, but you get 132 pencils (plus something Prismacolor call a 'premiere' pencil sharpener if you're an American customer. And there's us thinking all pencil sharpeners were equal.)

Perfect for shading and shadows with their thick, soft cores, these pencils give a very smooth finish and their richly saturated pigments are instantly noticeable. In other words, you get what you pay for, even if the pencils themselves don't look as pretty as other recommendations in this list.

We're also loving that deeply enigmatic cover art of an inscrutable woman in front of a spacey-looking triangle. Definitely good for the 'Gram should you want to pose your work alongside the tin.

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn't affect our editorial independence. Learn more.

Elsewhere on IDG sites

Read Next...