On this blog I have mostly focused on my experiences with watercolour, which is my primary medium, but I also do some of my work (about 15-20% of my illustrations) using coloured pencils or combining both.
As with watercolours, I am not strictly brand loyal, however, coloured pencil does lend itself a bit better to keeping full sets from a brand. Although coloured pencils are mixable, they are easier to work with with less mixing and a larger colour selection than watercolours.There are also fewer brands of artist-quality coloured pencils, and each brand has a very unique and different formulation to their lead.
The pencils I use the most are Polychromos, which have a smooth yet relatively hard, oil-based formula, ideal for drawing details and layering without a waxy buildup.
I was very fortunate to receive a full set of Polychromos pencils as a birthday gift (from my mommy, who else would spoil me that much).
I’ve undertaken the task of swatching the complete set to share with you. You can see the swatches in the two images below. On the first page, I marked a black sharpie squiggle under each swatch, in order to demonstrate transparency. I forgot the squiggles on the second page, which I completed on a different day.
As you can see, the colours are mostly quite transparent, despite coloured pencil being generally considered a semi-opaque medium. This is another attribute of Polychromos pencils specifically:
The entire range is well documented, with accurate lightfastness ratings listed on the tin. No pigment information is available that I could find, however, this is not unusual in coloured pencil lines.
The coloured casings match the lead colour fairly well, with few surprises. However, a couple of the names struck me as unusual – Crimson (134) is a dull magenta colour and Green Gold(268) is very not-green in my opinion. The entire line has a very consistent feel (in some coloured pencil brands, different pencils have dramatically different transparency and texture)
In general, the line has a very good coverage of the colour wheel. There seem to be several very similar browns – Brown Ochre(102), Raw Umber(180), Bistre(179) and Nougat(178) could all be used interchangeably, for instance, and there are a few similar reds, and similar blues.
Overall, I am impressed with the colour selection in this set. However, if you are already familiar with your colour preferences in transparent/semi-transparent media, it may make more sense to simply order a smaller selection from open stock.