Can you mix professional colored pencils with normal ones?

Reader Question: Can you mix professional colored pencils with normal ones? I noticed on your site you said Prismacolors are the best, and luckily I have a set of those (48). I also have some Faber-Castells and Reeves that I got over the years as gifts.

So my question is, can I safely mix (that is, draw on the same drawing) with all of these colored pencils? If I start a drawing using Prismacolors, should I use only Prismacolors in that drawing?

I'm asking because I'm starting to run out of certain colors in my Prismacolor set and rather than buy a Prismacolor replacement, I'm wondering if I can just use the Faber-Castell or Reeves pencil instead.

Technically, you can indeed mix professional-quality colored pencils with "normal" ones, in that they will blend together and you can layer one top of the other, etc - but you will be compromising the longevity of your colored pencil artwork.

Basically, the colored pencils that are labeled as "professional quality" are ones with high pigment content (which makes the colors strong and rich) and good lightfastness (which means they will not fade quickly like the "normal" colored pencils).


The other types of colored pencils (usually referred to as "scholastic" or "student grade" colored pencils) contain more filler than pigment, so the colors won't be as vibrant, plus they will fade much more quickly than professional colored pencils like the Prismas.

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So you can technically mix the two, but the results may be unpredictable. For instance, if you layer with a Reeves colored pencil over a section you initially colored with a Prismacolor colored pencil, the Reeves may not go on as smoothly or as nicely as you would have liked. The artwork may end up having a "patchy" quality because of this. Also, even if the artwork looks fine now, in a few years some parts will start fading more quickly than others, which will also make the colored pencil drawing look patchy and discolored.

Reeves Colored Pencils are definitely scholastic quality, but the Faber-Castell colored pencils you have might be okay, depending on the exact type.

Faber Castell Polychromos Pencils

Faber-Castell makes a professional brand of colored pencil called Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils, which contain high-quality pigments and have a good lightfastness rating. It would be okay to use these with your Prismacolors, since they are both top quality colored pencils. But if the Faber-Castells you have don't say "Polychromos" on them, then they will be student quality ones.

One last thing to keep in mind is that different brands of colored pencils "feel" differently when you apply them because some are soft and others are harder. For instance, Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils are oil-based, while Prismacolors are wax-based. This means that the Polychromos Pencils are harder than the Prismacolors. The harder colored pencils may "scratch" into a layer of the softer colored pencils, so it's best to experiment a bit first with mixing the pencils before launching into an intensive colored pencil drawing with both brands.

Hope that helps & have fun with it!

Colored Pencils Guide

If you’d like to learn more about the various colored pencils on the market – such as the difference between wax-based, oil-based, and watercolor pencils – check out my Guide to Colored Pencils.

Learn more about Colored Pencil Art