What is the difference between professional colored pencils and normal ones?

Reader Question: What is the difference between professional colored pencils and normal ones?

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Professional colored pencils, also called Artist Quality colored pencils, differ from "normal" colored pencils in several ways:

Professional colored pencils contain more pigment and less binder, whereas with normal colored pencils, it's the other way around.

The higher pigment content in colored pencils makes the colors more vibrant and rich, to the point where heavily layered colored pencil drawings can even resemble paintings... like my colored pencil drawing below!

A drawing I did with Prismacolor Colored Pencils

A drawing I did with Prismacolor Colored Pencils

Normal colored pencils, on the other hand, can't create drawings that are this vibrant and rich in color, because they don't contain strong enough pigments.

The higher pigment content in professional quality colored pencils (such as Prismacolor), combined with a core made of wax, clay and other ingredients, makes Prismacolor Colored Pencils softer than normal colored pencils. For this reason Prismacolors are easier to blend, which is ideal for creating strong colors, variations in hue, and transitions from light to dark.

Professional colored pencils are also more lightfast than regular colored pencils, so they are more resistant to fading over time. In other words, colored pencil drawings that were created using professional colored pencils will last much longer than colored pencil drawings created with regular colored pencils, which will fade or lighten within a few years.

Professional colored pencils like Prismacolor are also available in a wider range of colors than you'd find in a normal set of colored pencils. Prismacolors are available in 132 colors, which is ideal for creating fine art drawings.

In short, if you want to create fine art colored pencils drawings to display or sell, go for the professional quality colored pencils. You'll see better results. However, if you are on a budget or you just want to draw with colored pencils for fun, feel free to experiment with regular colored pencils.  

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You can always buy a handful of the professional quality colored pencils open stock and try them out, and if you like them, you might decide to invest in a whole set one day!  

Colored Pencils Guide

For a more detailed look at colored pencils – such as the difference between wax-based and oil-based pencils – check out my Guide to Colored Pencils. I cover everything you need to consider when making a purchase, and finish off with my opinion on the best colored pencils!