Best Watercolor Pencils for Beginners & Professionals Artists

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Best Watercolor Pencils for Beginners & Professionals Artists

Do you know what makes watercolor pencils so great? We do! We love things that make art more interesting and enjoyable to create. Watercolor pencils put a new spin on traditional watercolor painting. And they’re so fun to use!

We checked out 12 of the best watercolor pencil sets. We compared things like hardness, quality, ease of use, how well they blend and other factors that watercolor artists need to know.

You need the best pencils to create art that reflects what’s in your head. Mediocre pencils deliver mediocre results, and that can be frustrating. Look at our reviews and tips here so you can get what you need! One of these sets may be the best for you.

They’re all great, but we’ve included some tips below in case none of these strike your fancy and you want to keep looking.

Our List of 12 Best Watercolor Pencil Sets on the Market Today:

 

 

Features
  • Count: 36
  • Barrel shape: Rounded
  • Core: Hard
  • Container type: Plastic tray in a Metal tin
  • Comes with: N/A
  • Cost: Less than $40

 

This watercolor pencil set offers a full range of colors, including skin tones, for the enjoyment of just about any artist. They’ve got a hard core, which is great for really laying the pigment down on paper. But beginners may have some difficulty working on softer or thinner paper. It can rip if you’re not careful.

What Customers Are Saying

People like that they made a good decision and bought their pencils from the best watercolor pencil brand. They’re enjoying their art, and they like how the hard core packs so much pigment for rich, vibrant color.

Prismacolor Premier watercolor pencils | Water-Soluble Color Pencil Set, Assorted Colors, 36 Count

Things to Love
  • High-quality and well-made
  • Hard core is easy for most artists
  • Comes in a handsome run
  • Nice color assortment
Things to Consider
  • The hard core may be difficult for some and requires thicker paper

Summary

These pencils are an all-around good choice for most, even beginners. They’re made by a trusted, well-established brand with a big base of regular users. The hard core of these particular pencils, however, may cause problems with lighter paper stock.

 

Features
  • Count: 24
  • Barrel shape: Hexagonal
  • Core: Medium
  • Container type: Plastic tray in metal tin
  • Comes with: N/A
  • Price: Around $30

 

Here are some pencils with an easy-to-grip hexagonal barrel and a 3.4mm medium-hardness core. The medium hardness allows the artist to go with any technique, or the creator can go out of the box and invent a new style.

This versatility may make this set best for the professional artist, because there’s little need for multiple sets to make a watercolor piece.

What Customers Are Saying

Many like the core material, which is best described as medium. Everyone can work well with it. They like how easy it is to switch from using a brush to float the color to drawing on dampened paper for a deep, rich color.

Derwent Colored Pencils, WaterColour, Water Color Pencils, Drawing, Art, Metal Tin, 24 Count (32883)

Things to Love
  • Medium core is versatile
  • Rich colors
Things to Consider
  • Only 24 colors in the set requires more blending, which beginners may struggle with

Summary

All in all, this is a good set for those looking for the most versatility in their watercolor pencils. You can use a few different techniques to create what’s in your mind.

It would be better if more colors came with purchase, but the pro should have no trouble blending.

 

Features
  • Count: 36
  • Barrel shape: Hexagonal
  • Core: Medium-soft
  • Container type: Cardboard, no tray
  • Comes with: Brush
  • Price: About $25

 

What a nice set for anyone who wants to try their hand at watercoloring with pencils! You won’t have to spend a lot of money to get the hang of it.

The core is softer than most, so kids can also use them as regular colored pencils if they don’t like this new way of watercoloring.

It is recommended to have a nice container to keep these in. The cardboard box they come in can tear pretty easily, and there’s nothing to keep them organized.

What Customers Are Saying

Everyone has a lot of fun with these! They’re color pencils for coloring books because of the core’s softness. Kids love making art in a different way, and parents like that their kids can have some variety in their artistic expression.

Shachihata watercolor pencils Faber-Castell TFC-WCP / 36C 36-color set

Things to Love
  • Pretty cheap
  • Good value
  • Comes with a brush
  • Good for kids and beginners
Things to Consider
  • Core is a bit soft for serious artists
  • Cardboard container doesn’t protect pencils
  • No organizer tray included

Summary

This set is great for kids, beginners and anyone who just wants some watercolor pencils at a good price to have fun with.

 

Features
  • Count: 24
  • Barrel shape: Rounded, paper-covered crayon
  • Core: Soft wax
  • Container type: Plastic tray in tin
  • Comes with: N/A
  • Price: A little over $25

 

These aren’t actually pencils. They’re watercolor wax crayons! And they’re made by a leader in the crayon world: Lyra.

One advantage of these crayons is that they are light-fast. You can put your creations in direct sunlight, like near a window, and the color will not fade quickly as it would with traditional watercolor pencils.

They work well when you lay the pigment down on your medium, then use a brush to wash the color. It’s not really recommended for coloring directly on dampened paper, though. The wax won’t allow the pigment to spread easily, and the result will be blotchy.

What Customers Are Saying

A lot of people have never even heard of watercolor crayons, and they’re surprised that wax can be water-soluble. They have fun with this new way to float color.

LYRA Aquacolor Water-Soluble Wax Crayons, Set of 24 Crayons, Assorted Colors (5611240)

Things to Love
  • Easy to use
  • Very light fast
  • Affordable
Things to Consider
  • Don’t last as long as watercolor pencils
  • Limited technique

Summary

These are interesting for even an experienced artist, and they can add a new dimension to anyone’s art.

 

Features
  • Count: 40
  • Barrel shape: Rounded
  • Core: Medium wax pastel crayon
  • Container type: Plastic tray and plastic case
  • Comes with: Color blending chart
  • Price: Almost $65

 

The professional artist and seasoned amateur will love these pastels. The are of amazing quality. The pigmentation density is incredible, offering an opaqueness and richness that cannot be found in regular watercolor pencils.

You can even wash and float the color on glass or ceramic. There aren’t any off-limits mediums.

What Customers Are Saying

Customers have made this the best rated watercolor pencils. The reviews are almost giddy. There are very few legitimate complaints. Most negativity comes from those who don’t understand how to use this type of watercolor.

quality watercolor pencils

Things to Love
  • Very high quality
  • Dense pigmentation
  • Can be heat-set
  • Works on many different mediums and materials
Things to Consider
  • Expensive

Summary

This set isn’t for someone just starting to experiment. Sure, they are the best quality watercolor pencils, but they are hard for the beginner to understand. It would be best for a noob to begin with cheaper wax crayons to get the hang of it.

 

 

Features
  • Count: 72
  • Barrel shape: Rounded
  • Core: Pure pigment-infused graphite
  • Container type: Plastic tray in metal tin
  • Comes with: N/A
  • Price: About $140

 

There’s no wood at all on these watercolor pencils. They are simply a solid 7mm core of colored graphite wrapped in paper to keep the color off of hands.

They can be used by dipping into water and then applying to the medium, as well as any other way you like to use watercolor pencils. The result is a soft hue that is great for shading and toning.

What Customers Are Saying

Those who’ve bought this set like how simple it is to shade and fill on various mediums with them, but paper of various textures seems to be the medium that people really like to use with these.

Cretacolor 72 Aqua Monolith Metal Tin Set Watercolor

Things to Love
  • Wood-free pure graphite
  • Permanent when dried
  • Very easy to sharpen
Things to Consider
  • A bit hard to grip for some
  • Pricey

Summary

This is a good watercolor pencil for any purpose, really, but spreading color on damp or dry paper is where they really shine. Shading is smooth and enjoyable with them! Keep in mind that the color cannot be lifted and spread after drying because it’s permanent.

 

Features
  • Count: 36
  • Barrel shape: Hexagonal
  • Core: Medium
  • Container type: Soft plastic case
  • Comes with: Brush
  • Price: Less than $20

This affordable set features a good number of different colors and comes in a familiar plastic pouch.

The really nice thing is that the core is encased in a very thin polymer that keeps them from breaking so easily. That makes it a great first watercolor pencil set for even young children.

What Customers Are Saying

Many customers who have bought these pencils like to use them in adult coloring books because they have the feel of colored pencils, and can be used as such, but they can be washed and floated like the watercolor pencils that they are.

If you are tired of spending a lot of time sharpening pencils. Check out our list of the best electric pencil sharpeners. And you solve this problem.

Staedtler Watercolor Pencils, Box of 36 Colors (14410ND36)

Things to Love
  • Cheap
  • Core Is highly resistant to breakage
  • Can also be used as regular colored pencils
Things to Consider
  • Colors are not printed on the pencils

Summary

These break-resistant pencils come in a nice big variety of colors and are great as a first watercolor pencil set for kids and adults alike.

 

Features
  • Count: 72
  • Barrel shape: Hexagonal
  • Core: Medium
  • Container type: Three stacking organization trays in a metal tin
  • Comes with: N/A
  • Price: About $30

 

The first thing most people notice is how great this set looks. The pencils come in a tin that is a piece of art itself. Inside are three stackable trays that hold the 72 pencils.

They are of high quality, but they don’t seem to blend well. In other words, it’s a bit difficult to mix two colors to come up with another. It’s a good thing so many colors are included then. The tones are vibrant and opaque.

The artist should have not only colored pencils, but also charcoal pencils. Therefore, we have prepared the best. Check out list of the best charcoal pencils.

What Customers Are Saying

Buyers are amazed at how many high-quality pencils they got for such an unbelievable price. They’re also wowed by the beautiful, professional-quality storage box that they come in.

Castle Art Supplies 72 Watercolor Pencils Set for Adults and Professionals - Premium Artist Lead with Vibrant Colors and Beautiful Blending Effects with Water

Things to Love
  • High quality
  • Many colors
  • Nice storage tin
  • Sweet price
Things to Consider
  • Colors don’t blend as well as other pencils

Summary

These are nice pencils that come in a wide range of colors in a handsome storage box. But many watercolor pencil reviews mention that it’s hard to blend with them. All in all, they’re great for any use, but they shouldn’t be your only set. Get another for blending if you find these hard to use.

 

 

Features
  • Count: 50
  • Barrel shape: Rounded
  • Core: Medium-hard
  • Container type: Cardboard box
  • Comes with: Sharpener
  • Price: Less than $15

 

Anyone new to watercoloring with pencils will find this set a nice one to cut their teeth on.

The core is harder than most. That’s good for detail work. In this way, anyone who can draw can get started easily. Try coloring in the traditional way in a coloring book, then see what happens when you float the colors with a couple drops of water.

What Customers Are Saying

Seasoned artists have some complaints: These pencils are hard to blend and the colors aren’t vibrant. Beginners, however, enjoy them as a great set to learn the art of watercoloring with pencils.

Artlicious - 50 Premium Distinct Watercolor Pencils for Adult Coloring Books - Bonus Sharpener - Color Names on Pencils

Things to Love
  • 50 colors
  • Hard enough for fine detail when used dry
  • Can be used as colored pencils
Things to Consider
  • Don’t blend well
  • Subdued colors

Summary

These are probably the best watercolor pencils for beginners. They can be used to color and outline like colored pencils, then the budding artist can have fun experimenting with a brush and water!

 

Features
  • Count: 72
  • Barrel shape: Rounded
  • Core: Medium-hard
  • Container type: Two plastic trays in a tin
  • Comes with: Brush pen
  • Price: About $20

 

These offer a nice wash, but the color doesn’t like to come up and move after drying, regardless of the medium. Since they can be used wet or dry, they make good outlining and dry shading pencils. In fact, many people like to use them for sketching.

Included is a soft brush that holds water in the handle. To release a drop of water, you just push down on the brush’s head. That’s easy and convenient!

What Customers Are Saying

People love the storage tin. They also like the versatility of being able to sketch and watercolor with the same set.

Water Soluble Colored Pencils For Art Students & Professionals - Assorted Colors for Sketch Coloring Pages For Kids & Adults - Vibrant Colors For Drawing Books - Set of 72

Things to Love
  • Many colors
  • Awesome brush pen included
  • Can also.be used for dry sketching
Things to Consider
  • Less forgiving on floats

Summary

Here’s a fine set for artists who like to have the option of dry or wet use. These are the best watercolor pencils for sketching.

 

 

Features
  • Count: 72
  • Barrel shape: Hexagonal
  • Core: Medium-soft
  • Container type: Two plastic trays in a tin
  • Comes with: N/A
  • Price: About $30

 

The outstanding feature here is the soft core. Although some prefer a medium or harder core, this type opens the door for use on mediums other than paper.

What Customers Are Saying

Customers talk about how enjoyable and easy it is to blend and shade with them. The softer core allows use on many different mediums.

ARTEZA Professional, Set of 72, Multi Colored Art Drawing Pencils in Bright Assorted Shades, Ideal for Coloring, Blending and Layering, Watercolor Techniques

Things to Love
  • Great color variety
  • Intense colors
  • Many medium possibilities
Things to Consider
  • Cores this soft can sometimes be a headache for beginners who are used to drawing and coloring with colored pencils

Summary

A great set like this could cost a lot more. Bravo to Arteza for the nice price. The softness allows use on so many different materials. Many use it on ceramic and porcelain. That makes these the best watercolor pencils for dolls.

 

Features
  • Count: 72
  • Barrel shape: Hexagonal
  • Core: Soft
  • Container type: Three plastic trays in a metal tin
  • Comes with: Brush and sharpener
  • Price: Less than $20

 

Ah, the colors produced by soft cores are amazing! The pigment seems to have a luminosity of its own. Everyone likes bright, vibrant color. If they’re too bright, they can be subdued by being blended with earthy tones.

What Customers Are Saying

People love the color! It is opaque, bright and intense. You can only get this richness from softer cores.

There have been some complaints about the pencils deforming. This isn’t a defect, per se. The core is soft and encased in wood, so the pencils are susceptible to humidity. Bent pencils can still be used with the same results as straight ones.

Magicfly Watercolor Pencils, 72 Colored Pencils Set Premier Soft Core with 2 Brushes, Metal Tin Case, and Bonus Pencil Sharpener

Things to Love
  • Soft core allows rich pigmentation
  • Brush and sharpener included
  • Good price
Things to Consider
  • Tend to bend and deform easily

Summary

These well selling watercolor pencils get good reviews from artists of all experience levels who like intense color but don’t do much fine detail work.

What Watercolor Pencils Are And How To Use Them

Watercolor pencils come in many forms.

In the strictest sense of the term, watercolor pencils are wood-encased cores of pigmented graphite or hard wax. The core can be hard, soft or anywhere inbetween depending on the graphite vs wax ratio.

But they also come as soft wax cores wrapped in paper, like crayons. They can also be pure pigmented graphite.

Whatever the form, they are meant to be used with water, just like watercolor paint. Their advantages over paint are numerous.

You can dip the tip of the pencil in water, then use a brush to pull pigment directly off the tip to be transferred to the medium.

Alternately, you can dip the tip and spread the color with the tip, no brush needed. This is a skill that comes with practice.

Another way to paint with watercolor pencils is to draw or shade with the pencil directly on the medium, then use a wet brush or other tool to float the pigment. This produces a wash that is more solid than traditional watercolor paint.

With some watercolor pencils, the color can be floated again after drying simply by dampening the media again.

A great advantage to pencils becomes apparent when doing work that involves distinct borders and boundaries, like ponds and trees. One technique is to draw the outline using the color that the object is to take on, then wash the color inward with a brush and water.

Pencils can also be used on damp paper. This produces definite lines of a deep, rich color.

All of the other wonderful aspects of watercolor paint also apply to pencils. The colors can be blended to make different colors, and they can be layered for a deep multidimensional look.

Many watercolor pencils can be used on a variety of mediums. Paper is the most commonly used, and it pairs well with pencils, but many people like to paint on glass, fabric, ceramic, porcelain, wood and all kinds of material.

The sky is the limit if you have the right kind of pencils.

Some pencils have a fantastic light-fast rating. Regular watercolor paints, on the other hand, tend to discolor and fade very quickly when exposed to bright light over a period of time.

Coloring with watercolor pencils can be fun and rewarding if you get the right ones. Now you understand what you’re looking for a little better, don’t you?

Tips For Choosing The Best Watercolor Pencils

There are many brands and types of pencils available. Let’s look at some tips on how to be sure you get the ones that are best for you.

Soft, Medium Or Hard Core?

Hard cores can be used just like regular colored pencils as well as watercolors. They typically produce softer tones when used wet. Soft cores offer the deepest, most opaque color. But they can be somewhat difficult to blend. When used dry, they aren’t very good for detail work.

Medium cores make vibrant color washes, and many of them offer fine marks for dry detailing. You may want to invest in a few sets of varying hardnesses for the most versatility.

Check The Permanence

You may be used to being able to apply water to a dry watercolor painting to refloat the pigments. Some pencils allow this, but others have fine pigments that nestle deep into the fiber of the paper. When dried, they’re permanent. This may be a plus for you. It may be a drawback.

Either way, know what you are getting before you spend your money!

How Well Do They Blend?

This is something you may want to look into before buying a set. With some paintings, you want to layer colors in a contrasting way that keeps the originals true.

Soft, waxy pencils are best for this.  Then again, you may like to have every color on your piece to be of your own creation.

Harder pencils, especially those with a high graphite content, are made for this.

Hard Pencils Are Usually Better For Fine Work

To make fine dry lines, you need a sharp point. Hard cores are easier to sharpen like this, and they hold their point longer.

While we’re on the subject, you’ll need a good sharpener to make a good point. The sharpeners that come with some pencil sets, especially the cheaper ones, usually aren’t that good. It’s best to spend a little money and get one that works well.

Soft Ones Are Usually Better For Fillings

Watercolor is known for its interesting, varied fill-ins. Imagine the surface of a calm lake in watercolor.

Blunter points and softer cores work better for laying pigment on paper. More pigment needs more water. That combination is what makes a breathtaking, beautiful wash that is the hallmark of watercolor.

Are You Ready For The Best Set Of Watercolor Pencils?

So, now you know what to look for in a good set of watercolor pencils. You know what you need. You’ve also checked out the reviews of some of the best.

We’ve been over what makes a good pencil and what makes a pencil less than ideal. Perhaps you’ve never even heard of watercolor pencils before this, or maybe you just weren’t that familiar with them.

But now you know all you need to know. It’s time to take your art to the next level. Make a choice and get a good set of watercolor pencils today!