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Faber Castell Polychromos vs Prismacolor Premier

Art & Illustration Blog

Here you will find my latest WIPs, tips and updates for all things art and drawing related.

Faber Castell Polychromos vs Prismacolor Premier

Laura Eddy

Faber Castell Polychromos tin

Faber Castell Polychromos pencils

Prismacolor tin

Prismacolor pencils

So as I now own both Faber Castell Polychromos and Prismacolor Premier pencils, I thought writing a little comparison may be useful to anyone who is tossing up between the two!

Since I decided I wanted to try my hand at drawing in colour I’ve been using Prismacolors. I bought these as I’d seen a few artists use them and I wanted a relatively good-quality pencil. I didn’t really know what to expect in the way of coloured pencils as I draw predominately in graphite, so I assumed they were all quite similar in blending and coverage (they’re not).

Since I’ve used my new Polychromos, I’ve noticed a massive difference in the way I can draw with them compared to the Prismacolors. Although the end result may be relatively similar, I find the drawing process is quite varied. I think it’s important to find something that suits you … or doesn’t irritate the shit out of you. Below I’ve listed some comparisons:

Price

The Polychromos are a bit more pricey than Prismacolors at $104.95 vs $84.95 for a tin of 36 at my local art store (I bought mine online). Personally, I’m prepared to pay more for something I’m happy with!

My preference: Hard to say based on price alone, I would pay more for a better product.

Colour

In terms of colour and vibrancy, I find both to be quite interchangeable. Below I’ve picked colours that are fairly similar and used the same amount of pressure. All examples are on Bristol paper.

My preference: Both are good, however I find you can get a bit more vibrancy out of the Polychromos as you can layer it a bit more without it becoming waxy like the Prismacolors.

Blending and layering

The Prismacolors are a little tricky to blend by themselves, although the Prismacolor colourless blending pencil is pretty good at picking up where the standard pencils left off. However, if you blend too much I find you end up scratching the waxy buildup off (also known as your colour) and then you have to fix the nice, uneven, waxy mess on your paper (pretty annoying).

The Polychromos definitely layer better as the Prismacolors do not play nicely in this department at all (at least for me). I end up with the same waxy issue if I try to layer too many colours on top of each other.

My preference: Polychromos

Erasing

One of my pet peeves with the Prismacolors is that they aren’t erasable… Not one bit. If you make a mistake, you rock that black line through your work. Below you can see the comparison. For me, it makes a world of difference when you can erase the mistake enough to colour over it and pretend it never happened. 

My preference: Polychromos

Lead

They two have very different lead types; the Prismacolors are wax-based and the Polychromos are oil-based. Personally, I find the oil-based lead to be smoother and give a better coverage and the wax-based to be… waxy.

I love detail and I was always a bit underwhelmed by the ability to attain the fine detail that I can with graphite. I thought this may have just been a coloured pencil vs graphite pencil issue, however with the Polychromos it gets much closer to the detail that I want.

Another misfortune that the Prismacolors have is that the lead is very notorious for breaking. This is a tad annoying as I feel like I am wasting a fair bit of the pencil sharpening it back to a point. A feature that I really like about the Polychromos is the ‘extremely break resistant’ (as they called it) lead. I’ve been drawing with them for about a week now and haven’t had any snap, which is great. I also manage to get the lead to sharpen to a finer point. I quite can’t seem to get there with the Prismacolours, whether it is because I’m scared to sharpen it too much in case it snaps, or because of the waxy lead. The lead in the Polychromos is also bonded to the wood, so if the lead breaks, you don’t lose the whole lot.

My preference: Polychromos

Smudging

I’m quite a 'clumsy’ drawer and tend to drag my hand through the work (because I can’t seem to draw from the top left… One day I will learn). However, neither of the pencils seem to smudge (yay).

My preference: Both

Conclusion

This post may seem like it has turned into a Prismacolor roast; I didn’t intend it that way! The Polychromos just purged a lot of the doubts I had about coloured pencils and I love drawing with them. So, in conclusion - the Faber Castell Polychromos get the gold star from me!

 

 

Overall winner

Faber Castell Polychromos!

 

 

I hope this helped you in your pencil-choosin'! Let me know what you think of this review, or if you would like to see any more comparisons!

 

My work in Prismacolor Premiers

I have a lot more in Prismacolor as I bought these pencils first! Although they product beautiful, vibrant colours they are just a little inconvenient to use. 
Click to view more about each piece.

 

My work in Faber Castell Polychromos

When I get around to doing more coloured works, I will definitely be using the Polychromos for the more 'user-friendly' drawing experience. 
Click to view more about each piece.

 
 
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