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The Best Watercolor Pencils

Last updated on November 26, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Watercolor Pencils and dug through the reviews from 24 of the most popular review sites including Review Meta, All Top Ten Reviews, Wow Pencils, The Smart Consumer, Home Esthetics, Createlet and more. The result is a ranking of the best Watercolor Pencils.

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Our Picks For The Top Watercolor Pencils

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Castle Art Supplies

Watercolor Pencils Set, 72 ct

Overall Take

Unbeatable QualityThe long-lasting lead in these Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencils Set, 72 ct offers artists a set that will last forever.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Review Meta, No Place Called Home, New York Mag, Wow Pencils. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" They get a lot of love for being great colored pencils."
Cons
"The colors are bold. It makes landscapes and portraits less realistic. It’s hard to achieve more pale/nude shades"

Faber Castell

Watercolor Pencil Set, 120 ct

Overall Take

Endless Color ChoicesWith over 100 colored pencils in this Faber Castell Watercolor Pencil Set, you will never run out of possible combinations for your art projects.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus All Top Ten Reviews, Createlet, Home Esthetics. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The pencil remains in place with the help of the tin within it. Pencils can work effectively when dry."
Cons
"This is expensaive."

Arteza

Woodless Watercolor Pencils, 24 ct

Overall Take

Great For BeginnersIf you are new to the world of watercolors, this Arteza Woodless Watercolor Pencils, 24 ct set is perfect to get you familiar with the media.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Review Meta, Review Finch. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Their richly saturated pigments are lightfast -- your colors will withstand the test of time. These pencils can create even strokes with minimal pressure--you can use the whole pencil to smoothly lay down rich, vibrant hues. This dry medium can..."
  The Best Value

Magicfly

Watercolor Pencils, 72 ct

Overall Take

Most Bang For Your BuckYou won't regret spending the money on this, all-in-one Magicfly set. With paintbrushes and an eraser included, you're ready to create!

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Art Suppliers, No Place Called Home, Get Life You Desire. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" These 72 colored pencils are made of recycled wood and soft leads, easy to be sharpened, they won’t break, crack or crumble."
Cons
"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..."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
17

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the watercolor pencils available to purchase.
10

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

24

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Review Meta, All Top Ten Reviews, Wow Pencils, The Smart Consumer, Home Esthetics.

5,507

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart.

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Watercolor Pencils and also dug through the reviews from 24 of the most popular review sites including Review Meta, All Top Ten Reviews, Wow Pencils, The Smart Consumer, Home Esthetics, Createlet and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Watercolor Pencils.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencils Set, 72 ct

Our Expert Score
9.7
4 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.6
359 user reviews
Our Take

Rated the Best Overall, Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencils Set, 72 count set has it all. An excellent quality in the lead keeps artists pleased with their performance across the board. The only negative is that the colors are quite bold and don’t offer muted colors for landscapes and portraits. During our testing, we loved all the color options and the easy mixing with water.

What other experts liked
They get a lot of love for being great colored pencils.
- New York Mag
The lead is waxy, which allows them to blend with each other easily
- Wow Pencils
What other experts didn't like
The colors are bold. It makes landscapes and portraits less realistic. It’s hard to achieve more pale/nude shades
- Wow Pencils

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Magicfly Watercolor Pencils, 72 ct

Our Expert Score
8.9
3 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.6
362 user reviews
Our Take

For the Best Value, the Magicfly Watercolor Pencils, 72 count is the product. Not only does the kit offer 72 colors, but also two paint brushes and an excellent sharpener. You can take this complete set, on-the-go with you. As an added perk, they are made from recycled wood for an eco-friendly product.

What other experts liked
These 72 colored pencils are made of recycled wood and soft leads, easy to be sharpened, they won’t break, crack or crumble.
- Art Suppliers
March 20, 2019 | Full review
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.
- Get Life You Desire
What other experts didn't like
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.
- Get Life You Desire

Overall Product Rankings

1. Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencils Set, 72 ct

Overall Score: 9.7
Reviews Included: 5

2. Faber Castell Watercolor Pencil Set, 120 ct

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 4

3. Arteza Woodless Watercolor Pencils, 24 ct

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 4

4. OOKU Watercolor Pencils Arist Set, 48 ct

Overall Score: 9.3
Reviews Included: 4

5. Derwent WaterColour Colored Pencils, 24 ct

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 4

6. Ohuhu Water Coloring Brush Pens, 6 ct

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 4

7. Fantasia Premium Watercolor Pencil Set, 36 ct

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 3

8. Coolbank Watercolor Pencils Set, 72 ct

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 2

9. Colore Watercolor Pencils, 72 ct

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 4

10. Magicfly Watercolor Pencils, 72 ct

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 5

Our Findings

Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencils Set, 72 ct

What We Liked: Rated the Best Overall, Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencils Set, 72 count set has it all. An excellent quality in the lead keeps artists pleased with their performance across the board. The only negative is that the colors are quite bold and don’t offer muted colors for landscapes and portraits. During our testing, we loved all the color options and the easy mixing with water.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Magicfly Watercolor Pencils, 72 ct

What We Liked: For the Best Value, the Magicfly Watercolor Pencils, 72 count is the product. Not only does the kit offer 72 colors, but also two paint brushes and an excellent sharpener. You can take this complete set, on-the-go with you. As an added perk, they are made from recycled wood for an eco-friendly product.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Faber Castell Watercolor Pencil Set, 120 ct

Also Consider

Albrecht Durer 120 Watercolor Pencil Set Tin (Office Product)


List Price: $159.00 USD
New From: $159.00 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: If variety is what you’re after, look no further than the Faber Castell Watercolor Pencil Set, 120 count. This set is an excellent kit with outstanding ability to dissolve in the water, exposing vibrant gorgeous colors. In addition, they are extremely portable with the super convenient tin that has individual slots for each pencil.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Faber Castell Watercolor Pencil Set, 120 ct

Strong Contender

Albrecht Durer 120 Watercolor Pencil Set Tin (Office Product)


List Price: $159.00 USD
New From: $159.00 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: If variety is what you’re after, look no further than the Faber Castell Watercolor Pencil Set, 120 count. This set is an excellent kit with outstanding ability to dissolve in the water, exposing vibrant gorgeous colors. In addition, they are extremely portable with the super convenient tin that has individual slots for each pencil.

Our Expert Consultant

Amy Markham   
Artist and art educator

Artist and educator Amy Markham is the creator of Starling, a podcast dedicated to helping artists develop depth in their creative practice. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Amy has been an art educator since 2001. Today, she teaches middle school art at a school outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Her personal artwork explores myth-making and symbolic understandings. Through her brand, Starling Creative Living, she leads others to explore art production as a method for enriching their life experience.

Our Watercolor Pencil Buying Guide

Take your art to the next level with the best in art supplies. There is no better feeling than stocking your art bin with new, fresh supplies and starting on a new work of art. There are countless types of colored pencils to choose from but if you are looking for a watercolor effect, you’ll want the best watercolor pencils you can find to bring your project alive. There are multiple sets to choose from, but how do you know if you’re getting the best quality? There are a few factors to consider.

Watercolor pencils can give a similar finished product as watercolor paint. Although they look exactly the same, watercolor pencils are made differently than regular colored pencils. What makes watercolor pencils different from regular colored pencils is their ability to intensify color when they come in contact with water. This gives artists the same effect as watercolor paint. To better understand this, it’s essential to learn how watercolor pencils are made.

First, traditional colored pencils are most likely the tool artists start with when learning coloring techniques. What matters the most in the pencil is the medium and binder. The binder is an ingredient that holds the pigment together until it is transferred to the surface you are coloring. The binder is what will determine the type of paper you use with the pencils. So for traditional colored pencils, an oil binder or a wax-based binder is used. The wax base is most likely what you’re buying since oil is a bit rarer. Because of this, traditional colored pencils can be used on most paper types.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

So, what makes one package of traditional colored pencils better than another? The biggest indicator of the quality of a colored pencil is the ratio of the binder to the pigment. If the binder is too overwhelming for the pigments, the results will be a waxy finish that could potentially flake off the paper. When the binder is too small in comparison to the pigment, the colors will be extremely light when coloring. In addition, the quality of pigment used is a contributing factor to the overall quality of the colored pencil set.

One advantage of traditional colored pencils versus the other types is the ability to burnish. Burnishing is when an artist repeatedly colors over the same area, creating a build-up of the color. This makes the wax or oil binder build up to the point where the picture looks like it is painted. In addition, this technique allows artists to experiment with different solvents to achieve different results. Turpenoid, alcohol or a blender pencil can be used to get a painted appearance that you want. Just remember that traditional colored pencils are not water-soluble with their wax or oil binders.

Now that we know how a colored pencil is made and what influences their quality, we can look more in-depth at watercolor pencils. With a water-soluble binder mixed in the pigment, watercolor pencils produce a much different effect than traditional colored pencils. There are several ways to use watercolor pencils. You can use a brush to gently brush over the applied colors, you can dampen your paper and then add color, or you can dip the pencil in water before coloring. The pigment becomes brighter as it comes in contact with the water and creates an incredible blend of colors with one sweep of the pencil. Because of the use of water, you’ll want to make sure you use watercolor pencils on the right paper. The watercolor paper is usually a bit rough in texture and thicker to help absorb some of the water while not tearing. This is how you can get a watercolor paint result from watercolor pencils.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

There are a few benefits to using watercolor pencils. The first benefit is control. As arts expert Amy Markham, an artist and the creator of Starling, a podcast geared towards artists and their growth, says: “Watercolor pencils give you the control of drawing with the ability to diffuse the linework you create with water and create the effects of watercolor painting.”

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

In comparison to watercolor painting with a brush, most artists find better control with a pencil. The second is detail. Markham supports this by saying, “They are great for adding small details that are hard to create with a paintbrush. So, you can draw in thin lines and complex details over your watercolor paintings.”

With a nice sharpened watercolor pencil, you can get extremely fine details that would be difficult with a paintbrush. The third benefit is convenience. When you don’t have a lot of space, time or money, it is so much more convenient to pull out a set of watercolor pencils rather than set up with paints and brushes and easels. All you need for the watercolor pencils are water, a brush (if you so choose) and the paper. Even Markham concurs that they are quite “portable.”

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Now that you know how they are made and what makes them so useful, you can confidently shop for a great set of watercolor pencils. There are just a few sets that come highly recommended to get you started on your watercolor journey.

Check out the huge variety of colors in the Castle Art Supplies 72 Watercolor Pencils Set. This set has all the colors for blending and layering. They even come with a guarantee of full replacement or full reimbursement if they are not up to par.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

The Albrecht Durer 120 Watercolor Pencil Set Tin is a gorgeous collection of highly pigmented watercolor pencils. In addition, they are specially bonded to resist breaking. This set will give you a complete range of colors to create vibrant pictures for beautiful art.

With a simple set of just 24 pencils, ARTEZA Woodless Watercolor Pencils, is great for starters. With basic but essential colors in this small set, you’ll find all that you need for adult coloring books, beginner watercolor art and detailed drawings.

If you’re looking for a complete kit, the Magicfly Water Color Pencil Set comes with it all. With two fine-tip paintbrushes, a sharpener and 72 pencils, you will have it all. Plus, it is all organized in a durable, metal case for easy transport.

DWYM Fun Fact

Although there is evidence that the ancient Greeks had wax-based crayons, the first colored pencil did not enter the art scene until the 1800s. The German company, Staedtler, in 1834 created the colored, oil, pastel pencil. They were not readily used by artists until the 1900s by artists. In 1924 by Faber-Castell and Caran d’Ache placed colored pencils on the market for art purposes. They were followed by quite a few other names in the industry such as Progresso, Blick Studio, Derwent, Rembrandt and Lyra. Since then, colored pencils have been progressing with different medias and binders. That is where watercolor pencils come into the picture. As manufacturers discovered they could use different binders mixed with the pigments, watercolor pencils were born not long after the traditional colored pencils.

The Watercolor Pencil Tips and Advice

  • Always look for a good guarantee when buying online. You never know if they will come damaged or if they’ll be of poor quality.
  • Determine the best set for you depending on your skill level. Start with a smaller kit if you are just beginning out and a larger set if you’ve got some experience.
  • You can use quite a few things to add water to your watercolor pencil art including spray bottles, cotton swabs, spray bottles and toothbrushes even.
  • A good sharpener will make a world of difference, especially with the wooden watercolor pencils.

About The Author

Genevieve Nino
Genevieve Nino 

Genevieve Nino a professional writer located in the Topsail Island area of North Carolina. Her writing career started in 2014 as a travel writer. Since then, she has written in multiple niches including business reviews, parenting, hospitality and weddings. A few of the sites she has written for include Wedding Wire, The Knot, Go Banking Rates and Reservation Counter, just to name a few.