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The Best Watercolor Pencils - 2020

Last updated on October 19, 2020

We looked at the top 12 Watercolor Pencils and dug through the reviews from 24 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best Watercolor Pencils.

Best Watercolor Pencils

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Our Picks For The Top Watercolor Pencils

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  Best Overall

Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencil Set, 72-Count

Castle Art Supplies

Watercolor Pencil Set, 72-Count

Overall Take

Unbeatable QualityThis watercolor pencil set 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"
  Environmentally Friendly Pick

Crayola Watercolor Colored Pencils, 24-Count

Crayola

Watercolor Colored Pencils, 24-Count

Overall Take

Arrives Pre-SharpenedBold pictures are what you'll be able to create with this watercolor pencil set.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.
  For Artists On The Go

Staedtler Presharpened Ergonomic Watercolor Pencil Set, 12-Count

Staedtler

Ergonomic Watercolor Pencil Set, 12-Count

Overall Take

Lightweight and PortableEach of the watercolor pencils in this box are ergonomically designed to provide a good grip, while also preventing wrist fatigue.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.
  Budget Pick

Magicfly Watercolor Pencil Set, 72-Count

Magicfly

Watercolor Pencil Set, 72-Count

Overall Take

Most Bang For Your BuckYou won't regret spending the money on this, all-in-one watercolor pencil 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.
19

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the watercolor pencils available to purchase.
12

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, Createlet.

6,760

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including

Our experts reviewed the top 12 Watercolor Pencils and also dug through the reviews from 24 of the most popular review sites including 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 Pencil Set, 72-Count


Our Expert Score

9.7
4 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

9.6
359 user reviews

Our Take

Rated the Best Overall, this watercolor pencil 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 Pencil Set, 72-Count

Our Expert Score

8.9
3 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

8.6
362 user reviews

Our Take

For the Best Value, this watercolor pencil set 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

Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencil Set, 72-Count

1. Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencil Set, 72-Count

Overall Score: 9.7
Reviews Included: 5

Crayola Watercolor Colored Pencils, 24-Count

2. Crayola Watercolor Colored Pencils, 24-Count

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 1

Magicfly Watercolor Pencil Set, 72-Count

4. Magicfly Watercolor Pencil Set, 72-Count

Overall Score: 9.2
Reviews Included: 5

Derwent WaterColour Colored Pencils, 24 ct

5. Derwent WaterColour Colored Pencils, 24 ct

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 4

Ohuhu Water Coloring Brush Pens, 6 ct

6. Ohuhu Water Coloring Brush Pens, 6 ct

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 4

Faber Castell Watercolor Pencil Set, 120 ct

7. Faber Castell Watercolor Pencil Set, 120 ct

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 4

Arteza Woodless Watercolor Pencil Set, 24-Count

8. Arteza Woodless Watercolor Pencil Set, 24-Count

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 4

Fantasia Premium Watercolor Pencil Set, 36 ct

9. Fantasia Premium Watercolor Pencil Set, 36 ct

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 3

Coolbank Watercolor Pencils Set, 72 ct

10. Coolbank Watercolor Pencils Set, 72 ct

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 2

OOKU Watercolor Pencils Arist Set, 48 ct

11. OOKU Watercolor Pencils Arist Set, 48 ct

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 4

Colore Watercolor Pencils, 72 ct

12. Colore Watercolor Pencils, 72 ct

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 4

Our Watercolor Pencil Findings


Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencil Set, 72-Count

What We Liked: Rated the Best Overall, this watercolor pencil 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.


Crayola Watercolor Colored Pencils, 24-Count

Environmentally Friendly Pick

What We Liked: If caring for the environment is at the top of your priority list, you’ll want to go with these watercolor pencils. They are constructed from made from reforested wood and are free from any harmful toxins. Both children and adults will love the way these pencils add to shading and color-mixing techniques.


Staedtler Presharpened Ergonomic Watercolor Pencil Set, 12-Count

What We Liked: With this watercolor pencil set, you’ll feel like you’re actually painting a beautiful masterpiece. The tips are smooth and glide neatly over your canvas as you express your own unique creativity. Since the pencils on activate when they come in contact with water, you’ll have no trouble packing them for an art class or family road trip.


Magicfly Watercolor Pencil Set, 72-Count

What We Liked: For the Best Value, this watercolor pencil set 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.


Arteza Woodless Watercolor Pencil Set, 24-Count

What We Liked: This watercolor pencil set is a set that should surely be in your art supplies for its versatility. This set can be used for adult coloring books, watercolor paper art or even as a base layer for watercolor painting. Artists can count on vibrant hues, lightfastness and excellent control for finer detail work. During our testing, we loved the vibrant red hue and the spreadability of the color.

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

Look for a gorgeous collection of highly pigmented watercolor pencils. In addition, you want them to be specially bonded to resist breaking. This set will give you a complete range of colors to create vibrant pictures for beautiful art.

Beginners would do well with a simple set of just 24 pencils. With basic but essential colors, 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

  • 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.