In this article, you’ll find simple to understand, visual charts of some major brands of colored pencils. I use them to reference not only my colors but also my purchase decisions. I buy colored pencils as open stock, which means that most colored pencils are sold individually. This saves me time and money because I don’t buy the fugitive colors, which fade and even disappear off of the paper pretty quickly. I wanted to have a simple, visual database of color charts for a quick access to make a decision on the go, so here we are!
What can be confusing about reading the lightfastness charts of colored pencils is the star rating itself. There’s is no unity in lightfastness presentation. Some brands use a 1-star rating to show that their colored pencils have excellent lightfastness (100+years), while other brands use the same 1-star rating to rate their worst or fugitive colors. So you must pay attention to the lightfastness rating of each brand, to get correct reading of their lightfastness charts.
Lightfastness is the ability of colors to withstand strong UV light over a prolonged time frame. Usually colors that have excellent rating are not supposed to fade for 100+years. Fugitive colors can fade within very few years that I saw myself happening when I began drawing with Prismacolor. I didn’t care about the lightfastness back then. I was a beginner student and my only priority was to learn how to draw, not being consumed by the analysis paralysis. It matters a lot to me now as I sell my art. Of course, this decision comes at a considerable cost upgrading my art supplies to the best performing colored pencils. So it depends at what point of learning you’re and how big your budget is. Just because you switch to very expensive pencils, it won’t help you become an excellent draftsman overnight. At the same time quality of colored pencils does matter a lot in art creation. Cheap, low-quality colored pencils don’t have the color saturation and softness necessary to create consistent shading.
I requested the charts from the manufacturers. Most of them sent the pdf files out, which I think is inconvenient to look up the colors on the go. So I took the liberty to modify the charts and convert them to simple jpg files.
Faber-Castell Polychromos Artist Color Pencils (Germany)
102 of 120 Polychromos Colors have the *** designation | *** = Maximum Lightfastness. Maximum Fade Resistance of 100+ years
Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens lightfastness chart (Germany)
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils (the USA)
Lightfastness rating system: I-excellent, II-very good, III-good, IV-fair, V-poor
Caran d’Ache Luminance Colored Pencils (Switzerland)
Luminance has I & II lightfastness rating with most pencils having LF I.
Caran d’Ache Pablo Colored Pencils (Switzerland)
***Excellent lightfastness, **very good, *good.
Derwent Coloursoft Colored Pencils (UK)
Lightfastness rating: 6-good, 7-very good, 8-excellent | 6-8 won’t fade for 100+ years.
Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils (UK)
Lightfastness rating: 1 & 2, won’t fade for up to 100 years.
Derwent Artists Colored Pencils (UK)
Lightfastness rating: 3-fair, 4-moderate, 5-good, 6-very good, 7-8 excellent
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