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TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 18, 2010
There are many excellent colored pencil brands available today, with some of the premier labels being Caran D'Arche (Switzerland), Conté (France), Faber Castell (Germany), Talens (the Netherlands) and Koh-i-noor (Czech Republic). Each pencil brand has its own loyal following, and it is certainly true that the performance characteristics of each leaves a unique "signature" on paper (i.e., the experienced eye can sometimes tell which brand of pencil was used for a piece of artwork by examining luminosity, reflection, depth of color, and other characteristics). I have used all these brands myself, having brought back from Europe entire sets from various manufacturers, and often in different sub types ("artist," "student," and so on). Some also have added touches that really make a pencil set shine, including rounded triangular shafts with subtle inlaid grips, bonded coatings between the lead and the pencil wood to minimize lead shattering, and soft textured surfaces for improved gripping and comfort. Some sets are even now beginning to adhere to the lightfastness specifications as developed by the Colored Pencil Society of America.

So, what should we think about a set of American made colored pencils when they are competing with these premier brands, some of which have been in business for centuries? The answer might be surprising to hear. After using all these brands for an extended period of time, I can say that these Prismacolor "Premier" pencils easily hold their own against the world's best colored pencils.

What are the characteristics of the Prismacolor "Premier" pencils that make them so good?

1. Smooth, silky, and rich lay down of color
2. Little smearing, even when laying down dense patches of color
3. Ability to blend colors as needed
4. Wide range of available colors (now over 130 distinct colors)
5. Relatively inexpensive (by comparison to other premium brands)
6. Availability of the Prismacolor "Verithin" pencil sets, which duplicate the colors of the "Premier" line pencil by pencil (matched by color codes), but in an extremely hard lead that permits a high level of sharpening for detail work which will not quickly wear down (these are sold separately)

At first glance, it might seem that these Prisamacolor pencils are expensive, but when one reflects on the fact that some of the more "esoteric" (for lack of a better word) pencils can run upwards of $3 - $4 per pencil, the Prismacolors are nothing short of a bargain. (If you hunt long enough, you can even find the large set of 120 pencils that comes in a two-tiered wood case with lining to house your collection and you'll still be paying far less per pencil than other high end brands.)

But the proof is certainly in the putting. Get one of these in your hands, and lay down some color on a sheet of paper and see if you don't experience the very thing I am describing here. These are rich and smooth leads with an almost creamy feel. That's not to say you can sharpen them up to a needle point: you can, but you just must be careful not to press too much when doing so in order to keep the point from breaking. You can also use these in a duller point to lay down large swaths of rich, deep color. (Again, pairing this set up with the "Verithin" set, which uses a much harder lead, can be very helpful for detail work.)

Are these pencils perfect? No. There are a few issues, some minor, but nevertheless relevant for this review:

1. Lead shattering used to be an issue for the company. My first set had no less than 10% of the pencils shattered all the way down to the end, rendering all those colors useless. This is either manufacturing problems, or some improvement in the cases in which the pencils are transported and sold is required to further reduce shock from transport. It is an unacceptable result when purchasing a large pencil set. (The problem seems to have been addressed by 2013, since none of my newer sets have had this problem.)
2. Along those same lines, it would be wonderful if Prismacolor could look into a similar technology such as Staedler uses in its colored pencils, which is a coating of inner material between the lead and the wood to reduce breakage. I've never had a single Staedler pencil break on me yet. Not one.
3. The triangular shaped shafts of both the Faber Castell and Staedler pencils is, in my view, a superior design than the round-shaft format of the Primscolors, which allow for greater control and improved comfort.
4. The Prismacolors do not use any type of friction coating on the outside of the pencils to help improve grip. Both Staedler and Faber Castell do (and using slightly different approaches), and this adds immeasurably to their performance characteristics.
5. The printing on the shaft of the Prismacolor to identify color name and code can be almost illegible, with blurry, imprecise lettering. In some lighting conditions, the markings are nearly impossible to read. (The newest post-2102 editions of the Prismacolors seem to have addressed this issue.)
6. The Prismacolors are not "finished" on the end with any type of cap or closure, and the pencils also arrive unsharpened. (Compare the Faber Castells, which both come fully sharpened and are mounted in a manner that makes them resistant to any type of breakage during transport. The Faber Castells, too, as most other brands, have a nice finishing cap on one end of the pencil.)

Let me be clear. These minor quibbles all fall away once you get one of these Prismacolors in your hand and experience how they perform. These are simply a delight to use, and many artists swear by them. After using them myself, I can see why. I remain extremely impressed with the best of the pencils Europe produces, but these Prismacolor pencils deserve to be counted right among them. If they ever addressed all the minor quibbles above, they might vie for a role as a de facto standard with one or two of the other most expensive brands three times their price.

Five stars for performance. Five stars for price. Five stars for fun. And five stars for rich , creamy, deep color!

Note: Although these pencils come in many set sizes (i.e., 16, 32, 48, 72, 120, and 132 colors), I recommend the 72-color set. This gives you a wide range of colors, and does not run you into issues with the larger sets where you have multiple colors so close to one another you cannot easily see the difference. Of course, if you want the beautiful wood case, you'll need to get the 120-color set that is sold in the wood case (a bit difficult to find). But the 72-color set is for me a "sweet spot," and you can often get these on sale at terrific prices. And, I'm sorry to repeat myself, these are terrifically fun to use because of their lay down characteristics.
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on February 25, 2015
I purchased these on the advice of my botanical illustration instructor. They are not the colored pencils of your childhood! Soft cores allow the color to glide on smoothly -- I am using the recommended Bristol paper, but have had good results with regular drawing paper too. They are easily blendable. So far I have not had any issues sharpening them; unlike lower quality pencils, the Prismacolors don't tend to break as easily in a hand-held sharpener. However, other students who tried to use the classroom wall-mounted sharpener reported some breakage. Advice: Get a decent hand-held sharpener or two when you order.

I've added a photo of one of my first drawings done with the Prismacolor pencils.

I like them so much that I ordered the 48-color set.

Edit added 3-14-15: I like them so much that I now am the proud owner of the deluxe 150-pencil set. <bliss>
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on May 29, 2015
This is a great set. Prismacolors are worth the praise they always get. They are creamy and smooth. I've had no breakage and they come in a nice tin. I think they are vivid and blend very well. It comes with a good variety of colors for a 24 pencil set. I highly recommend these!
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on May 4, 2015
I bought these to use in my Enchanted Forest coloring book.

It's a beautiful coloring book so I wanted to get something that wouldn't bleed through (like markers) and would allow me to blend nicely and get great color payoff without having to press hard and dig into the paper.

I always hated Roseart and Crayola colored pencils. And hoenstly until 2 days ago I had no idea that better quality colored pencils existed. Seriously had no clue lmao.

I tried to look for cheaper options first. But every review I read for cheaper brands that were "knock offs" of this (stated by many reviewers) were very mixed and mostly bad when compared to these.

And no matter what brand I looked at it always came back to these! So I splurged and bought this. And boy am I happy I did!

Great color payoff, the colors are true to what they look like they'll be, and not a single pencil was "dull" in color. And they don't have that awful "shine" Crayola and Roseart get.
All of the colors are soft, but it seems the darkest colors in the bunch are the creamiest. The pencils come already sharpened and don't even get me started on the cute little tin case!

By far the nicest set of pencils I've ever seen!
Very VERY happy with this purchase and will GLADLY purchase again.
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on November 10, 2013
I used to draw all the time. Now as a mom of five I really don't have much free time, but I recently got some of the Dover adult coloring books to decompress at the end of the day. I remembered loving my Prismacolor colored pencils as a teen, and went back to them. I shopped around a little and watched the price fluctuate on Amazon for a bit before springing for them, since paying this much for colored pencils is kind of tough even though I already knew their value.

For richness and color selection, these can't be beat. They are miles ahead of Crayola. The only problem is if they get dropped, the lead breaks into a million pieces inside the pencil and as you sharpen it, the point just keeps breaking off. After spending the money on these, having that happen is a little heartbreaking. And with all these kids, it is a miracle they haven't gotten their hands on more than just a few. I caught my two year old using them as drumsticks.

As a bit of an aside, if you are a parent of a teen who loves to draw - my dad took me to an art supplies store when I was in high school and let me pick out a set of these and I still have several of them. The experience still stands out in my mind as one of my favorite things my dad did for me - he spent money on these really nice pencils because he knew it was what I was into. (I went on to become a nurse).

The lead crumbling in the pencil knocked it down a star, and if that could be fixed, these babies would be like Kryptonite.
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on September 18, 2015
I am 200% amazed by the outcomes of these great colors. They are very easy to blend and layer. When I first opens the box, the pencils looked so ordinary that I was a little sad. But after I used them to do some work, they surprised me. The colors are incomparable to those cheap pencils I used to have. It seems that the pencil itself knows how to read my mind, lol! It works with me!
I don't have any broken lead issues at all. It was sitting on the platform when I got home. It was very hot from the hot summer weather. I put it in fridge for like 5 minutes before using it. It consumes fast, though. I need to constantly sharp it to get the wanted details. The Prismacolor scholar pencil sharpener is what I use to sharpen it. It works perfectly.
Here, I added a picture of a black kitty I drew on an A4 size sketch book. It cost me a little more than half an inch of the black color pencil.
I will definetly buy a delux of 150 colors later when I have more pocket money.
All in all, 5 stars! Highly recommend it!
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on July 25, 2015
Great pencils! They go on very smoothly and have rich tones. They work well with the grownup coloring books. The color assortment is perfect for what I needed. I went for the set of 24 vs 12 since I wanted options, but didn't want too many options. Just right. It's worth noting that the colors represented in the product picture are not the ones actually in the set. I've attached picture of my set. There are 2 layers. The bottom layer is the same as the 12 pencil set and the top layer has some additional shades of those colors. It's a really nice assortment. They are pre-sharpened and ready to go, which is a plus. I also bought the Prismacolor Premier sharpener and am glad I did. No sharpening issues so far.
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on January 11, 2007
Bought these for my son as he is into art/shading/sketching. These pencils are top quality and hold up. The lead is so thick that it does not break like most other art pencils. Great Value too.
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on March 1, 2012
These pencils are smooth and made of durable solid wood. They are creamy in texture when they spread, and I like them a lot.
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on November 26, 2005
Prismacolor pencils are well-known for their range in rich colors and vibrant laydown, setting them apart from any other type of colored pencil.

I've tried them myself and I agree. The lead is wonderfully soft, and therefore makes blending colors and pushing them into one another an ease to do.

The downside is that the lead is a little too soft, and makes it harder to get the colors smooth (it's easier to do with Crayola because Crayola has harder lead). It can be done, however, and these are great pencils that especially go well with Prismacolor markers. :)
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