Customer Review

450 of 452 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They Chose the Right Name -- "Premier" -- When They Named These Pencils, April 18, 2010
This review is from: Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils, 72 Colored Pencils (Home)
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 different piece of artwork by examining luminosity, reflection, depth of color, and others). 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 now even 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 laydown 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
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.

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 point them up to a needle: 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 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 seems 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.
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 format of the Primscolors, allowing 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 in different manners), 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 editions of the Prismacolors seem to have addressed this, but don't count on getting those in the boxed sets anytime soon until existing stock is sold and replaced with new models.)
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; these also, as most other brands, have a nice finishing cap on the end of the pencil.)

Let me be clear. These minor quibbles all fall away once you get one of these in your hand an 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 still am extremely impressed with the best of the offerings Europe produces, but these Prismacolor pencils deserve to be counted right among them. If they ever addressed my 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 sizes of sets, 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 set.
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 6, 2011 7:40:18 AM PDT
I just heard today that you can fuse the broken leads by putting them in a microwave on high for 15 seconds. Haven't tried it yet, but one of my friends is taking a colored pencil class. This was recommended by her instructor.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2011 9:15:43 PM PST
B Webb says:
Awesome tip!! Thank you!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2012 5:13:57 AM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on May 3, 2012 12:43:29 PM PDT
jim winstead says:
Prismacolor pencils are not American-made, and have not been for quite some time. They are currently made in Mexico.

Posted on Aug 9, 2012 3:44:49 PM PDT
The 72 pencil set is sold in the wooden 2 tier case for slightly more than the Amazon sale price on dickblick.com.
I guess when Sanford runs out of their stock of USA pencils, we'll all have to make do with the Mexico production or switch brands eventually. This is my first time trying Prismacolor & after I hit submit on my order of the 72 pencil set I read the reviews about Mexico made. C'est la vie.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2012 9:18:02 AM PDT
this makes sense. If you look on yutube you can find a description of how these pencils are made and they do have a small amount of wax in them. So it just might work. I will have to try it.

Posted on May 3, 2013 3:50:26 PM PDT
Magdalena says:
Does anybody knows if these pencils replaced the SANFORD "Design Spectracolor" color pencils?

Posted on Nov 23, 2013 7:10:06 PM PST
Does this set come with a colorless blender pencil?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2013 8:57:16 AM PST
Ray says:
This is actually a great question! But, unfortunately, no, the colorless blender is not included in this set. In fact, I do not remember seeing the blender in any set, always showing up as a separate item. But because the price on these pencils is so inexpensive (in a relative sense to what you get for your money), it's probably not that big of an issue. Your blender, too, once you purchase it, should last a very long time, so you'll likely end up continuing to use it even after you've worked your way through the colored pencils themselves! I hope this information helps. -- Ray

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2013 11:31:01 AM PST
Ok thanks. Another question is do you know anything or have a preference on the difference between the blender pencils and the blender marker? Because when looking at the blender marker reviews it looks like people use that for both markers and colored pencils. Is one better than the other?
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