Best Colored Pencils for Realistic Drawing – Buying Guide

Colored pencils offer quality results and are fun and easy to use. The clean-up is minimal, and you will find great enjoyment with tasks like hatching, shading, cross-hatching, plus other advanced practices like rubbing and burnishing papers. However, with many brands available in the market, it can be quite confusing to determine the best colored pencils for realistic drawing that would suit your needs.

To ease the challenge of selecting the best colored pencils for realistic drawing, you should ultimately narrow your choice to your personal preferences. And to start with, our top choice in this buying guide is the Crayola Colored Pencils. These are a set of 50 vibrant colors that are durable, non-toxic, and great for kids. To give you more choices, below are other high-quality colored pencils you can choose from.

Our Favorite Best Colored Pencils for Realistic Drawing

Best Colored Pencils for Realistic Drawing Special Features

                                  Product                             Description
Crayola Colored Pencils  Ink color: Multicolored
Brand: Crayola
Material: Crayons
Measurements: 0.63 x 7.31 x 8.25 inches
Castle Art Supplies 72 Colored Pencils Set  Ink color: Multicolored
Brand: Castle Art Supplies
Material: Wood
Measurements: 8.31 x 7.87 x 1.18 inches
Amazon Basics Premium Colored Pencils  Ink color: Multicolored
Brand: Amazon Basics
Material: Wood
Measurements: 8.31 x 7.87 x 1.18 inches
Cool Bank 72 Professional Colored Artist Pencils  Ink color: multicolor
Brand: cool bank
Material: metal
Measurements: 11.73 x 8.46 x 2.24 inches
SKKSTATIONERY 50Pcs Colored Pencils  Ink color: multicolor
Brand: skkstationery
Material: wood
Measurements: 7.09 x 7.09 x 0.67 inches
Cezanne Professional Colored Pencil  Ink color: Multicolor
Brand: Creative Mark
Material: wood
Measurements: 7.09 x 3.94 x 0.71 inches
Deli 36 Pack Colored Pencils  Ink color: Multicolor
Brand: Leven
Material: Basswood
Measurements: 7.48 x 0.39 x 0.39 inches
Color More 160 Colored Pencils  Ink color: Multicolor
Brand: Color more
Material: metal
Measurements: 10.31 x 9.09 x 4.72 inches
Prismacolor Col-Erase Erasable 12 Count Colored Pencil  Ink color: Assorted
Brand: Prismacolor
Material: Wood
Measurements: 7.7 x 3.6 x 0.4 inches
ThEast 30 Pieces Rainbow Colored Pencils  Ink color: Blue
Brand: ThEast
Material: Wood
Measurements: ‎7.09 x 0.28 x 0.28 inches

What are Colored Pencils Made of?

With the different range of prices and quality of art pencils, there must be more that goes into creating a colored art pencil than just wood and lead, right? A colored pencil is an art medium built of a narrow pigmented core housed in a wooden cylindrical case. Unlike charcoal or graphite pencils, these art pencils are oil or wax-based with added quantities of additives, pigments, and biding agents. There are also water-soluble colored pencils manufactured for mechanical pencils.

Art pencils are available in varying quality and usability, from professional-grade to student-grade. Generally, the difference is notable in the pigments concentration and lightfastness in the core, durability, and softness. Subsequently, these are key in determining the quality and market price of colored pencils. You can also choose between oil-based, wax-based, and water-soluble colored art pencils.

Top 10 Best Colored Pencils for Realistic Drawing- Buying Guide

1. Crayola Colored Pencils

Discover these fantastic Crayola Colored Pencils for the soothing nature of your artwork. These best colored pencils for realistic drawing come in a pack of 50 colors featuring all shades you need for that calm, cool and colorful art.

Crayola Colored Pencils are durable and perfect for all ages. You can choose a variety of shades to experiment with as you shade, layer, or blend. And for efficiency, the pencils are pre-sharpened thus ready to use on the go. You can as well pair it with Crayola Adult Coloring Book purchased separately for that excellent bundled gift.

Key Features

  • Durability: These colored pencils are proven to last longer and are ideal for art projects, coloring books, and school assignments
  • Safe and Non-toxic: They are safe for use to all ages, most especially ages 12 and above
  • Versatility: They come in a pack of 50 rich colors with all shades an artist would need


  • Color: 50 Ct
  • Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Measurements: 0.63 x 7.31 x 8.25 inches


  • High-quality coloring
  • Very durable
  • Easy to use and sharpen


  • Some colors require more layering for a vivid look

2. Castle Art Supplies 72 Colored Pencils Set

Another high-quality colored pencil every artist would be delighted to have is this 72 pack set by castle art supplies. They are a perfect tool for all ages. Young users will delight in their ease of use as they put down the pigments effortlessly while advanced artists flow into a world of creativity and experimentation.

Get to grips with these colored art pencils designed with the needs of an artist in mind. Enjoy effortless blending, smooth cores, and quality basswood to keep breakages at bay.

Key Features

  • Soft and durable: The pencils are soft with a buttery core to avoid breakages and crumbling.
  • Tried, trusted and guaranteed: They are trusted for quality and reliability from worldwide analysis
  • Pre-sharpened and waxy lead: Ready to use on the go and blends easily thanks to the waxy lead


  • Color: multicolor
  • Weight: 1.14 pounds
  • Measurements: 8.31 x 7.87 x 1.18 inches


  • Excellent quality
  • They are soft and durable
  • Highly efficient with 72 colors


  • Color pinks are minimal

3. Amazon Basics Premium Colored Pencils

Advance your creativity to another level by exploring a variety of colors offered by these professional colored pencils by Amazon. They contain rich pigment and a soft lead for vivid and smooth application. Amazon Basics Premium Colored Pencils come in a tin case with a built-in tray for safe and organized storage. And for efficient exploration, the package is a set of 24 colored pencils ideal for putting down fine detail and shading and layering.

Key Features

  • Versatility: Offers versatile colors in 24 different shades for a better experience
  • Soft lead: This ensures artist-quality results, rich pigment and smooth application
  • Durability: the pencils contain thick cores to resist breakage, thus lasting long


  • Color: Red
  • Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Measurements: 8.46 x 0.55 x 7.52 inches


  • Highly affordable
  • Easy to organize
  • Vibrant pigments


  • Not the best for excessive layering

4. Cool Bank 72 Professional Colored Artist Pencils

These new and improved colored pencils come in a set of 72 artist-quality pencils for limitless creative freedom. Besides, the pencils are labeled and numbers for easy identification, and the pack is bundled up with an 8.3 by 11.7 inches drawing pad with 2×50 pages. Additionally, these best colored pencils for drawing feature a soft break-resistant core of lightfast pigment, thus not prone to fading. And for storage and safety, they come with a sturdy metal case in a stunning presentation.

Key Features

  • Sturdiness: The pencils have a thick oil-based lead coupled with a soft and break-resistant core. They also come in a sturdy metallic case for secure storage.
  • Efficiency: They are soft and grind smoothly on paper for vivid colors thanks to the rich pigment
  • Versatility: High-quality pencils in 72 shades plus a 2×50 page drawing pad measuring 8.3×11.7 inches.


  • Color: Multicolor
  • Weight: 3.08 pounds
  • Measurements: 11.73 x 8.46 x 2.24 inches


  • Sturdy metal case for storing
  • Vivid and rich pigment
  • Added size-adjustable sharpener rubber and drawing pad


  • Pencils may break sometimes

5. SKKSTATIONERY 50Pcs Colored Pencils

Another best quality colored pencils are these S K K stationery pencils that come in 50 vibrant and pre-sharpened pieces. You can choose to color books, sketch, create pictures, or make your art from scratch. SKKStationery 50 pcs colored pencils are a high-quality pack of lightfast pigment and more. And with a well-selected base wood, you can easily plus if you are not satisfied, a refund is guaranteed.

Key Features

  • Excellent quality: Rich pigments and lead for breakage resistant
  • Refund guarantee: You get a refund if the pack doesn’t satisfy you
  • Efficiency: They are made from quality wood for easy and clean sharpening


  • Color: 50 pcs
  • Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Measurements: 7.09 x 7.09 x 0.67 inches


  • Break-resistant materials
  • Rich pigment thus vivid colors
  • Easy to sharpen


  • The pencils are not labeled

6. Cezanne Professional Colored Pencil

Cezanne colored art pencils feature the best advances for vibrant results. They have excellent lightfastness to ensure you get a joyful drawing and coloring experience. The core comprises non-toxic pigments of soft wax, and the class-leading binders allow for smooth grinding on any drawing surface, leaving a rich color. Cezanne colored pencils are easy to sharpen with a lead diameter of 3.3mm. They are best in ensuring that artists achieve satisfying and superior results that are highly durable.

Key Features

  • Saturated pigment: this renders excellent layering, blending and shading abilities
  • Soft 3.3mm lead: it ensures easy and smooth color deposit on the drawing surface
  • Sturdiness: Made with high-quality hardwood and matte finish for easy sharpening and to resist breakage


  • Color: Multicolor
  • Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Measurements: 7.09 x 3.94 x 0.71 inches


  • Easy storage
  • Smooth, vivid and beautiful colors
  • Durable and easy to blend


  • Performance may vary from different surfaces

7. Deli 36 Pack Colored Pencils

This professional pack features 36 vibrant colored pencils, an integrated sharpener, and a hexangular design for easy grip and comfort. The pencils are encased in sturdy basswood and feature a soft and dense core for durability. They are break-resistance, and if dissatisfied, a refund is guaranteed.

Key Features

Versatility: A pack of 36 different shades to give the best experience

Efficiency: Easy to sharpen, plus it comes with a sharpener integrated with a cap

Hexangular Design: This ensures easy grip giving you more control over your design and keeping them from sliding


  • Color: Multicolor
  • Weight: 0.282 ounces
  • Measurements: 7.48 x 0.39 x 0.39 inches


  • No sliding troubles
  • Gain control of your work
  • Reliable added sharpener


  • Some colors are repeated

8. Color More 160 Colored Pencils

These best colored pencils for drawing are a pack of 160 vivid colors that offer the best conveniences. They come with 2 sharpeners; wood and metallic, 3 blending stump of different sizes, a kneaded and rubber eraser, 2 pencil extenders an art knife. More advantageously, a long-lasting nylon bag and sandpaper pencil pointers are included in the package for durability. Generally, these are a sure bet for every artist or student with versatile options and no toxicity detected.

Key Features

  • Convenience: Comes with a variety of accessories like sharpeners, erasers, blending stumps, etc
  • Reliability: Built with quality, soft lead for smooth deposit of pigment
  • Storage: They come in a durable nylon bag for more safety and easy storage


  • Color: 160 pcs
  • Weight: 3.23 pounds
  • Measurements: 10.31 x 9.09 x 4.72 inches


  • Variety of accessories
  • Highly durable
  • Soft and break-resistance cores


  • They are a bit pricy

9. Prismacolor Col-Erase Erasable 12 Count Colored Pencil

Evolve your art with vivid illustrations creations made by the powerful Prismacolor with an eraser. These colored art pencils come in a pack of 12 pieces with high-intensity pigmentation for smooth grinding on paper. They have a hardened core making them hard to break. Thus, they are ideal for animating, coloring, and illustrating.

Key Features

  • Efficiency: They come in a pack of 12 different color shades for a happy experience
  • Reliability: The pencils have a rubber at the top on each piece
  • Durability: features a hardened core for easy sharpening and longevity


  • Color: Assorted
  • Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Measurements: 7.7 x 3.6 x 0.4 inches


  • Integrated erasers for easy changes
  • Excellent vivid results
  • Durable core


  • The lead can be too thick for some sharpeners

10. ThEast 30 Pieces Rainbow Colored Pencils

The ThEast Rainbow professional colored pencils are a pack of 30 pencils, safe for use and built with wood for long-lasting ability. We have not detailed any other special colors like these as they are a blend of 4 colors in one piece (yellow, green, red, and blue). Though it’s not suitable for toddlers below 3 years, ThEast Rainbow ate non-toxic. They feature a length of 18cm so that you can use them for long, lined, and curved surfaces for that beautiful look.

Key Features

  • 4-n 1 colors: this features increases efficiency and reliability with one pencil bearing 4 colors
  • Durability: A good length of 18 cm thus long-lasting
  • Material: Built with wood to enhance its safety and easy sharpening


  • Color: 30 pcs rainbow colors
  • Weight: 5.3 ounces
  • Measurements: 7.09 x 0.28 x 0.28 inches


  • Rotate for easy color mixture
  • Very durable
  • High-quality results


  • They are all of the same colors

Best Colored Pencils for Realistic Drawing Buying Guide

pencil top table

Beyond the actual colors, there are many factors to keep in mind when selecting the best colored pencils for realistic drawing. Below are some top considerations to guide you as you shop for colored art pencils.


Choose between wax-based, oil-based, or water-soluble (watercolor). Wax-based colored pencils are the softest, and they provide intense color and are easy to blend and layer than other types. They, however, can break and may last less due to the softcore. Water-based colored pencils contain vegetable-based oils, are resistant to water, and require more pressure to deliver vivid colors than wax-based colored pencils. They, however, are harder and thus last longer. On the other hand, water-soluble colored pencils contain gum Arabic binder activated by water. You can use minus water for regular arts or with water for a perfect watercolor effect.

Experience Level

Colored pencils can be classified as student-grade or professional-grade based on quality and skill. While student-grade contains less pigment and more binder, professional-grade color pencils are the opposite. This means that you’ll need to put more effort with student-grade pencils to achieve the same color intensity as their counterparts. Generally, the latter is more affordable, durable, easier to blend, resistant to fading, and available in a wide range of colors.

Soft Versus Hard

When choosing the best colored pencil, please pay attention to the consistency of the pencil, whether it’s grouped as hard or soft. Your choice should be based on your skill level and preference. The texture of soft pencils ranges from creamy, smooth or grainy and is mostly preferred by professional artists as they blend well and layer easily. It is important to note that being soft, these pencils require frequent sharpening, are prone to breakage, and thus may not be durable in the long run.

On the other hand, hard colored pencils are ideal for smaller, more complex drawings as they can be sharpened to a fine and pointy tip. They are, however, not reliable for applying color and blend to drawings.

Color and Quality Range

The pigment and binders gauge the color quality of the art pencils. Generally, artistic pencils (professional-grade) contain higher color quality as their pigment concentration is high. And since color pencils don’t mix as easily as paint to form other hues, most brands come in a pack of various color ranges.

Some packages come in a set of more than 100 different colors. While some offer various colors, some shades may be very similar. A beginner artist may need a minimum of 24 colored pencils. However, when purchasing colors, a color chart should guide you in selecting different color options.


This refers to fade resistance and discoloration for the durability of your artwork. Most manufacturers use the ASTM international standard ratio in the range of 1 to 5, with a lower number meaning more lightfast. Others use their exclusive ratios, but the read is all similar.

Most professional-grade pencils are great in fade resistance. However, it’s important to evaluate each pencil since this can vary from one brand to another. Nevertheless, pink and purple colors are not as lightfast as other colors regardless of the brand.


You do not need many accessories for colored pencils. Sharpeners and erasers are key accessories you’ll need along with colored pencils. Although you can get them separately, some packages come with these included. A pencil case ensure easy portability, mobility, and secure storing of your colored pencils and comes in different materials such as canvas, metal tins, etc. And for sharpeners, you can choose between an electric one which is more reliable and quicker. However, you’ll need to dig deeper in your pockets than with manual sharpeners.

Nevertheless, manual sharpeners allow you to adjust the sharpness of your tip, thus giving you more control in your drawing. The same case applies to erasers; kneaded erasers are ideal for lightening your artwork, removing debris, or lifting smudges, while plastic or vinyl erasers are ideal for blending. On the other hand, electric erasers are best for actual erasing but can also be used in color blending.

How to Draw With Colored Pencils?

As much as colored pencils are a professional medium, they are more of an exciting medium with more capability to produce artwork resembling paintings. Below are the best tips on drawing with colored pencils to ensure the best results.

Use Professional or Artistic Pencils:

The success of your artwork is directly proportional to the quality of colored pencils you use. However, lower-quality pencils can favor you while on a tight budget; the quality can be frustrating in the long run. Ensure the pencils you are using offer excellent quality.

Use a Hand-Held Sharpener:

Most colored pencils are made with wax or oils. Generally, it can damage a sharpener and cause it not to function as the binder builds up in the sharpener. Thus, a simple sharpener is easy to use, maintain, and does the required job anyway.

The Drawing Surface:

Sometimes you may be in a rush to put down your creativity and forget to consider the drawing surface. Consider the texture (tooth) and tone of the paper, and get ready to lay down your art on paper.

Layer the Colors:

Mostly, you may have noticed that using a single layer of color in one place doesn’t produce satisfying results. In this case, ensure to add multiple layers of color as necessary. You can either use similar colors, related colors, or complete opposite options. After all, the colors blend so well, giving a natural appearance.

Mix the Colors:

The colors keep mixing as the layers continue to build. And since the mixed colors give a natural hue, you can keep mixing more appropriate colors. For instance, you can layer blue and yellow for a perfect natural green color.

Take Note of the Direction of the Strokes:

Just as brush strokes give an impression in painting, the same applies to colored pencils. This is especially important when the strokes create a perception of lines.

Develop Edges and Details Last:

Since these two can be overwhelming, we advise handling them as you finish layering. And since it’s easy to layer high-quality pencils, only ensure that the details are not to be put in areas of color.

Have Patience and Take Your Time:

Patience is a skill you must adapt to as an artist. With a slow and meticulous approach, you’ll surely succeed greatly.

How to Use Colored Pencils

Below are guides on how to use colored pencils that will help you shade like a pro.

  • Hold the pencil sideways so a larger part of the tip will be in contact with the drawing surface. This gives you enough control to lay a light base of color which you can layer to produce an excellent hue.
  • Practice by shading two different colors into one another. Shade with each color, from right to left and light to dark. Blend them seamlessly at the meeting point
  • Smoothen out the colors with a light or colorless blender and minimize the appearance of pencil strokes. This should give you more control over your work.
  • Avoid incorporating white and black when creating highlights and shadows, which can lead to a flat appearance. Dark blues, indigo and purple colors are ideal for richer shadows while yellow and pale golds are excellent for warmer highlights.
  • Blot, avoid rubbing with your eraser as it may leave you with a messed page. Rather, you can grind colors into the page or press a kneaded eraser on the area and peel it off carefully.


How to Realistically Color With Colored Pencils?

For a perfect realistic artwork, start by drawing a smooth base, add darker values then blend these values with base colors. You can then continue to darken the values as you layer the colors. Keep blending and layering until you finish drawing.

Are Colored Pencils Toxic?

Instead of graphite, lead is used as a pigment in colored pencils held together by wax, oil, or resin. Though these pigments are chemicals, they are generally non-toxic in pencil amounts and are easy to wash off if they stain your mouth or skin.

How do you Revive Old Colored Pencils?

To revive old colored pencils, you can warm in the sun or microwave, soak in water or water and alcohol solution, or you can store them on damp sponges.

Why do Artists Sharpen Pencils?

Sharpening pencils ensures a textual versatility ideal to shade and tone your artwork for the best shading effects. Sharpening pencils means cutting away the wood to get sharp and elongated graphite.

Does Soaking Colored Pencils Make them Better?

No, soaking colored pencils does not make them better. As a matter of fact, dry colored pencils offer more versatility, last longer, and give more control.

Can you Use Baby Oil to Blend Colored Pencils?

Yes. Get some cotton swabs and baby oil in a cap or small container. Rub it on the colored area to smoothen out the colored pencil strokes and watch the colors blend. Hold that cotton swab like a pencil and apply the same pressure as a colored pencil.


Selecting the best colored pencils for realistic drawing can be a daunting task, but not entirely impossible. Especially with our guide, we have made it easy for anyone having a challenge navigating the market full of different brands. Our detailed products are a selection of quality and performance. So, if you haven’t found an ideal choice, pick any product as all exceptional guarantee performance.

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