Since I started working with colored pencil on drafting film, I’ve heard many opinions about which pencils brands work best on film. I’ve heard that certain brands create lots of crumbs, other brands can’t be layered, even that some pencils “don’t work at all.”
Recently gifted with a couple of new sets of pencils and on the hunt for consensus, I posting this question in a Facebook group for colored pencil artists who work on drafting film:
What are your favorite pencils to use on drafting film?
Are some types of pencils more compatible with film than others?
I received a lot of responses and a treasure trove of information. A huge thank you to everyone who commented. Some folks said they liked Polychromos better, and at least an equal amount of folks said they prefer Prismacolor. There were a couple of other brands mentioned once or twice and someone else really likes using graphite. A few people had directly opposite experiences with the same brands.
This was puzzling, so I decided to do a little experiment of my own. I grabbed seven sets of pencils and did my own testing. And the results are below.
For each test, I created a rosebud from my Rose Crush Workshop, matching the colors as closely as I could across the sets. I also did a smear test, a layer test, and a burnishing test, using a Derwent Blender (the top performer from my blender test).
For the layering test, I used a fairly light pressure, slightly lighter than writing pressure, and built colors up from lightest to darkest. (It may be difficult to see the burnishing results, as these are subtle.)
Your results with these pencils may vary from mine, but this gives you some at-a-glance visual info on how these pencils perform in a head-to-head test. Click on the images below for larger versions.
Great test! Thank you, Rhonda. I generally mix up my pencil brands when working on film – looking for the correct colors more than your other characteristics. But, excellent information.→
Thanks, Karen! I’m really glad it’s useful for you… I wondered about this, so I figured others would too, and would want to see my results. I think this will also be helpful for folks who only use (or only have) one brand of pencil.→
This is great! Thank you!→
Thanks, Caryn! I’m really glad you found it useful!→