The best watercolour pencils you can buy!
Quick introduction …
Watercolour pencils help you combine paintings and drawing. They are sharp giving you the added ability to add intricate details which would be difficult to achieve using a brush alone and can therefore achieve fantastic results.
There are of course many brands to choose from, but I’ve taken a look from an artist’s perspective to help you narrow down the best watercolour pencils on the market.
If you’re a beginner at watercolour pencilling or a pro with many years under your belt, this guide will help you find the very best watercolour pencils for your artwork projects.
What is the best brand of watercolour pencils?
Below I have taken a look at some of the best brands we can find out there. I am constantly looking for quality products that stand the test of time and with my continued love for watercolour pencils, I wanted to share some of my research with you! If you’re interested in finding out more about art supplies, especially from a leading company like Derwent or Faber-Castell, we have guides written as reviews to help you gain an insight into what makes them great.
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Best watercolour pencils available to buy today … Top 10 best watercolour pencil sets.
1. Derwent Watercolour Pencils
About Derwent watercolour pencils
- 3.3mm Core
- Metal Tin
- 24 Pencils (available in other pack sizes too)
- Hexagonal 7mm barrel
- Colour names on the pencil
These watercolour pencils are undoubtedly one of the best brands of watercolour pencils for professional artists. Derwent watercolour pencils allow controlled control and a predictable outcome that you can rely on and be confident in using.
Derwent watercolour pencils offer bold, stunning colours. As a superb watercolour pencil that’s not too expensive, it’s a truly professional art tool. For colour-intensive work, this is often the first choice for working commercial artists and illustrators. Highly recommended!
2. Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils
- Faber castell Tin of 120 (other pack sizes available)
- Professional Artist quality
- Vivid colours including extensive shades
- Perfect for landscapes, portraits and design
- Produce unsurpassed watercolour effects
Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolour pencils cover with such ease and smoothness that even fully dry they immediately present incredibly rich, saturated colours. Wet or dry the pencils are incredibly controllable and the colours can be as wet and soft as you wish. The Faber Castell watercolour pencils offer a perfect finish excellent for expressive and precise detailed artwork and are in every way a high-quality product made using excellent quality materials.
The range of shades and colours in the 120 Coloured Pencil tin set is unbelievable and will certainly give your work the wow factor.
They are not the cheapest, but they are definitely one of the best watercolour pencils out there. Trusted by professional artists all over the world!
3. Magicfly Watercolour Pencils Set
- 72 Coloured Pencils Set
- Premier Soft Lead
- Includes 2 Brushes & Pencil Sharpener
- Metal Tin Case
- Watercolour Pencils for Adult Kids, Art Pencil Set for Colouring Books
Perfect for students and beginners (but in my opinion, not professionals) – these watercolour pencils are vibrant and don’t fade when dry.
The fact it comes as a set with two brushes and a pencil sharpener with a metal storage tin is a nice touch.
The colourful pencils blend well together and do not fade when dry. It’s ideal for students and beginners, really good quality and a range of colours in this range. The low price makes them great value too.
One drawback was that the lead was very soft and can break easily if not handled with care.
4. Staedtler Triangular Watercolour Pencils
- Staedtler Presharpened triangular shape Watercolour Pencils
- Ergonomic triangular barrels) watercolour pencil sets
- Box of 24 Triangular Coloured Pencils
- Create strong, distinct lines,
- smooth colour, along with soft washes and shades
- Beginners to a professional
This summer I have been using Staedtler’s water-soluble pencils for a number of my illustration projects. I am thoroughly impressed with how comfortable they are to use with the Triangular barrel. The watercolour pencils are perfect for achieving deep tones all the way through to delicate, translucent mist effects.
I can also use the water-soluble pencils watercolour effects with good quality paper or canvas without it damaging either material. This product is great for painters as well as hobbyists and crafters who want high-quality German products that work well.
5. Staedtler Karat Aquarell Workshop 60 Watercolour Pencils
- High-quality watercolour pencil
- For a wide range of creative effects when colouring, drawing or watercolouring with water and brush
- High blending quality
- Break-resistant lead
- Smooth, colour-intensive performance
Staedtler watercolour pencils are designed for both beginners and experts with intense colours that blend well. These come in a standard rectangle shape rather than triangular as the previous pencils from the same brand.
The Karat Aquarell watercolour pencils are high quality with a vast range of colours making it simple to create different effects when painting. These pencils blend well, stay intact, and don’t break easily when sharpening or drawing. These watercolour pencil sets are perfect for those who love using colour pencils but want to incorporate watercolours into their projects.
6. Arteza watercolour pencils
- Arteza Watercolour Pencils
- Sets of 48 or 72
- multi-coloured Art Drawing Pencils
- Bright Assorted Shades
- Colouring, Blending and Layering
- Watercolour Techniques
If you have read any of my other art product reviews, you’ll know I’m a fan of Areza materials for the quality and value for money. These watercolour pencils are no exception – I am very impressed with this set considering the price point. The colours are highly pigmented and they blend well, although I would say they are more student grade than professional.
The pencils easily paint on the paper and they don’t smudge when water is added to them. The only downside I would say was that there are not a lot of varying shade ranges but for most art projects, this may not be an issue.
If you’re looking for a high-quality set of watercolour pencils that won’t break the bank, this may well be perfect for you.
7. Cretacolor Watercolour Pencil Set
- Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Woodless Watercolour Pencil Set
- No wood to hold pencil lead
- 72-Colour Set
- Highly pigmented
- 7mm in diameter of pure coloured lead
- Easily sharpened
- Can be used dry or wet
These were great to try! Woodless barreled watercolour pencils are just that – pencils that are basically just a watercolour held together in a varnish. The varnish prevents the colour from being transferred onto the fingers. While firm enough to be sharpened the watercolour tip gives you wide options from the side edge to fine detail. They’re a bit like using watercolour wax crayons!
They are a great choice for any level of artist. The pencils are high quality and have excellent pigment. They also work great when they are wet or dry. This set also comes with many colours to choose from. I really love that there are 72-colours in the set.
The colours are bright and intense, but they don’t smudge or feather out too much when wet. I recommend these for anyone who would like to get into watercolour pencils, or even if you have been using them for a while and would like to try out a new type / woodless option.
8. Caran D’Ache Museum Aquarelle Watercolour Pencils
- 2 Sets – Landscape Set of 20 Colours & Marine set of 20
- Soft watercolour pencils
- Wet or dry coloured pencils
- 20 colours in each set
The Caran d’Ache Museum aquarelle watercolour pencils are both really great sets, with the shades being tailored to the type of artwork you intend on producing.
The pencils offer water-soluble, durable colours that were a pleasure to use. The landscape I was working on with these certainly benefited from the smooth and flowing transfer of pigment on paper. A great investment to my artist’s tool kit for sure – my colleague here at Big Red actually prefers these to the Faber Castell or Derwent sets.
9. Castle Art Supplies Watercolour Pencils Set
- By Castle Art Supplies
- 72 Watercolour Pencils Set
- Adults, Artists, Professionals
- Vibrant Colours
- Beautiful Blending Effects with Water
Castle Art Supplies watercolour pencils for artists offer lots of bold and beautiful colours which apply with remarkable smoothness and consistency, dry wet or dry. They’ll also feel great in the hand: strong, comfy, and of high quality.
I found that they lasted well and I was able to create some beautiful mixing effects with water to extend the colour palette. Blending with a brush or blender pen removed pencil marks well.
I really like how the pencils are organized, layered, and presented in a metal tin as well.
10. Winsor & Newton Studio Collection Artist Pencils
- Watercolour Pencils
- Set of 24
- Soft textured for easy blending wet or dry
- Highly pigmented colour,
- Excellent lightfastness
- Round, cedarwood barrel
- Break-resistant 3.7mm core that sharpens cleanly to a point
- dry colour or wet with a brush
I love Winsor and Newton watercolours and other art materials they produce, they are a firm favourite with my colleagues too. The quality of these pencils is comparable to other products from this company, which is always a good sign. Always reliable these watercolour pencils did not disappoint! The set has a good variety of colours for the price, including muted tones to more bright colours which are perfect if you’re looking for versatility.
Already a great price perfect for students, at the time of writing this set was on offer too, making them even more affordable and superb value for money.
Summary – best watercolour pencils
Best coloured pencils for sketching,
Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils are great for sketching. Whey can be applied lightly in layers to create the desired effect.
Best Watercolour Pencils For Beginners
All of the products above are perfect for beginners, reading the reviews for each will help you determine if the individual features and benefits for each are right for you. In particular, budget is usually a deciding factor for non-professionals as the final artwork may not be for sale and will not generate a profit covering the materials used.
Best value for money pencils
The Arteza series of watercolour pencils and the Winsor and Newton sets offer the best value for money. Affordable pencils whilst still offering a workable quality.
More Information About The Best Watercolour Pencils:
Watercolour pencil vs Watercolour paint
Are watercolour pencils better than watercolour paint?
In many ways, watercolour pencils are better than watercolour paints for a couple of reasons. The first is because they sharpen like regular pencils and come in various degrees of hardness so you have more control over the look of your art. Secondly, it’s easier to get clean and even lines with watercolour pencils.
Watercolour painting large areas however is typically easier with rational paints and brushes, so it depends on your project what you’ll find best to work with.
Every product has its own set of pros and cons so it really depends on your personal preferences when deciding what’s best for you! These are just some factors that may persuade you to stick with a particular medium or try something new 🙂
Top Tip: Don’t mix up a normal coloured pencil with a watercolour pencil!
Are watercolour pencils worth it?
Yes, watercolour pencils are worth it. Traditional watercolour paints are a difficult medium to work with. Using the best watercolour pencils lets you take your time and offers the ability to add more complex details than using a brush and watercolour paints alone. They also often offer the opportunity to layer and blend colours together with a blender pen such as the “Ecoline Brush Pen Blender”.
Best watercolour blender pen
So, in summary, I hope that this article helps you make your choice when it comes to the best pencils. If you have any questions at all, please get in touch and someone from our team will respond as soon as possible. Also, if you use other brands that aren’t mentioned in this article, and consider them the be the best watercolour pencils feel free to mention it – we always love to learn more!
If you love colouring with pencils as much as I do – why not take a look at the best oil based colour pencils here.
Written By Adam Rushton
Adam has made a name for himself in the illustration industry and is a passionate blogger and writer on the subject of art, illustration and graphic design.
His artwork has been featured in countless publications and used for very well-known media projects. As a professional illustrator for over 20 years, Adams media outlets, a wealth of knowledge, and experience enable him to consult and advise artists and illustrators in this country (from York and Manchester to Southampton and London) and all over the world.