I'm like any other 'starving' artist around, always looking for the best products to help me create some of my best work. A few years ago I decided to explore colored pencil artwork and with the help of some very talented professional artists, I slowly began to gain an understanding of the techniques and the equipment necessary to make colored pencil work pop off the page.
One of the recommendations that I saw coming up time and again was the need to ensure that the pencil crayons you used where of high quality, good pigmentation, reasonable wax content but not so much so that you ended up with 'wax bloom', a waxy buildup that can quickly turn a vibrant piece of art into a filmy and dull one.
One final key to success in this field is to always have your pencils honed to the right sharpness. As I immersed myself into this area more I learned tricks of the trade as I went along and one that I learned was to have two sets of colored pencils...identical to one another, one sharpened to a crisp point, the other set dull or blunt tipped. Both are important for creating just the right depth of color and the proper level of pressure.
The pencil crayons that I started out with were the Prismacolor Scholars, an affordable range of student grade pencils suitable for most artwork that does not require top quality finishing but that you still want to have good results with. After using these pencils for a while, I decided that I wanted to splurge and get the Professional grade of this brand.
During a search of the local market in my area I found that to purchase these pencils here would cost me over $200 for the 120 pencil set that I was interested in at the time. If I wanted to have two sets on hand I had to be prepared to part with a serious amount of money and honestly, I don't believe I was at the level yet where I could even begin to justify spending that amount yet.
Granted the Professional grade of Prismacolor pencils are a definite step up from the Scholar version which is quickly evidenced by the fact that the professional crayons don't cast a wax bloom nearly as quickly as the Scholars are capable of doing. Although there are ways to remove the bloom reasonably effectively, I figured that if I was going to get into this art arena properly, I needed to make a decision. I decided to check out Ebay and scope out a deal.
Prismacolor pencils are a rainbow hue of colors and beyond and an artist can go silly with any number of color combinations they choose. The soft pencil lead lays down smoothly and blends beautifully particularly if you use the blending pencil that Prismacolor also offers. Blending of one or more colors can also easily be achieved by using blending stumps also known as tortillions which are basically just tightly rolled pointed pieces of paper. The Pencils are encased in a hardwood shell which sharpens quite easily and smoothly and allows you to put a very sharp point on the pencil, something that is extremely important to have, particularly when coloring on paper with a tooth (valleys and hills in the papers textural finish).
The professional set is light fast to a degree but for true archival quality your best bet is to go with the newer Premier line of Prismacolor which offers optimal color fastness. All of the Prismacolor pencils are developed with bright light resistant pigments and the formulation allows for these pencils to wear slowly and retain their color on paper or other materials very well.
Although the Prismacolor line of pencils can be expensive, the money spent to purchase quality supplies will definitely show through in your finished works. Prismacolor pencils can achieve incredible levels of richness and the ability to produce realistic and stunning art pieces is as close as your next color choice.
I currently own not one but four sets of the Prismacolor pencils and these combined with other pencil sets such as the Verithins and Water solubles, allow me to create work that is every bit as rich and lasting as any of the painted pieces I choose to do.
Artists tend to favor products that they've practiced with and learned to understand and appreciate. Such is the case with Prismacolor which is a name synonomous with quality and color selection. I'd recommend the Prismacolor Professional crayons to anyone whether just starting out in this field or already practicing and honing their skills using other pencils and who may be looking for yet another reason to take in all the art supplies at the local art supply store. Or am I the only one who can spend hours in those places!