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The Top 5 Inexpensive Colored Pencils for the Non-Artist

Samantha Wranosky

Posted on August 02 2017

The Top 5 Inexpensive Colored Pencils for the Non-Artist



I’m asked all the time about the best tools to use to color my Baby’s First ABC Coloring Book Baby Shower Activity and Personalized Coloring Sheets. Though I’ve used Copic Markers for some of my work and yes, they are amazing, I realize that Colored Pencils are a much more practical and economical for a baby shower activity (unless you know someone you can borrow Copic markers from!). Colored pencils blend nicely and you can color more accurately than using Crayons. I really enjoy using them but I’ve come to the realization that not every colored pencil is the same!

There are more colored pencil brands than I can count and there are some very pricey options out there but I chose to focus my research on some of the best inexpensive options out there.

If you sit down and start to test some different colored pencil brands, there’s several factors you will quickly begin to notice:

  1. Are they brittle?
    Some colored pencils are prone to breaking easily and often come from the store with a few broken tips already.

  2. Color Variety
    You would think the color availability was pretty standard but there’s lots of variations when it comes down to it.

  3. Color Vibrancy
    So many colored pencils just don’t leave much of a color on the paper.

  4. Fun Factor
    If you don’t find yourself pressing too hard to get a good vibrant color, you realize it’s just plain more fun to color. Colors blend nicely and you can go to town.



So let’s dive right into my list. I was an Art major in college and still utilize my 72-pack of Prismacolor Pencils. They are great colored pencils and through this research, I’ve realized how much I really do love them. Plus, I found that Prismacolor has a great beginner option that is reasonably priced! Prismacolor Scholar (Choice 1) is hands-down my top choice for vibrant colors that are blendable with a good range of color options. You can get a 24-pack for under $10 or better yet a 48-pack for under $15. The colors will last and look great for years to come. So my love for Prismacolor remained and wasn’t a surprise.


I’d like to have a secondary option that I can wholeheartedly recommend but alas, I wasn’t thrilled with the other options. I found that with Prismacolor, it’s easy to color--you don’t have to press too hard and the colors still look vibrant. With most other colored pencils, you generally have to press harder as you color or color over the same spot several times. But, I know everyone isn’t an artist and necessarily needs to invest in some nicer colored pencils, so on with my other recommendations.


For a mid-price option I chose: Artist’s Loft Colored Pencils (Choice 2). The color is vibrant and they blend nicely. They are a bit brittle, though. Upon opening the package, a couple of the pencils had lost the tip of their lead but I vote them good enough for a baby shower activity or for kids.

Crayola Colored Pencils and Target’s Up and Up Brand Colored Pencils (Choice 3 & 4) ended up being too close to call. The 12-packs have the same colors--some colors better than others. I preferred the reds and blues with Up and Up, but the greens were better with Crayola. Overall they are an acceptable choice if you want to keep cost to a minimum. Cra-Z-Art (Choice 5) is of a similar level but instead of a white pencil, the 12-pack comes with a hot pink pencil. When back to school rolls around, I’d be willing to purchase whichever is most cost-effective for my kids at that time.


Brands I found were not worth it and are headed back to the store: Crayola Erasable, Creatology, Prang, Rose Art, and Staedtler. Colors weren’t vibrant enough, pencils were too scratchy or too mushy and just plain not-so-fun to color with. I think overall, skip erasable colored pencils. They just don’t color as nicely and though you can erase them, sort of, the final product just isn’t as nice.

Crayola Twistables are a good crayon/colored pencil mix that has some nice, vibrant colors. You don’t quite have as much accuracy as colored pencils but they have nice vibrant crayon colors.

So you want someone to just tell you what to get? Buy PRISMACOLOR Scholar and call it a day. If you are buying them for a Baby Shower coloring activity and don’t need to keep them, you could consider gifting them to the mom-to-be. Her baby will be a young child before you can blink! Another bonus with Prismacolor: a nude skin color comes even in their 12-count package--great for my personalized coloring sheet! Not something you’ll find with Crayola, Up and Up, or Cra-Z-Art 12-count packages. I did find, however, find Multicultural Crayola Colored Pencils with several skin tones which could be a nice add-on to any set.

There are so many other brands out there that I didn’t get to review. Let me know which brands I should check out next or which ones I should steer clear from.


P.S. When you sign up for our VIP Community, you get these FREE COLORING SHEETS along with access to our library of free printables! Great for a Baby Shower or just a Children’s coloring activity! (Coloring Sheets include: “I’m a Big Sister,” “I’m a Big Brother,” and “B is for Baby,” illustrated by yours truly!)

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