7 best watercolor pencils: blur effect, which ones to buy, reviews


We get acquainted with colored pencils and watercolors in early childhood, when we recognize colors and try to translate our fantasies and ideas about this world into reality. Each of these artistic means has its own properties for color rendering, transparency, overlay, and so on.

But today in stores you can buy a hybrid, or rather, watercolor pencils. The truth is, it’s not always easy to make a choice. Therefore, in the rating, I will talk about popular sets and help you buy the best of them, focusing not only on price, but also on product quality.

Differences and features of watercolor pencils from colored pencils

In appearance, watercolor pencils are no different from their “colored counterpart”, but as soon as you blur the drawing with a wet brush, it becomes as if it was painted with paints. This main difference and feature is associated with the composition of the stylus, which is made from a special compressed pigment and binding components.

Several drawing techniques:

  • first with a pencil, and then with a wet brush according to the drawing;
  • first moisten the paper, and then draw with watercolor pencils;
  • draw a picture and completely moisten it with water;
  • pick up a pencil pigment on a wet brush and draw on paper.

The lead of watercolor pencils will never be hard, that is, there is no longer that scale of hardness and softness, like black lead or simple colored pencils. But at the same time, they can also be sharpened with a sharpener, erased with an eraser and combined in a drawing with pastel, ink and other types.

Another difference is an interesting property by which you can check the quality of the watercolor stylus. If you crumble a crumb of a colored pencil and rub it into the paper with your finger, you will get a colored field or haze. But with watercolor pencils, this cannot happen.

Many mistakenly believe that watercolor pencils can replace watercolor itself, but in fact they are different techniques and types of paints. They are more like a supplement. With their help, you can highlight some moments in a drawing made with paints or make patterns. And, of course, use it yourself to create your own masterpieces.

rating of watercolor pencils

Sonnet (81411436)

Educational series designed for students of art schools and schoolchildren. The lead is dryish and does not have impact resistance properties. In this regard, not very good indicators for blurring and softness, as there are traces of shading and, in some cases, furrows on paper. When sharpening, the rod may break and consumption increases. There is no white pencil in the set, which acts as a blender, that is, allowing you to mix colors. The palette itself is poor.

Sonnet (81411436)
Lead diameter (mm) 3
Number of colors 6, 12, 18, 24, 36
Frame hexagonal
Peculiarities training line
  • affordable price;
  • suitable for beginners;
  • you can choose several options according to the number of pencils in the set.
  • the rod is solid, so it is difficult to blur;
  • brightness suffers and sometimes there are dirty spots;
  • the rod is not impact-resistant and crumbles when sharpened.

I got carried away with anti-stress pictures and therefore bought a cheap Sonnet set. Almost immediately I became disillusioned with it. Pencils are hard and some even scratch the paper, and for richness of color you have to press directly. Water is difficult to blur and strokes remain. The appearance is also very cheap, somewhat reminiscent of the USSR.

There are two types of watercolor pencils: classic in a wooden “shirt” and monolithic. The second is a rod that has been dipped in varnish. Therefore, it is thick but fragile and not suitable for children. But it has a slow consumption and does not require sharpening.

GAMMA Lyceum (221118_05)

For more than 200 years, the Russian company GAMMA has been pleasing us with goods for creativity, both for children and for professional artists. Sets are available from 6 to 36 pieces. Each of them comes with a #4 pony round brush to wash out the color. More suitable for schoolchildren than students of the worst schools. This budget series has good blurring, softness, but the colors themselves are not juicy enough.

GAMMA Lyceum (221118_05)
Lead diameter (mm) 2.9
Number of colors 6, 12, 18, 24, 36
Frame hexagonal
Peculiarities with a brush
  • large sets;
  • a soft rod of normal thickness to display the drawing and do the shading;
  • acceptable price.
  • not bright enough.

Before that, I bought GAMMA products for creativity and therefore decided to purchase watercolor pencils. Moreover, the price is affordable. I’m not a pro, so the quality is quite satisfactory. It is easy to sharpen, the lead does not crumble and is soft, so no special efforts are needed when drawing. The only thing I note is that the brightness is not strong and the brush is only suitable for blurring, not for details.

Berlingo SuperSoft Fish (SSA1724)

Pencils have a triangular shape, which is very convenient for children. They immediately learn to place their fingers correctly and this reduces the load on the hand. At the top of the shirt there is a white field for writing the name of the child, so as not to lose pencils at school. In addition, there is a brush that can be used to make watercolor stains. They blur well, but sometimes there is a marriage in sets, that is, some pencils do not have the desired effect. The packaging is cardboard, consisting of two compartments with cells that can be pulled out separately. Sharpen easily and without peeling.

Berlingo SuperSoft Fish (SSA1724)
Lead diameter (mm) four
Number of colors 12, 18, 24, 36
Frame trihedral
Peculiarities there is a place for a signature
  • soft rod;
  • bright and saturated colors;
  • are easily blurred;
  • affordable.
  • marriage comes across.

Great set at a reasonable price. I got it for my son, but I also like to indulge in them myself. Blurred well and the colors are richer than conventional colored pencils. The stylus is thickened, which is also convenient for children’s creativity. Thoughtful packaging that extends into two tiers.

BRAUBERG Academy (181399)

A distinctive feature of Brauberg watercolor pencils is that their core is impact-resistant. That is, after the fall, it does not break, like many. The lead is soft and easy to sharpen. The wood fits snugly to the rod and securely holds it. Pigmentation is sufficient without unnecessary inclusions, so the palette is bright, and when shading, the colors are clean. Blurring performance is good. It is possible to make smooth transitions with a wet brush. Despite the fact that the set belongs to the economy class, it has good qualities.

BRAUBERG Academy (181399)
Lead diameter (mm) 3
Number of colors 6, 12, 18, 24, 36
Frame hexagonal
Peculiarities impact resistant
  • the palette is bright and saturated;
  • the stylus is soft and impact-resistant;
  • quickly eroded by water;
  • you can draw in different techniques.

I bought a child for school, as they asked me to buy a set of watercolor pencils for art. We tried to draw with them at home. We liked to soak them with a brush. But when you draw on wet, it seems that the drawing is made with felt-tip pens.

Watercolor pencils are good to use as a sketch for the main drawing. In this case, the colors of the lines are matched to the color of the main drawing. Thus, after applying the paint, even with a very thin layer, you will not see through the sketch.

STABILO Aquacolor (1624-3)

The German manufacturer produces watercolor pencils with two packaging options: classic cardboard and metal. The second is more expensive, but preferable, as it allows you to transport the set without damaging the stylus. The only thing is that there are no compartments in it so that the contents do not roll inside. The lacquer is water-based, and the watercolor pigments are only natural, which is safe for children and the environment. The body is made of precious wood with a soldered top, and the stem is impact resistant.

STABILO Aquacolor (1624-3)
Lead diameter (mm) 2.8
Number of colors 12, 18, 24, 36
Frame hexagonal
Peculiarities environmentally friendly
  • excellent watercolor effect;
  • bright palette;
  • two types of packaging for every taste;
  • impact rod.

I buy for the second time. Bought for my daughter for the first time and she is very happy with them. Constantly draws and uses the watercolor effect. Colors wash out easily and brightly. Bought for the second time for my friend’s son for his birthday. They also really liked the set. Yes, they are expensive, but it’s worth it, because the quality is really German at its best!

Expensive brands always have the opportunity to buy goods by the piece. This is convenient if some color is over or it is not in your set at all.

Bruno Visconti Aquarelle (30-0064)

The colors are quite juicy and match the lacquer finish. The shirt is made of linden and has a trihedral shape. It is convenient because the hand does not get tired and the fingers lie on the body correctly, which means you can calculate the pressure on the sheet of paper. The tip is soft and won’t scratch the paper. They blur well, but some colors are not very good, as hatching remains. Despite their shape, they sharpen easily. Packaging in the form of a metal box, which ensures the safety of the contents. This is especially important as watercolor lead is fragile.

Bruno Visconti Aquarelle (30-0064)
Lead diameter (mm) 3
Number of colors 12, 24, 36
Frame trihedral
Peculiarities linden body
  • metal packaging;
  • juicy palette;
  • good performance in softness and water washout.
  • high price;
  • Not all colors wash out completely with water.

I really like watercolor pencils and I have tried different brands. This one I liked the most. I bought it for my daughter, but I also like to draw myself. They have a comfortable trihedral shape and the hands do not get tired. They are easily sharpened with a regular sharpener. Vivid when used as a simple pencil, and with a watercolor effect.

In large stationery stores, there is always the opportunity to check out watercolor pencils. Ask the salesperson for a test kit and run both dry and wet tests.

KOH-I-NOOR Mondeluz (3719036001KZ)

The Czech company Kohinoor produces watercolor pencils in sets from 12 to 72 colors. They belong to the professional series, as they have excellent pigmentation and indicators for hiding power, mixing and blurring with water. You need to get used to such a pencil in order to draw accurately. But over time, they will give a pleasure from the process of drawing. They can work in different techniques and make soft transitions with a watercolor effect. The kit always comes with a sharpener and brushes No. 3, 8, 9. The shell is made of cedar, and the lacquer of the body matches the color of the stylus.

KOH-I-NOOR Mondeluz (3719036001KZ)
Lead diameter (mm) 3.8
Number of colors 36
Frame hexagonal
Peculiarities professional
  • very soft;
  • bright palette and excellent pigmentation, which does not lose its qualities when diluted with water;
  • many different shades;
  • comfortable shape.
  • The packaging is inconvenient and quickly becomes unusable.

Yes, these watercolor pencils are more expensive than their competitors. But here the quality is much higher, since they are for professionals, and not for children’s creativity. I can’t fault them, because they are good in all respects. The colors are bright, saturated, without gaps in shading. At the same time, all these qualities are preserved even when working “wet”.

If you do not have packaging, then the markings on its “shirt” will help determine the “watercolor” of the pencil. One of the meanings must be applied to it: a drop, a brush, the words Watercolor, Aquacolor or Aquarell.

How to choose the right watercolor pencils and related materials?

It does not matter at what age we draw and how professional we are, the main thing is that this process gives us pleasure. Colored watercolor pencils are available to everyone and with their help we can create a portrait, landscape, sketch and anything. It is important that the materials are of high quality, comfortable and do not distract us from the process, with some shortcomings.

When buying watercolor pencils, pay attention to the following nuances:

  1. Issue date and expiration date. Be sure to choose only fresh products. The fact is that watercolor pencils do not last long and their soft lead loses its properties over time.
  2. The type of packaging is paper and metal. If you often paint in the open air or want to take a set on the road, then it is better to choose the second option. It’s also good if each pencil has its own nest so as not to break the rod.
  3. The wood should be of high quality, not crumble when sharpening, and the chips can be removed easily. Also the form is important. For children, it is better to choose a triangular one, and for an adult — a six-sided one. The round shape does not allow the pencil to stay on the table and it can easily roll off, which means it will break.
  4. Ability to layer pigments. Professional kits allow you to shade up to 7 layers.
  5. The main properties of the brightness of the color and the softness of the stylus are best checked in the store.
  6. Fluidity should be good, that is, when the strokes are wet, they should smoothly form the effect of a watercolor paint and at the same time not be too transparent. And the blurring process itself should be easy and effortless.
  7. Light fastness is important only for professionals whose paintings hang on the wall for a long time. For children, this option is unnecessary.

When working with watercolor pencils, it is best to use paper with a density of 180-200 g / m2, for example, for watercolor or drawing. Thus, the sheet will retain its shape when wet. Also, get soft-bristled brushes of different sizes to work wet or wash out colors.

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