The old and well-known German brand
Polychromos has a 3,8 mm lead. It is round.
The names are written in reflective gold and very small which makes it difficult to read, but the color are also represented on the whole pencil and are quite accurate so that is a great help to pick the right color.
|Faber-Castell wooden case|
They are easy to sharpen to a fine point, which holds for a long time (compared to other brands), which is typical for an oil-based pencil. Some colors are on the harder side but others are softer.
They are not the most opaque colors, even though some can be more than others (like the permanent green, which is quite opaque) but I would not recommend Polychromos for use on black paper. They don't crumble as so many other brands do. You don't risk getting the crumble all over the paper and ending up on places that you did not intend.
The names are mostly too similar to each other, which can make it difficult to remember which one you have used. You have a cobalt blue, a cobalt blue greenish, a cobalt turquoise and cobalt green (and a light cobalt turquoise and deep cobalt green…). It can be quite confusing!
You also have a lot of colors where they have a light version of one color, like the light phthalo green, a dark phthalo green and of course a phthalo green as an example. This might be handy if you are unsure of which colors you think could work together.
I appreciate that Polychromos uses so many traditional color names, however, some names are not used the way I am accustomed to. Most disturbing is the Alizarin crimson that are far too red in my opinion.
Not so traditional names are the three different flesh colors. I saw a YouTube film where a woman commented on the fact that they actually call it flesh. Skin can of course be of so many colors. Also it is a little bit corny.
|Faber-Castell have changed|
the names on the colors
I have noticed how Faber-Castell Polychromos has become more and more common in the states. From a time when all you heard about (from the states) was Prismacolor, Polychromos seems to take over a bit. Most talk about Polychromos like a heaven sent gift. For me, who lives in Sweden, art supplies from Faber-Castell is in no way exacting. They are (together with some other European brands) very common and have been as far as I can remember. This might affect me, but I think their color range is a bit boring. Don't get me wrong, I also think it is among the best set to start with because you will have a great variety of basic colors. The set is more concentrated on vibrant primary and secondary colors and less on earth and grey colors. You can read more about this in my comparison between Polychromos and Caran d’ache Pablo article. Something very good about the set (of 120) is that there are few colors I think are too close in hue. Most sets can irritate me because they always have colors that are a waste. There are a couple of green (phtahlo green and chrome oxide green fiery are a bit too close, I think), reds, orange and violet that are a bit too similar. And I always think there are too many yellow that looks alike. But compared to other brands I think Polychromos are giving a good variety. I only wish there would be a couple of more exiting colors.
The greys are in few hues; they have chosen to give us one hue in many values (warm grey from one to six and cool greys from one to six) instead of many hues of grey.
Hard and soft
Polychromos is on the harder side compared to other brands, but let me phrase it like this: for a hard pencil, it is very soft ☺. Because the lead is a bit harder, the Polychromos last very long. It took some time before I had to replace a color. The two first ones where Earth green yellowish and Burnt ochre, mostly because I worked on a larger piece that required these two colors.
The lightfastness that Faber-Castell has on their pencils (in one to three stars system) are not comparable with the CPSA lightfastness. Of the 29 colors that CPSA have ranked as, let just call it what it is, bad, two are discounted. That leaves us with 27 colors, among which 17 of them are ranked with three stars by Faber-Castell! I hesitate for years to be a member because I felt it was a lot of money (and you have to pay more if you are not from the States), but I am so glad I joined them. I trust CPSA, but the test is almost twenty years old, so that is something to keep in mind.
84 of the 120 set are lightfast according to CPSA.
Read about a comparison between Polychromos and Caran d’ache Pablo here: http://markersguild.blogspot.se/2016/04/a-comparison-between-pablo-and.html