Holbein artists´colored pencils

The pencils
Holbein colored pencil
This a nice looking pencil, that reminds me a lot of the Polychromos from Faber-Castell. They are round, and the color is represented on the whole pencil. The lead is 3,8 mm. They are manufactured in Japan.

Holbein colored pencils is an oil-based pencil. They are quite translucent and they are not the softest pencils I have, neither the hardest.  They are good quality pencils with no breaking or crumbling. 

Different colors
Holbein colored pencils are available in 150 colors. I own 100 of them and can therefore not say so much about the full color range. But I can say that of all the colored pencils I own and know this is (together with Prismacolor) one of the brands that offer a bit different colors.  If you own a set already but want more colors this can be a brand to look into.
Some color testing
                      They have a wonderful soft white, that is the softest and most opaque white there is. They also offer a harder white. The set I have, includes a lot of pastel and light colors (which isn’t so common). It also includes gold, pale gold, silver and copper, as well as some neon colors.
                      The first color that I had to replace where, of course, the soft white. 

The most beautiful
Of all the wooden boxes I own or have seen, this is the most beautiful and exclusive looking one. It really has a classic look with a drawer (two drawers if you buy the 150 set).  The tray inside, that holds the pencils, is surprisingly cheap though; it is made of soft plastic.

Holbein Artists´ Colored pencils wooden case
If you live in Europe Holbein is only availably in sets. The smallest set is some different 12 sets and from that you can go up to the 150 set.
They have this very nice soft white (as I have mentioned), which is the softest and creamiest colored pencils I have ever hold in my hand, but you know a soft pencil like that will without a doubt run out first. And yet, Holbein chooses to only incorporate this pencil in there larger sets. If you need to buy a new one, you can only get it from the 50 set or above. The different 12 sets only include the other white. That is just wrong!

The lightfastness
One star, two stars and three stars lightfastness shown on the pencils
When I got the 100 set I felt that hundred pencils is enough. Most brands don´t even have hundred colors. The problem with this set is that if you are only using the lightfast pencils (the tree stars, that they them self has marked as lightfast) you only have 51 to your disposal. 39 have two stars and 6 have one star (and the four luminous doesn’t have any star at all). The lightfastness rating is Holbeins own rating. 

The meltz
With the pencils follow also a so-called Meltz, which is basically paint thinner. I did a small testing and compared it to a Swedish brand called Färgriket (the product is called förtunning), the differences where quite huge. Meltz run out and didn't dissolve the pencil as well as the Förtuning from Färgriket did. However the meltz are lasting, you don't need much. Also, I want to point out that Holbein is the only company I know of that offer this kind of product.

Holbein color pencil

Meltz vs. färgförtunning

Holbein colors chart one from the 100 set

Holbein colors chart two from the 100 set

Holbein colors chart three from the 100 set:  the luminous, gold and grey´s

12 kommentarer:

  1. Hello Karin,

    Thanks for reviewing Holbein colored pencils! It is hard to find much information about them, nevermind color swatches.

    Do you have a high resolution version of the color testing photo above? I am interested in seeing the colors you swatched, but I have a hard time seeing the details and reading it.

    Is the lamp black softer, darker, and more opaque than the regular black?

    If you have more of the unsual colors, like all the pastel colors, I would totally appreciate it if you could share swatches of them!

    Have you found Holbein color pencils to be lightfast (under what conditions?)?

    Many thanks!


  2. Hi! I have updated the post with color swatches for all the colors I have. I hope they are at a better resolution, please let me know if they are not! The difference between the blacks are very subtle. They feel about the same but have a small hue difference: Lampblack is a bit colder than "black". I am currently testing the Holbein, but I will let you know my conclusions. I just finish my lightfastness test on Pablos. Hope that helps and thank you for reading my blogg.

  3. Hi Karin,
    I agree with Svara it's hard to find much information, and I live in the USA, on these pencils though the past few months I think more people here are "discovering". The 150 set is definitely my next purchase, or should I say investment. They are very expensive and hard to find in the states. Also they are being found more, online only, at EBay and now Amazon. I recently viewed, on YouTube sorry I don't remember the link, a professional artist say her top 3 color pencil sets were Prismacolor, Polychromos, and Holbein being the best she ever used. Thanks again for the swatches, I can't wait to get the 150 set! I just found your blog and look forward to catching up and reading your previous post. Thanks again

    1. I am so glad you found it helpful! It is an investment especially if you want the wooden box. I have to say, it is so unnecessary thing to have but so beautiful. Good luck with your purchase and hope you find a good deal. In Sweden (were I live) Prismacolors have been so hard to find and expensive but I gave it some time and one day I got lucky. Thank you for reading my blog!

    2. Well I did it! I got the 150 set in the wooden box and I couldn't be happier I really love them. As you mentioned above they are hard,but not to hard, and blend beautifully. There are so many beautiful colors, some you don't find in other sets. Now I've been searching for the English translation to the insert that came in the box which is written in Japanese, I think?, I don't speak, read, or write it. If you happen to come across the translation I'd love to hear from you. Thanks

    3. That is great! I am so happy for you! Except for having good pencils, the wooden box in it self is a joy I think! I am not sure where I have the insert but as soon as I find it I will let my husband take a look. He is by no mean an expert, but he studies Japanese. Again, so nice with the 150 set! It would be nice to see something you create with them!

  4. Hi Karin,

    First of all I want to thank you for this review. pretty much the only one in English I could find. I want to try a few pencils (definitely some of the pastel, soft white & the 2 blacks ) & just want to ask if there are any other unique colours worth getting that cannot be found in other brands (polychromos, pablos, lyra & luminance)? Owing several different full sets i cannot justify buying another full one but have the opportunity to get single pencils through a friend who will be travelling to Japan soon & just have to get my list ready. Also same question for the mitsubishi pericia, any unique colours?

    Thanks Keia.

    1. Hi Kela, I am so happy you found my review helpful. It is always a bit of a struggle for me to write in English (I am from Sweden).

      First of all I would highly recommend you to purchase a few of the soft white. It is a wonderful pencil but it runs out very quick.

      Some colors that are not available in any of the brands that I have are: Horizon blue, Porcelain blue, turquoise blue (close but not a exact match to Prismacolors Mediterranean blue), Surf green (a perfect name for the color), Beige, Mustard (not the most beautiful color, but can be good for gold) and khaki.

      I don´t think that any of the Pericia are unique in color but the feel of them are! My favorite color is Brick red.

      Hope that helps and thank you for reading my blog!

  5. Hi Karin

    Thanks for your reply. All added to my list. Took your advice to heart & ordered 12 white ones which will hopefully keep me going going for a while. Also I would love to see more of your work on YouTube & hopefully bit longer clips. It's always such a pleasure to watch & it actually makes me want to practice more. You are really so talented. Thanks again.

    1. Thank you so much Keia, it is so nice to hear from someone that watch my videos (it isn´t so many ☺), I am planning to do some reviews (not only speed drawings) in the future on my channel. I probable start with my marker collection thought. But I will come to colored pencils as well I hope. I love but mediums. Hope you will be happy with your Holbein. It would be nice to hear your opinion about them!

  6. Hello Karin,
    I’ve noticed people from other countries might have a difficult time getting hold of the Holbein individual colored pencils (open stock). I've just started a service where I purchase these colored pencils here in Japan and ship overseas. I want to ask if you’ll be interested in running a giveaway to one of your lucky readers, where I’ll ship 3 individual Holbein colored pencils (from the 150 set).

    You can find details about my service here.


    I look forward to your reply. Thank you!

    - Kim

    1. Hi Kim, that is just great! I think a lot of people would be very happy to know that they can buy Holbein open stock! I know I am! Perhaps the best way for a give away is that the first to order from you (that found you hear) could receive three for free? What do you think about that? Either way I am very happy to include a link to your website hear on my blogg if you want to?