The famous American wax-based colored pencils
The pencils are round and the color of the pencil is represented on the entire pencil, which is good because the text can be difficult to read.
|Old and new Prismacolor colors|
I have some old pencils and when I compare them to the new one (with the same number) they sometimes differ in color hue. So there is some inconsistence in the line over the year.
Prismacolor also offers the same product in art stix form, which comes in 48 colors. Prismacolor also has the verithin line, a hard pencil for details (comes in 36 colors), which is a unique and clever idea to offer a pencil that is the opposite of their softcore. They also have a colorless blender.
|Prismacolor, old and new|
Prismacolor, the legend
In Sweden, where I live, we have a lot of different brands from Europe, which produces good quality colored pencils, but we have not, until recently (2015), have any stores that offers Prismacolor. From my point of view it seemed as every American book or blog used a = between colored pencils and Prismacolor. Naturally I became very curious about them. I bought my first set (a 24 set) through Ebay I believe. I hated them. The famous (infamous) breakings of the lead draw me mad. I felt that I had hardly used some colors but had noting but a stump left. However, the years past and after using many other brands I did feel that Prismacolor had a bit of a own characteristic so I started use them again, but this time I only sharpened them with either a mechanical sharpener or the amazing German sharpener from Dux. Nowadays I haven’t any problem at all with the breaking and I am a happy owner of the whole 150 set.
Sharpener makes the quality
|Sharpener from Dux|
The sharpener from Dux are very high quality and extremely sharp. They have this old fashion look and are heavy in your hand. You can change blade when they go blunt. When you use it the leftover will come out in an unbroken chain of smooth wood. You can choose between three edges by rotating a small wheel on the side. The number one gives a perfect long point, perfect for details.
I really haven’t had any problems with my Prismacolor since I bought this sharpener (you can find them on Cult pens among other places).
I don´t think that Prismacolor Premier is as glamorous as other brands. You recognize the pencil on the end of it, where you can see the core instead of covering it with paint as most brands do. This makes the pencil look a bit simple compare to other brands. Most brands offer their product in beautiful wooden boxes. But there is no wooden box set to buy for the Prismacolors (as far as I know). The paper box for the 150 set is ok, but the plastic hold for the pencils are so soft and weak that it is sometimes difficult to move them around (which you have to do because they are stacked on each other).
Prismacolor is a soft and buttery, creamy pencil. It crumbles not so much. The colors (the pigment) have of course a bit different feel to them. Some are a bit harder than others, but on the whole scale they are among (if not the) most creamy one. They are an excellent choice if you want to draw on a colored paper. Even on black paper they give (depending on the pigment of course) opaque vibrant colors.
ASTM and CPSA have both tested Prismacolor Premier. Mostly they are equivalent, but there are some inconsistencies. Of the 150 set that are now available (they have changed colors over the years) 101 are lightfast (three stars, according to CPSA), 4 has two stars and 43 less (meaning, not lightfast at all). However I could not find two of my pencils in the CPSA list so I am doing my own lightfast test on them. When you are doing your own lightfastness test they are of course never the same as professional testing. But I think that if a color is fading, you know that you should not use that for your drawings for certain. If it does not fade in your own testing, that's what makes it uncertain. The point I am trying to make is that an unprofessional testing can always prove that a pencil is not lightfast but cannot prove it is.
That very mystical wax bloom everyone talks about is not something I have experienced. However, I guess that depend on what wax bloom really is. I have heard two different explanations. One: it is the shine that appears when using a wax-based pencil. My experience is that the shine will appear on an oil-based pencil to. It is true that some pencils are shinier then other though. Two: it is a white film that appears after some time has past. I have never seen this happen, so it can´t be a huge problem.
With 150 colors, and if you have been around for some time, maybe you have some more colors that are now discounted, it isn´t fair to compare Prismacolor’s color range with other brands. Prismacolor also offers a blender.
|A set of Prismacolor|
However, Prismacolor color choices are very different to most other brands. Large brands like Polychromos or Pablo offers colors that I imagine are single pigment colors. They look very clean and are very easy to define (is it a orange, or a burnt sienna…). Prismacolor has a lot of colors that are very difficult to define. What color is a Ginger root (PC1084)? Or Putty beige (PC1083)? Many of them don´t look “clean”; they look as if at least three colors are mixed together to create the color (many of them include white). If you already have a Faber-Castell Polychromos set (or any other very primary based color set) and want to expend I would recommend looking at Prismacolor open stock, because they really offer colors that are more or less unique.
The greys are offered in mainly three hues in different values, a cooler grey (called cool grey), a warmer grey (called French grey) and a more neutral grey (actually called warm grey). They also have some other greyish colors.
Prismacolor also has gold, solver and bronze (the bronze is not so metallic though) and some neon colors.
The first color that I had to replace was the white (no surprise there).