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The 7 Best Watercolor Pencils You Can Find In 2023

The Castle Art brand makes the best watercolor pencils on this list, perfect for a beginner with vibrant shades and durable pencils. In second place are the Arteza watercolor pencils, which are perfect for a professional artist. Additionally, an affordable option would be the Cool Bank watercolor pencil set with its vast number of colors.

Best Watercolor Pencils

Any artist, whether a beginner or a professional, a child or an adult,  craves the very best art supplies to make their masterpiece. Whether it's painting or drawing, you and your art deserve the best tool.

If you are tired of using boring ink and a regular pen to draw every day and beginning to venture into the vivid world of watercolor painting, you require the best watercolor pencils to unleash your creativity. Go through this list to find the best 7 watercolor pencils of 2023, you can also check our article on how to use watercolor pencils if you need a guide.

Best Watercolor Pencils Of 2023

1. Castle Art Watercolor Pencils - Best For Beginners

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Castle Art Supplies 72 Watercolor Pencils Set | Vibrant...
  • MADE TO MAKE IT EASY Ultimate watercolor pencil set, named,...
  • TOTALLY ALL YOU NEED Arranged in vibrant color families, the...

The Castle Art 72-piece watercolor pencils are perfect for beginners. You get to try out so many different colors at an affordable price. All you need is a little water and a watercolor paintbrush, and your pencil lines will start to melt, leading the way toward beautiful watercolor pencil art. 

The packaging is also pretty good for the price. All 72 pencils are arranged neatly in a metal tin box, according to the color families. The package also has a chart inside, telling you the name of the color and the number that identifies it. This makes it very easy to find and organize different colors. 

The watercolor pencils perform really well after you add some water and get more saturated. You can easily create your own custom hues after using any wet technique on some good quality watercolor paper. With 72 different colors, however, you might not have to do any blending or mixing to come up with new colors. 

These colored pencils are very vivid, although they don’t show up very well on white paper. You can witness their true beauty on black paper. With these many colors and shades, you can create beautiful visuals, sceneries, and portraits. 

However, the color on the pencil shell and the color chart do not match the color you are actually going to get on paper. So, you might require some trial and error to decide which watercolor pencils are the best to use. Additionally, these watercolor pencils have a low lightfastness rating and will tend to fade after a few years. 

Number of Pencils: 72 | Lightfastness: Low | Point Type: Fine

2. Cool Bank Watercolor Pencils - Best For A Large Variety Of Colors

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COOL BANK 160 Watercolor Pencils, Watercolor Pencil Set for...
  • √ NEW AND IMPROVED ARTIST QUALITY COLORED PENCILS: Come...
  • √ CREAT STUNNING WATERCOLOR EFFECT: With just a dab of a...

The Cool Bank watercolor pencil kit has a huge number of watercolor pencils for you, the grand number being 160! All the vivid colors are labeled and numbered for easy color identification. 

Such a large number of colored pencils means you have a lot of creative freedom and don’t have to blend the colors to create any new shades. The pencils come pre-sharpened and are oil-based, so you can start creating art right away without using a pencil sharpener first. 

Additionally, the packaging is pretty sturdy as well. The watercolor pencils come in a durable metal tin box with beautiful art on the front. 

The dry effect of these watercolor pencils could be better, though, and their true beauty can be seen only when you mix in some water. After that, you get these beautiful intense shades that can be used to create incredible art. 

However, the pencil leads are not very durable and break down easily. You might have to apply very light pressure to continue using the watercolor pencils with ease. 

Number of Pencils: 160 | Lightfastness: Medium | Point Type: Thick

3. Zenacolor Watercolor Pencils - Best For Easy Blending

Zenacolor Professional Watercolor Pencils, Set of 72, Metal...
  • 72 WATERCOLOR PENCILS AND BRUSH - Our set of 72 water color...
  • FINE, PRECISE AND SOLUBLE LEAD - Our watercolors pencils...

The Zenacolor watercolor pencil set is another 72-piece watercolor pencil set, meaning you have a large variety of colors to choose from. These water-soluble pencils come with a back brush, so you can create beautiful watercolor art as soon as you get the pencil set. 

The watercolor pencils come pre-sharpened and have a fine 3.3 mm lead, perfect for fine detailing and drawing. Obviously, you can’t expect such a fine tip to be very sturdy. I found that the pencil lead crumbled easily with some pressure. 

Additionally, the watercolor pencils are contained in a sturdy metallic box. The box contains a color chart as well, so you can easily identify the color of a pencil. However, the colors did not exactly match the ones on the color chart or on the box itself. 

Other than that, the colored pencils themselves are very vibrant. They are easy to blend with water and don’t leave behind pencil marks, enabling you to create beautiful watercolor art. 

Number of Pencils: 72 | Lightfastness: N/A | Point Type: Fine tip

4. Arteza Watercolor Pencils - Best For Professional Artists

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ARTEZA Watercolor Colored Pencils For Adult Coloring, Set of...
  • Artist Grade Watercolor Pencil Set - 48 highly pigmented...
  • Unique Pencil Set with Triangular Design - These...

The Arteza brand mostly makes watercolor pencils for professionals and artists. Even though the Arteza watercolor pencils set contains a lesser number of watercolor pencils than some other options on this list, it more than makes up for it with its unbreakable tip.

The pencils come pre-sharpened and have a triangular design, making them comfortable and easy to hold and control. This also means they won’t roll off the desk while you are drawing, so don’t worry if you have a clumsy hand. 

Each colored pencil is made using durable basswood, which is strong and lightweight at the same time. Additionally, the pencils are made using high-quality pigments, making blending and mixing an effortless task. Hence, you can create some beautiful sceneries and visuals using these watercolor pencils. 

Furthermore, the watercolor pencils have a lightfast rating of 25-100 years, so you can be assured that your watercolor painting is going to last a very long time. Even more, the pencils come in an easy-to-carry tube, meaning you can carry the pencil set for a very long time too.  

The only thing I didn’t like about this watercolor pencil set is that some of the lighter shades are less vibrant than some of the other watercolor pencil sets on this list. Other than that, these are the ultimate professional-grade watercolor pencils. 

Number of Pencils: 48 | Lightfastness: High | Point Type: Broad

5. Derwent Watercolor Pencils - Best Value For Money

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Derwent Colored Pencils, WaterColour, Water Color Pencils,...
  • STURDY PRECISION – Easy to sharpen, break-resistant...
  • WATER SOLUBLE – Combine the control of a pencil with the...

The Derwent watercolor pencils are perfect for a professional artist on a budget. This set includes 72 watercolor pencils, but you can also get a pack of 12, 24, and 48 pencils. But I do recommend getting the 72-piece set, as it’s the best value for money. 

You can use these watercolor pencils as regular colored pencils as well, by drawing on a sketchbook or dry watercolor paper. If you do require some blending, you can use a wet brush to spread some water on your paper. Or, you can just wet the tip of your watercolor pencil for some vibrant colors. Hence, you can use these pencils for both wet and dry techniques. 

Additionally, you can draw detailed drawings with the 3.4 mm break-resistant lead. The hexagonal shape allows for an easy and comfortable grip. You can easily watercolor paint using these pencils since they’re highly water-soluble. If you require, you can also blend to create some new shades. 

The pencil tip tends to be quite soft and hence a bit tough to use. But once you get the hang of it, you can create some beautiful watercolor art. However, the colors are a lot more subtle than the Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils.  

Lastly, the Derwent watercolor pencils have a pretty high lightfastness rating. However, you can correct any mistakes later on by using an eraser and a bit of water after the painting has dried.  

Number of Pencils: 72 | Lightfastness: High | Point Type: Bold

6. Faber Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils - Best Brand Reputation

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Faber Castell Albrecht Durer 120 Watercolor Pencil Set Tin
  • Pigments dissolve completely when brushed with water
  • Pencils set 120 albrecht durer watercolor pencils

Faber-Castell has been known to produce some of the best art supplies for a long time. This particular set is named Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils as a tribute to Albrecht Dürer, one of the most renowned painters in Germany. 

These Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils are some of the best watercolor pencils any professional artist can have. Usable for both wet and dry watercolor techniques, these professional watercolor pencils have 3.8 mm break-resistant lead. 

This watercolor pencil set carries 120 pencils, meaning you don’t have to blend or mix colors to create custom shades. They are different from standard colored pencils as their pencil tips can withstand a lot of pressure. 

The leads are not soft or brittle and take a little while to dissolve if dipped in water. But after they do blend with water, you can use many wet techniques like glazing and blending to showcase the vibrant colors. Additionally, you can also use these high-quality watercolor pencils as any regular colored pencil and draw on dry paper. 

These are also excellent artist-grade pencils and have a good lightfastness rating. This means your bright colors and art projects will remain vibrant for a very long time. One bonus point is that if the entire Faber Castell Albrecht Durer kit is too expensive for you, you can buy the colored pencils individually on their website! 

Last but definitely not least, the pencil set has a 4.8 rating out of 5 on Amazon with over 1000 reviews. I think that is certainly reflective of the quality of the pencils. 

Number of Pencils: 120 | Lightfastness: High | Point Type: Thick

7. Cretacolor Watercolor Pencils - Best For Bold Strokes

Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Woodless Watercolor Pencil Sets,...
  • Wrapped in a thin layer of lacquer
  • Can paint both fine lines and big surfaces

We now come to the Cretacolor watercolor pencils, which include 72 colors. The pencils come neatly arranged in tin trays and are woodless. So, these unique pencils have no wood, containing plastic instead. Each pencil consists of 7 mm pure colored lead, using which you can both create fine details and do bold applications. 

These watercolor pencils can be used as both dry and wet pencils. Dip the pencil tip in water or use a wet brush to brush over the dry strokes. You can use these 72 colored pencils to create some vibrant hues and bold strokes and also easily create custom blends since the pencil tips are very water-soluble. 

Number of Pencils: 72 | Lightfastness: N/A | Point Type: Thick

Quick Comparisons Of Top Watercolor Pencils

Buying Guide For Buying Watercolor Pencils

If you are a beginner to watercolor paints and watercolor pencils, it might be helpful for you to know what pointers to look for when going on an art supplies shopping spree. Here are some important factors to help you buy the best watercolor pencils. 

1. Number Of Colors

The number of colors available in the pencil set is probably the first thing you should note. More colors mean that the set will be more expensive, but there would be no need for blending colors. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a big kit, you should buy watercolor pencils that are easy to blend so that you will be able to create your own custom colors. 

Faber Castell is a good option in this case since you can buy individual pencils online if the entire set is too expensive for you.  

2. Lightfastness

Lightfastness means how long the colors of your watercolor painting are going to remain vibrant. This is important if you wish to gift, sell or display your work. After all, no one wants a painting that fades after a few years. So, if you want your watercolor art to remain vibrant for a long time, purchase watercolor pencil sets with a high lightfastness rating. 

3. Characteristics Of Pigments

Watercolor paints and watercolor pencils consist of pigments held together by a water-soluble  binder and a solvent. This makes it very important for your pencils to have quality pigment. Look out for watercolor pencils that have a high level of vibrant pigment in their mixture so that you are able to get those vibrant shades. 

4. Grade

The grade of a watercolor pencil refers to the overall performance of the pencil. It indicates whether the watercolor pencils are suitable for students, artists, or professionals. Choose the grade of the watercolor pencil set according to your skills. The student-grade watercolor pencils will be cheaper than the artist-grade and professional-grade. So, choosing the accurate watercolor pencil grade will help you stay within budget. 

Most watercolor pencils on this list are student-grade pencils to help beginners begin their art journey. The professional-grade pencils are for experienced artists. 

5. Brand Reputation

Obviously, you should place performance over brand reputation, but you should always make sure you are buying your watercolor pencils from a reputed brand. If you’re getting a set of watercolor pencils at dirt cheap rates, you just know they are compromising on the quality. 

So, brand trust will help you get high-quality watercolor pencils and other art materials as well. 

6. Shape

Watercolor pencils come in many different shapes, such as triangular, hexagonal, and round. Some pencils are thicker, while others are thinner. You need to know what shape you are most comfortable with and which will give you the best grip. 

Watercolor Pencils FAQs

  • How do I use watercolor pencils?

    A watercolor pencil is obviously different from a graphite pencil. Watercolor pencils are a great way to create detailed watercolor paintings due to their high water solubility. There are several methods you can use to create some beautiful watercolor illustrations. 

    One method is to use watercolor pencils to make marks on the paper, just like you would with a normal pencil. After a rough sketch, use a wet paintbrush to spread the colors on the paper and create some pretty designs. 

    Another method is to dip your watercolor pencil in water and then start drawing on the paper. This will result in more free-flowing lines and lead to some wonderful designs. Hence, you can experiment with different colors for an artful watercolor painting experience.  

  • How to choose the best watercolor paper for watercolor pencils?

    Watercolor paper is available in many different forms, like watercolor sheets, blocks, sketchbooks, etc. You can even buy adult coloring books if they suit your needs the best. Keep in mind that cold-pressed paper is the best for showcasing watercolor art techniques.

    You can experiment with different textures to get the perfect paper. Try buying a few different kinds. Then experiment, stroke, and color all the different papers to find the best one for you.

  • What is watercolor paper stretching? 

    If you intend to use a lot of water in your watercolor painting, it is best to stretch your watercolor paper beforehand. To stretch your paper, first, you soak the paper and then tape it down while it is wet. As the paper dries, the paper will only shrink to the extent allowed by the tape. This means there will be no movement when further layers of water are applied. 

    Be cautious while stretching because it does require some skill. 

  • Can I use watercolor pencils instead of watercolor paints?

    Yes, you can use both. But there are both pros and cons to that. The pro is that you will be able to do much more fine detailing and drawing with a watercolor pencil. Also, using watercolor pencils is easier since no palette for mixing is required. However, you will not be able to get any of the beautiful watercolor textures that you get with watercolor paints. 

  • What is the best medium I can use to blend watercolor pencils?

    The best blending medium for watercolor pencils is right there in the name: water! You can use a paintbrush or ceramic sponge or even just dip a finger in water to blend watercolor pencils. 

  • Verdict

    We have finally come to the end of the watercolor pencil showdown, and we have the verdict. The Castle Art watercolor pencils stand out as the best watercolor pencils on this list. They are perfect for a beginner, have lively colors, and are good for both wet and dry techniques.

    If you wish for an artist-grade set, the Arteza watercolor pencils are the best option. With their triangular shape and high lightfastness rating, these pencils are the best choice for a professional artist. On the other hand, if you want a large number of student-grade watercolor pencils at an affordable price, the Cool Bank watercolor pencil set is the best option.

    Hopefully, this helped you come to a decision about which watercolor pencils to buy. Happy painting!

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