Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Welcome to our big watercolour pencil test 2019. Here we present all the watercolour pencils we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information for you and also added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

With this, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the right watercolour pencils for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy watercolour pencils.




Summary

  • At first glance, watercolour pencils are similar to normal coloured pencils. However, they are not waterproof and can be smudged with water.
  • Watercolour pencils can be used wet, dry and in a mixed form.
  • Watercolour pencils are suitable for everyone as they are user-friendly and do not require a long period of familiarisation.

The Best Watercolour Pencils: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying watercolour pencils

What are watercolour pencils?

At first glance, watercolour pencils look like conventional coloured pencils and have almost the same properties. However, they are not waterproof. The dry colour in the lead has similar properties to watercolours from a tube. In contact with water, watercolour pencils can be painted and mixed with a brush.

The fact that watercolour pencils can be used in a similar way to coloured pencils and fit well in the hand makes it possible to draw and paint in a clean and controlled way. (Image source: pixabay.com / bodobe)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of watercolour pencils?

Watercolour pencils are versatile, a good complement to watercolour painting and thus offer many advantages. Nevertheless, they are no substitute for classic watercolour paints and also have some disadvantages.
Advantages
  • Handiness
  • Controlled work
  • Intensive colour release
  • Dry and wet
  • Combining different techniques
Disadvantages
  • Difficult with large areas
  • Mistakes difficult to correct
  • Dry they show no special effect

Watercolour pencils offer many advantages and are particularly user-friendly once you get used to them. This makes them suitable for beginners as well as professionals. Those who do not want to do without the handiness of coloured pencils and at the same time the advantages of watercolours, make a good choice with watercolour pencils.

They are particularly suitable for controlled and detailed work, such as sketches and drawings, as they act like coloured pencils when dry and produce hard edges. They can be dosed in a controlled manner and thus show advantages over classic watercolour paints. Puddles of water on the paper are no problem. Watercolour pencils score with a particularly intensive colour release. They can be dried and intensified after smudging. The possibility of combining different techniques makes watercolour pencils unique. Mistakes are difficult to correct in watercolour painting. Once the painting has dried, it becomes almost impossible. This problem is also evident when painting with watercolour pencils.

What are the ingredients of watercolour pencils?

The ingredients of watercolour pencils do not differ significantly from conventional coloured pencils. The difference lies in the addition of emulsifiers and surfactants. These are responsible for water paintability. According to our research, the following ingredients are used in the production of watercolour pencils:

  • Colour pigments
  • Talcum
  • Kaolin
  • Greases
  • Waxes
  • Derivatives
  • Emulsifiers

Those who wish to avoid ingredients of animal origin should note that ox or cow bile is used in some watercolour pencils to delay drying.

The same effect can be achieved with the vegan ingredient glycerine. The use of these two ingredients varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Are watercolour pencils suitable for children?

Because they are easy to use and relatively clean to paint with, watercolour pencils are particularly suitable for children. Whether at home, in kindergarten or at school, they are a good choice. Watercolour pencils in an ergonomic jumbo shape are ideal for small children’s hands. They lie particularly well in the hand and are break-proof due to the very thick lead.

Are watercolour pencils toxic?

In principle, coloured pencils for children fall under the regulations for toys. This also applies to watercolour pencils. The limits are lower than for watercolour pencils for professionals. Chewing and sucking on the crayons is therefore primarily not toxic for small children. Nevertheless, there are a few points to consider if you want your child to be able to draw with watercolour pencils without hesitation. We have summarised the most important points for you:

  1. GS seal Look for products with a GS seal before buying. Products with this seal undergo voluntary testing. This includes ingredients for which no limit value has even been set. This makes the products particularly gentle.
  2. Unpleasant odour Watercolour pencils with an unpleasant smell indicate very poor quality. This also applies to perfumed pencils. This indicates that the manufacturer wants to cover up an unpleasant smell.
  3. Lacquered pens If you want to be on the safe side, avoid lacquered watercolour pencils to protect your child from harmful substances. In this case, non-lacquered watercolour pencils with a wooden coating are a good choice.

How much do watercolour pencils cost?

Watercolour pencils can be purchased individually or in sets. There is a wide price range between the different suppliers depending on the quality and size of the set. Basically, watercolour pencils are offered in sets of different sizes. They start at 3 pieces per set and end at 126.

Quantity Price
Single 1,25 – 15,12 €
Set of 24 4,52 – 57,89 €
Set of 126 245,00 – 375,02 €

For beginners, a set of about 24 pieces is recommended. These sets cover the most important colour requirements. If you are not satisfied with the quality or the effect of the watercolour pencils, you have not spent too much money. The collection can be expanded later by buying individual pencils.

What alternatives are there to watercolour pencils?

Apart from the tube, paint box and watercolour pencil, watercolour paints are also available in other forms. You can find them in the form of a brush. The brush pen has a brush-like tip. The hairs taper to a point at the front. The tip is flexible and able to create fine and thick lines.

Art Description
Brush Pen Clean and smooth lines
Crayon Soft and smooth transitions

With the Brush Pen you can draw clean and smooth lines. It is therefore very suitable for details, small drawings and lettering. Dry application, as with a watercolour pencil in the form of a crayon, is not possible. Watercolour pencils in the form of a crayon create very soft transitions and are gentle to apply. They have the advantage that you can try out different techniques and combine them with each other.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate watercolour pencils

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible watercolour pencils. The criteria you can use to compare watercolour pencils include:

  • Colour intensity
  • Number
  • Pencil shape
  • Storage
  • Brush

In the following paragraphs, we will explain what is important in the individual criteria.

Colour intensity

The colour intensity and lightfastness of watercolour pencils differ greatly depending on the quality. Depending on whether you want to buy watercolour pencils for children or professionals, you will find different quality levels. High-quality watercolour pencils are lightfast. This means that they do not fade in the sun. This can be important for you if you want to hang up your artwork and enjoy it for longer. Professional pencils also have a stronger colour output compared to watercolour pencils for children. A strong colour makes a big difference in the end result.

After each attempt, you will get a better feel for using watercolour pencils and discover different effects and techniques for yourself. (Image source: pixabay.com / Marty-arts)

Quantity

Which set suits you and how many watercolour pencils you need depends entirely on what you want to do with them. In the hobby or beginner area, you will certainly get by without fancy colours and 10 different shades of blue. If you are a professional, you will find a wide range of colours and effects. From metallic to neon effects. As the size of the set increases, so do the possibilities.

Pen shape

Watercolour pencils can be round, triangular and hexagonal. Triangular and hexagonal pencils are better in the hand. They are particularly comfortable for longer painting sessions. For this reason, triangular and hexagonal watercolour pencils are also particularly suitable for children.

Storage

The storage of watercolour pencils also varies from set to set. You can choose between a cardboard box, a metal case and a studio box. The cardboard box is not ideal, as it tears easily when it gets wet and simply breaks over time.

Metal cases are very good for storing watercolour pencils. They last a long time and the pencils are well stored in them. They are also good for travelling and taking with you, as they are usually flat and take up little space. The studio box is particularly beneficial as it allows you to sort the watercolour pencils and have them all at a glance.

With brush/without brush

To take advantage of the paintability of watercolour pencils with water, you need a brush. Some manufacturers offer a brush in a set. This gives you the opportunity to save money and avoid additional purchases.

Trivia: Facts worth knowing about watercolour pencils

What accessories do I need for watercolour pencils?

If you have already decided on watercolour pencils, the question immediately arises as to which accessories are needed to achieve a pleasant painting experience. We have compiled a list of the most important accessories for you.

  • Watercolour paper
  • Watercolour brush
  • Sharpener

Watercolour paper

Watercolour paper is indispensable for painting with watercolour pencils because of its properties. Normal paper would not withstand the influence of the water, would make waves and soften.

The formats of watercolour paper vary. From panorama, postcards, notebooks to DIN A4, DIN A3 or DIN A2. Stretcher frames covered with canvas are not recommended when painting with watercolour pencils. The tip of the watercolour pencils is too delicate. As a result, the lines spread unevenly and with gaps on the canvas.

Water tank brush

A water tank brush is of course optional, but a welcome help especially with watercolour pencils. As the name suggests, the water tank brush has a tank that can be filled with water or liquid paint. With this brush, dry-applied areas can be painted very easily without having to dip the brush into water again and again.

Sharpener

You do not need a special sharpener for watercolour pencils. A standard sharpener is perfectly fine.

How do I use watercolour pencils?

  1. Draw rough outlines on your watercolour paper with a pencil. You don’t need details yet.
  2. Now you can add your base colours. Do not press too hard and leave space when you colour. You can smudge the colour later.
  3. Be careful with your lines. Even after smudging it can be visible.
  4. Dip the brush into the water and carefully smudge your lines.
  5. If you want to intensify the colour, let the painting dry and go over it again.

What are the techniques for watercolour pencils?

Watercolour pencils can be used like coloured pencils on a dry surface without water. The colour effect is similar. You can use a brush to partially or completely blur your dry drawing and achieve unique effects. You can also dip the pencil into water and start immediately with the wet shape.

Note, however, that you have to wet the pen very often. This can be very tedious. As with watercolour painting, you can wet the paper or leave it dry. All these techniques can be wonderfully combined to achieve a unique result.

Picture: 123rf.com / 55682735

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