I am an office/art supply geek. I spend far too much time browsing stores like dickblick.com and jetpens.com, looking for the perfect whatever I’m getting. This time it was colouring pencils. I like them soft, and it sounded like Prismacolor Premier are the softest available.
However, review after review says the cores break too often, and that the wood casing is terrible quality and will sometimes split down the length of the pencil. Also many of the colours are not lightfast. (Chart)
Still, I wanted to try them. I got open stock, and only ordered reasonably lightfast colours. They were not pre-sharpened, so I sharpened them all with what I had at hand – a cheapo plastic sharpener meant for makeup pencils, which gives a fairly short point – probably a good choice. Get this: None of the cores broke, and while I’ve seen higher quality wood casings, they seem like they might last. This makes me very happy!
I love the colour laydown. I expected it to be messy, but it’s not; it puts down a lot of colour in a smooth and tidy manner.
To conclude, these show more promise than expected. And because they are inexpensive, I can easily see myself getting a huge set of these for my children.
For the record, I have a bunch of Polychromos which I love though they are not very soft. I have also sampled Coloursoft, which I like – they feel similar to Prismacolors – and Luminance, which were surprisingly scratchy.
There is one fact about Prismacolor and Polychromos: The entire casing is the colour of the core. I tend to keep pencils point up in jars, and if I were to do that with Luminance or Coloursoft I would have to study the points themselves to find the right colour. Jars is perhaps not the way to go. I would love a couple of these boxes.
PS: For kids I highly recommend Lyra Groove Slim – soft, high quality casings, and generally a pleasure to use.
Update: Got my 4 year old a 72 Prismacolor set for christmas. Over the top, I know. When he works on his colouring pages, he likes to refer to a picture and refuses to go ahead if he cannot find the correct shade, like Ninja Turtle green or Minecraft Diamond Sword turquoise. Seeing as Prismacolors aren’t all that expensive I thought I might as well go for it. Btw 72 is enough. There are so many shades of each colour, I cannot imagine what could possibly be missing. And yet this is only half the shades that Prismas come in! Our experience so far with the set is the same as with open stock: The wooden casings are OK; no signs of splitting. The cores are off-center in some of the pencils, but again it’s not a crisis.