Polychromos Colored Pencils - Drawing Tutorial

What are Polychromos Colored Pencils?

Polychromos is a brand of colored pencil made by Faber-Castell. These colored pencils are considered professional pencils and their price reflects this.  But in order to fully understand why Polychromos pencils differ from others, we need to examine what exactly makes a colored pencil - a colored pencil.

What makes a colored pencil?

Colored pencils consist of a pigmented material that is held together by a binder and is usually encased in a wooden shaft.  Colored pencils vary according to the binder used to hold the pigment, the binder to pigment ratio, and the type of wood used for the casing.

Higher quality pencils typically have a higher pigment to binder ratio, which produces more vibrant colors.  The most popular wood used for encasing colored pencils is cedar.  Less expensive varieties of colored pencils may use cheaper woods.

Most colored pencils use a wax binder. The wax provides a great medium for spreading the pigment over the drawing surface.  With higher quality pencils, many layers of colors can be added, leading to depth in color.  One drawback inherent in waxy pencils is the potential of wax bloom.  Wax bloom occurs when the waxy binder evaporates to the surface of a colored pencil drawing, resulting in a milky white residue on the surface.  This is perfectly natural with most colored pencil drawings and can be easily wiped away.

How Polychromos Colored Pencils are Different

Polychromos pencils differ mainly in the binder that is used to hold and spread the pigment.  Polychromos pencils feature an oil based binder.  This makes the material water-resistant and less likely to produce wax bloom.  If you are accustomed to using wax based colored pencils, then you will definitely notice a different feel to these pencils.  They spread over the surface very easily and layer nicely.

Polychromos pencils are also a bit sturdier than rival brands like Prismacolor.  The lead inside of the pencil is likely to break internally.  (When wax based pencil lead breaks internally, the pencil is becomes essentially useless.)  Because of their rigidness, Polychromos pencils will probably last a bit longer as well. 

Check out the Colored Pencil Brand Comparison Chart


Nothing changes from a technique standpoint when using these pencils.  You should still be focused on layering colors, mixing colors, working slowly, and adding details in the latter stages of the drawing.

 Here's a look at Polychromos colored pencils in action.  The following video demonstration is excerpts from a 2 hour Live Lesson.  To see the full demonstration (available to members) click here.

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Colored Pencil Course

The Colored Pencil Course

Learn how to use colored pencils like a pro. Learn a variety of techniques and explore several different subjects through concise and “easy to digest” modules.

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