The Best Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring Books

The Best Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring Books

I received an interesting question for this Q&A post: What are the best colored pencils for adult coloring books?

And the reader did an even more interesting thing. He took price off the table!

I really enjoyed answering this question because it’s almost like putting together a personal wish list!

The Best Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring Books

The good news is that the best pencils for coloring books are artist grade pencils. Few coloring books are printed on artist-quality paper, so the better your pencils, the better your results. Combining a lesser quality paper with poor quality pencils is going to be unsatisfactory, at best.

How you draw and the results you prefer all play a role in choosing pencils, too. What works for me may not work for you.

Artists with hand or wrist problems may also need to consider the shape and size of the pencils. For example, I’ve found Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils to be very lightweight and their shape fits my hand very well. (They’re six-sided, by the way.) A larger round pencil may work better for you.

So what I’ll do is list the pencils I’d use for coloring book work and I’ll list them in order of rank, starting with the pencil I’d be most likely to use.

Choosing colored pencils for any use is a personal choice. The size, weight, and shape that works best for me may not work at all for you.
First Hand Recommendations

Let’s begin with the pencils I have either used in the past or currently use. I’m listing seven brands in order of familiarity. The pencils at the head of the list are the pencils I’m most familiar with. The pencils at the bottom are pencils I’m either still learning or use, or have very few of.

  1. Prismacolor
  2. Faber-Castell Polychromos
  3. Blick Studio
  4. Derwent Lightfast
  5. Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor
  6. Caran d’Ache Luminance
  7. Caran d’Ache Pablo
My Top Picks

Prismacolor and Polychromos pencils are my favorite pencils for almost every application. I do finished art with them, I sketch with them, I do test swatches with them. Yes, I have used them on a coloring page or two.

I don’t think you can go wrong with either of those two brands.

What’s even better is that they work well together.

Blick Studio pencils are a good pencil if price is an issue or if you find Prismacolors too soft and Polychromos too hard. I purchased a full set and used them most on sanded art papers because that’s the best combination of pencil and paper for the way I draw.

But they can also be useful with adult coloring books.

Other Suggestions

I have about half a dozen Derwent Lightfast pencils and enjoy using them, though my use has been limited so far. They are probably a bit pricey for adult coloring books, but if money is no object, they would do very well.

The same applies to the pencils from Caran d’Ache. Luminance and Pablo are both absolutely top-of-the-line in pigmentation and lightfast ratings, but they may be more than you need for adult coloring books.

Second Hand Recommendations

Other artists recommend the following three pencils, but I have not used them.

  1. Bruynzeel Design
  2. Derwent Coloursoft
  3. Derwent ProColour

These are recommendations only, but the reviews and recommendations I’ve seen and heard are mostly good. All three are wax-based, so they tend to be on the soft side.

You can look up video reviews and tutorials using them if they sound interesting.

Those are My Picks for Best Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring Books

The pencils on these lists are all considered artist quality or near artist quality. Prices range from very affordable to pretty pricey.

I hope that helps!

Do you have a question about colored pencils? Ask Carrie!


  1. Gail Jones

    With one hand in a cast, my first art project after my surgery was a coloring page from one of Johanna Basford’s coloring books. I used Prisma’s mostly because they go on smoothly and aren’t expensive to replace. I save my few fancier pencils for projects I might frame. Although I am not a big fan of coloring books, they are a great way to experiment with color palettes to see what looks good together.

  2. Crayola makes surprisingly good colored pencils. They would do well in a coloring book. My niece gave me a set of 100 and i enjoyed them very much, until the blues & purples were minuscule stumps. The oranges & browns, Goodwill got a lot of nearly full length pencils!

    1. I absolutely agree! Sometime ago I did a review of Crayola pencils after being given a set by a friend who goes to estate sales. While they are not artist quality, they are remarkably nice pencils. I wouldn’t use them for fine art, but they’re good with my task tracker spread sheet and they would be wonderful with coloring books and pages.

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