Metallic Colored Pencils: My Thoughts

Metallic Colored Pencils: My Thoughts

Lets talk about specialty pencils today; namely those pencils labeled as metallic colored pencils.

E. Mark Gross will get us started with his question:

I sometimes use pencils with the metallic description.  I’ve seen metallic pencils by Prismacolor, Caran d’Ache, General, Stampin Up.

Do you have any favorite types? Do you have particular situations where you find metallic pencils work well or poorly?

Mark has asked two questions, so I’ll answer in two parts.

My Thoughts on Metallic Colored Pencils

My Thoughts on Metallic Colored Pencils

I don’t really have favorite metallic pencils, so I’ll share a list of those I have. The list isn’t very long.

The Pencils I Have

I’ve purchased full sets of three or four different lines of colored pencils, so I have metallic pencils. Since I’ve purchased more than one set of some lines, I have quite a few metallic pencils!

There is a good representation of Prismacolor Metallic Copper, Metallic Gold, and Metallic Silver in my pencil stash. I also have a metallic green Prismacolor. I think I used that color once to draw trees in the far background for a landscape piece. More on that in a moment.

I have a couple of metallic colors of Prismacolor Verithin pencils.

The full set of Faber-Castell Polychromos includes Copper, Gold and Silver.

And I recently purchased a full set of Blick Studio Colored Pencils, so I have Gold and Silver in that line.

Other than the Prismacolor Soft Core and Prismacolor Verithin, I’ve used none of them.

The Ways I Use Them

When I first started using colored pencils, I tried the metallic colors to draw the metallic parts of horse bridles. That makes sense, but it didn’t work. The bits, buckles, and other details looked flat when I drew them with metallic colors. I got better results using non-metallic colors and focusing on values, edges, and transitions to draw metal and/or reflective objects.

A couple of years ago, I used Prismacolor metallic pencils (gold, silver, and copper) on black paper. I was trying a lot of things at the time, and decided to include the metallic colors in my experiments. The drawings in this post were all drawn with metallic Prismacolor colors.

The colors were fun to work with. Color went down very nicely and surprisingly smooth. On the whole, the sketches turned out well. I liked the results.

As I mentioned above, there’s also a vague memory that I tried Prismacolor Metallic Green in a landscape drawing thinking that muted green would be good for drawing distance. It is a nice color and it may have worked in that drawing, but it apparently didn’t work all that well because I’ve not used it again.

The Problems I Have With Metallic Colors

The biggest problem I see with metallic pencils is that the metallic qualities don’t show up in images of the artwork. You have to be looking at the original to see those qualities.

All of the illustrations in this post were drawn with Prismacolor metallic colored pencils. The colors look metallic in real life. They have a nice, subtle sheen.

But there’s nothing special about them (other than interesting colors) when you view images of the original drawings. The sheen disappears in digital images, reproductions and all other non-original forms of that art.

Those are My Thoughts on Metallic Colored Pencils

I don’t have much more to say about metallic colored pencils of any type or brand because I don’t use them.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun to draw with or to use as accents.

In the right places and on the right papers.

Are you interested in learning more about using colored pencils for fine art? Read What Are the Best Colored Pencils for Fine Art?.

Got a question about colored pencils? Ask Carrie!


  1. Gail Jones

    Hi Carrie, I am fascinated by metallic colors but know like you that they are hard to get where they are visible on the paper. I have metallic pencils in two brands and also have metallic watercolors by a couple of the well known companies At some point, I am wanting to combine the two…metallic pencils with metallic watercolors and see if I can get something with some pizazz in it that way.

    1. Gail,

      Thank you for reading and for your comment.

      You’ve reminded me that I had glitter pencils once. They came in a box of pencils I bought bulk from eBay. They were interesting on paper, but the glitter affect did not reproduce. Of course these were kids pencils, so there was no concern about making reproductions. Just fun, glittery pictures!

      And now that I mention those, I remember some scented pencils that came in the same box. Also for kids, but very fragrant. Almost too fragrant!

  2. Keri Kennedy

    I wanted to add that I find the metallic gold very useful in adding highlights, especially to something like trees or fur.
    I suspect that the metallic green or silver would be similarly wonderful for water.
    I’m still new to really exploring colored pencils and art as a hobby (well since I was a child and wanted to be an artist)..
    My prismacolor metallic gold is my favorite to blend in with the browns on trees.
    Thanks for your blogs. I’m finding them insightful.

  3. A metallic color pencil is a special kind of colored pencil that is made of wax and contains a few metal flecks. On dark paper or canvas in particular, they can produce vivid, stunning metallic effects. They can provide your sketching work outstanding clarity and eye-catching embellishments.

  4. Kay Wales

    I have a comment that has to do with the eye glasses some of us wear. Recently I had my eyes examined and bought 2 new pair. When I ordered them I specifically stated I wanted no tint or color of any kind added to the lenses. To my dismay, however, these new glasses had a faint yellowish tint; so back I went and was told there had not been any tint added and the lenses were “clear “, and possibly the reflective coating that is applied to all their glass lenses was the culprit and offered new lenses at no charge minus this coating. After all this, though, I still see a yellowish tint. I am perplexed and don’t quite know what to make of this. To me this tint prohibits me from seeing my colored pencils’ true colors. I wonder if anyone else has had this problem.

  5. Cindy

    Speaking of eyeglasses, since I’m getting older, I sometimes have trouble seeing fine detail. Is there a magnifier you recommend for your drawing table that is large enough to see more than a few inch area with minimal distortion? Has anyone has luck using “cheaters?” Thanks!

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