Updated on August 1, 2016
Illustriart Watercolor Pencils: REVIEW
Learning about coloring techniques, choosing colors, and selecting coloring books keeps me busy, which I find relaxing. I also love discovering different products that spark my interest. For example, watercolor pencils.
Watercolor pencils can be used just like regular colored pencils. But when you add water, your colors can transform into delicate washes or intense hues. They might seem tricky to use at first, but with a bit of practice, the result can be beautiful!
For my first go at watercolor pencils for my adult coloring, I chose the Illustriart Watercolor Pencils Set.
The Illustriart Watercolor Pencils set includes 36 watercolor pencils, a sharpener, and a paintbrush, along with a nice spiral-bound tablet of 24 pages of heavyweight watercolor paper (which my online shopping says is worth at least $10.00). Everything you need to get started with watercolor pencils!
This set is packaged in a white plastic tray with sections for the sharpener and paintbrush along with the main compartment for the pencils. The tray easily slips into its black box and is perfect for storage. However, it is tough to identify the particular pencil you want when they are in the tray; I ended up spreading them out on my work surface while I was coloring.
The pencils do not have the colors’ names on them, so I had hoped to be able to match the color to the chart on the back of the box. Unfortunately, the colors on the chart don’t match the pencil colors. I created a swatch but had trouble matching each pencil to its name on the color chart on the box. So I wrote numbers on the top of each pencil with my black Staedtler Tri-Plus and cross-referenced them on my swatch. I am still not sure I matched the color names to the pencils correctly, but at least with the numbers, I can track the colors as I use them.
The pencils arrived sharpened, but with a blunted tip so I re-sharpened them. They did sharpen to a good point my sharpeners (Prismacolor and Staedtler) as well as the one included with the kit. Time will tell if this sharpener will stand up to my obsessive sharpening.
All of the 36 unique colors are beautiful, with or without water. The mix includes some “dreamy” pinks, blues and greens that are perfect for floral and undersea illustrations in particular. These are also ideal for nature scenes and abstract designs. There are not any flesh colors.
I do wish there was a deeper, darker blue, as the Navy is more like royal blue.
With their hexagonal barrels these pencils are comfortable to hold and keep stable in your hand. The lead is pretty hard, and the pencils need a bit of pushing or layering to get intense color. However, even when I used pressure, the leads didn’t crumble, and the points stayed sharp.
I used water in a couple of ways: dampening the paper with a wet brush before coloring; dipping the pencil in water before using it; and using the brush to finish colored-in designs. The last method gave me bright, clear, transparent washes and any underlying pencil marks disappeared right away.
The brush provided with the set is perfectly serviceable. I didn’t have one, so it was great to have it in the kit. However, after a couple of days of use a few bristles started to come off – maybe I was a bit rough?
I found it easy to shade with these pencils. Because they are slightly hard, you can get very very light layers of color, and layer different colors together without losing the surface of the paper under a waxy buildup.
I tested the pencils in a couple of my adult coloring books, as well as on printables using various types of papers, including the watercolor paper included in the set. When using water, I got the best results on heavier paper with some tooth, including 65-pound card stock and the watercolor paper. Lighter paper tends to get lumpy. If you want to use these with water on a drawing in a coloring book, I recommend that you remove the page so that the water doesn’t soak through to the following pages. When I used the pencils without water, most papers worked just fine.
As I have not yet used another brand of watercolor pencil, I cannot say whether the price is “right.” At $0.75 per pencil, including the accessories and paper, they are not expensive as compared to other watercolor sets.
I had a lot of fun coloring with these watercolor pencils, and I’ve been enjoying using water with them. Overall, this is a very nice set with a great variety of lovely colors, and if I were to buy watercolor pencils again, they would be my go-to.
As “regular” colored pencils many of the unique colors in the Illustriart Watercolor Pencils Set are a great addition to my current pencil “inventory.” They have inspired me to purchase a higher quality paintbrush and to learn more about using watercolor pencils in my coloring. However, I can’t say I’d buy these as a replacement for “regular” artist-grade colored pencils, such as Prismacolor.
Side note: After I bought this set, I got an email from Illustriart thanking me for my purchase and offering to respond to any questions, comments or problems with my order. So nice!
The Illustriart Watercolor Pencil Set is available at Amazon.com.
Have you tried watercolor pencils in your coloring? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.
Disclosure: I ordered the Illustriart Watercolor Pencils Set on Amazon.com and received it at a discount in return for providing my honest and unbiased review, which I am providing to help other consumers make informed purchasing decisions. I received no other compensation. This post does contain affiliate links, I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.