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Art Supplies: Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils

by Laura

A new addition to my art supplies collection is the Faber-Castell Polychromos 120 pencil set and I AM SO EXCITED! Here’s a little unboxing post before they’re used, and though they’ll acquire that slightly rustic, loved aesthetic, they won’t look as pristine as they do now.

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The last time I used coloured pencils was when I was at school, so the 120 pencil set was a bit of a splurge for me. YOLO, as they say! I researched pencil brands for a while before I decided on the Faber-Castell Polychromos, since although the colours may not be quite as in your face vibrant as Prismacolour, there are more pros than cons overall. You only need to have a casual look at the amazing, hyper-realistic art being produced using these pencils to see what fantastic results can be achieved with them.

Polychromos (meaning ‘many colours’) are very solidly made, being SV bonded cedar wood, and the leads are highly-pigmented, oil-based pastels which are smudge-proof, light-proof, water resistant, and will sharpen to a very fine point for detailed work. Unlike wax-based pencils, Polychromos won’t take on that ‘bloom’ build-up of colour, and because of the grade A quality, they’re unlikely to split or break, as is the case with cheaper pencils.

Unfortunately, the price tag reflects the quality. There are different options to fit with your budget, however, so there’s hope for penniless artists in turrets everywhere. These are example RRPs as of January 2017:

Individual pencils: from £1.80
Set of 12: £22.75
Set of 24: £44.75
Set of 36: £67.75
Set of 60: £115.25
Set of 120: RRP £230.50

And if money is literally burning a hole in your pocket, there are sets in wooden cases. These do look beautiful, but at £360 for a set of 72 pencils and £440 for the full set of 120, I can live with and be very content with the tin.

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The 120 Polychromos set in a wooden case

As with all things, it’s prudent to look for the best discounts, and I managed to get my tin of 120 pencils, brand new and sealed with free delivery for £119, so I very much advise searching ebay for the best deal.

Anyway, enough of the vulgarities of money. Here’s the tin of 120:

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The tin is quite deep and has 3 layers of pencils which can be easily lifted out via handles either side.

In the 120 set, the colour list is:

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I particularly love the range of greys in warm and cool tones, which is also one of my favourite things about Copic markers, and I love saying ‘caput mortuum’ (one of the colour names), which doesn’t have the same value as a comment but it’s true all the same.

The  whole set-up screams quality so they’re a joy to see and I’m sure will be a joy to use. One thing I’ve heard that has an easy fix is that the white Polychromos pencil isn’t as good as the alternative in Prismacolour, for example, so I’ll update this post with my thoughts on that. Polychromos mix well with other brands of pencils as well as with solvents, as they’re oil-based,  so there are a lot of possibilities for experimentation and flawless blending.

To finish, here’s a video about Polychromos pencils from Faber-Castell

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