A Guide to Prismacolor Colored Pencils

By Nicole Tinkham


Not all colored pencils are the same – and we aren’t just talking about differences in brand. For example, Prismacolor colored pencils include soft lead, hard lead, watercolor pencils, and more – each having unique qualities. To help you choose the best type for your next project, we compiled a Prismacolor colored pencil guide with information including how they differ and what you can use them for. We recommend looking over this guide before starting a new project to determine which pencil would be best to use.


This pencil has soft lead which can produce either vivid, bold colors or soft and gentle colors. The high quality pigments give you rich beautiful colors. Being so well-rounded, the Premier Soft Core pencils are great for any project. With a thick core, these pencils will last a long time.

Use them for:
Blending! The softness of the lead creates smooth coverage perfect for blending and shading.

Color palettes
Portrait: Contains 24 colors ideal for portraits
Also available in sets of 12, 24, 36, 46, 60, 72, 96, 132, and 150


This is the Premier Soft Core pencils twin, only naked. The Premier Art Stix have the same soft lead without the wood casing. This means you don’t have to sharpen, just pick up and go at it! Since the lead is thicker, it lays down a thicker line and has great coverage.

Use them for:
This soft lead is ideal for shading and blending!

Color palettes
They come in sets of 12, 24, 36, and 48

Hot tip
The 3 ¼” x ¼” blocks can be sharpened to a point for details.


These are the complete opposite of the Premier Soft Core pencils. The Premier Verithin colored pencils have a hard, thin core that can be sharpened to a fine point. They also contain high quality pigments producing rich and vibrant colors.

Use them for:
Details. With hard lead that sharpens to a fine point, the Premier Verithin is ideal for clean edges, outlines, and lettering.

Color palettes
They come in sets of 12, 24, and 36.


The Scholar series is designed for the beginner artist with a strong core that prevents breakage. Scholar pencils offer smooth leads and rich pigments much like the Premier line.

Use them for:
Even though these have a strong core, they are still great for blending, or just about anything!

Color palettes
They come in large school packs of 12 and 24, as well as sets of 12, 24, 48, and 60.


If you haven’t already, we strongly suggest checking out our blog on watercolor pencils. These water-soluble pencils can instantly turn your drawing into a watercolor painting. There are several techniques in doing so – just read the blog!

Use them for:
Creating a unique mix of both watercolor painting and colored pencils.

Color palettes
They come in sets of 12, 24, and 36.


They are a wax-based non pigmented pencil. Why would you want a colorless pencil, you ask? Colorless blenders are used as enhancers that do not alter your palette.

Use them for:
They are perfect for softening edges and blending. Experiment and have fun with them!

Color palettes
They do not have a color palette – they have no pigment.


Col-Erase colored pencils are made for projects that need reworking. They have a strong medium point that can easily be erased enabling you to get your drawing exactly how you want it! The Scholar Erasable series is made for beginner artists with a strong core which prevents breakage. Other than that, qualities are very much like the Col-Erase pencils.

Use them for:
Unfinished pieces, illustrating, animating, sketching, and idea development.

Color palettes
Col-Erase available in sets of 12 and 24.
Scholar Erase available in a set of 12.


Can’t decide which of the amazing options to choose? Go with the Premier Mixed Media set and get them all!

Set includes:
48 Premier Soft Core pencils
12 Verithin colored pencils
12 Watercolor colored pencils
6 Art Stix
Plus mini sharpener

The Digital Color Coordinator
Can’t find the exact color you’re looking for? Try out the Digital Color Coordinator on Prismacolor’s website! It allows you to either select a shade or enter the values of a specific color. It then gives you the closest Prismacolor shades to your selection.

If you still need help finding the perfect shade or want to learn tips and techniques for using colored pencils, just stop in and talk to one of our art experts. Need help, advice, or just want to show off your colored pencil artwork? Feel free to post pictures of your art on our Facebook page!

12 thoughts on “A Guide to Prismacolor Colored Pencils

  1. Thank you for this extremely well presented and informative article. You have helped sort out all the categories and give us a great tool for getting just what we want when we want it.

  2. Love these pencils already. Just learning to blend these might be the perfect pencil to help me blend.

  3. Great information…I am heading out the door to shop shop shop for several of these sets while my billfold screams STOP. Don’t worry, the need is mightier than the want. Color on my friends, color on…..

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