Colouring pencils are a versatile medium and can be used for everything from colouring in to creating beautiful blended works of art. Most of us will have used colouring pencils as children, but the pencils favoured by artists tend to be better quality.


The best colouring pencils are soft-tipped, allowing you to shade, blend one colour into another and build up a depth of colour gradually. You can create some stunning textured effects or use smooth shading to draw more graphical pictures. Some skilled pencil artists can draw realistic images that are almost indistinguishable from photographs (something to build up to!).

Most artists will have a favourite brand and popular ones include Derwent, Faber Castell and Winsor & Newton. However, there are plenty of affordable colouring pencil sets out there that won't break the bank.

Whether you're a beginner or more experienced artist, you're sure to find a colouring pencil set that's right for you. Here, we've included pencil sets to suit a range of budgets so you can decide how much to spend. Read on to discover our pick of the best colouring pencils…

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10 best colouring pencils

1. Derwent Academy colouring pencils

Best colouring pencils – Derwent Academy

This beautiful set of colouring pencils is ideal for beginners or art students. Derwent pencils are a good quality brand and, if you look after them, they'll last a really long time. The soft tips of Derwent pencils make them perfect for blending and you'll get great results with this set.

The Derwent Academy pencil set comes in two different sizes, so you can opt for 12 or 24 pencils. They come in a sturdy tin so you'll be able to keep your pencils in excellent condition.

2. Winsor & Newton Studio Collection coloured pencils

Best colouring pencils: Winsor Newton Studio Collection

If you're a beginner looking for a quality coloured pencil set that's not too expensive, Winsor & Newton's Studio Collection is a good place to start. These pencils can be used for both fine detail and shading, with a variety of vivid colours to choose from.

They have soft tips and will blend easily when you're colouring or drawing. The pencils come in a sturdy tin, which is ideal for when you're out and about.

Once you become a more confident and experienced artist, you can upgrade to the largest set in the range which contains 48 colours for all of your projects. All the colours you could possibly need!

3. Derwent Professional Coloursoft colouring pencil set

Best colouring pencils – Derwent Coloursoft

If you're a fan of Derwent's pencils and you want to produce professional quality coloured pencil drawings, then you might want to upgrade your pencil set to Derwent's Coloursoft range.

These pencils have a soft, waxy consistency that makes them ideal for blending. You can build them up to create intense colours on your drawing or sharpen them to a fine point to work on more detailed sections.

4. WHSmith Artist's colouring pencils

Best colouring pencils – WHSmith artist's pencils

If you're a beginner looking for an affordable set of colouring pencils, WHSmith's own brand of colouring pencils are a good place to start. They're cheap compared to the brands favoured by artists and come with a good range of colours – and it's a large set for the price.

This colouring pencil set is good quality and the colours blend well together. This is a great buy if you're still learning how to draw and would be suitable for art students.

5. Faber Castell Polychromos colouring pencils

Best colouring pencils – Faber Castell Polychromos

Faber Castell Polychromos colouring pencils are more suited to artists than complete beginners. They are more expensive, starting at around £25 for a set of 12 pencils which goes up to around £175 for a set of 120!

They are very high quality, with soft waterproof cores. They won't smudge – which is very handy if you tend to rub your hand against the paper while you draw. Top tip: you can make these last longer by rubbing the tip with a piece of wet and dry sandpaper after sharpening. This will help you to keep a fine point and extend the life of your expensive pencils!

Improve your sketching

Hone your skills in five minutes with our drawing techniques. Try Gathered's quick drawing tips.

6. Derwent Lightfast pencils

Derwent Lightfast pencils

This brilliant set contains 24 high quality colouring pencils from Derwent. The set is lightfast, so your drawings will stay vivid over time. This fade-resistant set is a fantastic option for artists and illustrators.

The colours can be smoothly applied to the paper and the leads have a fabulous creamy texture. The Derwent Lightfast colouring pencil set is ideal for artists and experienced amateurs.

7. LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor fine art pencils

LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor pencils

Take your drawings to the next level with this set of high quality LYRA Rembrandt Polycolor pencils. These pencils will allow you to produce permanent and intense colours.

The pencils are lightfast, making them suitable for professional drawing and illustration work. This set contains 24 colours in striking shades, which are all stored securely in an artist's roll.

8. Sanford Prismacolor Premier colouring pencils

Best colouring pencils – Prismacolor Premier

Lots of artists recommend Prismacolor pens for their bright colours and ability to blend colours seamlessly together. They come in large sets with a dazzling array of colours to choose from.

The downside? They do crumble slightly more than other brands, so if you're using them you'll need to sharpen them carefully. Prismacolor do sell their own sharpener to use with their pencils, so that is a potential solution.

These pencils are mostly used for creating smooth blending and a little too soft to use for fine detail. You may want to buy a separate with firmer tips and use the two together for best results.

9. Derwent Procolour colouring pencils

Derwent Procolour coloured pencils

More Derwent pencils? Yes, because they have another set in their range that you might want to try! Derwent's Procolour pencils are great if you're looking for a pencil that is blendable but still firm enough for more detailed work. This set is the middle ground between Derwent's Artist and Coloursoft ranges and combines the best of both.

They are perfect for colouring in gradients and can be used to build up smooth layers in intense colours. They don't smudge either.

This set would be suitable for artists, art students or complete drawing novices.

10. Caran d'Ache Luminance colouring pencils

Caran d'Ache Luminance colouring pencils

Bring your drawings to life with the rich colours of Caran d'Ache's Luminance range. These pencils are highly pigmented, so can provide concentrated colour.

They're lightfast, permanent and water resistant. This set comes with 20 colours, but larger sets are available.

Choosing the best colouring pencils can transform your art

There are lots of great, affordable colouring pencils available on the market to suit artists of all abilities, whether you're trying out pencil art for the first time or a more experienced sketcher.

Once you've been drawing for a while, it's worth investing in a high quality set of colouring pencils. You'll soon notice the difference, as you'll be able to create richer shades with a greater depth of colour. Blending will be a breeze too!

Whichever set you choose, it's a good idea to keep your drawing skills sharp.


Learn how to shade like a pro

Shading is an essential skill for artists to master in order to get the most out of your materials. Get started with Gathered's expert guide to the best shading techniques.


Sarah OrmeDigital Editor, Gathered

Sarah Orme is a UK-based linocut printmaker, digital editor, feature writer and award-winning podcaster. She's been editing the sewing and art sections of – and before that our sister website – for over 3 years. She’s the host of Gathered’s We’ve Made It podcast and A Calmer Life podcast. She’s a keen crafter and artist and loves creating DIY tutorials for Gathered. Sarah has previously written features for The Guardian, In The Moment Magazine, Project Calm Magazine,, and She enjoys designing her own unique lino prints and dreams of opening her own online shop. She shares her work @sarahormeprints

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