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 used 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 and Newton. However, there are plenty of affordable colouring pencil sets out there that won't break the bank.

These pencils can be used for both drawing and colouring. If you'd like to learn how to draw, take a look at our pencil drawing techniques guide, which includes lots of helpful tips and advice for beginners – our explore our pick of the best drawing books out there. We've also put together a best drawing pencils guide so you can stock up on art supplies.

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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Looking for more art guides for beginners? Check out our watercolour painting for beginners guide, our guide to oil painting for beginners and our what is acrylic paint guide. Put your new pencils to good use by trying our how to draw a cat easy step by step tutorial or learn how to draw a dog. If you're looking for inspiration, take a look at our art journal ideas and watercolor painting ideas.

9 best colouring pencil sets

1. Derwent Academy colouring pencils

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.

This 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.

Best colouring pencils – Derwent Academy

2. Derwent Professional Coloursoft colouring pencil set

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.

Best colouring pencils – Derwent Coloursoft

3. insor Newton Studio Collection coloured pencils

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. They come in a sturdy tin, which is ideal for when you're out and about.

Best colouring pencils: Winsor Newton Studio Collection

4. WHSmith Artist's colouring 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.

Best colouring pencils – WHSmith artist's pencils

5. Faber Castell Polychromos colouring pencils

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!

Best colouring pencils – Faber Castell Polychromos

6. Zieler Artists sketching and colouring pencils set

This brilliant set from Zieler has everything you need to start drawing right away. It includes a drawing pad, watercolour pencils, colouring pencils, sketching pencils, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, a watercolour brush and a beginner's guide to sketching and drawing. It all comes in a sturdy wooden box that you can lean on if you want to draw when you're out and about.

This is a great starter kit for beginners and would make a wonderful gift for the budding artist in your life.

Best colouring pencils – Zieler drawing and sketching kit

7. Arteza Professional coloured pencils

This coloured pencil set from Arteza is another great buy for beginners or art students. For just £23.99, y0u get a set of 48 professional-quality coloured pencils to inspire your creativity.

These pencils are break resistant, so the tips won't snap off while you're using them. This will allow you to build up layers of rich colour on your drawings. The coloured pencils blend easily so you can use them for shading and gradients in your compositions.

Best colouring pencils from Arteza

8. Sanford Prismacolor Premier colouring pencils

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.

Best colouring pencils – Prismacolor Premier

9. Derwent Procolour colouring 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.


Featured image from Unsplash/Mahbod Akhzani.


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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