…In a Nutshell
Let’s start this article by saying… I’m not an expert on colored pencils – far from it! But this is written from the perspective of a consumer, most likely just like yourself. Also, personally, I prefer product articles that are easy to understand and don’t get too technical. Because, let’s face it, if I understood the technical speak, I most likely wouldn’t be reading an article on them. I’d be able to Google the specs and go ‘Ah. Of course. One is a blah, blah, blah and the other is a blah, blah, blah.’ So this article is written in an easier form than you may normally see in these types of reviews.
When the coloring craze hit, a whole bunch of us jumped on board. For myself, I snatched up the first book I could get my hands on, and then headed straight for the Crayola section of my local craft store. At the time, I had no idea there were even other options. Well, I’m sure I knew Crayola didn’t have the market cornered, but that was my ‘go-to’ brand, so to speak.
After coloring a few pages, and joining a couple coloring groups on Facebook, I began hearing more and more about brands like Prismacolor and Faber-Castell. When I saw the prices, I thought… not a freaking chance! I’m happy with my Crayolas, thank you very much. But after reading more and more about them, I finally caved and purchased the Prismacolor Premiere 150-piece set. And. Loved. Every. Second. Of. It. Best purchase I’d made in 2015.
Fast forward a few months to January, and here I am now with Faber-Castell, Polychromos, the 60-piece set, as well. I am equally in love with the Faber-Castells and, so far, it has been my best purchase for 2016! However… there is a pretty big difference between them, even if the end result looks pretty similar. I have included two pictures at the end of this article, the first is completely Faber-Castell (FC), and the second is entirely Prismacolor Premiere (PP.)
So, let’s start with the basics, shall we?
PP: The 150-piece set I have comes in a cardboard-type box with a fold over, click flap. It’s long and probably not as easy to pack around with you. There are three levels of trays that can be pulled out as needed.
FC: The 60-piece set I purchased comes in a tin case, it’s slim and easy to pack around with you. The inside of the tin case contains two trays/levels of pencil crayons that you can pull out as needed.
PP: They are definitely a soft, wax based pencil. It’s something I noticed right away going from Crayola to Prisma. They’re smooth like butter – almost. Not so soft that they smear like lipstick, but soft enough that you can instantly get the full color of the pencil with minimal pressure. However, using the shade spectrum of one pencil I found to be a bit difficult in the lighter shades.
FC: These are a hard, oil based pencil. The difference is pretty incredible. You can still get the full color like you would from Prisma, but I found I had to press harder to get the same result for dark shading. That said, shading with these pencils seemed easier to control in the lighter side.
So, in shading, they seem to be reversed. Prisma is easy to get the darker shading on any individual color, but I find it trickier to get to the lighter side of the same shade. For Faber-Castell, it’s extremely easy to do the lighter shading, you almost don’t have to think about it, but to get the darker shades you have to apply a lot more pressure or go over an area more times than you would with Prisma.
PP: With Prisma, I find I have to use a blending pencil no matter how light or dark my shading is, it always needs to be smoothed out. Sometimes I get a bit of a wax build up with the Prismas.
FC: If you use a blending pencil, you’ll find they agree with this brand. They blend with ease. That said, I would *almost* say you don’t even need a blending pencil with Faber-Castell if you’re doing lighter shading. They’re really that good. If you’re going into darker, or bolder shading, then a blending pencil does help to smooth out the transition. Because they’re oil based, not wax based, there is no wax build-up. That’s nice.
PP: I am constantly sharpening my Prisma pencils. They do break here and there. I probably burn through these way faster than I do any other pencil crayon I own.
FC: I rarely sharpen my Faber-Castell pencils. They stay sharp and I don’t burn them up quickly in comparison to Prisma.
PP: It’s really starting to vary because of all the sales Amazon.com or Amazon.ca has lately. I bought my 150-piece pack for $150. One week later, the same pack dropped to $99. You can replace them individually, typically, in a place like Michaels or Deserres for a pretty penny.
FC: I got my Faber Castell’s on sale at Deserres for $129, which at the time was around $50 cheaper than what Amazon was offering. So definitely watch out for sales and check a few different places before purchasing either brand.
Remember, this is written from ‘just another consumer’s’ point of view. I’ll end by saying that I honestly love both brands, but for different reasons. I love to color bright, bold pictures, mainly, but sometimes dip into the more ‘serious’ shading. For my extremely bright pictures, I would use Prisma’s, but for my more serious pictures… I would definitely use Faber-Castell.
Prisma’s are cheaper in initial price, however, because of the amount you have to sharpen them, mixed in with the breakage that occurs sometimes, I would say that Faber-Castell requires less sharpening, causing the two brands to almost be the same price value.
Wax build up aside, I still love Prisma. It’s true. I do. I wouldn’t give them up for anything. That said, I also love my Faber-Castell’s, though I probably use them significantly less than my Prisma’s.
Well, I hope this helps you at least a little bit. I know it’s not a super technical article, but it does break down the basics. My final recommendation would depend on what type of colorist you are. If you enjoy heavy coloring with bright, bold colors, definitely go with Prisma. If you’re more into natural shading and realistic-looking pictures, I would highly recommend Faber Castell.