The Best Budget-Friendly Colored Pencils
Find out which set of affordable colored pencils provides the best bang for your buck.
By Jasmine Lim
Is anyone else totally bummed that all those “fancy” colored pencils are so freaking expensive? Well let us give you some good news: While those fancy pencils are great, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get some quality pencils that will suit your coloring needs.
We selected three inexpensive sets of colored pencils to test out ourselves: Crayola, Sargent, and Artlicious. All three are available on Amazon for less than $10 for a set of 50 colors (and have good reviews!).
In our comparison, we considered a few key characteristics: price, durability, the richness of the pigments, how easy they are to color with, and how easy they are to blend. Read on to figure out what pencils are best for you!
Price: $6.94 for set of 50
Ah, Crayola. A classic we’ve known and loved since we were coloring walls rather than adult coloring books. This budget-friendly brand packs a surprising punch on paper. (Plus, they’re eco-friendly, using 100% reforested wood. Bonus!) The colors are vivid and the pigment transfers to paper nicely without a ton of added pressure or too many layers. The pencils themselves are made of hard wax, which makes them durable and creates a smooth, even color on the paper. They sharpen easily with a handheld sharpener and don’t break easy under a heavy hand. While Crayola may have long been associated with coloring for kids, we believe this brand is great for all ages.
- Package includes color swatches and names
- Rich colors
- Sharpens easily
- Harder to blend
Price: $5.14 for set of 50
These pencils are probably the most durable of the bunch we tried. (And they’re also the most affordable!) The cores of these pencils are very hard, so while they go onto the page very smoothly, you really have to work to put down enough pigment on the page. The colors are also not super vibrant, especially compared to the other pencils we tried (and when compared to the “fancy” more expensive pencil sets out there). Out of the three brands, Sargent requires the most pressure (and/or the most layers) to get the pigmentation that you want. And even with a few layers or more pressure, the colors aren’t very vibrant. That said, they are easy to blend, which is a plus! Overall, Sargent is a good brand if you’re new to coloring and tight on funds, but we might suggest other brands if you’re looking for richer colors.
- Packaging includes color swatches and names
- Very durable
- Wide range of colors
- Sharpens easily
- Colors are more muted, not vibrant
- Colors are arranged in box randomly (not by color family)
Price: $8.99 for set of 50 (including a pencil sharpener!)
This set by Artlicious is a little more expensive than the other two, but not by much considering the quality of these pencils and the fact that it comes with a sharpener (bonus!). The box comes with a wide selection of colors that are vibrant. Thanks to their soft, easy-to-blend cores, these don’t require a ton of pressure or too many layers to get really rich, vibrant color on the page. One downside: A few of the colors in our box were mislabeled (it looks like the lead for the “violet” and “cerulean blue” pencils got swapped!). Other than that little mishap, for the price, these pencils are perfect for anyone who wants to expand their coloring tools with bright and pigmented colored pencils on a budget.
- Package includes color swatches and color names & pencils are arranged in box by color family
- Vibrant and richly pigmented
- Wide range of colors (including Gold and Silver!)
- Soft lead that makes it easy to blend
- Sharpen easily
- A few mislabeled colors
- Some Amazon reviewers found that the lead in these pencils broke easily when sharpened. (We didn’t encounter this problem.)
So What's the Verdict?
Each of the brands we tried has it's pros and cons. But, overall, good ol' Crayola seems to be the strongest contender. Even though they can be harder to blend with (it requires some patience!), the pencils are durable and the colors are vibrant — two things we think are essential in a set of colored pencils!
Have you given any of these pencils a try? Share your thoughts in the comments below!