What Are The Best Crayons for Adult Coloring Pages?
We tested four crayon brands to find which work best on adult coloring pages.
By Thea Voutiritsas
Affordable, accessible, and available in a wide range of colors, crayons are a longtime favorite for kids coloring. For adults, coloring with crayons can be a bit nostalgic, but they’re not always the easiest tools to use on adult coloring pages: Some break easily or leave behind waxy debris, while others are just too blunt for coloring intricate patterns and filling small spaces. We tested four different brands to answer the question: Which crayons work best for adult coloring pages?
How to Choose Crayons for Your Adult Coloring Pages
When evaluating these crayons, we considered a few different criteria. First, how vibrant are the colors, and how well do they show up on paper? Second, how much wax debris do they leave behind as you color? (We all know those left behind shreds are not cute!) Third, the size of the barrel (are they comfortable to hold?) and tip, and whether you can sharpen them with a basic pencil sharpener. And finally, how well do they blend? Since crayons tend to behave differently on different surfaces, we also tested each set of crayons on three types of paper: Uncoated 20-pound copy paper, 28-pound digital color copy paper, and 90-pound multimedia paper.
Classic Crayola Crayons
Let’s start off old school: a box of classic Crayolas. These ubiquitous crayons are non-toxic, made primarily of paraffin wax, and true to color (aka the color of each crayon on paper is pretty close to the color of its wrapper). The tips dulled down fairly quick once you color for a bit, but they’re easy to sharpen in a basic hand-held pencil sharpener.
When we tested these crayons on our three types of paper, they performed best on our basic uncoated 20-pound copy paper. The colors glided on smoothly without having to press too hard. Plus, they were pretty close to the color you’d expect; on paper, the wax looked to be about halfway between the shade of the paper wrapper and the wax barrel itself. They also blended surprisingly well with a little bit of back-and-forth work and left behind very few waxy shreds.
The classic Crayolas didn’t hold up so well on the digital copy paper. (The paper’s coated surface was a little too slippery to maintain good control.) The colors go on smooth for the first layer, but the wax starts to build up and look streaky if you color over the same place twice (making blending nearly impossible). These crayons also weren’t a great match with our multimedia paper, where the colors were very vibrant, but the tooth of the paper showed through too much even after a few layers of color. The texture of the paper also caused more waxy debris to shred off the crayons as we colored (annoying!).
These crayons are a literal twist on classic Crayolas. (Get it?) And although they come from the same brand, this formula felt surprisingly different from the classic Crayola crayons. They feel a little more stiff, probably to prevent breakage. The colors also come out much lighter than they appear in the stick form. (For example, the darkest green shade looks like Kelly green in the stick, but looks almost lime green on paper.) Despite the shortcomings in color, the crayons were easy to use and didn’t leave behind waxy shreds at all. Plus, they are slim enough to fit into a regular handheld pencil sharpener to achieve a more precise tip.
Of the three types of paper we tested, the twistable crayons performed best on uncoated copy paper. They glided on smoothly, but you can see the texture of the paper underneath. It seems like no matter how hard you press, the crayons won’t fill in that texture. Because they’re not as creamy as the classic Crayolas, they don’t blend as well. However, they don’t look too bad if you’re blending similar colors.
The crayons looked even worse on the digital copy paper. The colors looked dull, and they didn’t blend as well on the smooth surface. You have to press quite hard to smooth out the transition between colors. The Twistables looked significantly more vibrant on the multimedia paper. They also didn't leave any shreds of crayon behind. Unfortunately, the texture of the paper showed through quite a bit and was pretty distracting. You have to use a lot of pressure to smooth out the look. This also made blending quite difficult. Overall, multimedia paper was probably the worst match for the Twistables.
Faber Castell Beeswax Crayons
These crayons are made of pure beeswax with the goal of achieving smooth results. And with an extra thick barrel, they’re pretty break resistant. Their triangular shape makes them easy to hold (and great for little hands, if you’re sharing with kiddos). They come in a snap-sealed plastic carrying case. Two downsides: First, this set doesn’t come with a pink crayon! Out of 12 colors, the closest is a peach tone. And second, the crayons also have a super fat tip that makes it hard to see where you are coloring. (Plus, they don’t fit in a regular size pencil sharpener. You can sharpen them with scissors or a knife but takes awhile and it’s kind of messy.)
The beeswax crayons didn’t do so hot overall, but probably performed the best on digital (aka coated) copy paper. The smooth surface of the paper allowed the crayons to glide smoothly, but almost too smoothly. The thick, waxy formula combined with the slick surface of the paper made the crayons a bit hard to control. That said, the colors did seem to blend a bit easier on the smooth surface. However, wax built up in some areas and looked a bit streaky overall.
On uncoated copy paper, the beeswax crayons felt pretty smooth going on, but didn’t look great in the end. First off, these crayons didn’t blend well on the uncoated paper, but you could probably get away with it with colors in the same family. The beeswax formula was pretty thick and slightly covered up the black lines of the design. The crayons also created a lot of tiny shreds that stick to your hands and to the paper. And on multimedia paper, we won’t lie: these were a nightmare. The crayons appeared streaky and left a lot of shreds on the page. (It’s hard not to transfer those little shreds to other parts of the design with your hand!) You could see a lot of the texture of the paper and have to press relatively hard to get an even color, which made blending pretty impossible.
Caran D’Ache Neocolor Crayons
This is the most professional-friendly set in the lineup. Much more than crayons, these are water-soluble wax pastels. Marketed for professional artists, they come in a durable tin carrying case with a hinge-top cover that snaps shut. They’re also the only set we tested that isn’t necessarily kid-friendly. They’re firmer than oil pastels, but still soft enough to smudge with your fingertips. In other words, they’re super messy if you’re not careful! They also dull down pretty quickly as you use them, and are a bit too thick for a regular pencil sharpener. You can sharpen them with scissors or a knife, but beware that the pigment may stick to your hands whichever tool you choose.
If you’re planning to use these Neocolor crayons without water, we think uncoated copy paper is your best bet. The crayons are rich in pigment, which means very little pressure creates intense colors. Simply resting the crayon on the page and dragging it across the top will create a bold, vibrant line. They blend fairly well with a little back-and-forth effort, but you can see a lot of the texture of the paper underneath. But if you’re looking to use the Neocolors with water, we recommend going with multimedia paper. We found the colors to be incredibly vibrant on the multimedia paper. When used dry on this paper, they don’t look great (it’s easy to see the texture of the paper and the colors don’t blend easily). But once you add water, the colors dissolve easily and come out quite smooth. Water makes the blending process much easier. Just be careful not to dilute with too much water or you can lose a lot of the color pigment and end up with a streaky design!
We would not recommend using Neocolors on coated copy paper. The rich wax created a streaky look on the smooth paper, and if you color over the same spot twice the wax becomes lumpy and uneven with buildup. The colors also don't blend very well and look more like they’re sitting on top of each other.
All in all, good ol’ classic Crayola crayons definitely live up to their name. They work well on uncoated copy paper, which is pretty affordable and easy to find. Though they’re not great on multimedia paper, they’re the best performer out of any of the kid-targeted crayon options. They were true to color, creamy, and hands-down the easiest to blend.
For more advanced colorists, we’d recommend the Caran D’Ache Neocolor Crayons, which are formulated more for professional artists. They give the most vibrant color payoff and blend incredibly well on the uncoated copy paper and with water on the multimedia paper. However, if you’re looking for something a little more low-key and mess-free (or kid-friendly), these might not be worth the cost for you.