Why Are High End Colored Pencils So Expensive?

Have you ever wondered why some colored pencils cost as much as a fancy dinner for two? You might even think, ‘Well, they all do the same job, don’t they?’ Well … yes, and no. High-end colored pencils like Caran d’Ache or Faber Castell are not just any ordinary pencils. They’re the Rolls-Royce of the art world, offering you a ride into the realm of rich, vibrant colors and unparalleled craftsmanship.

As you delve into the details, you’ll see why these pencils are worth every penny. They bring out the best in your artistic abilities, thanks to their superior quality and longevity. Sure, you could start with less expensive brands, but drawing with even just a handful of high-end pencils can help you get from beginner to “artist” much faster, because you won’t be fighting your tools as you try to create art.

Anyone who knows me, knows I will always splurge on the high end art tools instead of buying a bunch of beginner supplies for the same price. Why do I do that, you ask? Many reasons, really.

You may be tempted to dismiss these pricey tools as mere indulgence, but before you do, consider the factors that contribute to their cost and why they might be a worthy investment along your artistic journey.

Key Takeaways

• High-end colored pencils offer superior color blending, control, and precision for artists.

• The manufacturing quality and craftsmanship of high-end colored pencils contribute to their higher price.

• High-end colored pencils provide a wider color range, smooth blend, and vibrant outcome.

• Investing in high-end colored pencils with superior lightfastness ratings is a smart choice for preserving artwork.

Understanding Premium Art Supplies

So, you’re wondering why these high-end colored pencils cost as much as a really fancy dinner for two, huh? Where do I even begin? Let’s dive into the vibrant world of premium art supplies and unravel this colorful mystery together.

Firstly, exploring the composition of the pencils is a key factor. Professional brands typically use fewer, but higher quality pigments in their pencils, so you can be sure your artwork will be vibrant. This allows you to create more nuanced tones and contrasts in your drawings, helping your art to visually pop.

Next, consider the techniques for layering colors. Premium pencils have a thicker core, and this isn’t by chance. The thickness of the core determines not just color intensity, but also the life of your pencil. The thicker the core, the more pigment in each pencil, so your pencils will last a lot longer than the average cheaper colored pencils. Even student grade pencils from the high end manufacturers are typically higher quality than the house brands and cheap imports.

As you explore different pencil brands, you’ll quickly realize that not all pencils are created equal. The manufacturing quality of a professional brand is generally superior, and the pencils are more durable.

If you remember my article on Prismacolor pencils, you’ll also recall that after they moved their manufacturing to a factory in Mexico, the pencil cores are often not centred, and the wood tends to break easily during sharpening. This would never happen with a high end pencil – unless the pencils have been dropped or otherwise damaged their core. In fact, if you’re experiencing an unreasonable number of breakages in a box of high end pencils, I’d recommend reaching out to the manufacturer to let them know you’re not happy!

Want a color that’s not included in the set? High-end pencils have you covered – just blend some of the pencils you do have to create the shade you want. Their superior lightfastness rating ensures your colors remain vibrant over time. Expensive pencils last longer, too, because they break less.

Bottom line, it’s not just about the price. It’s about the value, the experience, and the creative freedom these pencils add to your artistic endeavors.

The Materials Used in Manufacturing

Diving into the world of art supplies, you’ll quickly discover the impact of the quality of materials used in manufacturing can have on the price of the product. High-end colored pencils like Caran d’Ache and Faber Castell are meticulously crafted, often using advanced manufacturing techniques and superior raw materials. These might include a greater range of higher quality pigments for richer, more vibrant colors and thicker, more robust cores for longevity and durability.

Performance advantages are a significant part of the investment value in these pencils. The extra cost often translates into superior blending capabilities, allowing for nuanced color transitions and a wider scope for artistic expression. You’ll find a noticeable difference when you compare the depth of color and smoothness of texture in your artwork.

The longevity factor is another aspect to consider. Premium colored pencils are designed to resist fading, with high lightfastness ratings indicating their ability to withstand exposure to light over time. The rigorous testing to confirm these ratings is another cost built into the price of these pencils. But imagine the pleasure of knowing your work will retain its vibrancy and impact for years to come.

You might wonder if the higher price is worth it. Well, that really depends on what you’re looking for in your artistic journey. If freedom of expression, the joy of superior blending, and the satisfaction of creating artwork that lasts are important to you, then yes, these pencils could be a wonderful investment. After all, the beauty of art lies in the magic you create with your tools, and having the right ones can make all the difference.

Production Processes

Another significant chunk of the reason for higher priced premium pencils lies in the intricate production processes they undergo. These production techniques are not just about creating a pencil; they are about crafting an implement of artistic expression. The end goal is to produce a tool that allows for the highest levels of creativity and freedom.

1. Manufacturing costs and quality assurance: High-end colored pencil brands invest heavily in their manufacturing processes. The machinery, the materials, and the time spent on each pencil all add up. Each step is meticulously checked for quality control. This ensures that every pencil you buy is consistent in color, thickness, and hardness, allowing for predictability in your artistic creations.

2. Artistic skill development: The precision and consistency of these pencils make them an excellent tool for developing your artistic skills. They allow for a greater depth of color, easier blending, and higher contrast in your drawings. This, in turn, helps you better appreciate and express the nuances of color and texture in your work.

3. Durability and longevity: When you invest in high-quality colored pencils, you’re not just buying a product; you’re investing in your artistic journey. These pencils are designed to last, resist breakage, and maintain their vibrancy for years. Moreover, the art you create using high quality pencils will also last a lot longer. This durability and longevity mean you can keep creating without interruption and know that you’ll be able to enjoy the art for years to come.

Remember, colored pencils are not just a means to an end, they are an essential tool for creating gorgeous works of art. The freedom of artistic expression they offer, the ability to grow your skills with just a small set of pencils, and the promise of enduring quality are all reasons to consider investing in them. You might just find that the extra cost is a small price to pay for the value they bring to your art.

Brand Reputation and History

When it comes to the reputation and history of a brand, there’s more at stake than just their name – it’s about the trust that’s been built over time, the commitment to quality that’s been passed down through generations, and the passion that’s infused in each and every pencil they produce. You’re not just buying a tool to create, you’re investing in a promise of consistency, durability, longevity, and exceptional color payoff.

Brand reputation is a substantial factor in the cost of high-end colored pencils. It’s not something that’s built overnight. It takes years of delivering consistent, top-notch quality to earn customer loyalty. The historical significance of a brand also plays a part. Brands like Faber Castell and Caran d’Ache have a storied history, their journey adding a touch of nostalgia and trust to their products. This history often influences their market positioning, allowing them to command a premium price.

And let’s not forget artistic credibility. When professional artists endorse a brand, it speaks volumes about its quality. This credibility differentiates a product in the consumer’s mind, making it more than just a colored pencil, but a tool for creating serious art.

So, when you choose these expensive colored pencils, you’re not just buying a product, you’re buying into a legacy of quality, history, and artistic credibility. You’re making a choice that sets you apart as an artist, that opens up a world of vibrant possibilities.

The Role of Pigments

Splurging on those premium art supplies might seem like a bit of an overkill, but there’s a whole universe of difference in the pigments used that’ll blow your mind. High-end colored pencils contain a larger concentration of high quality pigments, which can be combined to produce a wider color range. This allows you to explore your artistic expression more freely, less hampered by a narrow color spectrum.

• The quality of pigments in expensive colored pencils is much higher than in cheaper alternatives. This allows for a greater range of vibrant colors, enhancing your artistic versatility.

• The blending techniques you can achieve with high-quality pencils are almost limitless. They’re designed to blend seamlessly, creating a smooth gradient that’s difficult to achieve with cheaper brands. If you try blending cheap color pencils on paper, you’ll wear out the paper before you achieve the exact hue you were aiming for – cheaper pencils tend to have hard cores, which you can feel as you lay down the color.

• The color saturation of premium pencils is remarkably superior. You’ll notice the colors are more vivid and intense, giving your art a richer, more dynamic look. You can thus achieve much more vibrant art quicker with expensive pencils than you could hope for with cheaper pencils.

• The color accuracy of expensive colored pencils is unparalleled. The colors you see on paper tend to stay the same over different batches of the same pencils. Thus, if you run out of a color and repurchase the same pencil, you know that it’ll be indistinguishable from the rest of the art created using that pencil. This is not always true in the cheaper brands, where each manufacturing run may result in a slight difference in hues.

• Expensive color pencils are designed with layering and blending in mind. This means that even with a small set of core colors, you’ll be able to create art spanning a wide spectrum of hues, because the expensive pencils can be layered over and over again until you have the exact tint you were going for.

As your skills develop, you’ll appreciate the control and precision these pencils offer. They might be more expensive, but the value they add to your artistic expression is priceless. The high-quality pigments provide an extraordinary color range and saturation that allows you to fully explore your artistic potential.

Lightfast Ratings – Why You Should Care

Another feature of expensive colored pencils is their lightfastness, an often overlooked but crucial aspect of colored pencils that’s worth every penny. Imagine creating a masterpiece, only for its vibrant hues to fade away over time. Heartbreaking, right? That’s where the importance of longevity comes into play. And by longevity, we’re talking about preserving artwork for years to come, if not forever.

So, what exactly influences this longevity? It’s all down to lightfastness, which essentially is a fancy term for how resistant a color is to fading when exposed to light. Various factors affect lightfastness, such as the type and quantity of pigment used, and the binding medium’s quality. The higher the lightfast rating, the slower your artwork’s colors will fade.

So, how is lightfastness measured? Well, manufacturers use standardized testing methods, typically involving exposing the colored pencils to intense light for a certain period. They then compare the color’s change to a known standard. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? But, these lightfastness testing methods come at a cost, adding to the overall price of your high-end colored pencils.

Nevertheless, choosing lightfast colored pencils is a smart investment. You’re not just buying a writing tool; you’re purchasing the promise of enduring beauty. Understanding color fading risks and investing in lightfast pencils can mean the difference between your artwork being a fleeting memory or a lasting legacy. If someone buys a work of art you’ve created, you can rest assured they’re not going to be happy if it fades in just a few years.

Remember, your art deserves to be seen in its full glory, today, tomorrow, and for generations to come. So, go ahead, splurge on those high-end pencils. They’re not just pencils, they’re the keepers of your artistic legacy.

Quality Control and Testing

Understanding lightfast ratings and how they impact the longevity of your artwork is certainly a game changer. But there’s more to high-end colored pencils than just lightfastness. Let’s dive into another critical aspect – quality control and testing.

High-end colored pencil manufacturers invest heavily in testing methods and quality assurance. These rigorous processes ensure that each pencil meets the highest manufacturing standards, consistently delivering a product that you can trust. This focus on product consistency is key in meeting your expectations as an artist and ensuring that every stroke of color is exactly what you anticipated.

Every stage of the production process comes under intense scrutiny. From the number of pigments used, the thickness of the core, to the casing material, every detail matters. This level of precision and attention to detail means higher manufacturing costs, but it also guarantees product performance that’s second to none.

These advanced testing methods also involve a thorough cost analysis. High-quality materials, skilled labor, and intensive testing procedures all contribute to the higher price point of professional-grade colored pencils. But remember, you’re not just paying for a product. You’re investing in a tool that will bring your artistic vision to life, with every vibrant hue, subtle shade, and intricate detail captured just as you imagined.

So, while it might seem like a splurge at first, consider what you’re truly getting. High-end colored pencils offer you the freedom to create without limitations, to explore your artistry in a way that cheaper brands simply can’t match. They’re not just colored pencils, they’re an investment in your artistic journey.

Market Demand for Quality Pencils

You might wonder why there’s such a demand for these pricier drawing tools. It all boils down to consumer preferences and artistic requirements. While some may see a colored pencil as just another tool in the art box, others recognize the value of these high-end products and are willing to pay a premium for their superior quality standards.

The art world is vast and varied, and just as a gourmet chef wouldn’t settle for low-grade ingredients, many artists won’t compromise on their tools. They understand that the depth, richness, and permanence of color they can achieve with these superior pencils can truly elevate their work. This discerning mindset drives market demand, and the pricing considerations reflect this.

Now, you might think, “But I’m just a beginner, these pencils are for professionals.” Not necessarily. Your artistic skill level doesn’t determine the quality of tools you should use. Even if you’re just starting, investing in a set of these pencils can be an excellent way to understand color blending, contrast, and other crucial aspects of drawing.

I’d actually argue that, if you’re a beginner, you’d be better off spending a few dollars to buy just a 12 pack of high end colors (or even just 4 to 6 basic colors) and learn how to use those to create a huge range of tints and hues by blending. As you learn to use these pencils, you’ll also be learning more about contrast and the use of light and shadow to really bring depth to the art you create.

In fact, you could start with just black and white (in any medium, not just colored pencils) and learn how to create gorgeous artwork with just that. Monochrome art actually may be one of the best ways to get started as an artist, because the lessons you’ll learn about light and shadows, contrasts and blending will carry over as you then begin to explore a more varied palette.

Of course, economic factors and market competition also play a role in driving the prices. High-quality materials, rigorous manufacturing processes, and the costs associated with ensuring lightfastness all contribute to the final price tag.

So, whether you’re a budding artist or a seasoned professional, don’t shy away from exploring these superior drawing tools. They offer an unrivaled experience that can help unlock your artistic potential. Remember, every great masterpiece begins with a single stroke.

The Impact of Supply Chain Factors

Navigating the complex world of supply chain factors is akin to tackling a mammoth jigsaw puzzle – it’s intricate, challenging, and can truly make or break the price of an artist’s beloved tools. From cost implications to ethical sourcing, each piece of the puzzle plays a crucial role in determining the final price point.

The impact of these supply chain factors is tangible, not only in the price but in the artistic performance and creative inspiration you derive from these pencils. The superior pigments, for instance, offer a richness of color that can bring your drawings to life with startling vibrancy. And the ethical sourcing and environmental sustainability practices can provide a sense of satisfaction that fuels your creativity even further.

It’s not just about the cost, it’s about the value you get from these pencils. The quality, the performance, the peace of mind from knowing you’re supporting ethical and sustainable practices, all contribute to the higher price tag. So, don’t let the price deter you. Embrace the journey, and let these high-end pencils be a part of your artistic pursuit. Your creative inspiration deserves nothing less.

The Value of Craftsmanship

Let’s dive into the heart of what makes these artisan tools worth every penny – the sheer craftsmanship that goes into each one.

Every stroke you make with a high-end colored pencil is a testament to the labor of love that’s been invested in its creation. Not just any ordinary pencil, these are meticulously crafted for long-lasting performance. The manufacturers pay painstaking attention to details, ensuring enhanced color accuracy, superior blending capabilities, and improved color saturation.

Imagine the gentle glide of the pencil on the surface of your paper, the vivid hues bursting forth with each stroke. The robustness of the core contributes to enhanced durability, ensuring that your pencil can keep up with your artistic techniques. This is a tool that can withstand the test of time and the vigor of your creativity.

The thickness of the core also plays a crucial role in enhancing drawing precision. With these pencils, your lines are sharper, your edges clearer, and your shading smoother. It’s like having a sharper lens to capture the world in your unique perspective.

Moreover, the number of pigments used in these pencils exceeds that of cheaper alternatives. This factor significantly improves color saturation, allowing for a richer, more vibrant outcome. It’s like having a larger palette to paint your dreams and ideas.

You see, every aspect of these high-end colored pencils is designed with your artistic freedom in mind. They’re not just tools, they’re your companions in your creative journey, helping you bring your vision to life in the most vibrant, precise, and enduring way.

So, take a step, embrace the craftsmanship, and allow your creativity to flourish.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do different colored pencil brands compare in terms of cost-effectiveness for beginner artists?

Even for a beginner’s budget, expensive brands may offer a viable usage solution – buy fewer, but higher quality pencils. They allow you to explore your creativity and learn about contrast and layering and blending without having to fight the pencils to get good color laydown on your paper. Over time, you can slowly add to the range of high end pencils you have. Buy just 6 or 12 Caran d’Ache or Faber Castell colored pencils and experiment with creating pretty much any color you can imagine!

Note: The exception here would be for young (pre-teen) children. They are often not ready to really value a high end set of art supplies. Smaller children, especially may throw pencils on the ground, or break them during a temper tantrum. For them, the Crayola and cheap imports that you find on Amazon are perfectly fine – they’ll have pencils they can play with, and you won’t worry too much if they are broken or lost.

What is the impact of the quality of pigments used in colored pencils on the final price point?

Pigment quality greatly impacts color pencil prices. More pigment in each pencil means you’ll get vibrant hues, but the inclusion of more pigment also increases manufacturing costs. Sustainability factors, packaging costs, brand reputation, market demand, and country of origin also play significant roles in determining the final price.

In terms of lightfastness, how do cheaper brands compare to high-end colored pencils and what impact does this have on the artwork?”

You’re not creating art just to have it fade in just a few years, it needs to endure. Especially if you intend to eventually create art for sale, you’ll want to be sure your art supplies have been certified for lightfastness. In lightfastness testing, cheaper pencils often fall behind, impacting your artwork’s longevity. High-end brands invest in quality materials and also in rigorous lightfastness testing (ASTM or Blue Wool are the two commonly used scales), protecting your work from fading.

What are the specific benefits an aspiring artist can expect when starting with just a few high-end colored pencils?”

Starting with even just a few quality high-end colored pencils, you’ll notice a leap in color vibrancy and blending ease, enhancing your beginner’s budget. The pencils will last longer, thanks to the thicker cores, and they lay down more saturated, vibrant color, so a little can go a long way.

What role does the thickness of the pencil core play in the overall price of the colored pencils?

Imagine sketching away without a worry, your pencil’s core never breaking. That’s the result of high manufacturing standards – your pencils will last a lot longer since the thicker core contains more, higher quality pigment. Also, higher end pencils are less prone to breakage, and that’s partially due to the thicker cores and better quality control.


So, the next time you’re staring at that art supply section at Amazon or in your local art supplies store, debating whether to buy the pricey pencils or the cheap ones, remember the freedom and versatility that comes with owning a set of premium colored pencils. Remember that with art supplies, you definitely get what you pay for. The world of color is yours to command, so why limit yourself?

Keep in mind that the art you create deserves to last. That you deserve to be able to create that art without having to struggle to create the exact tint you’re imagining.

Go for the pricier pencils – I promise you won’t regret that choice. Whatever you choose, go make some art!

Brand Recommendations

Here are some of the pencils I use most often in my own artwork:

  1. Caran d’Ache Luminance
  2. Faber Castell Polychromos
  3. Derwent Lightfast

All these brands are expensive, with their largest sets coming in close to the $200 mark. But, as I’ve repeatedly stated in this article, you don’t need to buy the largest set of any of these. Just buy 6 pencils in a single brand and that’s all you need to get started. I’d typically buy one each of a red, yellow, blue and green, and then splurge on a couple of uncommon colors (pinks and purples, for me!) that I’d rather have ready to use than go to the trouble of blending from the basic colors.

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