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Apples & Oranges – The difference in Student and Artist Grade Colored Pencils

What is the difference in

“Artist Grade” and “Student Grade” Colored Pencils?

  • You already had a cup full of colored pencils you have had forever.
  • You received a set of 72 Prismacolor pencils for Mothers Day.
  • You were on a trip and bought a coloring book and small set of pencils at the airport.
You dump them all on the desk and start coloring .  . . Or do you?

You grab any one of the “Yellow” pencils on the desk and start drawing the highlights for the orange. Now you need to color the shadows so you grab one of the “Orange” pencils. “Which” Orange pencil do you grab?Technically, you can mix “professional-quality” colored pencils with “student grade” colored pencils. They will blend together and you can layer one on top of the other, etc, to some degree.

“Professional Quality or Artist Quality” colored pencils are ones with colors that are strong and rich with good light fastness. This means they will not fade as quickly as “Student Grade” colored pencils, because they have a higher pigment content, and higher quality pigments. Ironically professional quality pencil cores are often softer than student grade pencils so they blend better, but break easier.

“Student grade, or Scholastic”  colored pencils (including any box of colored pencils that just don’t say either way) are less expensive because they contain more filler than pigment. The colors won’t be as vibrant, and they will fade more quickly than professional colored pencils. But that does not disqualify them for being suitable for Bible Journaling, you just may not want to mix them with other grades of colored pencils.

You can mix the two, but the results may be unpredictable. For instance, if you layer a student grade colored pencil, whose color core is probably going to be scratchy over a section you initially colored with an artist grade colored pencil,  the student grade pencil may go down scratchy or patchy over the softer core pencils and may not blend as nice as you would have expected.Alternately if you put the student grade pencil down first and expect to scrub the blend and get rid of the texture with the professional grade top layer, the top layer may be to soft to alter anything about the bottom layer.

Even if your artwork looks fine now, in a few years, some parts may start fading more quickly than others, making the colored pencil drawing look patchy and discolored. This is less likely to happen inside of a Bible, however, than on a piece of art that you frame and hang in the sun.

You get what you pay for. Several brands of colored pencils come in different quality and price levels. For instance Faber-Castel comes in Polychromos, artist grade colored pencils and they also have Faber-Castell student grade pencils.

 

Have A Blessed Day,

Jackie Whedbee-Mattingly

Jackie Whedbee-Mattingly

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2 thoughts on “Apples & Oranges – The difference in Student and Artist Grade Colored Pencils

  1. Heidi Hirschbach says:

    Did you know that you can fix your Prismacolor Pencils (and probably any other soft core pencils), making the extra money stretch further? Colored pencils are very fragile & the core can break if dropped. It’s not unusual to keep sharpening down to a stub just to find a part of the core that isn’t broken. Well, STOP!! If you own Prismacolors, get out your hair dryer & heat up the pencil all along the shaft. They are soft enough to repair themselves! Gone are the days of sharpening down to nothing! This tip is one of the reasons spending the extra money can be worth it! Nothing goes to waste, making your pencils last A LOT longer.

    1. CBJ says:

      Heidi, great tip! Thanks. We need to put this in the “Tips & Tricks for Supplies”

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