I’ve been testing a new set of colored pencils for you! Let me introduce: The Arteza Expert Colored Pencils, a set of 48.
I received these colored pencils free of charge as part of an artistic collaboration between me and Arteza. I have to say, I’m super excited to finally share a review of these! Read on to find out why I took so long to review them (the reason will surprise you!), what was my favorite discovery and if quality and price always go hand in hand.
The way these pencils are packaged makes a great impression. They come in a metal box, so they are well protected. Inside the box, there are two plastic trays with 24 colored pencils each. I was particularly happy that the trays have a special cut out on both sides for lifting it up. My nails and I are very thankful for that!
The weirdly annoying detail
It’s not quite part of the packaging, but it’s a part of the pencils’ appearance that made me put off this review for so long. Feel free to roll your eyes over, because it’s really not that big of a deal, but…
These pencils don’t come sharpened. If anything, they are very dull when you first open the box.
So imagine this: My new set of colored pencils arrived. I opened the box super excited to try them. I felt the lovely smell of new pencils. I was ready to start testing them right away. I made sure my sketchbook is ready. But I looked at them… And realized that every single pencil needs sharpening. So I closed the lid. Put the pencils away “for later”. Focused on the other products in my package and just like that – I haven’t picked them up for 4 months straight.
Sharpening 48 pencils at once is NOT something I can easily make time for – I’m a working mom of a 5-month old. If you’re thinking of ordering these, definitely make a mental note about that. Turn this into an opportunity – a beautiful ritual of “breaking in” your new pencils by sharpening them before the first use! 🙂
The good news is – these pencils sharpen really well and fast!
The graphite isn’t perfectly centered in some pencils and I cringe at the thought of the wood scratching the paper surface. Thankfully, Arteza’s Colored Pencils will never do that to you. The graphite part is so wide that event despite it being a little off-center sometimes, there’s always a lot of room between the tip of the pencil and the wood part.
As for the quality of the wood itself, I think it’s really nice. It doesn’t chip off during sharpening and it cuts very smoothly, so I didn’t have to put too much pressure into rotating the pencils inside the sharpener.
The coolest feature
Ok, so here’s a small touch that I really appreciate.
When you look at the single pencils, there’s always Arteza’s logo on one side and a row of additional markings on the other side. The first marking is the color’s name (in this case: Carmine Red), then there’s the color’s number (Here: A049), and the third marking is the coolest thing ever. It tells you the lightfast rating of each pencil.
If you’re not familiar with lightfast ratings, it basically tells you how (and if) the color changes after long-time exposure to light. You see, some colors may fade over time and some – stay vibrant even years after being used.
In your everyday coloring, lightfast ratings may not be a big concern, but I definitely think that this information can be incredibly useful. If you’re coloring a page that is meant as a special keepsake and will be framed for a long time, it makes sense to focus on the pencils with better lightfastness ratings.
Arteza Lightfastness Rating Explained
Different brands mark lightfastness in different ways and I think these markings can be a little confusing, so I’ll explain how it works here.
Arteza uses the ASTM norm to mark their pencils. According to that norm, there are the following markings:
+ / Excellent. The color should stay the same for over 100 years.
++ / Very good. The color won’t change for 50-100 years.
+++ / Good. The color won’t fade for 15-50 years.
++++ / Poor. The color will likely start to fade after 2-15 years.
In the set of 48 pencils, there are 27 with the rating +++ (Good), 13 with the rating ++ (Very Good) and 8 with the rating + (Excellent). These are definitely not the most durable colored pencils on the market, but all of them will stay unchanged for 15-50 years straight. If you ask me, that’s not bad at all.
This is what everyone is waiting for, right? A blending test!
I took a few colors and experimented with blending them together. Keep in mind, your results might be different depending on the paper you’re using and the pressure. To keep things simple I used regular copy paper here.
As you can see, the blending is ok. It’s nothing special, but it’s not bad either. Definitely enough for adult coloring. You can easily create additional colors by mixing colors together and layering available shades. 🙂
If you require a completely smooth blend, you might also consider Arteza’s Watercolor Colored Pencils. They’ll blend perfectly with a little bit of water.
Colored Pencils in use
The pencils are very comfortable to color with. The pressure you need to apply differs a little from shade to shade, but overall I didn’t notice any colors that required unreasonable amounts of pressure. The colors are very vivid and even a light layer shows that the graphite is incredibly well pigmented.
Arteza Colored Pencils create a smooth color surface even after the first layer, which is wonderful! Also, unlike many other wax-based pencils, they can be layered multiple times. Most wax-based colored pencils won’t take another layer after one or two coats of color. With Arteza’s I was able to blend as many as 4-5 layers without issues.
You might actually ask yourself – why bother with layering at all? I’ll admit, I rarely layer more than two colors, but I still like to have that option. Sometimes when the artwork is nearly finished, I notice a few spots that could have been somewhat brighter or darker. This is when you can add an additional layer and adjust the color, even if the area is already a blend of two colors. 🙂
The white one
There’s also a white color in the set. I drew three small swatches to show you the coverage of the bright colored pencils on a dark background.
- First heart: Arteza A024 White Quartz
- Second heart: Arteza A022 Peaches & Cream
- Third heart: Arteza A024 White Quartz (on the bottom) + Arteza A022 Peaches & Cream (on top)
As you can see, the coverage of the white pencil is very good. It’s not comparable to gel pens, but it’s still very impressive. The peach color didn’t show up very well on its own. It’s probably because the background is so similar, but it’s also less pigmented than the white. This leads me to believe that the coverage will differ from shade to shade. I’ll have to test it one day.
The third swatch is these two colors layered together. The colors blended really nice (it looks much better in person). As you can see, adding your final color on top of white will make it appear lighter. This is an awesome trick to get really bright pastel colors that are not included in the set.
Overall quality vs. cost
Do not judge these pencils by their price. They are extremely affordable for a set of professional pencils, but the quality far exceeds their price. I don’t think that you’ll be able to find anything better at this price range.
The pencils have amazing vibrant colors. Just look at these color palette cards that I colored 3 weeks ago. (By the way, you can read more about them here.)
Even despite some disadvantages, these pencils are definitely among my personal favorites. I’ve owned more expensive pencils that weren’t even half as good as Arteza’s Expert line 😉 If you’re looking for a nice set of professional colored pencils to use in adult coloring, these are definitely worth recommending. Personally, I’d rather have a large set of Artezas than a smaller set from another high-end brand for the same price.
Let me know if you found this review helpful! I made sure to keep it completely honest and transparent and I am genuinely in love with these. If you have any additional questions, drop them in the comments below. I’ll make sure to answer every single one <3