Monday, August 21, 2006

Prismacolor - new colours for 2006 but no change on breakages

At the CPSA conferences in Albuquerque, delegates were given a free pack of pencils in the new 2006 shades.

I was told these shades were so new that they were not yet in the shops in the USA a month ago when I received them. They're still not listed on the Prismacolor website - although I understand these new shades are now being included in the box of 132 Prismacolor pencils.

I've now produced a colour swatch of these new shades - with names and numbers - which you can see on the left. (The paper used is a pale cream)

They're all fairly muted shades. I like the look of the Black Raspberry - it's always good to get more coloured darks - and I really like the look of the 'Artichoke' shade.

The pinks should go some way to making up for those which have now been discontinued due to lightfastness problems. Interestingly - none of them carry the new lighfast Prismacolor logo and I don't know how well each responds to exposure to light.

The blues are interesting - I found the shades of paint used to coat the pencils varied much more than the shades produced when colouring the swatch boxes. The blue pencils also, in my opinion feel a lot less waxy than for example the pink shades.

What has not changed, unfortunately, is the tendency for Prismacolor pencils to break inside the cedar. On the Prismacolor site they say "Thick leads resist breakage"..........and yet, of the 12 pencils in the new pack I'm already having difficulties with three of them - the 'leads' keep breaking. Now since the pencils were a free gift maybe I shouldn't complain? However, breaking 'leads' is not a new problem with Prismacolor colored pencils. In fact it's probably the main issue which leads people to start trying other brands of colored pencils.

Prismacolor are to be congratulated for addressing lightfastness issues however they need to work harder on getting the 'lead' quality and its positioning right. In my opinion, they're still not producing the best quality pencils while pencil leads continue to break in significant numbers, especially since I hardly ever have this problem with other brands. And it's not just me that thinks this - see the review comments left by a number of artists using coloured pencils on the Wet Canvas Product review site and the way in which this problem appears to have affected their views and their product rating. Prismacolor have the most reviews and the worst rating of all the coloured pencils listed and reviewed - all, it seems, because of the breakage problem. All of these reviews are capable of being updated if the problem goes away - but only when it finally does.........

I'm also going to do a swatch of some the new Prismacolor Lightfast colours - coming soon!

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  1. Many thanks for this, its good to see the new range of Prismacolours, and I have to agree with regards to the breakage problems, I love the Prismacolors as they seem to be able to do things that other makes are unable to, unfortunately this does include breaking very easily.
    I have lost count of the number of pencils I have sharpened right to the end not to be able to actually use the pencil. I wonder if this is why they are sold unsharpened ?
    you never know if you are getting a good one or a bad one, all other major brands such as Faber Castell Polychromos and Derwent artists do not suffer with this.

    Best regards Phil

  2. I've been frustrated by breakage. Regular sharpeners work on small hard leads (usually) But Prismacolors are large and waxy. I bought a prisma sharpener and it's made all the difference. It was less then 3 dollars.
    Using the old sharpener was like trying to fillet a fish with a butter knife.

  3. Here's the thing - even dedicated Prismacolor fans get very frustrated with the way Prismacolor pencils break at times. There is absolutely no question in my mind - having used virtually every brand of coloured pencil - that the Prismas break more often.

    Having said that, getting a good pencil sharpener and one that does the job effectively makes all the difference. You can't buy expensive artist grade pencils without expecting to also make a bit of an investment in the other tools needed to do the job. However as Prismafan points out, outlay need not be that much.

    However I prefer to have one pencil sharpener that does the job for all - and if a brand keeps breaking in that (relative to others) then it ends up being less likely to be used.

    I agree with Phil, two of the brands which perform best on the 'never ever break' front are Faber Castell Polychromos and Derwent Artists. The polychromos are oil based and are great to work with. I believe the Artists are wax based but have a different formula to some of the more buttery brands as they are dryer but still work very well and blend nicely on the paper. However I'm now a big fan as they never ever leave little blobby bits!


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