Monday, November 19, 2007

Coloured Pencils - Colour Comparison Charts

Colour Comparison Charts - by Bob Ebdon
The Yellow Oranges Colour group

Today is a very grey day - and it's raining - so my thoughts naturally turn to colour. I think I do some of my most colourful work in the grey days of winter!

Recently, at the "Art Materials Live" exhibition at the NEC, I came across some new information on the UKCPS stand about colour in coloured pencils produced by Bob Ebdon. Bob will be well known to many coloured pencil artists reading this blog post. For everybody else, Bob is a prize-winning coloured pencil artist and tutor who founded the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society in 2001. He's currently its webmaster. You can see his artwork on his UKCPS member page or his personal website at

Bob is also fantastic at producing summaries of useful information for coloured pencil artists - some of which you can see on the UKCPS site here.

Colour Comparison Charts
Bob's latest effort is Colour Comparison Charts for various makes of coloured pencils. The production of such colour charts is an exercise which I guess most serious CP artists think about doing at least once if not twice or even three times - but rarely actually sit down and do as it requires such monumental effort. Mostly we just produce charts for one brand or one colour. So I'd like to congratulate Bob for his achievement in actually working his way to the end of this enormous exercise.

His rationale for producing the colour comparison charts in the way he has done is that he wanted to colour key the Karisma pencils he has used in the past (the UK/European version of Prismacolor - which were discontinued in 2005) to the new Derwent Coloursoft pencils (which are very similar) and other makes of coloured pencils.

What do the Charts comprise?
The main advantage of these new Colour Comparison Charts over others I have seen is that these charts compare (side by side) seven different brands from six different manufacturers.

  • The charts compare all the old Karisma colours to colours available in Derwent Coloursoft, Derwent Artists, Faber Castell Polychromos, Caran d'Ache Supracolor (and Pablo), Lyra Polycolor and Staedtler Karat Aquarelle.
  • All the colours are organised in colour groups - you can see an image of the yellow oranges group at the top of the page. Other colour groups (my terminology) are: blue/acqua; violet/purple; pink/red; brown/grey; green/turquoise; black/greys (cool/french/warm).
  • The left hand coloumn is all the old Karisma colours (minus the Neons and Metallics). Reading across from left to right are the different alternative brands of coloured pencil (as per the order in the first bullet point above). Bob has then tried to find what he considers to be the 'nearest match' from the different brands to the Karisma shades. Where Karisma did not have that colour the matching process between the different brands and shades continues beneath on the same page.
Of course, as Bob says, 'nearest match' is a very subjective concept when testing by eye alone. However I think he's done a really excellent job of what is a very difficult exercise. I can't imagine how many times he had to start again while doing the 'sort'!

Bob acknowledges that in the end, as he worked through the various ranges he found he had a number of pencils in certain ranges left over as he had no more room on the page. So the charts as they stand are not totally comprehensive and have some scope for improvement - and doubtless this will happen over time. However, to date, the charts are very definitely the best attempt I've seen so far of a comparison of the colours and shades of different coloured pencils.

The Colour Comparison Charts are very, very new and were literally 'hot off the press' (otherwise known as the UKCPS Chairman's printer!) when I bought my copy at the UKCPS stand at the exhibition. I understand there are plans to make the charts available for sale through UKCPS - via its members' newsletter and its website - once production and sales details have all been sorted out. I'm also going to use this blog to alert people to how to get hold of them on this blog once UKCPS have let me know that everything is sorted.

I will also include a link to the relevant UKCPS website page when these are made available on my squidoo lens: Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists. I've recently reorganised the information about coloured pencils on that site so that it now has separate sections for:
  • coloured pencils - brands and manufacturers
  • coloured pencils - colours (this is where new colour chart information goes)
  • coloured pencils - lightfastness - how to test
  • coloured pencils - lightfastness - brand information
Below you can see more links to a number of blog posts about coloured pencils - brand colours and colour charts that I've produced in the past.

How useful do you find colour charts for coloured pencils?



  1. Thanks a lot for the kind words katherine, glad you think these charts might be useful The UKCPS is working on ways to make this available - all profits will go to the Society, none to me - but we have a problem that we do not really want to become a mail order company, so please bear with us while we sort out the best way we can do this.

  2. Update 1st January 2008

    Bob has an update on the UKCPS Blog today to indicate that the colour charts are now being made available by UKCPS.

    Details of how to order are in this post - New Year, New opportunities


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