Wednesday, March 12, 2008

CPSA Lightfastness Test Result Workbook - Version 5 published

Version 5 of the Lighfastness Test Result Workbook has been published by the Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA) and is now available to order by mail or online - by CPSA members only. It's one of the main reasons why I joined CPSA!

If you want to know whether or not the colours you are using are acceptably lightfast or better (ie rate 5.5 or better against a blue wool card under approved test conditions) then I strongly recommend getting hold of the lightfastness test results. I've personally seen some of the original blue wool cards which were used and the way some of colours had bleached to nothingness when exposed to light!

The first new workbook since 2005 covers all the developments in pencil brands since then, all the new brands which have been approved as coloured pencils for the purposes of competition and some brands which had not been previously tested.

A list of the changes can be obtained by sending an SASE with postage for 2 ounces to the address on this page.

Version 5 includes all the test results from versions 1-4 plus the test results for:
  • Prismacolor Premier Lightfast
  • new Prismacolors
  • Caran d'Ache Neocolors
  • Derwent Coloursoft
  • Derwent Graphitint
  • Derwent Inktense
  • Fantasia Premium Artist Colour
  • Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless
  • Daler-Rowney Artists' Watercolor
  • Blick Studio Artists' Colored
As you will doubtless appreciate all the popular makes of artist grade coloured pencil were covered in versions 1-4. If you have a query about whether a make you use is included or not I'd be happy to tell you however I can't disclose test results due to copyright restrictions.

You can read more about what happened to my coloured pencil collection when I completed version 4 of the workbook in How lightfast are your artist grade coloured pencils?

On the right are some of the pencils which were "culled" as a result!!! They can now only be used for work which will be available as print editions only (ie where lightfastness revolves around the archival qualities of the paper and giclee print inks used - which I'm pleased to say are excellent!)

My previous post on this topic also explains why lighfastness is important and the background behind the lightfastness standard for coloured pencils.

I'm going to repeat the two quibbles I made last time.
  • Not all manufacturers produce clear statements of compliance with the standard and ratings of pencils - this means artists are not well informed about the particular lightfastness ratings of different colours in different brands of coloured pencils
  • Lightfastness test results and the CPSA workbook are only available to CPSA members. Given the lack of progress with testing and labelling by manufacturers, knowledge about lightfastness issues cannot be reserved for CPSA members only - even if the book is sold by the CPSA. It's my belief that products only become responsive to buyer requirements when buyer behaviour changes - and for that buyers need better information to effect that change.
This week I'm going to be asking CPSA if they have any plans for making the test results available to a wider audience - "stay tuned"!

Note - Japanese Art Project: The posts for Monday (The concepts and characteristics of ukiyo-e) and Tuesday (The elements of ukiyo-e) this week were hard work! Consequently I'm pacing myself and giving myself a little more time to post about how Japanese Art and ukiyo-e relates to the principles of composition and design! Hopefully I'll be posting tomorrow instead of today.



  1. I just got my copy as well, and you might want to note that they only tested the first 24 of the 48 Prismacolor Premier Lightfast pencils now on the market. It took me a while to figure this out – at first I was horrified thinking that half of them hadn't made the cut.

  2. I received my workbook two days ago and have been culling pencils from my collection. The quantity of pencils that don't qualify as sufficiently lightfast is staggering. It was interesting to note that out of the dozen new Prismacolor pencils released in 2006, several are not lightfast. Why would Sanford release new colors that aren't lightfast?

    I also discovered you can't always trust the lightfast ratings released by the manufacturers. A number of Dick Blick Premier Colored Pencils that have a rating of excellent or very good (their highest ratings) in their product literature don't show up at all in the CPSA Workbook.

    It's disappointing to see the numbers of colored pencil product lines that have been discontinued. You don't see this in other media (acrylic, watercolor, oil etc.).

    The workbook comes with an errata sheet but they missed other errors that I have casually run across. I hope the CPSA will email or place online an updated errata sheet in the form of a PDF.

    I joined the CPSA earlier this year to get the workbook and consider it money well spent. I would encourage others who are debating the cost/benefit of spending that much money to do so.

  3. I can see you're having the jaw-dropping experience I had last time!

    What I particularly noticed last time was how the manufacturers' ratings did not always fit with the CPSA ones.

    The only time they did seem to fit all the time was when they were brands which I knew complied with the standard because they had participated in the original work eg Talens Van Gogh - which are NOT discountinued in Europe even if Talens has pulled out of North America.

  4. Maybe try converting the subscription fee into numbers of pencils as a ready reckoner to see how many pencils you have to 'cull' to make it worth it?

  5. On another note, when I bought a set of 48 Prismacolor Premier Lightfast pencils it contained a "Color Palette" product sheet that includes a lightfast guide for their pencils (which corresponds well to CPSA ratings I might add). There is a photo of enlarged pencils above the lightfast chart that serves as a background element on the page. One of the prominently featured pencils in the photo has a core that is off center. One of the biggest complaints colored pencil users have with Prismacolor pencils is the cores are frequently off center and break while sharpening. I found it amusing that Sanford's own product literature highlights this very defect.

    See this link for a jpeg:

  6. I'm not a member of CPSA, so I have no access to the workbook :( ....but glad to know if I ever needed it, all I have to do is join CPSA! LOL.

    Oh~ and the answer to your comment on my blog:

    [everyone else can ignore the following rant]

    Hi, Katherine!
    Thanks for letting me know that I was spelling your surname wrong! I promise to remember that for next time. oops *embarrassment.*

    I've always been an Old Masters junkie, but never had had the nerve to create a project in which I would attempt to follow their work. My art teacher was the one that pushed me into it.

    The particular reasons....well, it really is the interest on the times they used to paint in and how it influenced their work, such as sargent who lived during Impressionism and was close friends with Monet, but his work was mainly realistic among the midst of the movement, and only used impressionistic ways a few times. He got a lot of flame and criticism over his work not "conforming" to what was popular at the time.

    It's truly all interesting..

    Other than that, I think it's just the fact that I love the pleasing aesthetics of their work. Living in a world where abstract work right now is so popular, I find myself being pulled towards far more traditional-looking things, such as studies of the human body (the most beautiful thing on earth, in my mind), and still life work as well as botanical and animal inspired art.

    I would love to visit the art institute of chicago! but that might wait a bit :(

  7. Scott - I've certainly had my fair share of off centre and breaking pencils. As you say that one certainly doesn't look quite as it should.

    Hi Jael, thanks for the reply.


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