Monday, August 04, 2008

Which is your favourite make of artist grade coloured pencil?

Faber Castell Polychromos is your favourite brand of artist grade coloured pencil - by a whisker. That's the current result according to my poll which asks "Which is your favourite make of artist grade coloured pencil?"

This is an update on the progress of one of the polls on Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists - my coloured pencils information site - as at the end of July 2008.

What follows is an overview and commentary on the results to date.

177 people have responded so far. Now I may be wrong but I think that's larger than any other poll of this kind that I've seen elsewhere. (Do let me know if you know of another with a bigger response rate).

Essentially, the poll is demonstrating that the market for coloured pencils is an oligopoly and some might call it a duopoly. In this poll, it's clear that two firms and two brands alone account for very nearly 60% of the market - in terms of brand preference. Three firms account for over 78% while 87% of those who have voted so far identified their favourite brands as coming from just four firms.

Overall people appear to be split more or less evenly between oil-based and wax-based coloured pencils.

Faber Castell Polychromos are currently very slightly ahead of Sanford Prismacolor in terms of which pencil is the favourite brand. To date, these two brands have attracted 29.9% and 28.8% of the votes respectively. Personally I don't find this result surprising at all although I think it might surprise those who think all coloured pencil artists use Prismacolor (a wax based pencil). Polychromos is an oil-based pencil and is the pencil of choice for a very large number of coloured pencil artists - not least because it avoids the problems with wax bloom, sharpens extremely well and has none of the problems with breakages which has dogged the Prismacolor brand.

Derwent Coloursoft is doing extremely well for such a new product and is currently coming third with 11.3% of the vote. This is the brand which Derwent positioned to replace the very popular Karisma pencil. This was the European equivalent of Prismacolor but was discontinued in 2004 as the marketplace changed due to the switch to digital illustration. Derwent have certainly achieved the degree of softness which a lot of coloured pencil artists like.

Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor is in 4th place with 9%. This is also an oil based pencil like the Polychromos and the two work well together. It's a brand which always finds a home in my pencil tubs and it also does pretty well on the lightfastness tests.

Derwent Artists - this is a long established brand which I have grown to like a lot. It's in 5th place with 8.5% of the votes and one might have expected it to be higher.

Caran d'Ache Pablo comes next (7.3%) - I've not yet seen a lot of evidence of the new Luminance lightfast range in art shops and I'd expect this percentage to rise as this new brand gets off the ground - although current pricing suggests this might take some time.

Talens Van Gogh pencils have attracted few votes. I'm surprised by this as these are excellent pencils with the bonus of also being lighfast. (Talens and Derwent were the two manufacturers who developed lightfast pencils first). I rather suspect this placement might be due to the availability of this brand in open stock - it's not easy to find. In my view it's very likely that better distribution would help to boost market share.

Both Bruynzeel Design Fullcolour and Derwent Signature have attracted very few votes. It's very difficult to find any information about the former on the web and Derwent have announced that the latter brand is being discontinued.

This poll continues indefinitely and if you're interested in coloured pencil brands and have a distinct preference and have not yet voted then then I suggest you pay a visit to the poll and vote!

I've included links (at the end) to posts on this blog about the different brands of artist grade coloured pencils. At which point I realised that I've never done a post about Polychromos - which needs to be remedied.

Finally - a question. Is anybody interested in me doing a poll of the watercolour coloured pencils? If so, can you please suggest brands which should be included via the comments function.