people's choice

The Best Colored Pencils on Amazon, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers

Photo: Xanthe Berkeley/Getty Images

Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed products and single out the most convincing ones. (You can learn more about our rating system and how we pick each item here.)

And while we’ve written about lots of pens and pencils — including the 100 best pens, the best pencils for students, and even the status chalk used by mathematicians — here, we’ve rounded up the best colored pencils, as praised by the most enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon.

Best-rated colored pencils

“My world is now colorful,” declares one reviewer, who called the colors in this set of Prismacolor colored pencils “rich, gorgeous, and exciting to behold.” Another reviewer, delighted by these pencils, says, “I did not expect that it would be such a big difference between Prismacolor and other brands. They are very smooth and the quality is just amazing!” And a reviewer who has been using Prismacolor colored pencils since the late ’80s calls them “creamy, wonderful, and a must-have in my arsenal of art tools.” Over 800 five-star reviewers specifically call out how smooth these pencils are, with one explaining, “There is no skipping and the pencils don’t make scratching noises. Instead, they are so quiet and color as smooth as butter, which is probably my favorite characteristic about these pencils.”

Best-rated (less expensive) colored pencils

Crayola Colored Pencils
$6

Positive reviewers said over and over again that they appreciate the value of this set of Crayola colored pencils. “I color for fun and have found that Crayola pencils provide a smooth, even, vibrant color for a reasonable price,” one says. Another reviewer, who bought these for her son and calls them a “great price,” says, “These Crayola pencils never disappoint.” And in a review titled “Best colored pencils on the market,” a reviewer reports being thrilled to find these on Amazon because they “don’t crumble and [do] stay sharp.” The reviewer adds, “The price is a nice value as you can replace them easily and not feel guilty for using them up (like the incredibly expensive pencils). Buy these, you won’t regret it.”

And now for some micro-picks of every type of colored pencil you might be looking for.

Best 12-pack of colored pencils

$15

Across Amazon, Prismacolor colored pencils get a ton of glowing reviews for their smooth texture and vibrant colors, and this set of a dozen colors with over 4,500 positive reviews is no different. “It’s like using oils in stick form,” says an impressed five-star reviewer, who listed “great coverage and blendability” as other reasons why she gave these a positive review. This reviewer also mentions how well the colors blend: “Even though this product only comes with 12 colors, they are pretty much sufficient for whatever you need to draw because you can create most skin colors through blending two or three of the included colors.” And another reviewer writes that they have purchased four sets because “this size pack is great to give as gifts to young artists.”

Best colored pencils with sharpener and eraser

Studio Series Colored Pencil Set
$14

Though positive reviewers referred to the quality of these pencils, the fact that the Studio Series Colored Pencil Set comes with its own sharpener and eraser was often cited as a much-loved bonus. “My family refers to the pencil sharpener that came with these as ‘the good pencil sharpener,’” says one reviewer, who also calls the pencils themselves “amazing.” A parent who shares the pencils with their daughter likes that they are easy to use thanks to the “sharpener, which has come in handy for my daughter, who is learning to draw and color in small details.” The quality of the pencils and the eraser are also appreciated by this reviewer, who writes, “The colors are crisp and they mix well when shading and erase cleanly for me.”

Best colored pencils with a case

$43

Positive reviewers of this set of Castle Art Supplies pencils compared them to Prismacolor pencils over and over again because of their softcore construction and color variety, and in general, they get a lot of love for being great colored pencils. “In my personal opinion, these are the best pencils I have ever purchased, and believe me I have purchased many,” writes one reviewer. “They go on so smoothly, almost like butter, and the colors are just so vivid.” But it’s the tiered metal case that stands out for many. “The lightweight strong box on the outside is so beautiful. Everything was in perfect shape,” one reviewer writes. Another happy customer likes the “great color choices” and appreciates that the pencils “come in a nice tin box for safe keeping.” And a mother who ordered the set of 72 pencils for her daughter who loves to draw says, “She was very excited when they arrived, and I was very pleased with the quality of the pencils and the handy metal case.”

Best colored pencils for adult coloring books

ARTEZA Colored Pencils
$42

A large percentage of the people reviewing this set of Arteza colored pencils say that, for use in adult coloring books, they are better than most of the pricier fancier brands like Prismacolor and Faber-Castell. One reviewer who loves coloring writes, “If you love to COLOR in coloring books, but still want good pencils that are not going to frustrate you, these are awesome. So far they have worked great in all of my coloring books, doing all the blending, shading, etc. that I like to do at a fraction of the cost of professional pencils.” Another reviewer says they even outperform those fancier brands: “I like these better for the purpose of coloring than Prismacolor premier, Faber-Castell Polychromos, and Tombow Irojoten rolled up on one. They are not too hard nor too soft.”

Best colored pencils for high-school students

Prismacolor Scholar Colored Pencils
$23

Another set of Prismacolor pencils with high praise is this Scholar set, which over 1,100 reviewers gave five stars, and as one reviewer explains, they’re just as good as the regular Prismacolors, just with different packaging: “The company packages the ‘Scholar’ line of pencils cheaply so that they can offer them at a lower price to art students who typically cannot afford high-quality art supplies. The Scholar pencils are just as nice as the professional ‘Artist’ line, which comes in metal tins or wooden boxes.” And many reviewers do purchase these colored pencils for students. “My junior-high and high-school daughters are using them mostly for school work. They are great for coloring and labeling detailed science-lab worksheets. And also detailed maps for geography,” one parent writes. Another reviewer and mom of a high-school student says, “I was a little jealous that my daughter had to take them to school. I want the big set for myself now.” And a reviewer with a teenage child who is a burgeoning artist says, “My daughter is a high-school artist that takes her art seriously and has produced wonderful projects using these!”

Best bulk colored pencils for classrooms

Crayola Colored Pencils, Bulk Classpack
$45

The reviews for these colored pencils are full of teachers from elementary to high school who swear by Crayola-brand colored pencils for their quality and durability. “I only buy Crayola-brand colored pencils for my art classes. They last fairly long, don’t tear up the sharpener, have great color, and are reasonable in price,” one teacher writes. Another teacher says this bulk set is great because she can replace certain colors as needed: “As we all know certain colors are in higher demand. This lets me replace the RED pencil stubs without buying a whole new set of 12 colors.” And another happy teacher writes that these Crayola pencils are “the only brand that can survive an elementary-school art class!”

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The Best Colored Pencils on Amazon, According to Reviewers