FABER-CASTELLFaber-Castell was established in the Nuremburg area of Germany in 1761, and the business is still family owned. The two main product lines as far as we are concerned, are the Oil based Dry point Coloured Pencil - POLYCHROMOS - and the Water Soluble (Aquarelle) pencils branded as ‘ALBRECHT DURER’Products are manufactured in 14 factories worldwide and the two pencil lines have a long established 120 colour range which is shared by both types of pencil.In the Watercolour Pencil range, there is also an Albrecht Durer MAGNUS coloured pencil which has a softer lay down of colour but higher levels of lightfastness and permanent after wetting. Only 24 colours at present but priced at around £2 eachFaber Castell also produce a leading Pastel pencil branded ‘PITT’ pastel.This is sold in both wood cased pastel pencil form and as a solid stick of hard pastel See the Pastel Pencil section for more information.I would regard Faber-Castell Polychromos as one of the three strongest brands among Coloured Pencil manufacturers and I have used these pencils as one of my first choices for several yearsPOLYCHROMOS are a medium soft pencil with a very smooth take up which layer wellThe colour range is very strong on the reds and yellows and there are a low level of poor lightfast colours. There is a star rating on the pencils showing the lightfastness rating which ranges from 1 star ( I would regard 1 as poor ) to 3 star ( good lightfastness )Users of Polychromos tend to be strong fans of the brand. The colour range tends to favour those who do botanical work as the flower colours are well represented.There are a good range of greys and darks in the set.As Polychromos is an oil based product, pictures completed with Polychromos will not suffer from Wax bloom.ALBRECHT DURER watercolour pencils (Aquarelles) have a drier feel to them than Polychromos as they lack the oil content. The aquarelles tend to mimic watercolours quite closely and the colours you would expect to behave like watercolours do so. For example, non staining earth colours in watercolours are non staining in the Albrecht Durer range, and mixtures which granulate in watercolours often do so in washes of these pigmentsALBRECHT DURER MAGNUS have a limited colour range ( 24 ) but high lightfastness and softer to the touch than the original AD brand. Bearing in mind the ability to work good pictures with only 6 colours of watercolour pencil and a paper palette to mix colour on, the set of 24 will be more than enough to be going on with. I believe more colours are intended in the range.In the small trial ( below ) which is only 5 inches x 2.5 inches, the basic 6 colours were applied dry, to Hot Pressed Botanical watercolour paper ( smooth), layered dry and in some cases burnished to see how they performed as dry pencils. The aim was then to check if there was any colour gain or colour change when wet with a brush. I detected none. I think these will prove a useful pencil as they handle well even if they are a little large to the hand when doing detailed work.And they are all lightfast coloursDRY PENCIL COLOURNo adverse change when water addedDistribution of Faber Castell brands in the UK is wide and efficient and larger retailers and mail order outlets will stock single colours as well as sets. www.saa.co.uk ( Society for All Artists) is a good source - especially if you are eligible for a member discount and get the P & P free. A reliable supplier of both sets and single pencils is www. pencils4artists.co.uk based in Dartmouth in Devon ( UK ). Another good source for pencil stock is Studio Arts of Lancaster, who are one of the select few independent art materials retailers left in the UK and stock all the Faber-Castell range both in boxes and single pencils and sell over the Internet.For more background information, there are several Faber-Castell websites but I find the USA one the most useful as it contains extra data on lightfastness not found elsewhereThe USA site is at http://www.fabercastell.com/14786/Welcome/index_ebene2.aspxThe Home site in Germany is at www.faber-castell.com/This link provides access to the home sites in a range of European languagesAs stated above, the Faber Castell ranges use a star system to indicate the light stability of the pigment in each pencil with 1 star being the lowest rating. Whilst Faber Castell rate that as being ‘good’ I would suggest that you avoid the one star colours and use mainly the 2 and 3 star colours if you canThe Albrecht Durer colour range is the same as Polychromos with 120 colours.I have used the Albrecht Durer aquarelles ( Spring 2017 ) to complete an on line step by step exercise on cold pressed watercolour paper. The results were satisfactory and I would certainly support the idea of purchasing a set to complete underpaintings, later to be finished in Polychromos. The newer Albrecht Durer Magnus are retailed as a pencil for underpainting and whilst they are a heavier pencil to hold, the colour is good, smooth to apply and, what is very important, described as lightfast.To Summarise:A good established range of 120 colours which are relatively easy to find both as sets and as single replacement pencils. They handle well and results are predictable.
PLEASE NOTE1. Comments made here are personal and are not sponsored by the manufacturers2. The order of listing is entirely down to the date the initial reviews were done, and more recently reviewed brands appear towards the end of the list.3. The guide is designed to aid those who are new to the medium of coloured pencil, helping them select a brand and product that may be most suitable for their needs.4. Just because one brand suits one person does not automatically make it ideal for everyone.