Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils Review

Review Summary
4.2/5 Our Score
• Rich pigment quality
• Smooth, velvety application
• Wide selection of colors
• Extremely easy to blend
• Affordable
• Shatter-prone core
• Difficult to sharpen without breaking

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With a rich, creamy finish and seamless blending performance, the Prismacolor is a must have colored pencil. But the company definitely needs to work on the issue of lead shattering!
Color Intensity


With its soft fluid core and extreme blending performance, Prismacolor Premier Soft Core colored pencils are a favorite among artists of every level.

A premier-class colored pencil, Prismacolor is an American brand that holds its own among world-class international brands such as Caran D’Arche, Faber Castell, Conté, and Talens.

Given its extreme popularity, Prismacolor makes its colored pencils widely accessible through sets of 12, 16, 32, 48, 72, 120, and it’s complete pack, the 132-color set.

Most of the smaller sets come in sleek tin cases and if you get your hands on a set over 120, you’ll be delighted to own an elegant wooden case.

Prismacolor is known primarily for their creamy, super-soft cored colored pencils. Also, for a premier-class colored pencil, they are quite affordable.

What They’re Good For


Prismacolors are said to lay down pigment so softly and spread so smoothly that using them is like magic. It is also this ease (and fun) of use that makes their less ideal qualities (such as breakage) forgivable.

Prismacolor’s soft cores means that blending, layering, and building up color are a breeze- a controlled, precise breeze that produces vibrant, painting-like masterpieces. Unlike other brands, Prismacolor renders professional coloring techniques unnecessary since blending doesn’t require anything more than simply… blending. This is also why these colored pencils appeal to artists of every level, technical skill doesn’t really matter- you have a quality tool at your fingertips.

Ratings Breakdown

 While there are some obvious issues concerning breakage (the soft cores are extremely fragile) most Prismacolor owners will happily perfect their pressure control and sharpen carefully without any complaints since these colored pencils are really a joy to work with. That being said, how do they fare compared to their international rivals?

Lightfastness 5/5

A professional-grade colored pencil, Prismacolors receive a high lightfastness rating, with a finish that keeps as well as an oil painting even though it is a wax-based colored pencil.

Sturdiness/Durability 2/5

It is here that a Prismacolor receives most of its criticism. Neither sturdy or durable, Prismacolors are both prized and despised for their extremely soft cores. Sharpening them is a skill all on its own as they are prone to shattering. Unlike other brands, such as Staedler, Prismacolor does not use an inner coating between the lead and the casing to improve the stability of its core. It’s also important to note that once the pencil’s core shatters, it usually travels all the way down the shaft, rendering it useless.

Binder/Quality 5/5

Prismacolor Premier Soft Colored pencils are famous for their binder quality, on the one hand producing highly blendable and intensely colored pigment and on the other, consisting of a very fragile core that is prone to breakage. That being said, its wax-based binder produces a colored pencil that is prized for its performance.

Color Intensity 5/5

Prismacolors are in themselves very rich in pigment, laying smooth lines of intense color at every stroke. On top of that, they are very easy to layer and producing color gradients is a simple matter of slightly changing the application pressure. These characteristics make for a colored pencil that produces bright, dynamic colors for highly detailed pieces of art.

Value 4/5

Even though Prismacolors are a premier grade of colored pencil, they are still very affordable at less than $2 a pencil. Since they are available in sets as small as 12 (and the ease with which they blend and layer makes such a set enough), they come at a great value. While there is a high chance of breakage, the company provides great customer service.

Final Verdict

While the company definitely needs to work on the issue of lead shattering, Prismacolor makes a colored pencil with such high artistic performance that many people are willing to risk a couple of broken pencils without a second thought.

With a rich, creamy finish and seamless blending performance, the Prismacolor SoftCore is a must have colored pencil. Also, since it is wax, not oil-based, it is a great for use with adult coloring books (doesn’t seep through the pages or leave grease stains).

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