Faber Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils Review

Review Summary
4.6/5 Our Score
• Rich pigment
• Smooth application
• Shatter-proof lead
• Sharpens easily
• Intense color finish
• Very expensive
• Slightly more difficult to blend than other brands

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If you have the budget for them, these are an excellent brand of colored pencils and rightly so as they've remained artists' favorite colored pencil for hundreds of years.
Color Intensity


Faber Castell Polychromos are not only excellent professional grade colored pencils, they are the color pencil choice of professionals.

With their range of high-quality, super blendable, extremely lightfast colors, Faber Castell makes one heck of a colored pencil.

An oil-based pencil, Faber Castell Polychromos come in 120 different colors (hence the name- “polychromos” means “many colors”) and are best-sellers among professional artists, especially those residing in France, South Korea, and Japan.

This brand of colored pencil comes in sets of 12, 24, 36, 60, and the full set, 120 colored pencils; they are also sold individually, with the most popular colors being black and white.

Despite the fact that these are oil-based colored pencils, they are very smudge-resistant and easy to sharpen. Packaging is a simple, yet elegant, wooden case.

What They’re Good For

Faber Castell Polychromos are colored pencils used mainly for drawing. However, given their high quality finish and oil base, many pieces done in Polychromos resemble oil paintings.

Since individual colored pencils are available for purchase, many artists use them to draw under their oil paintings as the material works well with a variety of surfaces and mixes harmoniously with other mediums.

Polychromos can be found in every professional artists’ studio for the simple fact that they are high quality tools that create long-lasting (they are the most lightfast colored pencil) results, are very easy to work with, and have a beautiful, bright finish.

Ratings Breakdown

Faber Castell has created a colored pencil that’s been popular since the late 1700s and they’ve only improved since then. They remain a popular choice for a reason, let’s see what the individual rating criteria looks like.

Lightfastness 5/5

Lightfastness depends on each individual color, yet the average Faber Castell polychrome falls very near a perfect eight. You might as well be using actual oil paint. The company itself advertises its polychromos as possessing “unsurpassed” lightfastness. No artist has ever challenged that claim.

Sturdiness/Durability 5/5

Oil-based color pencils tend to be quite brittle and even Faber Castell can do some improvement a few individual colors (red, we’re looking at you). That being said, it’s unique bonding procedure and cedar wood casing make it one of the most breakage resistant oil-based colors out there. 

Binder/Quality 5/5

Faber Castell Polychromos are made with a unique oil-based binder derived from soy beans. While most oil-based cores are soft and tend to smudge, Polychromos cores are designed to be sharpened to a point, with a firmer core and more intense pigment ratio. 

Color Intensity 4/5

Oil-based colored pencils tend to lay more intense pigment as a definition. That being said, Polychromos have been criticized for their translucent nature, especially the color white which tends to work best when laid as a foundation layer- this brightens the top layers of color.

On their own, each polychrome color could ideally be more intense, however they work well with each other to create a more intense color range. 

Value 4/5

Here comes the fun part. While Faber Castell Polychromos are of undeniably excellent quality, they are among the most expensive colored pencils you can buy, costing an average of $3 per pencil, sometimes more.

Additionally, because they must be mixed to create a rich finish, they tend to have a short life-span.

Final Verdict

If you have the budget for them, these are an excellent brand of colored pencils and rightly so as they’ve remained artists’ favorite colored pencil for hundreds of years.

The Faber Castell Polychromos not only create a masterpiece worthy finish, they work well with any material, are extremely lightfast, and the company is so certain of their quality, they’ve guaranteed customer satisfaction going on 300 years.

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