I've always loved to draw. From the time I could hold a pencil, I was sketching out horses. For years, I used just graphite pencils and charcoal which, as it turns out, was laying a good foundation for what was coming next!
In 2001, I became intrigued with the idea of using colored pencil. I was ready to move beyond black and white and gray scale! I was undecided on which ones to use, but I knew that I wanted a professional, high-quality brand. I ordered complete sets of 120 of both Prismacolor and Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. I had used Prismacolor some already, but wanted to experiment with the Polychromos pencils. I'm so glad I did!
I discovered that Faber-Castell offered pencils with less of a learning curve for me. I was hooked and they have been the main medium I have used ever since! I love their softness and that I can 'smear' the colors much like I do with the graphite and charcoal. It is much easier to blend colors on paper and to lift color off where needed. And mistakes are more easily corrected. I'm not sure why Faber-Castell describes them as non-smudge, but I'm happy that I can get the color to 'move around' on the paper!
So what makes these pencils different?
Polychromos pencils are oil-based versus waxed-based. Waxed-based don't flow as smoothly and are harder to layer, mix, and achieve gradient color blends. As an example of what I mean, think of the cheaper colored pencils you've used. It was hard getting a vibrant color right? That is because of the amount of wax used as a binder (more wax, less color). While professional quality pencils don't use as much and therefore offer better color saturation, they can still be a bit more challenging to use. Oil-based are similar to pastels when applied to paper and more forgiving!
Look at all the pretty colors!
Some other perks of Faber-Castell Polychormos pencils?
They don't break nearly as easily. Thank goodness! Because, yes, I've dropped them (I'm not known for my grace). And you know what? I've never had a broken one! Ever had a pencil that you couldn't sharpen or use because its insides were in pieces? Not with Polychromos pencils!
The pigments used are incredibly light-fast. They are said to resist fading for over 100 years! Perfect when you are wanting to create long-lasting, professional quality artwork. Another reason I chose them. And their colors are matched to their other lines!
Is there a down-side? Well, yes, but not one I've not been able to overcome so far. It's actually the flip-side of their upside. I love how easy it is to blend the color I need as the colors are a bit translucent. However, this means that they are not necessarily opaque so it can be harder to achieve intense colors. But it can be done!
Am I open to experimenting with other brands and mediums? You bet! But Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils will always be my favorite. And you can take that to the bank!
Here's chart with the Polychromos colors and their light-fastness ratings: http://www.fabercastell.com/service/color-charts
While more expensive than most other brands, I've found Jerry's Artarama has them at a good price. And you can get them open stock, as well! http://www.jerrysartarama.com/drawing-illustration/colored-pencils/faber-castell-polychromos-pencils-and-sets
A great blog post from Color Your World comparing Prismacolor pencils to Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils: http://coloururworld15.weebly.com/a-coloristas-blog/faber-castell-polychromos-vs-prismacolor-pencils-review