Battle of the Pencils: Oil-based Colored Pencils Comparison

Have you been wondering why many rave about Faber Castell Polychromos? It’s one of the more expensive brands of colored pencils but is it worth the investment? Are there cheaper alternatives that are just as good?

If you’re a fan of oil-based colored pencils, you’ll find Cindy Nation’s review informative and interesting.

Cindy owns four brands of oil-based colored pencils and has generously reviewed all four for us — Faber Castell Polychromos, Faber Castell Classic, Marco Renoir and Marco Raffine. Cindy lives in Australia as you’ll notice on her price quotes but we’ve added links within the article for your convenience.

She chose one of the motivational full-size pages from HEALTHY HUE — A Coloring Health & Fitness Journal with Positive Affirmations, to color in and show the differences.

Let us know if you’ve had similar experiences by leaving a comment at the end of the article below. Enjoy the review!

Healthy Hue

This beautiful image is from Maria’s new coloring journal HEALTHY HUE.  I have coloured this using four brands of oil-based pencils: Faber Castell Polychromos, Faber Castell Classic, Marco Renoir and Marco Raffine.  The wording at the top “I can reach my goal” double section is coloured using Polychromos.  Then each double section following that in a clockwise direction are: Classic, Renoir and Raffine.  The “goal” is coloured using Polychromos.  I tried my best to colour match across the four brands of pencils.

Here is my comparison and personal opinion of these four brands of pencils: The core in oil-based pencils is harder making them less likely to break and helps keep a sharper point for longer. I use a good quality sharpener and haven’t had issues with breakage of leads.  They all have rich pigment, although the Marco Raffines aren’t quite as good as the other three.

I prefer the Polychromos colored pencils but you will pay more for them.  They blend and shade beautifully without much effort.  Available in sets of 12, 24, 36, 60 and 120 or as individuals in some art shops and Ebay.  As I’m from Australia, I bought my set at my local Riot store when they had a sale.  A set of 12 is available for $27.50 AUD ($19.35 US) or a set of 120 $273.50 AUD ($193.50 US) + shipping.

However, the Faber Castell Classic colored pencils are a budget pencil which still shade and blend nicely but you do have to work a bit harder to get a good result.  Available in sets of 12, 24, 36 and 48.  A set of 12 is available for only $3.50 AUD at my local Kmart store.  These pencils are available in most department stores at a very good price but not individually as far as I can tell.

Marco Renoir colored pencils are artist grade and better quality than their less expensive counterpart Marco Raffine.  They blend and layer well, are much creamier and give a vibrant colour.  I bought mine from Ebay but recently bought a larger set from Wish.  Available in sets of 24, 36, 48, 72, 100.  A set of  24 is approximately $21 US or set 100 $60 available from Ebay (be careful of are extra shipping charges).  As far as I can tell these are not available as individuals.

Marco Raffine colored pencils are a student grade pencil.  I found that you can still blend and shade but they are not as smooth as the other three brands.  I bought mine from Ebay.  Available in sets of 24, 36, 48, 72.  24 pencils are $6.99 US on Ebay (shipping charges extra).  No individual pencils are available.

If you are starting out with pencils, I would recommend an oil-based pencil for ease of sharpening and excellent pigment. Overall, I am happy with all the brands I’ve mentioned.  My budget recommendation would be Faber Castell Classic colored pencils and top-priced Polychromos if you can afford them. Renoir is good if you can’t afford Polychromos. I started with medium set and was very impressed! Renoir is equal to Polychromos in pigment.

Four brands ranked according to Blending Quality, with 1 being the best:
1. Faber Castell Polychromos
2. Marco Renoir
3. Faber Castell Classic
4. Marco Raffine

Colour Variety (per set) Ranking:
This refers to how varied the color choices are for any given set provided. Note that this a tricky category to compare. For example, Marco Raffine’s smallest set has 24 colored pencils whereas Faber Castell Classic come in 12.
1. Faber Castell Classic
2. Marco Renoir
3. Marco Raffine
4. Faber Castell Polychromos
Polychromos colored pencils have no pink in the small set and they are ranked last. Classic colored pencils are ranked first because they have pink and gold in their small set. A great small set with great variety of colours.

Colour Variety (overall) Ranking: 

1. Faber Castell Polychromos
2. Marco Renoir
3. Faber Castell Classic
4. Marco Raffine
120 Polychromos colored pencils are ranked first. It’s the biggest set with great variety of colours. Faber Castell Classic colored pencils  are not available in a big set and therefore aren’t ranked as highly.

Cost Ranking:

1. Faber Castell Classic (most affordable)
2. Marco Raffine
3. Marco Renoir
4. Faber Castell Polychromos
I always recommend buying the biggest set of what you can afford. Faber Castell Classic colored pencils are a great low cost, all-rounder that blend and shade well and have good pigment.

Overall ranking taking cost and performance into account:
1. Marco Renoir
2. Faber Castell Classic
3. Faber Castell Polychromos
4. Marco Raffine
Marco Renoir colored pencils are a good price for a great product that have good pigment that blend and shade well.

I always do a price comparison before I buy online and in-store.  I like to get the best price particularly if I’m paying more for a better-quality product. I recommend buying the biggest set you can afford as you get more colour variety within the set.

We hope Cindy’s oil-based colored pencil review helped you decide on the best brand to get. However, as with many coloring activities, the choice of coloring medium is a personal choice and a matter of preference. If you’re not as adventurous as Cindy, try a smaller set of the brand before investing in a bigger set. Or, like Cindy, maybe you can have a bit of everything :).

Do you like this article? Connect with us and be among the first to know about exclusive deals and coloring tips. Sign up for our enews and even get an instant sample pack printables of Color My Moods Day and Night (Volumes 1-3).

Maria Castro of is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Bokeh Background Tutorial

You’ve probably seen photographs where the main subject is sharp and the background is out-of-focus or blurry which creates a dramatic effect. defines bokeh as “a Japanese term for the subjective aesthetic quality of  out-of-focus areas of a photographic image.”

On this tutorial, the talented Vermailene Barrios shows us how to create these round circles of different colors and use as a background for coloring pages.

Vermailene used this lovely I Heart Me page from HEALTHY HUE, a Coloring Health & Fitness Journal with Positive Affirmations.

She achieves a bokeh effect by creating layers of colors similar to the galaxy background except for the last part where she creates different circles instead of adding stars.

Here are the materials she used:

I Heart Me (Simple version) from HEALTHY HUE by Maria Castro-

Or get the single page here –

Maped Helix USA Color’Peps Smoothie Gel Crayons, Pack of 12 –

Caran D’ache Museum Aquarelle Watercolour Pencils – White – or any white watercolor pencil

Prima Marketing Watercolor Confections: The Classics – or any white water color pencil

Uni-ball Signo –

Zig Detailer Watercolor Brush –

Enjoy the full tutorial here:

Maria Castro of is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

HEALTHY HUE is here!

Color My Moods Adult Coloring Books and Journals presents HEALTHY HUE, A Coloring Health & Fitness Journal with Positive Affirmations, a motivational tool for health and wellness, weight loss, stress relief, management of diabetes, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, allergies, cancer, chronic pain, migraine, anxiety, and other illnesses, using coloring.
Coloring has been known to have therapeutic effects and health benefits. Journaling and coloring are two of the most relaxing activities for stress relief and meditation. Combined with the functionality of tracking your vitals, nutrition, exercise, diet, medicine, and other health information, HEALTHY HUE is an ideal tool to a healthy and fit life with the help of coloring.

HEALTHY HUE combines beautiful, original artwork with positive affirmations to keep you motivated in your health and wellness journey. Full-size pages showing simple and intricate versions of each design are combined with college-ruled journaling pages for a total of seventy-two coloring pages to help track your health. Each page has something special to color. Designs suit your coloring mood on any given day — simple designs when you just want to relax, or intricate designs to focus on and keep your mind off pain on some days.

The Table of Contents describe each section. You may want to visit some every day, like the Food Tracker, Sleep Tracker, Water Intake, and Activity Tracker journaling pages. There are some that you’ll use as the need arises, like Vitals, Hooray, Appointment, and Directory. There are also Notes pages you can use as diary, planner, or for other health and fitness information.

Single-sided coloring and journaling pages make it suitable for different media, including colored pencils, markers, gel pens, pastels, crayons, and more. We recommend using the extra blank sheets provided as blotter pages to minimize bleed through.

Post your colored pages on social media with #scribocreative #colormymoods #healthyhue and you might just get a surprise from us. To connect with us, visit:

If you love HEALTHY HUE, check out our other coloring journals and coloring books on Amazon and other fine online retailers: 
For more coloring inspiration, freebies, and exclusive discounts, subscribe to our enews:

Maria Castro of is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to