The most common question ever asked of artists, and creative people in general, is ‘so what do you use?’.

In my 20+ years of doing this I have never really become a this is my system, this is my brand I will never deviate from this brand.

Each brand has its own merit and its own failing and it is up to the artist to use their meterial to minimise the faults and enhance the brilliance.

Now don’t get me wrong, some brands out there, the budget brands especially, are appalling but if you worked hard with them you would be able to show them at their very best.

My work flow drifts between many different brands, some low end some high end, and I am not afraid to mix the two.

My coloured pencil pieces currently contain layers of polychromos, luminance, light fast, procolour, Pablo and prismacolor pencils.

Why so many different brands?

As mentioned before brands have their pros and cons.

Prismacolor are very, very soft and won’t retain a sharp point very long. It is well known that the point on a prismacolor is more likely to crumble before you finish one line BUT there is no better pencil in my arsenal to use as a finisher (dark lines, bright highlights etc).

The light fast range range of pencils are great, fantastic lay down, blending and all round great BUT the colour range right now is very limited and needs augmenting with other ranges like polychromos and luminance.

I currently use:

Caran d’ache luminance and Pablo pencils.

Luminance are superb, soft, blendable with a gorgeous painterly finish. Pablos as super pigmented and bright which just works so well with the luminance pencils.

Faber castell polychromos

A brightly pigmented set of oil based pencils that can retain a sharp point for large periods of time. Their flesh tones work well with other pencils and they full holes left in the light fast pencil range.

Derwent light fast, procolour and coloursoft.

They have some of the oddest colours in pencil sets, light fast is limited in its range, procolour has the best set of blues and greys and coloursoft are great sketching pencils. They all seem to have a slightly off centre range of colours in their sets though, which I enjoy as when I needed a turquoise blue for my portrait of Jess procolour had the solution for me right out of the box (no other pencil set came close).

Prismacolor premiere

Soft, blendable pencils, waxy and super cheap feeling but to paraphrase Bob Ross a thin paint will stick to a thick paint, and Prismacolor will work over the top of any other pencil.

They are superb at adding in those tiny details over the top of everything else, small flourishes to highlights of deepening of black areas especially in eyes and pupils.

But why so many brands?

OK, now it is a valid question.

Experimentation and exploration of techniques and abilities.

My first coloured pencils were the now defunct Karismacolor, they were like crayons in a wooden case, perfect blend of soft blend able wax with enough hardness to sharpen to a perfect point.

My next set were carandache supra colour which I absolutely hated and ended up giving away.

I then got prismacolor, great but too soft.

I tried spectrum noir (which were given to my daughter to play with).

And I could still create half decent images with all these pencils

But after my father’s passing last year my wife bought me a set of Luminance pencils and changed the game for me.

I loved their oil painter style finish, they looked almost wet on the finished page. It wasn’t perfect but it was such a different finish from everything else I did.

I went a little nuts and invested in procolour, Pablo, polychromos and light fast after that (I don’t know when I picked up the coloursoft they just sort of appeared in my art box one day.)

I needed to take things to new levels for myself and the exploration of different pencils helped that.

I learned what each one could do, what each one would do, which ones complimented the other and which ones didn’t really play well together and from there I built my technique for each different piece.

I think the beauty of what I do is in the fact that no 2 pieces will ever be the same.