If you’re looking for a way to create stunning and creative art with a tool that is easy to use even for beginners, we recommended watercolor pencils. With the ability to be used wet, dry, or in a combination of the two, watercolor pencils enable budding artists to switch between drawing and painting.
Watercolor pencils are made with a water-soluble binder that is activated when the tip of the pencil is dipped in water or when water is painted onto a drawing made with watercolor pencils. This allows artists to choose between a traditional pencil-crayon drawing and a watercolor painting, or a combination of the two.
In addition to the versatility in the look of the finished product that comes from using watercolor pencils, we also like how easy they are to use. Watercolor pencils don’t have the same messy trays that are required for painting, with the cleanup of using brushes and an easel skipped with watercolor pencils.
Watercolor pencils are also easy to hold and use, with artists having more control over fine points and details with watercolor pencils than with a traditional watercolor brush.
For best results, we recommend using watercolor pencils with watercolor paper, with the thick and textured paper acting as the perfect canvas for watercolor pencils.
Check out some of our favorite watercolor pencil sets below and get ready to create.
1. Derwent Colored Pencils
For a premium option, consider these colored pencils from Derwent, which get high marks from casual doodlers and dedicated artists alike. These water-soluble colored pencils have a vibrant color and come in a tin of 36. What sets these apart is that the marks are permanent when dry, which is why they’re categorized as ink pencils. That means that they’re also suitable for use on fabric.
2. Arteza Professional Watercolor Pencils, Set of 120
The water-soluble ARTEZA brings pictures to life simply by adding water. Made from graphite, the pencils have a long life span with more lead than traditional wooden pencils. The set of 120 pencils come pre-sharpened and are non-toxic. The ARTEZA set is also great for coloring books. We love the massive amount of options with this set, as well as its handy carrying tin which makes keeping them all together a breeze.
3. Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle Pencil Sets
This premium set from Caran d’Ache is designed to be used wet or dry, and a set of 20 vibrant colors are included. The lightfast colors mean you can proudly display your work without fading.
4. Prismacolor Watercolor Pencil Sets
Prismacolor is one of the leading brands for making colored pencils, including watercolor pencils like this set of 12 water-soluble colored pencils. You can also choose between 24 or 36 colored pencils, and they have an aesthetically appealing natural wood finish.
5. Faber-Castell Goldfaber Aqua Watercolor Pencils
This set from Faber-Castell is made with students and hobbyists in mind, making this a great set if you’re looking to branch out and try watercolor pencils. They’re designed to be soft yet break-resistant. Conveniently, you can order these watercolor pencils in sets of 12, 24, 36, 48 and even 144 from Blick. Or, you can select individual colors and mix and match.
6. Staedtler Watercolor Pencils, Box of 36 Colors
BEST FOR KIDS
This option comes from Staedtler, a trusted Nuremberg-based stationery brand that’s been around since 1835 and still makes many of its products in Germany, including this set of 36 watercolor pencils. They have an anti-breakage coating, meaning adult artists won’t be frustrated by messy breakages and children can comfortably use them. If you’re looking for the best watercolor pencils for kids and students, this is a great option.
7. Faber-Castell Goldfaber Aqua Watercolor Pencils
While most of the attention of the pencil goes toward the lead, Faber-Castell also took care with the design of the body. It features a triangular shape with a dimpled design that makes it easier to grip while helping prevent the pencils from rolling away. They’re fully water-soluble for smooth drawing results. Plus, the pencils are made with reforested wood.
8. Castle Art Supplies 72 Watercolor Pencils Set
Featuring 72 vibrant colors and using a unique water-soluble binder, the Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencils Set can be used dry, wet, or a combination of the two. Easy to use, the watercolor pencils can be used dry like regular pencils or dipped directly into water for a watercolor effect. Water can also be painted on or dripped onto a drawing done with dry Castle pencils to create a stunning watercolor effect.
9. Crayola Watercolor Pencils
BEST FOR YOUNG ARTISTS
If you’re looking for an option for the young ones, it’s hard to go wrong with this vibrant set from Crayola. This set includes 12 watercolor pencils, or you can buy the set of 24. They come in classic rainbow colors that are easy for a young one to work with. But several reviewers compared these favorably to more expensive sets, so they’re a great option for adults, too.