Tips for Colouring with Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils

by Kim MacFarlane

Tips for Colouring with Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils

Faber-Castell Polychromos artists’ colour pencils have especially soft, oil leads, which are non-smudge and waterproof. They are characterised by their unparalleled light-fastness and break-resistance.

A - Blocks of rich colour

To create blocks of intense colour, hold the pencil in an almost vertical position and press down hard on the paper.

B - Shading

To colour an area evenly, hold the pencil at a very shallow angle, and only press down lightly on the paper. The structure of the paper will be visible, while individual strokes will not.

C - Hatching and cross-hatching

Drawing many lines alongside each other will create an area of colour, which can be intensified by repeatedly overlaying lines at different angles.

D - From light to dark

Light colours are transparent, while dark colours provide coverage. Superimposing layers of colour increases the brilliance and vividness of the colours.

E - Brush painting and blending

To create even and graduated areas of colour, paint over the strokes made with Polychromos artists’ colour pencils using a bristle brush and paraffin oil (baby oil or salad oil).

Oil paints also dissolve the artists’ colour pencils, which is why they are often used to draw preparatory sketches for oil paintings. The lines subsequently dissolve when they are painted over.

F - Working onto coloured backgrounds

A coloured background can result in very attractive changes to the character of a colour.

G - Working on different surfaces

Polychromos colour pencils adhere to many different surfaces, such as paper, parchment, cardboard, wood, stone, leather and metal.


Polychromos artists’ colour pencils are permanent, adhere firmly to their background, and do not require fixing. Fixing could cause lower layers of colour to bleed through to the surface.

This product information article has been reproduced from the Faber-Castell Catalogue.

What's the main difference between Polychromos and Prismacolor pencils?

Polychromos are medium-soft oil based pencils that can be blended and graduated using baby oil or salad oils.

Prismacolor are soft wax based pencils, susceptible to unwanted bloom. Prismacolor pencils are blended with alcohol solutions.

Illustrator Heather Franzen has written a very helpful comparison article between the two pencils. Visit her blog to read what she has to say.

Products Mentioned

  • Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists' Pencils - 120 Metal Tin
Tags: Product Help

Kim MacFarlane

Designer & Founder of Buddly Crafts. A passionate crafter who enjoys seeing creativity grow wings and take flight.