Favorites | Koh-I-Noor Woodless Colored Pencils

In The Studio

Colored pencils. One’s as good as the next, right? Eh, not exactly. And with the rising popularity of coloring books for grown ups, the humble colored pencil is also getting a bit more attention.

I’ve seen a lot of questions in Facebook groups about best or favorite colored pencils and the answer is almost unanimous that Prismacolor is the pencil to use. And I have nothing against Prismacolor, I have a set of their colored pencils and their art sticks, they are readily available in arts & crafts stores and even Office Depot.

Koh-I-Noor Woodless Colored Pencils – Set of 24 (affiliate link)

It was at Office Depot, wandering the pencil and pen aisles, that I came across a pack of Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils. They were on clearance so I gave them a try, and they’ve been my go-to pencils ever since.

Why do I love them so much? Oh, let’s count the ways:

  1. All colored core, no wood.Whereas most colored pencils are made up of a narrow pigmented core surrounded by a wooden barrel, these pencils are all color. That means you don’t have to worry about sharpening them only to have the point break (or the core to fall out in a chunk, like can happen with cheaper pencils) and repeating the process over and over until you’re left with a nub. I’ve used the pencils mostly at conventions for sketching and have never had the points break on me.
  2. Heavier than traditional colored pencils.The colored core is heavier than the wood that would usually take up the bulk of the pencil, so these woodless colored pencils have a really nice heft to them and feel really good in my hands. Traditional colored pencils feel positively flimsy compared to the Koh-I-Noor pencils
  3. Brilliant color that goes on super-smooth, even on copy paper.Of course, the most beautifully made pencil in the world isn’t much good if the color sucks. What you’re coloring on makes a difference in how your pencils are going to perform, but the Koh-I-Noor pencils do great on regular printer paper as well as thicker, textured papers meant for watercolors, etc. This comes in handy for me, since I used them on the dedication pages of my book. That paper is very similar to what most of the adult coloring books are printed on, making it a really good choice for this sort of use.

Now, Prismacolor Art Stix share the all-core, no wood property and have brilliant color, but they also tend to rub off on hands or wherever you set them that’s not their tray. The Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils have a thin coating on the barrel that keeps the color from rubbing off on me or anything other than when I mean them to. Prismacolor is supposed to be erasable but I have not had good experiences getting that to work,even on light marks. Amusingly enough, the Prismacolor white vinyl eraser works fabulously on the Koh-I-Noor pencils. Go figure.

My contact over at Oriental Trading let me know that there’s a coloring contest going on over there with 3 free coloring pages available. So go to http://www.orientaltrading.com/s3-otlovestocolor.fltr, pick your favorite page, color it, share a picture on Instagram using #OTLovesToColor #contest AND @orientaltrading. A grand prize winner and 5 runner’s up will be announced on February 15.

I had trouble picking a favorite page until after they were colored, and I used a different set of pencils on each.


Follow your arrow is colored with Prismacolor…


Dream without fear is colored with Koh-I-Noor…


And Love is patient is colored with the Lowel-Cornell watercolor pencils from the Portable Plein Air Creative Mischief Kit. I thought the watercolor look would work well for the floral bouquet.

Doesn’t come as much of a surprise, the Koh-I-Noor colored dreamcatcher was my favorite, and the one I shared on Instagram.

And while I’m on the subject, if you discover that you really enjoy working with colored pencils, you might be interested in checking out The New Colored Pencil by Kristy Ann Kutch.

The New Colored Pencil by Kristy Ann Kutch (affiliate link)

Not only does The New Colored Pencil go into how colored pencils are made and reviews many different pencils on the market, it has sections dedicated to techniques for wax-based colored pencils (what most people think of when colored pencils come up), water-soluble colored pencils (like the ones in the Creative Mischief Kit, above), and wax pastels and hybrid art creation. This book will take you beyond mere coloring pages and into creating your own art with the very versatile pencils. I was sent a copy for review and I flip through it often for inspiration alone–lots of awesome artsy eye-candy!



Simple Pleasures: Coloring Inside the Lines

Everyday Adventures

These days we, as individuals trying to be more individual, are encouraged to think outside the box and color outside the lines. Sure, it’s all kinds of buzzwords and jargon that we tune out, but the idea behind it is that being IN the box or coloring INSIDE the lines means we’re being contained, constrained, and normalized into sheeple-hood.

And I say nuts to that!

I’m all for being yourself and doing your own thing your own way, but there are times to be in that box and out. Times to color outside the lines and times to color inside.

Crayons and coloring books were staples growing up. They were a cheap way for my single mother to supply us with hours of occupation. Plus, Mom really liked to color with us, though she didn’t have as much time for that when the boys were younger as she did when I was still an only child. Mom taught me about outlining the shape I was coloring so that it would be easier to keep my coloring inside the lines and look nice and pretty. Even though I’m well into my 30s I still love to bust out the big box of crayons and a fresh coloring book when the mood strikes and just have some simple, childhood fun.

It’s a great way to get in the creative mood without any pressure beyond filling in spaces.

And that’s where I think coloring books and crayons excel. Just like in writing where we learn the rules of grammar and syntax before choosing to strategically break them for literary effect, coloring inside the lines teaches us shapes and relationships and the nature of how things fit together. Lines, boxes, and boundaries give us safe spaces to create within when a blank page or open vista might be too daunting with the unlimited possibility of it all.

Exploring outside of those lines is nice and fun and wonderful when something different beckons, but having those lines to return to is truly a simple pleasure.


This musing on the simple joys of a fresh box of crayons and new coloring book was prompted by a recent notice from Crayola:


To celebrate their 110th birthday, the 8 original crayons are throwing a birthday bash at the new fun-omenal Crayola Experience, the world’s only interactive Crayola family attraction. Right now, they’re out on a colorful adventure to spread the news, and you’re invited to join the fun!

How can you join in on the fun? You can FOLLOW the crayons on their adventure, LEARN more about each color and enter to WIN a trip for 4 to celebrate their birthday and the Grand Opening of the all new Crayola Experience this coming May, 2013!

Visit the Crayola Facebook page and click “enter now” for your chance to be first in line when the Crayola Experience reopens.

The new Crayola Experience features four floors of new interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind attractions that will bring the magic of color and your child’s creativity to life! The winner will be among the first to experience the fun, along with a three- night, all-expenses paid stay. It’s an experience your kids will never forget – and neither will you!

Crayola is much more than crayons, of course, but it’s tough to think of the brand without the iconic box of brightly colored hues just waiting for fun. I was always partial to the blue shades–midnight blue, cornflower, and cadet blue. What was (is?) your favorite Crayola crayon color?