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!