Prismacolor Premier review

Today, finally, the Prismacolor Premier review. These are the most popular colored pencils out there and there are diehard fans and those who absolutely loathe them, very few are neutral. Which I must say is incredibly intriguing, don’t you think? So lets look at whaaat?
All reviews on pencils and what’s to come, you can find HERE.
Prismas were my first pencils ever, I had the 72 tin. I recently got the full set of 150 so showing you that instead of my stubs in the 72 tin.
Prismacolor is an American brand that belongs to the Newell Brands. It has a long history, originally belonging to Berol. The pencils were manufactured in USA for a long time and moved their production to Mexico several years ago, with that starting the controversy with quality.
Prismacolor Premier comes in a wide variety of counts, 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 96, 132 and 150. There’s also a special portrait set containing 24 pencils in tones suitable for portraiture. They are wax based.
The pencils are round with a colored casing, on it the color code and name. The pencils feel quite thin but house a standard 3,8mm lead.

  • Very soft and smooth
  • Blend beautifully
  • Reasonable price
  • HUGE color range
  • Probably my favorite black, nice and opaque, easy to get a deep black from
  • They layer very well, with a light hand you can do quite a few layers
  • Good thick 3,8mm lead
  • Fit all standard sharpeners
  • Strong in bright colors and excellent variety for coloring light skin, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything in color choices
  • Available open stock in some art stores and Amazon


  • The cores break. A LOT. That is the main reason the haters hate. It’s just not fun when you sharpen your new pencil to a stub
  • The casing quality is shoddy, some pencils are off center, contributing to the breakage, some splinter, some cores just fall out without much prodding
  • Tricky to get in Europe, not impossible by no means but noticeably more expensive then in USA
  • Don’t erase well

I’m a little hesitant about what to compare them to. I’ve already done the comparison with Derwent Coloursoft which you can read HERE and also Caran D’Ache Luminance which is HERE. So lets just touch on some key points again.
Prismacolor Premier is absolutely delightful when it’s not being a pain in the lower bodyhalf. If it weren’t for the absolutely horrific breakage, they’d be a strong contender to be my favorites. But.. Well I still love them. And hate them with a fiery passion.
Prismas belong in the softest group along with Derwent Coloursoft and Caran D’Ache Luminance. The casing quality is the crappiest of all three. Lead is the most brittle as well, breaking a lot. Lightfastness is the worst. However on the upside, the softness is more unified then Luminance, pretty much all the pencils are the same degree of softness, no surprises really, which is always a good thing. And they layer better then Coloursoft. Also Prismas have the biggest color range out of all three and if you luck out with a good sale price on Amazon, they’re also priced the best.
If you have the other popular giant, Faber-Castell Polychromos, and wonder how they compare, they really don’t. Polychromos is very different in handling and that comparison would be comparing oranges to apples.

Color chart:

Once again, my handwriting is intense and columns whacked but hey, better then nothing if you don’t want to Google for it 🙂

Official color chart:
Example coloring piece:

Picture: Sommarnatt by Hanna Karlzon

All things considered, hey, I did get the full set, didn’t I? Goes to show that underneath all the cursing and throwing tantrums and having aneurysms, I do love them. I really do. They find use a lot, even though mostly they drive me bonkers and I swear never to touch them again. And yet I do. And the full set is a little bit better then my 72 when it comes to breakage. My 72 is from the time when they just switched to Mexico so maybe, just maybe the quality is a wee bit better now. But maybe not. I’m still figuring out how many are broken but not all, unlike my 72, so there’s hope. I’ll probably keep buying them and recommending them with the caveat that you have to be prepared that they are very fragile. If you can deal with that and don’t care much for lightfastness, you’ll love these.

Next time I’ll be blabbering about the Lyra Polycolor Rembrandt pencils.

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience with these pencils

7 thoughts on “Prismacolor Premier review

      1. I liked them very much and I know the Polychromos have more potential than what I have been able to develop. I have seen drawings and tutorials with them and they look beautiful. I am not a professional so I am in the process of learning. I was told many years ago, that for art, not to pay too much attention to the advice of buying lower quality colour pencils if one is a beginner in the process of learning because the high quality helps to improve and forces myself to improve technics and even inspiration.


  1. I have the same love/hate relationship you have with my Prismacolors. I’m on my 2nd box of 132 and both have a lot of breakage and wood splintering when sharpening. I’m going to either get Holbeins next or Luminance. Thanks for your reviews.


    1. I haven’t tried Holbein but Luminance is a good choice. Though my set has a few scratchy ones, which I wouldn’t expect at this price. I’d recommend trying Faber-Castell Polychromos or Caran D’Ache Pablo.


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