Black pencil comparison

Yesterday it was white pencil comparison time, today lets take a look at blacks.

All reviews can be found HERE.

1 is one layer, 2 is as strong as it gets, blended is how it blends with a blender pencil, in this case Lyra Splender Blender, erase is pretty self explanatory, how well it erases:
Top down:

  • Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor – oh Lyra, you do it again. Just like with whites, the black is an underachiever. Though not the least opaque of the bunch, definitely not one of the top contenders. The black gives a very limited value range, blends pretty well though and erases quite badly. Generally it’s an okay pencil but not something spectacular to pop the cork for.
  • Faber-Castell Polychromos – while one of the least opaque in the bunch, Polychromos is also one of the easiest to work with if you want a smooth gradient for instance. Pablos are a tiny smidgeon better even in that regard. Blends well but doesn’t give a black result, more like a dark gray. Erases well for a black.
  • Prismacolor Premier – one of the worst in the erasability category, however Prisma black shines when blended, it becomes truly black. The issue with it is the wax bloom, if you are trying to achieve truly black black, you can but be aware, there will be wax bloom. You can gently lift a bit of it off with a cotton pad for instance. Spraying fixative right after finishing also helps, I suggest leave black last since you don’t want it smearing all over your other colors anyway, then work in one sitting with the black and spray. Then you’ll be fine. That is ofcourse if you want a thick dense black. For detailing or linework it doesn’t matter.
  • Caran D’Ache Pablo – the least opaque black in the bunch is also the best blender without a blender, meaning you get a beautiful soft gradient with it without even trying. While it won’t give you a black black, it has its uses for effects and it’s also the best at being erased. So it’s definitely not the worst of the bunch.
  • Caran D’Ache Luminance – really gorgeous black, deep and rich. Second best at being opaque. Provides a beautiful range of values, able to go from really light to really dark very easily. Blends into a beautiful dark black. Erasability is bad as expected of such a soft pencil. Would be my favorite hands down if not for the price so I wouldn’t use this for large areas that eat up your pencils in a heartbeat.
  • Derwent Drawing – the softest, darkest, blackest black of them all. However, since this is a VERY soft pencil, it smears like something insane. Be very very careful when using this. It’s not as bad as charcoal but try to think like you’re using charcoal, that will help you avoid some tears. It gets you a beautiful deep black quickly, good for large areas but yes, be careful, always keep a sheet of paper under your hand and don’t drag it around over the picture, lift the sheet and check the underside before laying it back down, if dirty, take a new paper. You will want to work extremely clean with this one. Erases surprisingly well for such a soft pencil, good for effects.
  • Derwent Coloursoft – also quite opaque, doesn’t go quite as black as Prismacolor Premier but for large areas, it’s a good substitute if you’re in EU since Derwent is a lot easier to get open stock here then Prismacolor. Again, smear-warning! Erases very well for a soft pencil, great for lightening parts up. No black will ever lift completely unless it was a VERY light layer.
  • Derwent Artists – the hardest pencil of the bunch, meant for detail work and not for covering immense areas with intense color. This black is surprisingly opaque for a pencil this hard, it’s really great for detailing, keeps a sharp point for a long time since it’s so hard. If you get it for detailing and not for areas, you’ll love this. If you expect black backgrounds with this one, you’ll be frustrated and disappointed. So it really is brilliant for what it’s meant to do. Just don’t expect an elephant to be a raccoon. Erasability is decent, could be better but not the worst.


  • Most opaque – Derwent Drawing
  • Least opaque – Caran D’Ache Pablo
  • Softest – Derwent Drawing
  • Hardest – Derwent Artists
  • Best erasability – Caran D’Ache Pablo
  • Personal favorite – Prismacolor Premier for large areas, Luminance for small

Hope it helps in choosing that elusive favorite black pencil and don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions, there’s a contact form under the “about me” tab, also you can leave a comment on this post or send me an e-mail if you prefer –

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