In the pet portrait world, both the Caran d'ache Luminance and the Faber Castell Polychromos are at the top of most used colored pencils. As you might have noticed from the title the Polychromos are my go-to colored pencils for creating highly detailed colored pencil pet portraits. In this post I will explain more about these pencils.
Why do I prefer them? Keep on reading!
Faber Castell has been an established pencil brand since 1761. The Polychromos colored pencils specifically have been on the market since 1908. The Faber Castell head quarters are based in Nuremberg Germany. In 2016 I was invited to visit the Factory together with a small group of other artists. During a tour through the factory I have been able to see for myself how the pencils are made. I've created a short(and quite badly edited) video of my experience at Faber Castell which I'll add at the bottom of this post. It was an awesome experience!
Oil based or wax based?
In the colored pencil world we know 2 types of pencils: The oil based and the wax based pencil. Faber Castell Polychromos are known as an oil based pencil. They still contain wax though, just a higher concentration of oil than the waxed based brands like Caran d'ache Luminance or the Prismacolors. This is why the Faber Castell's pencil leads are quite firm, which means they can be easily sharpened to a very fine point. This makes them very suitable for a highly detailed drawing! The downside of this is that it might be more time consuming to fully color larger areas, than when using a smoother colored pencil.
The colors in the Polychromos pencil range are known for being very lightfast. This means that the colors will last a lifetime without fading or discoloring, which is very important if you are planning on selling your drawings!
The lightfast ratings of the specific colors are noted at the bottom of each pencil. 3 stars means very lightfast(will last 100+ years) and 1 star means less lightfast(5+ years). In the complete range of 120 colors, 102 colors are rated with 3 stars. The colors with 2 or less stars tend to be the purple and pink tones. Colors with 1 star I tend to skip. Here you can find a complete overview of all the colors and lightfast ratings. Don't forget that your paper or drawing surface is just as important! Make sure to use professional quality acid free paper for the best results.
My most used colors for pet portraits!
When it comes to drawing dogs, cats and horses there are definitely some colors that I need to replace very regularly! In the picture above you can see my most used colors. From left to right: Black, Caput mortuum violet, Dark indigo, Walnut brown, Burnt siena, Van dyck brown, Paynes grey, Cold grey VI, Cold grey II, Burnt ochre, Terracotta and Light flesh. If you are planning on getting some Polychromos for drawing pet portraits, these colors are must haves! Then based on the subject I do use around 10-15 more tones to get the most colorful result.The Polychromos range contains enough variety of tones for me to do my work and also for wildlife the range of colors is very suitable. The colors are beautiful and vibrant.
If you are planning on doing human portraits you might need to do some more research!
'I want to try the Polychromos pencils. Which set should I start with?'
This is a question you might have when you are interested in trying out these pencils. If you are totally new to colored pencils and you're not sure whether or not colored pencils are the right medium for you I would advise to start off with a small set, mostly because of the price of these pencils. They are not cheap! The set of 12 or 24 would be enough for you to decide if you like the pencils. They also sell individually, so another option would be to get some individual pencils from every brand you'd like to try, compare them, and then decide which one you'd like to invest in. Also make sure to try different types of paper(I use Canson 1557). If you're starting to get more experienced I would advise to expand your color range as much as possible. Mixing colors is also possible, but having enough colors to choose from will make it a lot easier to achieve realistic results.
And finally, here are 2 videos I'd like to add. First you can watch the Faber Castell trip I made, and I'll also add a recent video from my Youtube channel showing how I use these pencils in a portrait!
Well, that's it for today!
I hope I've been able to inform you some more about colored pencils and the Polychromos in specific. Don't forget that every artist has their own style and combination of products to achieve that style. What works for me might not work for you, so make sure to do enough research before investing in expensive art supplies. Still the Polychromos will always be my go-to pencils and I would recommend them to anyone!
As always, feel free to leave a comment or contact me through email if you have any questions!