Pencil Crayons

Ten (MORE!) Gifts: Great Gifts for Colored Pencil Lovers (presents they'll actually use!)

 
10 (MORE!) Gift Ideas for a colored pencil lover (presents they'll actually use!) | VanillaArts.com
 
 

Shopping for the perfect gift for a colored pencil lover can make your brain hurt...

With the recent adult coloring craze, there's a ton of stuff on the market right now.

And you know darned well that some of the supplies offered to colorers aren't worth the price. How do you avoid buying the stuff that's pretty but worthless if you don't color yourself?

Relax. Sometimes all you need is a little advice from an experienced colored pencil person.

I've been using colored pencils since 1985, so I've seen a lot of pencils and accessories come and go.

I'm also brutally frank, so if I think something is overpriced, useless, or downright stupid, I'll tell you not to buy it.

updated for 2019!

I regularly use these products and highly recommend them. For more information on recommended supplies, see our page dedicated to Amy’s Favorite Things here:


Here are 10 (well loved, not useless) gift ideas for your colored pencil lover:

(Warning: the following article contains Amazon Affiliate where applicable. Links to other stores or websites are not part of any affiliate program)

And hey, don't miss my other great Gift Suggestion Lists here... Copic, watercolor and mixed media.

#1 - Caran d'Ache Luminance Starter Set

If your special person is a beginner colorer or if they are only coloring in coloring books, I would skip this suggestion entirely.

Luminance pencils are an artist grade pencil and they're my preferred brand for professional applications.

But they're a little pricey for someone who isn't coloring seriously. As I said in part one here, I always start my beginners out on Prismacolor Premier pencils because they're an artist grade product but they're priced so that they don't knock your eyeballs out with the sticker shock.

Luminance are definitely a more expensive pencil than most other brands. Worth every penny in my estimation but the price should be taken into consideration. I think it's unwise to invest in a large set of these pencils if your recipient is only using them for manila paper coloringbooks.

But as a serious colorer, someone just starting out but looking to improve my technique and make real art? A set of these pencils would have brought tears to my eyes. Luminance pencils make a beautiful and a generous gift.

 

#2 - Pencil Extender & Pencil Caps

Theoretically, the entire length of a colored pencil is usable. In practice though, once a pencil gets down to about 3 inches long, it becomes hard to control and painful to the hands.

Pencil Extenders add length to pencil stubs, restoring control and preventing sore fingers. Plus they save money by helping you milk every last drop of use from every pencil.

Buy a set rather than a single extender. At any one time, I have at least 5 pencil stubs on extenders. Having to constantly move a single holder from pencil to pencil is inconvenient.

To go with the set of Pencil Extenders, here's a great set of Pencil Caps.

Yes, caps for pencils, isn't that ingenious?

These used to be available in bulk at the cash register of my favorite art store but I don't see a bulk option online. I have both the plastic and aluminum type and the only reason I can justify spending more on the aluminum variety is that they're adjustable and will fit larger diameter pencils. The plastic variety fit Prismacolor pencils quite nicely.

By the way, I also have that sharpener. It stinks.

 

#3 - Quality Hot Press Watercolor Paper

When students ask me for colored pencil paper suggestions, I always recommend this paper first.

Fabriano Artistico Hot Press 140 Pound Watercolor Paper in Extra White.

Say that ten times fast.

Yes, I know it says watercolor on the cover. That's because it's watercolor paper, silly!

F/A Hot Press Watercolor Paper is perfect for colored pencil. It has enough tooth (microscopic roughness) to grab hold of the pencil pigment and keep it trapped on the paper. Watercolor paper has a built in bonus in that it’s a high cotton and/or linen content paper which makes it super durable and able to withstand lots of layers of pencil and lots of damage from erasing.

Make sure it's HOT PRESS watercolor paper though! Watercolor paper also comes in "Cold Press" and "Rough" which are both far too bumpy for use with colored pencils. Hot Press is nice and smooth.

Oh, and watercolor papers also come in different weights. I recommend ‘140 pound’ for colored pencils. Avoid paying extra for "300 pound" watercolor paper- it's very thick paper that watercolorists love but it's total overkill for a colored pencil person.

 

#4 - Artist Drawers

No, I don't mean Van Gogh's underwear.

This is a new addition to my studio (hat tip to the Colored Pencil Podcast) and I'm beyond thrilled to finally have permanent storage for my pencil collection.

These shallow drawers aren't for travelling colorers but if your colored pencil lover has a large collection of pencils and has the space, I highly recommend this gift. These drawers are sooooo much better than stacks of various sized manufacturer's boxes and the avalanche that happens when reaching for one.

Best part: each drawer is fully removable. Pull out only the drawers needed for any project.

 

#5 - Fixative and Sealant

If I have one more student ask me what brand of hairspray I use on my colored pencil project...

Arrrrrgggghhhhhh!

Hairspray is for hair. Hairspray is not for artwork.

Colored pencil projects should be sealed to prevent the pigments from light damage.

There's also this crazy thing called "blooming" which happens with a few pencil brands where the wax from the pencil pigment rises to the project surface and makes a thin white coating that dulls the look of the finished artwork.

I use two different types of spray throughout my project process.

About midway through or if I'm going to set the work aside for a few days, I'll spray with a light coat of what's called Workable Fixative. It's a temporary coating which offers short term protection. 

If I have to radically change the color of an area (otherwise known as fixing a mistake) I'll also shoot it with Workable Fixative. That gives me a better chance of covering over the mistake with new layers of correct color.

Then, once I'm all done, the artwork receives 2 to 3 coats of Lascaux Fixativ which is actually a sealant.

Both are matte coatings, both are non yellowing, both prevent waxy bloom, and the Lascaux Fixativ spray is rated as archival.

Hairspray is none of the above.

 
 

#6 & #7- Two Essential Magazine Subscriptions

I think magazines are pretty important, especially to beginners. A good magazine can inspire and instruct- all in bite sized chunks that can easily be set aside if the ideas are overwhelming.

Even the ads in art magazines are useful because they don't run commercials for art supplies on television. Sometimes you have no idea what products are out there until you see the magazine ad!

Now that we have digital editions, old issues can be easily accessed without gathering dust on the book shelf. Given that I have about 100 back issues in boxes that I can't begin to part with, going digital was a godsend for me. Plus they're cheaper than the dust catchers!

Colored Pencil Magazine is my absolute favorite. I drool and redrool over the artwork within.

Color Magazine is another good one and particularly good for beginners.

A subscription to both will make your colored pencil person smile. 

 

#8 - The Ultimate Guide to Colored Pencil

In my first list of 10 Gifts for a Colored Pencil Lover, I gave you my favorite book for intermediate students and above.

For beginners, I really like Gary Greene's Ultimate Guide to Colored Pencil. Greene does an excellent job breaking down stroke techniques and he clearly defines the steps of projects which combine the strokes.

Remember, both books are a step beyond coloring book coloring. If your recipient has moved from coloring books to digital stamps, I'd recommend this book as a great introduction to more advanced coloring.

 

#9 - Derwent's Chinese White Drawing Pencil

I've been using this pencil for a couple of years now and I find that I'm using it almost everywhere. I stumbled upon it by happy accident and I kinda wonder how I lived without it for so long.

Your average white colored pencil (even the artist grade white pencils) are pretty weak. That's because they're always slightly translucent.

Not this puppy. This Chinese White Drawing Pencil is a potent and practically opaque white and because of that, I consider this pencil a supplement to one's pencil collection rather than a replacement white. Your colored pencil lover won't want to use it on every single project but they'll find lots and lots and lots of uses for this special white.

Like any good artist grade pencil, it combines well with other brands, so you don't have to worry about crossing brands. 

Great as a stand alone gift or buy several at one time. I love it!

 

#10 - Huion Light Box

Colored pencil paper isn't great to draw on. As a professional artist, all of my projects start on drawing paper which I then trace onto art paper.

Colored pencil paper isn't great to stamp on, stamp inks bleed and feather, plus the ink can effect how the colored pencil adheres to the paper. Tracing is the best method for a card maker to transfer a stamped image to art paper.

Colored pencil paper also doesn't fit though most printers. So if your colored pencil lover uses digital stamps, the only way they can get the image transferred to art paper is to trace.

So tracing is not a bad thing. Lightboxes are essential tools. This Huion Light Box is my favorite.

It's super thin and very light weight so it stores very efficiently. The light is very bright and potent and because it's on a dimmer switch rather than a settings button, I can make micro adjustments at any level.

It's also LED lit so the light is cool in color and the box never heats up. My old light box had to be switched off every 10 minutes when it would begin to be uncomfortable to work on.

The Huion Light Box comes in several sizes so be sure to check them all out. If your colored pencil person makes cards, they'll prefer the smaller box. I have a larger size to accommodate my bigger scale projects. 

 

#11 - Digital Stamps... by me!

Okay, I know I was supposed to stop at 10 Gifts but I can't resist throwing in a bit of obvious self promotion...

I teach online Copic coloring classes for lovers of Copic marker, colored pencils, and watercolor.

Those three media types all have something unique in common, you can't use just any digital stamp. The coloring spaces need to be wide open with no texture marks and that's a rarity in the digital stamp world.

So because I got sick of searching for good stamps, I decided to start drawing them myself.

I designed my digital stamps with all three media in mind. They can be used for your special colored pencil artist, marker artists and watercolor artists alike!

Take a stroll over to my Digital Stamp Shop and get your special someone a few files to color. They'll love 'em!

 

so there you have it!

Ten, no make that ELEVEN awesome and battle tested gift suggestions for the colored pencil lover in your life.

Be sure to check out my other helpful gift suggestion lists for Copic, colored pencil, watercolor, and mixed media fans.

Questions? Suggestions? I'd love feedback in the comment section!

Happy Shopping!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for use to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com.

Ten Gifts: Great Gifts for Colored Pencil Lovers (presents they'll actually use!)

 
 

shopping for the perfect gift for a colored pencil lover can be tricky

Especially if you don't color yourself.  And especially, especially now that the market has been flooded with bargain priced coloring books printed on unsuitable paper and poor quality pencils.

How can a non-crafty person who has never colored buy a valued gift for their favorite colored pencil lover? How can a newbie spot the difference between a quality supply and the onslaught of products that have been rushed out of the factory to take advantage of a recent trend?

Relax. Sometimes all you need is a little advice from an experienced colored pencil person.

I've been a colored pencil artist since I picked up my first Prismacolor pencil back in 1985. I've taught art classes and coloring classes for a decade and even when the subject isn't colored pencils, I still find ways to work colored pencils into the curriculum. 

I've seen a lot of colored pencils and drawing accessories come and go. I'm also a brutally frank person, so if I think something is overpriced, useless, or downright stupid, I'll tell you not to buy it.

updated for 2019!

I regularly use these products and highly recommend them. For more information on recommended supplies, see our page dedicated to Amy’s Favorite Things here:

 

here are 10 (well loved, not useless) gift ideas for your colored Pencil lover:

(Warning: the following article contains Amazon Affiliate where applicable. Links to other stores or websites are not part of any affiliate program)

And hey, don't miss my other great Gift Suggestion Lists here... Copic, watercolor and mixed media.

#1 - Prismacolor Premier Pencils

When you get a chance, sneak into your special someone's craft room and have a look at the brand of pencil they're currently using. Are they marked:

  • Prismacolor Premier?

  • Caran d'Ache Luminance?

  • Faber-Castell Polychromos?

If you're seeing any other brand and I do mean ANY OTHER BRAND, please do that poor soul a favor and upgrade them to an artist quality colored pencil.

There's a lot of horse puckey floating around on the internet right now about how great cheapo brands like Crayola pencils are.

If that were true, you'd see artists using them every day. 

But they don't. You will never walk into any artist studio and find them doing serious work with dime store pencils.

Student grade pencils are for coloring maps in geography class. Not for doing colored pencil art on regular basis.

Show your person that you love them by getting them some decent pencils. Even if they never do more than color in coloring books, your colored pencil lover will feel the quality difference as they color. There simply is no substitution for decent pencils.

Of the three brands I mentioned above, I think Prismacolor Premier pencils are the best for beginners. The Premier Soft Core style is a professional grade pencil but they're not going to break your budget.

I worked with a set of 24 pencils for years (in fact, my art school admissions portfolio was created with that small set) and while I replaced the colors as they ran out, I simply didn't have access at the time to a larger color selection. And guess what? It didn't kill me and I never felt stuck or trapped by the 24 color limitation. Now-a-days the pencils are a little cheaper and a lot of colorers think they need to own all 150 colors before they start. That's a bunch of hooey. This set of 72 isn't every color Prismacolor makes but it's a great selection and contains all of my most used colors.

Warning if you're about to do more research on the internet: Prismacolor has detractors who seem rather vocal lately. And I won't lie, I do think there is a valid quality control issue with Prismas. As a result, I have moved to a pencil brand that has a more consistent quality- but that's because I use colored pencils every single day for professional purposes.

But for beginners? I never, never, never start anyone on anything but Prismacolors. Quality issues aside, they're still a better than average pencil and the price isn't painful. Let your person get the feel of Prismas before spending more on to a more expensive brand.

 

#2 - Colored Pencil Case

I always cringe when I see a student dump out a box full of loose colored pencils in class.

Art pencils, no matter what brand, are always slightly fragile. It's not just the sharpened tips that can get knocked off. The unsharpened lead that is hidden down deep inside the wooden body can also break and crack.

Shattered pencils can not be properly sharpened. Even a cheap pencil gets expensive if you waste half of it trying to maintain a decent point.

Colored pencil wallet style cases protect pencils from damage. What you spend on a wallet will save your pencil lover double that cost over the long term.

Plus, you can't beat the thrill of opening a wallet to gaze at all the pretty colors! I'm not kidding, it's a great feeling to have an entire rainbow at your fingertips.

I own three leather Global Art pencil cases. My oldest case is about 10 years old and it still looks great. This case also comes in a canvas or denim looking fabric which several of my students own. Their cases look far more worn. Get the leather version; it's worth it.

 

#3 - Hake Brush & Mod-Podge Brush

Most people think colored pencils are the least messy way to color and to a large extent, that's true. They're not drippy like paint and no one ever spills colored pencil on their clothing.

But good quality colored pencils are not mess-free. The better grades of pencils are softer than student pencils. Softer is good for blending but it also means that the pencils will shed a small amount of colorful dust along with the occasional shard of pencil lead.

The biggest mistake you can make is to brush the shedded color off with the side of your hand because that makes a streak (or lots of little color streaks). It's a head slapping moment when it happens. "Why did I do that....... again???"

Hake brushes (ha-kay) are super soft and fit nicely into the hand. They're perfect for dusting off projects cleanly without transferring color. 

If your person uses colored pencils on the go, this Mod Podge brush is super compact and just as soft. This is my classroom brush as it fits neatly into my eraser kit.

 

#4 - Mid Tone Papers

When people think paper, everyone thinks white.

Mid-tone paper is a great alternative to white paper and it's perfect training for the brain.

With white paper, the colorer is always adding color. But if he or she starts with paper that's gray, beige, or light brown, their brain is forced to think about adding AND subtracting color. White and pastel colored pencils look beautiful on mid toned paper. It's the hidden secret for many portrait artists.

And yet your colored pencil lover has likely never considered coloring on anything other than white paper.

Give them a pack of great paper in beautiful mid tones. Stonehenge paper is one of my absolute favorites and the pearl grey colored paper is to-die-for. Please bury me with a pad of Pearl. I love it, love it, love it!!!

 

#5 - The Best Pencil Sharpener ever (not kidding)

How often do you get a chance to give someone the absolute best, most wonderful thing in the world for under $10?

Yes, I truly love this pencil sharpener. A super sharp and tiny point on my colored pencil is essential to getting the look I prefer and the vast majority of pencil sharpeners give off a short, stubby, fat lead.

The KUM Long Point Pencil Sharpener is a two stage process. Blade number one removes the wood in a very long taper. Blade number two sharpens the lead. Extra blades are included so this sharpener will last a long time.

But here's the cool part, I think this sharpener saves me money in the long run. Normally, I have to resharpen my pencils frequently to keep a sharp point and with every sharpen, I loose a little more wood as my pencil gets shorter. With the KUM Long Point, I can skip blade number one about 2/3 of the time and simply use blade two to repoint my existing lead. I've already noticed a decline in my pencil consumption rate due to repointing rather than resharpening.

This KUM sharpener makes a great stocking stuffer but honestly, you could present me one in a jewelry box and I woudn't bat an eye. It's a great tool!

 
 

#6 - Artist Glove

I used to think it was because I'm a lefty but I see a lot of righty students with the same problem... smudgy hands.

It's not just a pencil problem- lots of different media can be picked up and dragged along by the side of one's hand. Many artists and crafters actually tape off their paper margins to keep them crisp and white.

Paper is pretty sensitive. The natural oils on skin can transfer to colored pencil paper, leaving a slightly greasy area that can discolor or resist colored pencil pigment.

Artist's drawing gloves solve that problem by forming a buffer between skin and paper.

Drawing gloves are not a new invention but I've noticed that recently, it's hard to find one not labeled for use with computer tablets. They're essentially the same thing, so don't worry if the glove comes from the electronics section.

Two finger gloves are more comfortable and keep the palm open to the air to prevent uncomfortable heat buildup.

Oh, and you'll hear about people wearing fingerless winter gloves as a cheaper alternative to a real artist glove... be warned. Inexpensive, stretchy, 3 to a pack style gloves are almost always knit polyester. You can drag colored pencil with a synthetic knit just as easily as with a bare hand.

 

#7 - Assorted Erasers

Don't discount this idea before you hear me out...

Erasers are not glamorous but I can guarantee that every colored pencil lover's ears perk up when they hear someone mention "Hey, I found this great eraser the other day..."

Pencil geeks are always looking for a better eraser and if you pop an assortment of the best erasers into a fun bag, pouch, or tin box...

Dang. Now I'm wishing someone would gift me with something like this!

Here's a list of erasers that I'd include:

 

Don’t forget to grab something to carry all of these erasers in. This zipper pouch is a good choice, and it’s cute too!

 

#8 - Colored Pencil Painting Bible

I'm usually torn about art books.

The most useful and instructive art books are usually pretty dry, favoring technique descriptions at the expense of quality photography. Meanwhile the most inspirational and beautiful books are pretty scanty on the process details.

Alyona Nickelsen straddles both worlds pretty well with her Colored Pencil Painting Bible. If all your person wants to do is drool over pencil paintings, this book is a feast for the eyes. If your person wants to learn new techniques, she's includes plenty of written process detail.

Nickelsen's work is photo realistic so the projects and techniques are art driven and not suitable for beginning level card crafters... but again, we're looking at inspirational mind stretching colored pencil potential here.

 

#9 - Drawing Board & Drafting Tape

If your colored pencil lover is looking to move from coloring books to digital stamps or even drawing, the first thing they need to invest in is a good drawing board.

Invest? Well, I mean that in the sense that although drawing boards are not all that expensive, most colored pencil people skip them in favor of working on whatever is handy... like the back of a book or directly on the table surface.

And that leads to tears. Any irregularity in the coloring surface can show up as unwanted texture in the project. Think about how you used to do crayon rubbings in grade school, placing a leaf or paperclip below a sheet of paper. Now imagine coloring something for over an hour only to get the image of crud, dirt, or the wood grain of the table showing through the project. Ack!

The other thing your person may not have considered is that when he/she colors on the back of a book, they'll get a softer line stroke than when coloring on slightly harder wood or even harder glass. It's really tragic when I see a project that was colored on several surfaces during the process, each surface lending a different look to the coloring willy-nilly.

So yes, investing in a drawing board is a good thing. Investing in several is even better. I recommend that my students get the laminate coated or waterproof masonite boards instead of the more common raw masonite variety. The raw surface can absorb wet media like marker, paint, or oil/grease and transfer that to project paper. The coated versions can be easily kept pristinely clean with soap & water, lotion free diaper wipes, or rubbing alcohol.

Oh, and just because it comes with a clip at the top doesn't mean they should use the clip to hold the project down. That clip is to hold a protective cover sheet and if used on the project, will crimp or damage good art paper. Instead, give them a roll of drafting tape to mount the project safely with. Drafting tape is less sticky than masking tape or painter's tape, so make sure it's labeled as such.

 

#10 - OttLight Slimline Task Lamp

You don't need to live in a deep dark cave to make good use of a desk lamp.

But not just any old lamp will do. The color of the light waves emitted matters a great deal when coloring.

It used to be that most household light bulbs gave off a slightly yellow light. Now with CFLs and LEDs, we're dealing with bluish lights. Neither gives you the full spectrum kind of light we get during full natural daylight.

A coloring project that was colored at noon by a window is going to look odd at 8pm under your lamp due to the change in the light qualities. This is why I always color under a full spectrum OttLight, even at high noon on a sunny day in August. If I'm coloring, the light is on. Consistency of light color as you work through a project is one of those little keys to excellence that many crafters fail to consider.

OttLight Slimline Lamp is space saving as it folds down when not in use and it has two points of adjustment – a rotating shade and articulating shaft that allows for easy positioning.

Affordable and versatile, you can't ask for much more!

 

#11 - Online Workshops

Okay, I know I was supposed to stop at 10 Gifts but I can't resist throwing in a bit of obvious self promotion...

I teach online Copic coloring classes that are perfect for intermediate to advanced level colorers. Marker Painting Workshops teach art based painting techniques using markers with colored pencil accents.

This isn't a copy-cat style craft level class!

Marker Painting Workshops are forever access & always open enrollment classes, sold individually. A new MPW debuts each month!

Marker Painting Workshop classes include:

  • 15-20 minute technique video that provides a deep-dive look at one technique, method, or mindset

  • 60-240 minutes of guided coloring video (depending upon the project). Videos feature informative fun time-outs and technique breakdowns

  • original digital stamp in three formats

  • full color printable project sample

  • full color printable color map + recipe

  • full color printable guide to shade & shadow

  • class discussion board with full instructor Q&A access

 

 

so there you have it!

Ten, no make that ELEVEN awesome and battle tested gift suggestions for the colored pencil lover in your life.

Be sure to check out my other helpful gift suggestion lists for Copic, colored pencil, watercolor, and mixed media fans.

Questions? Suggestions? I'd love feedback in the comment section!

Happy Shopping!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for use to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com.