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)
#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.
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.
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...
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
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!
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