Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Review: Uni Posca Colored Pencils

Uni Posca colored pencils

The Uni Posca name might be best known among sketchers for its line of opaque paint markers. I reviewed them a couple of years ago at the Well-Appointed Desk, and they are especially fun to use on black or other dark colored papers. (I did a sketch of koi at the Japanese Garden with Posca paint markers a while back.) I discovered recently that Uni Posca is now in the colored pencil game, too: A set and open-stock pencils are available at Blick for about $2 each. Although I’d be reluctant to buy a set of 36 as a trial (the only set size available at Blick), their availability as open stock made my decision easy. I bought one each of red (15), lemon yellow (28) and blue (33). (My recent experiments with triads have convinced me that three primaries are an ideal number for testing application and blending properties.)
 
The 3 colors I tried

First, let’s look at the pencil’s exterior: Posca pencils, made by Mitsubishi (I don’t have the packaging to know whether they are made in Japan), have matte black, round barrels that feel very smooth and comfortable to hold. (I have been known to repeatedly run my fingers along that lovely, pleasant finish.) Uni Posca’s primary colored logo, which also appears on its markers and other products, gives the design a whimsical look.

 
Smooth matte finish and rounded end caps
Color numbers on the ends


Rounded end caps indicating the pencils’ colors have the same matte finish. Color numbers are on the ends – a nice touch for people like me who store pencils in cups instead of in boxes. Unfortunately, color names are not on the barrels.

Look at that thick core – the first sign that these pencils might be pleasant to use. According to Blick, the oil-based cores are “fade-resistant, highly opaque, and blendable.” A close look at the collar gives an interesting clue: Instead of dipping the end cap color onto the painted pencil, the end cap color is painted first, and the black coat is added afterwards.

Thick core and a telltale collar.


1/8/20 Uni Posca pencils in Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook
Using a Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook, I started sketching an apple with the Uni Posca pencils, and I was immediately struck by how creamy and smooth the super-soft cores are. Among the softest I’ve used, they apply like a dream and blend beautifully without feeling waxy. In fact, the feeling was familiar. . .



1/8/20 Uni Pericia pencils in S&B Epsilon
I reviewed Uni Pericia colored pencils for the Well-Appointed Desk a while back, but it had been a while since I last used them. After I finished the Posca sketch, I pulled out my Pericia set to refresh my memory.  Using three colors in the Pericia palette that are as close as I could find to the Posca triad, I sketched the apple again. Pericia pencils are also oil-based. There it was – that same super-soft, creamy application. 

I put the cores side by side: The same thickness, and the wood looks the same, too. In fact, the round barrel, matte finish and rounded end caps are also very similar.



From top: Pericia and Posca


Since opacity seems to be a selling point of the Poscas, I swatched both side by side on black paper.

Opacity test in Stillman & Birn black Nova sketchbook

 I’d be willing to bet money that Posca and Pericia cores are the same!

How are they different, then? Mainly the price. Although Blick doesn’t carry Pericia pencils, so I can’t compare directly, JetPens’ price is about $3 each. Pericia pencils come in a faux leather storage case that looks like it should contain jewelry. Blick’s images of Posca packaging show plastic trays. When I reviewed Pericias, I wondered how much of that price was for the fancy case . . . and now I think I know how much.

I don’t know if Pericia pencils are available open stock (I’ve never found them sold that way online), but Posca pencils are, so that also makes them a better choice. I say go for the Poscas. At least right now, Blick seems to be the only place carrying Posca pencils.

Edited 1/17/20: Using Blick’s chart of 36 open stock colors, I matched as many colors as I could from my set of 24 Pericia pencils. Except for a handful that appear to be unique to Pericia, I found close matches for all the rest. Color numbers do not match.   

5 comments:

  1. THank you, thank you, thank you! I just purchased some open stock Posca from Blick and have the set coming (is currently backordered). I love the 5 pencils I purchased open stock so much that I was considering buying the Pericia pencils as well. My concern was that it was the same pencil but not so fancy. I hate purchasing when you don't have the open stock available as I always end up using some colors all the time and others rarely so it would be a waste to always have to purchase a complete set. Plus having open stock gives you the ability to try them out without such a large expenditure. So I will hold off on purchasing the Pericia which are priced much higher here in the US than if you purchased them in Japan which in itself makes me hesitate. Like you I never keep my pencils int he original container and feared I was paying for a very attractive faux leather case. AGAIN THANKS!

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  2. Thank you so much. I thought I was the only one who wondered this. I have Pericia and now know I can get the open stock. Have you compared the entire set of Poska to Pericia? Are they all the same colors?

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    1. No, I haven't compared all the colors... I only have these 3 so far in the Poscas. But I noticed that Poscas come in 36 colors, and Pericias come in 36 colors... coincidence? I think not! ;-)

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    2. I just made the comparison... see my edit at the end of the post. The palettes are not identical, but nearly all hues in the Pericia palette are closely represented in the Posca palette.

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