Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Colored Pencil Review: Caran d’Ache Pablo

3/29/17 Caran d'Ache Pablo, Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook
(If you missed the introduction to the series, please read that first for the methodology, as such, and my objective for these reviews.)

The last pencil I’m going to review in this series is the Caran d’Ache Pablo. At an open stock price of $2.56 each (at Blick), Pablo pencils seem pretty high-end to me (but then, most of Caran d’Ache’s products are). It’s not the Swiss company’s premium line, though, because that spot belongs to Luminance.

Of all the pencils I’ve reviewed, Pablo is the only one with a hexagonal casing (all others are round). The color of the core matches the barrel’s nice lacquer finish. It’s a standard size barrel, so I can sharpen it with any sharpener.

Pablo is not as soft as Luminance, but for an oil-based pencil, it is very soft – much softer than Faber-Castell’s oil-based Polychromos – yet it produces no dust or crumbs. I used to think that the softer a pencil was, the better. But after using both Luminance and Pablo, sometimes in the same piece, I’m now thinking the softness of Pablo (or Spectrum Noir ColourBlend) is soft enough and easier to manage than the extreme softness of Luminance.

Erasing test
Ability to erase with a Pablo is about average for colored pencils – but decidedly better than Luminance. Since it’s softer, Pablo’s coverage of the toothy Alpha paper wasn’t quite as good as Polychromos, but blending of the hues I chose for the apple sketch was fine.

Unlike Luminance’s palette that is limited to only colorfast pigments, Pablos come in a full range of colors. Interestingly, I find Pablo’s palette to be compatible with Polychromos in that whenever I can’t find a hue I want in one line, the other seems to have it. They work together well.

In fact, I have been using Polychromos and Pablo pencils together for quite some time, mainly because I own the widest range of colors in both lines, so I don’t have to hunt long to find what I need. But after my 10-week class and the more focused attention on colored pencil technique that the class required, I started thinking more critically about colored pencil qualities beyond their colors (what – there’s something more important about colored pencils than their colors?!) – and how those qualities affect a drawing.

In the concluding post in this series, I’ll summarize what I’ve learned from writing the reviews and my current experiments. Spoiler alert: There’s no one perfect pencil. 😉


  1. You are so good at doing reviews. I wouldn't have the patience. lol

  2. I looked up the price of the Pablo, and choked! Of course I knew it would be high, but the price makes me think long and hard about buying Pablos whole set for my 11 year old twin grandsons! They will have to wait and show me some excitement and joy about drawing-- even though I am convinced that using the best materials makes the joy more possible! Wish I were a millionaire. Pablo wants to call my name! Thanks, Tina, good info and I'll keep looking for a deal on Pablo! Smallest set is all I can afford right now, but maybe that is enough to get things rolling!

    1. Pablos are a gulp in price, as are most of the Caran d'Ache. Although I like them, there are other colored pencils that are just as good and probably a better value, especially for kids. I think the Blick Studio Artists' line is a great value (I have a review of these, and they are in my "wallet friendly" review, too.)

  3. I got a set of Caren d'Ache Fancolor pencils. Several months ago. They are harder and less cooperative, some almost scratchy. I would not buy them again given the many other choices. Ordinarily I've been thrilled with Caran d'Ache drawing tools, Luminance, Museum Aquarelles and Supracolor rise high above the Fancolors! I love your reviews! Trying never to miss one!


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