Monday, September 2, 2019

Product Review: Cretacolor Marino Watercolor Pencils

Three Cretacolor Marino pencils came in the Amsterdam box.
A few days ago I reviewed the water-soluble graphite pencil that came in the Cretacolor box I received at the symposium. The same box contained three Cretacolor Marino watercolor pencils. A box from a past symposium had included a fourth color, but I thought it would be a fun challenge to use only the three primary hues that came in the Amsterdam box: cadmium citron, permanent red dark, and Prussian blue.

The round, metallic blue barrel has a subtle sheen with the branding stamped in silver. The glossy end cap indicates the pigment hue. Although I prefer the whole barrel to indicate the pencil’s color, it’s a pretty pencil design. The color name, number and lightfast rating are on the back (along with the unavoidable bar code). According to Austrian pencil maker Cretacolor, these “Fine Art Quality Watercolor Pencils” have the “highest lightfast ratings.”

The metallic blue finish is unique and very pretty.

Harder than most watercolor pencils I’ve tried, the Marinos hold a sharpened point well for details. A bonus, at least for these three colors, is that the water-activated hue is the same as the dry pigment. It always takes a longer learning curve to use watercolor pencils if the hue changes drastically when water is applied (Derwent Inktense comes to mind).

Marino pencils in Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook

On the downside, I found Marino pencils to lack pigment compared to the brands I use most often, including Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle, Caran d’Ache Supracolor and Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer. The swatches, made in a Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, show one swipe of a waterbrush. The apple sketch required more applications of dry-wet-dry pigment than I expected from an artist-grade pencil.

8/22/19 Cretacolor Marino pencils in Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook

I probably won’t be buying more of these, especially because I enjoyed using only three primaries. OK, so a red and yellow Honey Crisp wasn’t a very challenging subject for using three primaries. The fun of it, however, motivates me to do it more often (but maybe not with Marinos).


  1. Nice work with the pencils. I never seem to really like the effects I get with watercolor pencils, so I rarely use them. I'm happier with my pans and tubes.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...