|My Indian colored pencil collection (most were given to me by generous fellow pencil aficionados).|
A recent discussion among the pencil cognoscenti (also known as the Erasable Podcast Pencil Community Facebook group) prompted me to pull out all the India-made colored pencils in my collection. Although I already knew that Sivo Vivid is a favorite (it’s one of my picks for wallet-friendly colored pencils), I had never done a side-by-side comparison. One rainy morning, I decided to swatch a few select colors from each set and see how they stacked up.
The Nataraj and Apsara Dual sets are very hard, dry and low in pigment. I would not recommend them. The Camlin Premium Bi-Colours have much better pigment and are soft enough to be pleasant to use. (Note: My set says “Camlin,” but I could find it on Amazon only as “Camel” with the same camel logo and all other parts of the packaging identical. I’m assuming this is a name change of the same product.)
Interestingly, Nataraj, Apsara and Sivo are all made by the same company, Hindustan, which also makes many types of graphite pencils. Camlin/Camel is made by Kokuyo.
|5/2/21 DOMS Supersoft in Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook|
The two sets made by DOMS Industries – DOMS Supersoft and Zap Bicolours – are as soft and pigmented as my previous recommendation, Sivo Vivid. (By soft, I don’t mean Prismacolor soft; I mean closer to Polychromos.) I would happily add them to my recommended India-made pencils, although they may be harder to find. I couldn’t find an exact match on Amazon for the Zap set I have (and the price I’m currently seeing on the Supersofts, 12 for $36, is way over-inflated; I’m sure I’ve seen them for much less).
One thing all Indian pencils have in common, including graphite pencils, is that they are reasonably priced (and some are ridiculously inexpensive). Almost all of these were gifts, so I don’t know the exact prices, but I did purchase the Sivo Vivid set myself on Amazon for about $8 for set of 36 a few years ago. (It’s a bit more now on the set I found on eBay, but still a good value.) Although they are unlikely to be artist quality, the Sivo and DOMS sets are all good quality and therefore a terrific value.
As I was searching for links and prices on Amazon for this post, I happened to spot a set of DOMS Aqua watercolor pencils. Now, I know watercolor pencils tend not to be comparable in quality to traditional colored pencils in the same price range, but for a set of 12 for 8 bucks? It was worth satisfying my curiosity. Stay tuned. (I know you love cliffhangers.)