Friday, July 30, 2021

Caran d’Ache Water-Soluble Colored Pencil Comparison

In my ongoing quest to make historical sense of Caran d’Ache’s colored pencil lines, I’ve sometimes shown pigment comparisons between vintage and contemporary sets. I’ve also compared some contemporary lines in reviews. During a recent conversation, however, I realized I had never compared all the contemporary Caran d’Ache water-soluble lines in one place. This is as good a time as any to do so.

Above are Caran d’Ache’s five collections that are currently available and that I am aware of, ranked from lowest (Swisscolor) to highest (Museum Aquarelle) degree of pigment. (If I’m missing any, please do let me know!) Student-grade Swisscolor and Fancolor pencils do not include color numbers, but I tried to match the hues as closely as possible from the smallish sets I have. Prismalo and Supracolor lines were easiest to match with color numbers. The Museum line is narrower than Prismalo and Supracolor, but I matched the numbers when available and chose the closest hues when they were not.

I couldn’t fit all the swatches on one page, but they were all done in a Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook. My methodology was to apply three layers of dry pigment, then swipe each swatch with a waterbrush twice without scrubbing.

My only editorial commentary here is that I see no reason for Swisscolor to exist. Fancolor, which has a similar pigment level, is very slightly softer and is in a similar price range, is a perfectly adequate student-grade watercolor pencil. 

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