Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A Few Thoughts on Metallic Colored Pencils

9/16/22 Cretacolor metallic colored pencils in Uglybook
(photo reference)

Though prompted by a set of Cretacolor MegaColor Metallic Pencils, this post is not a review. Frankly, I’m not very objective about metallic colored pencils because I don’t really care for them. I don’t expect to use these enough to give them a fair shake. Nonetheless, I have a few thoughts about them (what??! Tina has a few thoughts about colored pencils??), so here they are.

First, in response to anticipated comments such as, “Shiny, blingy, reflective colored pencils? What’s not to like?!” I can only shrug. Sparkle is just not my thing (don’t even get me started on glitter, which I despise!). I may also be a snob about metallic colored pencils from a classical drawing point of view: If my intention is to make something look metallic, then I should do it with value and form, not with a special-effects pencil that doesn’t really look metallic anyway.

In response to the obvious next question, “Why did you buy this set, then?” Again, I can only shrug. Attack of the late-night retail gremlins? The only response that makes sense (and is, in fact, legitimate) is that I thought metallic pencils would be fun to play with in all the dark-colored Uglybooks I have.

Cretacolor Megacolor Metallic set

Jumbo-sized barrels and a nice natural finish

I must also confess that it’s not the only set I own. I also have a set of Derwent water-soluble metallic colored pencils purchased more than a decade ago when I was trying lots of media in abstract collages. I learned a few years ago that they were discontinued by Derwent, which still makes a non-soluble version of metallic pencils. No loss there; water-soluble metallic colored pencils have no reason for existence, in my opinion, since applying water makes them lose their metallic properties. What’s the point?

In addition, I have a few metallic vintage Berol Prismacolors. (Years ago, most of the metallic colors were discontinued and are now hard to find. They are now among my few remaining vintage “collecting” grails.) They are they shiniest and most opaque of the metallics I’ve tried. Interestingly, they are also harder and less creamy than other Prismacolors (either contemporary or vintage). Those shiny metallic properties must make the formula harder.

Comparison swatches of a few metallic colored pencils. My scanner seems to have taken all the sparkle out of these swatches. 

With all of that prejudice and preamble out of the way, I
am having fun with these jumbo-sized metallic Cretacolors on dark-colored Uglybooks. Harder than I like (though not as hard and dry as those Derwents), the Cretacolors have a decent amount of pigment and are not too dusty for such a dry pencil. They are nicely opaque on dark papers, and I’m looking forward to using them on nocturnes this winter. If I have more than that to say about metallic colored pencils, I’m sure I will. 

Scanned image of the photographed sketch at top of post. Camera
used in direct sunlight shows the metallic sheen more realistically.


  1. I think using them on the darker ugly books is a good idea. They seem to show up nicely. I have a few metallic watercolors, but haven't used them much, as well as a gold metallic pen that is useful at times.


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