Caran D’ache Prismalo Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils
12-80 count pack
Excellent control when exposed to water
Deep, vivid colors
Great for intricate details
May struggle when applied dry
Caran d’Ache Prismalo Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils Review
Updated by Brandon F. on March 9, 2023
The Caran d’Ache Prismalo Aquarelle Watercolor pencils are known as being one of the “original” water-soluble colored pencils that could be used in a watercolor form. Often confused with Caran d’Ache’s Museum Aquarelle line, the Primsalo Aquarelles stick with a firmer and smaller 3mm lead as opposed to the softer and larger 3.8mm lead used in the Museum Aquarelles.
While not quite as versatile as some of the other premium sets by Caran d’Ache, the Prismalo Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils are also noticeably more affordable. These pencils are wax-based, wrapped in a hexagonal barrel, and are available in sizes ranging from 12 to 80.
Visual Appeal – 4.5/5
Seeing how many artists consider these as being the first real attempt at a water-soluble colored pencil, Caran d’Ache has truly mastered the art of the watercolor pencil with their Prismalo Aquarelles. The lead, while on the smaller side, puts out excellent and vivid hues that stand out. They take well to water and can be easily spread over a large area to manipulate how deep of a color you want. You can also efficiently layer these pencils to come up with some very original and dynamic color schemes.
While not quite as bright as the more expensive and softer Museum Aquarelle line, there is still more than enough vividness for most people’s needs. In the larger sets (the 40-piece and 80-piece), the colors available are diverse enough for most applications, and any colors not available can be easily created with some timely blending. In the smaller sets, you will struggle to find all of the colors you want so we consider these more of “sampler” packs.
Usability and Durability – 3.5/5
It is truly a joy to experience manipulating the Caran d’Ache Prismalo Aquarelle Watercolor pencils with water. It is very easy to control the color with only a small bit of water and you always feel like you are in control of the piece. We recommend starting with very small amounts of liquid and building up as just a little bit of moisture seems to go a long way.
That being said, the leads of these are noticeably firmer than Caran d’Ache’s sister watercolor pencils, the Museum Aquarelle. Because of this, you won’t feel quite the level of buttery texture and lightfastness that you experience with the more expensive Museum Aquarelles. But we feel that these aren’t intended to be used as “dry” colored pencils and you would be doing them a disservice by doing so. We recommend sticking with a traditional set of colored pencils for areas that you would prefer to leave dry.
The lead is quite small at just 3.0mm which makes highly-detailed areas easy to handle. The firmer, harder lead can also be sharpened to a great point which makes it excellent for grass, hair, and other intricate details on a piece.
Packaging and Presentation – 3.5/5
Similar to most of Caran d’Ache’s other products, the packaging used is excellent and accurately represents the quality of the pencil you are receiving. Depending on the size, the colored pencils will come in various tin or wooden boxes that do a great job of protecting the contents and allowing for easy access to individual pencils.
The one exception to this is that we have had reports that some people have received their pencils in a cheap cardboard sleeve instead of a tin. We have never received something like this from Caran d’Ache and can only assume this is directly attributed to the store you are purchasing from so we encourage you to verify the packaging they will come in if you shop around. The pencils themselves are wrapped in a color-matching external painted barrel with the brand name, type, and color printed in gold on the outside.
You will immediately notice that the styling of the pencils isn’t nearly as impressive as in other premium-priced lines. You won’t find the white or gold-painted base that many other products have which can make these seem somewhat “ordinary” if you didn’t know what you were looking at. How big of an issue that may be is up to the individual but we aren’t too concerned by it.
Cost – 2.5/5
Despite these being cheaper than their sister set, Caran d’Ache Prismalo Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils are still quite expensive and fall firmly into the premium price range. You do get to enjoy some unique benefits by splurging on a colored pencil set in this price range, but it may still be a hard hit on the wallet for many. Some may argue that if you are going to spend enough money to fall into the higher price bracket, you should spend a bit more and go with the very best. We will leave that choice up to you!
Overall Ranking – 4/5
If you want to experience some tried and tested watercolor pencils that have been mastering the art for longer than anybody else then you should give Caran d’Ache Prismalo Aquarelle Watercolor pencils a try. The color output is fantastic and the way that they take on a second life when exposed to water is something that everyone should experience.
Blending is great and in the 40 and 80-pack sets, you will be able to enjoy any color your heart desires thanks to the diverse color choices and the excellent blending. Just keep in mind these aren’t as versatile as some of the other water-soluble pencil products that have softer and thicker leads.
In our opinion, these should primarily be used like watercolor pencils as the lead is simply too hard and small for traditional dry applications. For those who can afford the somewhat high asking price, you won’t be disappointed.