Colored Pencils and Working From Home – Our Top Choices

best colored pencils for shelter in place

Last Updated by Brandon F. on March 21, 2023

As all of you are likely aware, the world is going through some crazy times right now.  As the COVID-19 virus continues its global onslaught and world leaders extend the Shelter In Place/Social Distancing timelines, we are all finding that we have a lot more free time on our hands.

Some of us are fortunate enough to be working from home while countless others are jobless right now.  No matter your situation, you are likely to have to find new ways to entertain yourself while also sticking to a tight budget.

There are plenty of great ways to deal with this: Catching up on the latest Netflix shows, Reading a new book, playing online video games, putting puzzles together, and more.  But another great time-killer is, of course, colored pencils.

In this article, we will list out a few of our favorite colored pencils for keeping yourself entertained during these difficult times while not breaking the bank.  Rather than focus on the best colored pencils in terms of performance, we will list out a few that capture 80 to 90% of the performance of the top colored pencils on the market but for a fraction of the price.   We understand that not everybody is in a position to drop hundreds of dollars on a new colored pencil set.

And if and when this dark period of our planet is past us, you will still be left with a quality set of colored pencils to build upon.

Arteza Colored Pencils

Arteza Colored Pencils, 72 Professional Drawing Pencils, Soft Wax-Based Cores, Art Supplies for Sketching, Shading, Vibrant Coloring Pencils for Beginners & Pro in Tin Box

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We have had a great experience with our Arteza Colored Pencils.  These pencils come in sets as small as 48 and all the way up to the recently-introduced 120-count pack.  With these larger-sized sets, you will find plenty of colors to experiment with.

One aspect of Arteza Colored Pencils that we really appreciate is how good they are at blending for their price point.  You can achieve some quite complex blending techniques that are traditionally reserved for only the best colored pencils.

arteza colored pencil blending

While we aren’t going to sit here and say that these perform as well as Caran d’Ache Aquarelles, they are still no slouches.  The reds and purples in particular do quite well.  The color output is vivid while still giving you good user control.

The packaging is also excellent for the price.  Remember: good packaging isn’t just beneficial from an aesthetics standpoint.  Good packaging is also helpful in preserving and protecting your colored pencils.

You can read our full review of Arteza Colored Pencils here.

Derwent Academy Colored Pencils

Derwent Academy Colored Pencils, Metal Tin, 36 Count (2300225)

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Most of you are probably familiar with Derwent.  They have been one of industry leaders in colored pencils for decades.  They have an excellent selection of premium colored pencils that can rival anything in the industry.

But did you know that they also have a capable entry-level set?  The Derwent Academy Colored Pencils are marketed as good colored pencils for beginners.  But they are actually a pretty good set for more seasoned artists as well.

Derwent has hand-selected a lovely lined of colors that really captures the essence of drawing.  This means that you will have a versatile selection of colors to work with despite the sets being on the smaller side.

derwent academy colored pencils closeup

Not only that, but the blending is still very good so if you are after a color or shade not available in the set, you can likely achieve something close to it with some clever blending or layering.

And all of this comes at a pretty heavy discount compared to what you are used to seeing for a full Derwent Colored Pencil set.

And all of this applies to their fantastic Derwent Academy Watercolor set as well.  You can read our full review of this particular set here.

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencil, Set of 48 Assorted Colors (3598T) + Prismacolor Scholar Colored Pencil Sharpener (1774266)

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While not quite as cheap as your typical budget offering, the Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil set actually is a few steps below most other premium pencils when it comes to price.  However, it sacrifices little in the way of quality or performance in the process.

If you do spring for one of the larger sets, the asking price can creep up.  But we have had really good experiences with their 48-pack set.  It has a nice enough selection of colors but won’t break the bank.

prismacolor premier colored pencil color choices

One of the big bright points of Prismacolor Premier Pencils is just how smooth they are.  You really have to experience it for yourself to get a true appreciation of it.  The core is made of highly pigmented colors that really “pop” when you push down.  But they are also good for applying subtle levels of color where you don’t want so much color intensity.

The Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil has been one of the highest-ranked pencils that we have tested for years now.  You can read our full review here.

Castle Art Supplies Colored Pencils

Castle Art Supplies 72 Colored Pencils Set | Quality Soft Core Colored Leads for Adult Artists, Professionals and Colorists | Protected and Organized in Presentation Tin Box

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We did not have much experience with this brand before trying out this set.  They appear to be a heavily online brand that you may not find in many more traditional brick-and-mortar art stores.  But after giving them a test run, we came away extremely impressed with Castle Art from a “bang for your buck” standpoint.

These pencils won’t be as bright as some of your favorite high-end sets.  The packaging could also use some slight improvements.  But these minor complaints are easily overlooked when you see just how many colored pencils you get for not a lot of money.  Your selection of color options, particularly in the large 120-count set, promises to give you many hours of enjoyment.  The colors, while not quite as bright as we would like, still are serviceable.  And the blending isn’t terrible.

castle art supplies colored pencils set

These are great pencils to really experiment with some new color blending or layering techniques.  Due to the expansive colors you can choose from, you may not find the need to do much blending.  But it does allow you to hone in on very specific colors that you may not be able to find anywhere else.

You can read our full review of Castle Art Supplies Colored Pencils here.


We hope that this list of some good colored pencil options for using while working from home or being sheltered in place was of some benefit to you.  We are living in unprecedented times and finding ways to keep ourselves entertained within the safety of our own homes is more important than ever.  And with so many uncertainties with the economy and our own jobs, finding ways to achieve this on a tight budget is even more essential.

And even after things get back to normal, many of the points discussed and recommendations can still apply to those of you who work from home.

Once you find a new set of colored pencils to work with, there are plenty of resources out there for coloring books, coloring pages, and more.  A few of our favorite choices include Crayola,, and

And there is nothing wrong with grabbing a blank page of printing paper and creating your own masterpiece!

No matter what avenue you take, we all hope that you stay safe, stay smart, and stay vigilant.  And we will see all of you on the other side of this!

BestColoredPencils tests and reviews colored pencils and more to find the best products for you. When readers buy our reviewed picks, we earn affiliate commissions that help support our work.
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