Cool Bank Watercolor Pencils
72-160 count pack
Huge Color Selection
Includes Sketch Pad
Tips Easily Break
Inconsistencies with Color Output
Cool Bank Watercolor Pencils Review
Last Updated by Brandon F. on September 2, 2020
Cool Bank is a new brand (at least to us) that has become quite successful at online retailers thanks to their extremely affordable and expansive sets of pencils. For this review, we will be discussing their popular set of watercolor pencils. Coming in at sets of 72 and 160 pencils, you will have plenty of colors to choose from. And on a pencil to dollar basis, this set falls well into the budget price range. However, to achieve this price point, Cool Bank had to make some compromises when it came to performance and durability.
If you are a reader of our site, you likely know that we have reviewed quite a few other new budget brands of colored pencils and watercolor pencils. It appears that many of these pencils come from the same or similar factories in China. As a result, there tends to be some overlap between the brands and, in some cases, two different brands sell essentially the same pencils.
Now there isn’t anything inherently wrong with this. Especially if the pencils perform well. Because we all like great-performing products at reasonable prices!
We are still trying to source where exactly Cool Bank gets their watercolor pencils from, but we do see a lot of similarities with them and other budget-oriented pencil sets that we have tried.
Visual Appeal – 3.5/5
One of the biggest positives of Cool Bank Watercolor Pencils is their color selection. With up to 160 individual colors to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect color tone without needing to blend 2 or more colors to achieve it.
The 72 count set, while not quite as expansive, still provides a nice range of colors to choose from. You may find the need to blend some colors to achieve that “perfect” color, but there will be enough available options to provide a good starting point.
Like many of the larger sets of colored pencils and watercolor pencils out there, certain spectrums of color stand out while others take more of a backseat. For Cool Bank watercolor pencils, we are quite content with the selection of yellows and greens. However, we were a bit surprised by the lack of reds available, particularly in the 72 count set.
On the flip side, we did feel that certain color spectrums were over-represented. For instance, both the 72 pack and 160 pack had a very large selection of purples. In many cases, these various purples overlapped to the point where it was difficult to discern one color from another. For instance, 111 Medium Orchid, 101 Indigo, and 139 Light Purple are all extremely similar.
Of the colors that we worked with, some of our favorites included 052 Canary Yellow, 096 Dark Mineral Blue, and 103 Jasmine. These colors developed solid color depths. The yellows and some of the other lighter colors did require 2 or more passes in certain cases to achieve the proper intensity that we were after, however.
Being a watercolor pencil, one would expect that the inclusion of water or other solvents would open up some new color possibilities. In particular, this is where a strong watercolor pencil will shine when it comes to applying light shades of color.
Overall, we had mixed results when it comes to this. In some cases, adding some water resulted in some impressive light color applications. In other cases, the water did not communicate as we would have hoped with the pencil. Because of this, we were unable to achieve the lighter look that we were going for. This resulted in us having to go back over with white or trying to erase some of the color (with mixed results).
The color consistency of the cores was pretty good. We have dealt with certain pencil brands that struggled to have the core being consistent throughout the life of the pencil. This would result in occasional streaks of lighter or darker color for a given pencil. We didn’t have any problems with this issue here.
Usability and Durability – 2.5/5
We always enjoy using a high-quality watercolor pencil. The act of putting down the color, applying water, and experimenting is relaxing and very rewarding. Not all watercolor pencils are good at this, however.
In regards to Cool Bank Watercolor pencils, it was on a pencil-by-pencil basis. As we mentioned in the previous section, certain pencils performed better than others when it came to water application.
This also carried over to stacking colors. After 3 to 4 layers, we noticed quite a bit of wax bloom in certain pencils. And in other cases, the wax bloom was much less discernable. We don’t know if this has to do with the wax content for a particular pencil color or simply variations from core to core. But either way, it was noticeable. And when we were dealing with high levels of wax bloom, it did interfere with how well the colors blended when water or other colors were added.
The core size is about average. We aren’t sure what the specific diameter is but it looks to be in the 3 to 4 mm range. At this size, you should be able to tackle more details areas of the canvas with a sharp tip and also manage to apply good amounts of color for those areas of your piece that you need a lot of color put down on.
Now for some notable negatives. There have been a lot of complaints (and observations that we made while testing) that revolved around the cores easily cracking. This issue seemed to be more prevalent in certain pencils. For instance, many of the darker colors seemed to suffer from this more. This may be the result of not having enough strengthening binders to keep the core together. If you are someone who tends to push down hard, you will likely find yourself having to re-sharpen the tip constantly if you enjoy a super sharp point.
And while we are on the subject of sharpening, the brittle cores also meant that we had difficulty getting a sharp point. Whenever the point would become thinner, it would break. So extra care needs to be taken when trying to sharpen. We would recommend avoiding automatic pencil sharpeners altogether and only use a high-quality manual sharpener with Cool Bank Watercolor Pencils.
We did find it a bit ironic that Cool Bank explicitly mentions that their cores are break-resistant on the packaging. Because we did not find that to be the case.
Packaging and Presentation – 3.5/5
The packaging that Cool Bank Watercolor Pencils come in is a tin box. This is quickly becoming the “norm” among colored pencil brands, even for budget pencils. We love that things are going this way as the presentation and protection that tin cases provide is far superior to cardboard boxes.
Both the 72 and 160 count sets have the pencils contained in thin plastic trays within the tin box. These trays have grooves that allow the pencils to rest inside of them. The trays themselves won’t provide much protection but they are helpful in handling and identifying which pencils you want to use.
Another nice perk of this set is that it includes 2 drawing pads. These drawing pads, however, aren’t of the best quality. The paper is thin and when you apply water to them, you will likely find that the water bleeds through pretty easily. So be sure to remove the page that you are working on from the pad to avoid the water seeping through.
As for the actual pencils, they are covered in slick black paint. And in some cases at the base of the pencil, there is a color-matching dip that is intended to match the output of the pencil. Overall, this color match is OK. You may see some subtle differences between the true color output of the watercolor pencil compared to this color dip but we still appreciate it being included.
We aren’t quite sure why some sets include the color-matched base and other sets don’t.
You will also find the color code and the name of the color on the barrel of the pencil. This helps identify and catalog your selection of colors.
Overall, we are content with the overall look of these pencils considering their price point (which we will discuss in the next section).
Cost – 5/5
It is no surprise that Cool Bank Watercolor Pencils are so popular online right now. Their asking price is extremely competitive. And when the “smallest” set still comes with an impressive 72 pencils, you have a nice selection of pencils for not a huge hit on your wallet.
Of course, there are some weak points with these pencils. But given the price point and just how many pencils you are getting, they are easier to overlook.
Overall Ranking – 4/5
Cool Bank Watercolor Pencils are a nice addition to the ever-growing group of budget pencils that we are seeing available online. You may find that these particular pencils have some similar traits to some of the other pencils that you may have bought online. This could likely be attributed to very similar manufacturing methods and/or potentially being made at the same factories as some of these other brands.
The color output, blending, and communication with water are all acceptable but do vary some from pencil to pencil. Certain pencils perform extremely well and could compete with much more expensive brands while other pencils are lackluster. We aren’t sure if this is the luck of the draw or has to do with the recipes that they are using on those specific colors.
Across the board, however, we did see that the cores are pretty brittle. You will need to be careful when pushing down hard or sharpening. If you are someone who naturally likes to color with a lot of application pressure, these pencils may be quite frustrating to you.
But given the great price point and huge color selection, the positives outweigh the negatives. If you are a beginner or looking for a budget-minded set of pencils with plenty of colors to explore, then consider trying Cool Bank Watercolor Pencils out.