Cretacolor Pastel Pencils
12, 24, 36, and 72 count packs
Nice Core Size
Can be Messy
Noticeable Color Gaps in Smaller Sets
Cretacolor Pastel Pencils Review
Last Updated by Brandon F. on January 21, 2020
We recently tried out Cretacolor Colored Pencils. Sticking with that theme, we wanted to expand our Cretacolor experience to include their pastel pencils. While we tend to focus on mostly colored pencils and watercolor pencils, we are attempting to branch out and try more other types of pencils such as pastels.
Cretacolor Pastel Pencils utilize the same pigment as in their Pastel Carre Sticks. By going with a thinner core and wrapping it in wood, these pastel pencils hope to capture the magic of pastels but in a more usable and versatile form.
In this review, we will try out Cretacolor Pastel Pencils. We will go over their performance, pros, cons, and give them a rating. These pencils come in packs ranging from singles up to a 72 count pack. The thick core is wrapped in a round wood barrel. The asking price tends to fall in the lower end of the premium price spectrum.
Visual Appeal – 4/5
Cretacolor has managed to incorporate a good level of pigment into their pastel pencils. If you have ever experienced pastels in the past, you likely know that bright color is a common characteristic of them. This makes them good for areas of your artwork that you want to “pop”. In particular, these pastels will excel with the darker colors. You can easily produce deep, intense colors that can really draw you in.
Some of our favorite colors include Dark Permanent Red, Delft Blue, Paynes Gray, Prussian Blue, and Van Dyck Brown.
Some of the lighter hues did struggle a bit compared to other pastel pencils that we have tried. While still vivid, they were not at the levels that we have come to expect from some of the other pastels out there. We were still able to achieve adequate intensity but it required a heavier application and multiple layers. And the risk with going real heavy on layering is that you may end up with a darker overall color than you were initially after. This is not a huge deal but still worth noting.
Pastels can be a little finicky when it comes to lightfastness. Cretacolor has included a “lightfast” stamp on these products, but we are not exactly sure what that means. Typically, there will be some sort of lightfast rating associated with individual pencils but we did not see anything like that here. We can confidently say that the color on these pastels will last long enough for typical works but anything beyond that would require further testing.
We also experimented with light applications where we applied little application pressure. We were able to get subtle color output that stayed consistent. This will be helpful in areas of your canvas that you do not want a lot of color but still value consistency in how they strokes stick to the page.
If you want an adequate range of color choices, we recommend trying to go with the 72-count pack. The smaller sizes (12, 24, and 36) simply have too large of color gaps to meets most people’s needs. The largest size has a nice selection of reds and oranges. But even in the largest size, we wouldn’t have minded a few additional greens.
If you are someone who enjoys doing landscapes or vegetation art, you may find yourself reaching for your other sets for extra color support as it relates to greens.
Usability and Durability – 3.5/5
A big complaint of pastels is that they can be very prone to chipping and breaking. This can make a mess and also reduce the life of your pencil. This breaking can also result in small particulates of the pastel pencil core being sprinkled on your paper. If you are not careful, these particulates can be easily smudged and transferred onto your paper. This can result in small “streaks” that are unwanted.
Compared to other pastel pencils that we have tried, Cretacolors seem to hold up pretty well. But that isn’t to say that they will be as durable as a traditional wax or oil-based pencil. You should always take some extra care any time you are handling or using pastel pencils.
This also applies when sharpening them. We recommend using a manual hand sharpener that is designed for colored pencils.
Due to the slightly larger core size, these pencils are great for producing large, broad strokes. This makes them a good choice for areas of your work that you need a lot of color with minimal effort. And since they do produce good color with minimal effort, they are handy for other types of application such as hatching, pointillism, and swirls. We encourage you to test out different approaches to find out what works best for you.
In addition, being a larger size, people with smaller hands may found that holding these pastel pencils is a little burdensome. It may also make it a little more challenging to grip the top of the pencil for added user control.
For detailed areas, you will want to try to sharpen the point to as fine of a point as possible. However, this will likely result in the tip easily chipping. This is simply the price you pay when working with pastel pencils. Nevertheless, really letting off your pushing pressure will make it an easier task.
Overall, we found the blending of these pencils to be very good. They seem to blend well no matter if you are using the tips as a built-in blender or if you go in with an eraser or your finger. Introducing water to them is also quite rewarding. The water really works well with the pigments and you will find that blending and transferring color to other areas of your paper is quite easy (and fun!).
Layering is also quite good. We discovered that you could stack up quite a few layers before things got too out of control. Wax bloom is not really an issue here since these types of pencils don’t utilize a lot (if any) wax. But keep in mind that the more layers that you apply, the messier things can get due to the nature of pastels.
Packaging and Presentation – 4/5
Cretacolor Pastel Pencils come in a standard cardboard carrying case. Embedded inside this case is a thin plastic tray with individual grooves for helping to secure the pastels. We have found that having a good case is particularly important on pastel pencils. This is because when these pencils bump into each other, they can break off pieces of the core. This can result in quite a mess!
The pencils themselves are thicker than your normal colored pencils. This is attributed to the thicker core that is commonly found in pastel pencils. The round barrel has a semi-burnish color to it. At the base of the pencil, there is a color-coordinated dip that matches the color of the pencil core. We found that there were some slight variances in the color at the base and how it matches the color output. But part of this is due to the varying color depth that you will observe when applying color and varying pressure.
Right above this area is a small silver line for an added effect.
In the middle of the pencil will be the Cretacolor logo and a branding stamp that designates that these are pastel pencils. If you rotate the pencil over, you will find a stamp that coincides with the color code as well as the actual color name written out.
We feel that these pastel pencils are quite attractive. The exposed wood finish looks nice in contrast to the colored base. The stamping used is a bit “childish” for our tastes, however. In addition, noticeably missing is a star system that represents lightfast ratings. However, in the grand scheme of things, these are not huge issues.
Cost – 3.5/5
We were surprised to see just how “over the place” the asking prices for Cretacolor Pastel Pencils were. In some places, the prices were as much as 40% lower than in other places. Because of that, it made it a little difficult to initially pin down a rating for the cost metric.
We will say that if you can find these pastel pencils on the lower end of the price spectrum, they deliver a much better bargain than on the higher end of the spectrum. At the top of the price range, they are competing with the likes of Faber-Castell, Caran d’Ache, etc. And it is hard for any brand to compete with those juggernauts.
But even on the low end of the price, they still couldn’t be considered bargain pencils.
Part of this has to do with the fact that they are pastel pencils. Pastel pencils tend to fetch a premium due to their thicker pastel core that utilizes more pigments, binders, and other agents than a thinner traditional pencil or watercolor pencil.
When compared to only other pastels on the market, the asking price is much more competitive. Taking into account the overall performance and durability, these are acceptably priced in our book.
Overall Ranking – 4/5
All in all, we enjoyed trying out Cretacolor Pastel Pencils. These pencils manage to combine the great color production of pastels but in a format that is much easier to control and maintain. The color output is great (which is to be expected with pastels). And the application methods and blending is very robust.
We did find some minor color gaps, even in the largest sets. And being a pastel, there is the inherent messy factor that goes along with it. These aren’t the “all in one” type of pencil that some people may be looking for. If you are after a set of pencils that you can use for just about any application, then we recommend sticking with a more traditional set of colored pencils. But as an added set to build upon your already existing collection, we feel that everybody should ultimately have some pastel pencils.
If you do decide that pastel pencils are something that you want to add to your collection, then finding these at the lower price points makes them a solid buy. The combination of performance, ease of use, and longevity are all big positives. But in terms of strictly performance, there are better pencils out there (that will be at a much higher asking price).