General’s Kimberly Watercolor Pencils
Open stock, 6, 8, 12, and 24 Pack Sets
Work Well with Water
Made in USA
Limited Color Choices
General’s Kimberly Watercolor Pencils Review
Believe it or not, General’s Kimberly Watercolor Pencils have been around for nearly 100 years. This makes them one of the “old school” sets. However, despite this, many people have never used them or potentially ever even heard of them! In this review, we will try out their tried and true watercolor set. This set promises great performance at a reasonable price (despite being made right here in the great USA!).
Visual Appeal – 3.5/5
According to General’s, their Kimberly Watercolor pencils utilize artist-grade pigments. While this is sort of a broad explanation, you will definitely understand it once you apply these to paper. Oftentimes watercolor pencils are a bit more muted than traditional colored pencils: the color may not “pop” as much.
That is not the case here. These watercolor pencils produce surprisingly intense color when applied dry. While you won’t have quite the level of color depth as with some of the higher-end oil pencils on the market, the application is still more than viable for most applications.
And where these really shine is when water (or your favorite solvent) is applied. The color spreads wonderfully to cover large areas of canvas with consistent color. You can really dilute these down to the point where very light applications are possible. This is great for areas of your art piece that you do not want a lot of colors: a pleasant blue sky, snow on a mountain, or the skin color on someone who is very fair.
You will find plenty of bright colors in the available sets. Some of our favorite colors include Olive, Teal, and Yellow Ocher. These colors are quite deep in hue and offer up a huge range of brightness (or darkness) to meet your needs.
However, we do have one glaring issue: the lack of color choices! The largest set of General’s Kimberly Watercolor Pencils is only 24. As you might have guessed, this leaves large color gaps. Sure, you can blend two (or more) colors to achieve other colors, but we prefer to have a larger selection of colors ready to be used at hand.
Noticeably missing are more yellows, blues, and lighter tones of tans, grays, etc. It goes without saying, but try to stick with the largest set (24 pack) as the smaller sets’ color gaps are even more prevalent.
Another issue that we have is that different sets will come with different color choices. For instance, in the 12 pack set, you will have a Light Blue color to go along with the standard Blue. But in the 24 pack set, the Light Blue is replaced with a Prussian Blue. This means that you are left purchasing different sized sets of these pencils if you want to expand your color choices.
And then there are the specialty sets. General’s also sells 4-pack sets that they called “Neutral Colors”, “Southwest Colors”, “Urban Colors”, and “Vibrant Blues/Greens”. We would have preferred that they would have just grabbed all of these additional specialty colors that threw them into a larger single set!
Finally, we couldn’t find much in the way of lightfast ratings for these watercolor pencils.
Usability and Durability – 4/5
The application is color is quite smooth. While not quite to the “buttery” extent of some of the creamy premium pencils that we have tested, there are no major complaints here. You won’t have any of the chalky or grainy feel that cheaper watercolor pencils sometimes suffer from. In fact, these pencils operate just fine in even dry conditions. You can blend them dry and they seem to layer on top of each other easily. You will see some minor wax bloom but nothing out of the ordinary.
However, we highly recommend adding water to tap into their true potential. They are very easy to control once water is brought into the mix. You should have no issue darkening/lightening these watercolor pencils as necessary with the proper amount of water and/or additional strokes of color once the water dries.
Sharpening to a fine point isn’t too burdensome. This is helpful for highly intricate areas of your piece where you need a small application area. Conversely, a dull point is great for covering a lot of area (although we recommend that you use water to help with that).
The wax lead that is used is quite strong. We found that you can push down pretty hard before having to deal with cracking or chipping of the point (and this mostly happened when the point was sharpened extremely sharp).
And it is worth mentioning that these pencils are made right here in the USA (New Jersey to be specific). All of the various components seem to be top notch: from the proven was core to the Incense cedar wood barrel.
The barrel is hexagonal shaped and is at a size that makes it easy to grip and control. We typically prefer hexagonal barrels over round barrels due to the added grip that you can get with them (but that is a personal preference).
Packaging and Presentation – 2.5/5
The overall design of both General’s Kimberly Watercolor Pencils and their packaging is very simple (and a bit underwhelming).
The pencils themselves come in a solid color barrel that coincides with the color of the core. On the pencil barrel, you will find a stamp that states the brand and the color. There is also a color code that coincides with that particular color. In the image above, you will see that the color Carmine has a color code of 718. At the base is a metal sleeve that helps to protect the base of the pencil and keep the inner core from falling out.
The box that these watercolor pencils come in is made of low-cost cardboard. We always prefer a tin or wood case to a cardboard one (both because it looks better and it protects the pencils better). But at least there is a plastic sleeve inside the cardboard box to help store the pencils. More often than not, pencils that come in cardboard boxes do not come with the inner plastic sleeve.
Value – 5/5
The asking prices of General’s Kimberly Watercolor Pencils are extremely competitive. Depending on where you get them from and what size you go with, these pencils can fall into the budget price tier. And quite frankly, the color output and blending ability of these pencils will blow most of your low-end beginner pencils out of the water.
But you will be reminded that these are not Faber-Castells when you see the pencils themselves and their packaging. But if the pencils perform great, is fancy packaging really all that important?
Overall Ranking – 3.5/5
General’s Kimberly Watercolor Pencils have been around for a long time, and their continued success can be attributed to their impressive performance combined with their great asking price. Despite being made in the USA (which typically drives up prices), General’s has managed to keep their watercolor pencils quite affordable.
The overall vibrancy is very good with these. And true to form, when water is applied they really open up to allow for some fund blending and color manipulation. The build quality is on point as well: the cores and barrels are made of nice materials that should hold up to wear and tear (even in classroom settings).
But there are some negatives. The overall color selection is severely lacking. And if you want to enjoy all of the colors that General’s has to offer, you will have to purchase various smaller sets to complement their “large” 24 pack set. Also, the packaging and aesthetics of the pencils are nothing to write home about.
However, in terms of “bang for your buck” performance, the Kimberly Watercolor Pencils make a strong case.