Koh-i-noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils
12-48 count pack
Soft Pastel core
Very Vivid Color Output
Not Great Blending
Can be Hard Spots in the Lead
Koh-i-noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils Review
Updated by Brandon F. on January 22, 2020
A bit different than your typical colored pencils, the Koh-i-noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils are actually a sort of pastel pencil hybrid that attempts to capture the great blending ability and vibrancy of pastels with the control and less-messy pencils. The potent pigments used are mixed with a base of calcium carbonate and other binding agents to create a unique look.
This is outputted through a 4.2mm diameter lead point. These do a few things well and a few things not so well and the mess that can occur with pastels still lingers. They do have decent color, however. Sets range from 12 to 48 pieces and are round.
Visual appeal – 3.5/5
Overall the loads of pigment they stuff into the core of the pencils is noticeable, and the output can be vivid and intense. Blending is hit or miss and seems to vary somewhat depending on not only the color but also the specific pencil. We would expect almost every pastel to blend very easily so this was a bit of a disappointment.
That being said, on the pencils that Koh-i-noor got right, the blending was much better. We don’t know if there is a magic recipe to the core recipe that results in good blending or bad blending but we hope that they look into it. If they are able to make the cores more consistent across the entire set, then this score would be even higher.
Color application is smooth, but there are some hard spots in the lead (potentially from some of the other components they inject into the core concoction) that can disrupt the smoothness. Color selection is actually quite good, with up to 48-piece sets. This is the largest color selection we’ve seen out of any of the Koh-i-noor offerings and it is definitely welcome.
You will find a nice combination of earthy tones as well as some very bright colors that really take advantage of this great color intensity. In particular, you will find that there are a lot of yellows and reds.
Usability and durability – 3/5
For the most part, strokes are smooth and buttery, with the occasional hard spot. Depending on what you are working on, these inconsistencies in the output can be quite annoying, as it can also literally create scratches on the paper. Pastels, in general, can be a bit more work, and a stump might be needed to get the proper blending and a fixative might need to be used to lock in the pigment.
In addition, pastels tend to be on the messy side, as there can be a lot of dust-like residues that remain on the surface. This isn’t a con for these in particular, but rather a general observation.
But if you can overlook these added maintenance issues, pastel pencils are fun to use. They do take a bit of practice to perfect but the learning experience can be very enjoyable even if your final piece of art isn’t your best.
Packaging and presentation – 4/5
These pencils come in a sturdy tin case with corrugated channels for each item and a sleeve for the smaller sets. The pencils themselves generally have a lovely stained wood finish on the outside with a color-coordinated base. There is also gold stamping that identifies the type of color and pencil towards the bottom. Overall a nice looking presentation that we feel will stand up against the comparable competition.
Cost – 3/5
The prices of these vary wildly. However, they all tend to be premium priced and can get quite high into the premium category. It is essential you shop around on these. On the low end these are a good price and on the high end, not so much. Pastel pencils will typically fetch a higher asking price simply due to the more exotic materials used in the core, but when you are paying into this price range, you deserve to be picky.
Overall Ranking – 3/5
The Koh-i-noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils have their strong points and their weak points but overall they aren’t bad for someone looking to incorporate the pastel feel into their next project while still maintaining some of the control of a normal colored pencil. The blending can be hit or miss but the color vibrancy is definitely there. Also, simply put, these are just fun to use.
Whether or not they are a buy will depend on how much you can get them for. At the top end there are much better options but if you can get them for a steal then why not?