Koh-i-noor Tri-Tone Colored Pencils
1-24 count pack
Unique approach to color
Core formula naturally melds color
Cores can be prone to breaking/chipping
Koh-i-Noor Tri-Tone Colored Pencils Review
Last Updated by Brandon F. on 1/5/2021
As we have mentioned in other reviews, we are constantly looking out for colored pencil sets that are “outside the box” of normal. We came across a great example of just this with the Koh-i-Noor Tri-Tone Colored Pencils. Most of you likely are familiar with Koh-i-Noor colored pencils. We have, in fact, reviewed some on this site in the past.
But some of you may not be aware that Koh-i-Noor also offers some smaller, more niche sets of colored pencils. These sets may be more limited in their application but we always appreciate when brands step out of their comfort zone and come up with fun twists on a traditional pencil.
The Koh-i-Noor Tri-Tone Colored Pencils are unique in that they combine 3 different lead colors into the core. These colors are braided together using Koh-i-Noor’s propriety braiding technique. Koh-i-Noor promises that the colors will naturally alternate as you apply color without the need to move your wrist around. The results are truly unique!
These pencils come in a 24 pack set (23 colors and one blender), 12 pack set, and singles, and fall into the premium price range.
Visual Appeal – 3.5/5
The Koh-i-Noor Tri-Tone colored pencils take a unique approach to how they produce color. Rather than producing one color tone in a pass, there are actually 3 colors. This results in a very dynamic application that makes it “pop”.
The oil cores produce a nice, vivid color that is amplified the more passes you make.
Koh-i-Noor has developed the pencil recipes in a way that the included colors complement each other for a given pencil. For instance, some of the colors you can choose from are “Violets”, “Evening Storm”, and “Meadow”. You will notice that these color names are different than single-color pencil names (Forest Green, Citrus, etc.).
In the above color chart, you can see the different color blends that you can choose from. Some are more aggressive than others in terms of color diversification. Colors such as “Desert Yellow, for instance, utilize 3 similar colors. This is compared to “Spanish Night” which varies from reds to deep purples.
You may be asking yourself in what sort of applications these pencils would work. How are the results any different than taking 3 individual pencils of that color type and just applying them one after the other?
In that regard, there wouldn’t be a large difference assuming that you properly applied and blended the colors. But what the Tri-Tone pencils do is offer what is essentially a pre-blended core. And the colors you can choose from are representative of very versatile color schemes that can be used in a variety of settings. And in some cases, you may have not realized that you needing to combine those specific colors to achieve the desired effect.
The result can be deeper, more vibrant pieces of work thanks to the increased color depth that you will naturally reap the benefits of when using these pencils. One of the pencils in the set is also a blender. This allows you to further blend the color.
So in a way, you are really getting 70 colors in the largest set (23 times 3 plus a blender).
The defining factor of this pencil set is also one of its major setbacks. There will be cases where you don’t want or need the enhanced color tone of a three-in-one pencil. Where all you are after is a simple blue or green pencil. In that regard, the Koh-i-Noor Tri-Tone Pencils will not be of much use to you. Not only that but this is still a small set. The largest size option is only 24 pencils and there is even a smaller set that only comes with 12. So while these pencils may be handy for certain applications, you will definitely need a larger, more traditional set of colored pencils to fill in the gaps.
As for lightfastness, as far as we can tell, these pencils seem to be made of similar components as Koh-i-Noor’s Polycolor set. We have reviewed these pencils and found that the oil cores that are used result in great lightfastness. While a long-term test would need to be conducted to know with certainty, we assume that these pencils should perform equally well.
Usability and Durability – 3/5
First off, these pencils are just fun to experiment with. Since there is a level of variance to the cores, every pass that you make will result in a unique result. This can be a good thing if you are after the randomness that you see in nature scenes. However, it may be more frustrating if you are after consistency.
That being said, additional passes seem to merge the color. And if you need some extra help, the included blender pencil is great for blending the colors into one consistent color.
We found that we did end up applying multiple layers of pencils in most applications. But since these pencils have a high concentration of oil in them, you don’t have to worry about wax bloom like you do in a wax-based set.
However, we did enjoy the results of taking a gentler approach and lightly applying one or two sweeps of color. This is the scenario where we found that it was easier to see the subtle differences in the colors for a given pencil. Heavier application pressure seemed to essentially blend the colors. And additional passes amplified this.
We couldn’t seem to find specifics on what size the core is. If we had to venture a guess, we would put it somewhere between 3mm and 4mm. This is about average for core sizes and strikes a nice balance between being small enough to allow for a sharp point for detailed areas and large enough to allow for adequate color spreading for broader areas of your work.
As for sharpening, we did feel that the cores were a little more fragile than a solid color core. Koh-i-noor has done an excellent job of merging the colors into one core. But overall the core did seem a bit more prone to chipping and breaking compared to the traditional mono-color pencils by the company. We recommend only using a manual hand sharpener to sharpen these.
Packaging and Presentation – 3.5/5
The overall styling of Koh-i-noor Tri-Tone Colored Pencils is very subtle outside of the fun base of the pencil. The top and middle portion of the pencils are unpainted exposed wood with a subtle finish to them. The brand name, type, and color are stamped in black on the pencil.
At the base of the pencil, the 3 colors that are used in the core are displayed. We really like how Koh-i-Noor did this. It makes for quick and easy color identification and looks attractive.
We did see some minor differences between the color that the base showed and the true color that was produced by the pencil. But this may be due to difficulty in focusing on a single color since the other colors blend in.
As for the packaging, it is pretty straightforward. These pencils come in a thin tin container and rest in a plastic molded sleeve. Due to the small set sizes, there was no need to stack the pencils on different trays.
Cost – 3/5
While the overall asking price of a set isn’t too extreme, when you look at it on a cost-per-pencil basis, the Koh-i-Noor Tri-Tone pencils are actually quite expensive. And due to their somewhat niche application, you will need to have a backup set of pencils if you want to have more flexibility.
We assume that part of the uptick in cost has to do with the added processing that these pencils require at the factory. The process of taking 3 different colors and binding them in a way that they can all be contained within the same core likely isn’t easy. So we are not surprised and anticipated that there would be an up-charge. But if you are someone that is on a very tight art budget, it may be something to consider.
Overall Ranking – 3.5/5
We came away overall impressed with the Koh-i-Noor Tri-Tone Colored Pencils. The brand has managed to combine 3 complementary colors into one core. And while the core may not be as robust due to this process, it is still more than serviceable. And the colors that they chose for each pencil work together well and produce some fun and unique results.
The oil cores used produce nice, vivid colors. And with the included blender pencil, you can merge the colors how much or little that you like. This results in more dynamic art pieces that naturally benefit from the complementary colors in a single pencil.
That being said, the applications for these pencils are a bit limited. So be prepared to reach over to your normal set of colored pencils in certain scenarios. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the sets top out at just 24 pencils.
Also, the asking prices for each pencil are a bit high. This is no surprise as the process of making these special pencils is certainly more involved. But it is another factor to consider.
We can recommend these pencils as an accessory set once you have an established base of normal colored pencils. Their uniqueness and fun characteristics are alone worth checking them out.