Spectrum Noir Pencils
24 count pack (5 sets)
wax and oil hybrid core
Decent Vividness and Blending
Many colors overall
Have to purchase 5 sets to get all colors
Some inconsistency between colors
Spectrum Noir Colored Pencils Review
Spectrum Noir Colored Pencils are a wax and oil hybrid and are the primary blendable colored pencil line offered by Crafter’s Companion. The color wheel is actually broken down into 5 different sets of 24 pencils, with the “Essentials” set attempting to encompass many of the highly-utilized colors generally needed for a piece. Overall they have a decent combination of blend ability and utilization while still being durable enough to be used on a regular basis and sharpened. It is a bit frustrating that in order to get the full-color offering you have to purchase 5 different tins as opposed to having the entire group available in a single set, however.
Visual Appeal – 3.5/5
Spectrum Noir advertises these as being highly blendable and for the most part, they do a decent job. The interesting oil and wax hybrid manage to capture the brightness of waxy pigments and the thick texture of many oils. The colors are relatively vivid, although there can be some inconsistencies between them. As mentioned, it is also frustrating that many of the colors you will need will require purchasing one of the other 4 available sets. In other words, a given set will be severely limited in its scope. But the color can be laid down pretty thick if desired which is quite nice.
Above is an example of the colors you will find in one set. As you can tell, the colors have a lot of overlap and it would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to be able to fully color in certain scenes with just one set. However, the colors in a particular set certainly are unique and may be difficult to source in other sets from different brands (even large ones).
Usability and Durability – 3/5
Spectrum Noir used to advertise these as being strictly wax-based, but they are in fact a combination of oil and wax and their new labeling reflects that (thanks Jaylore for the update!). The hybrid oil and wax mixture results in an easier time maintaining a good point as well as being less frustrating to sharpen. In addition, there is relatively little wax bloom when compared to conventional wax cores.
Unfortunately, the texture of application varies wildly across the various colors, with some embossing that creamy texture of many of the premium wax-based lines while other colors have a much harsher and rough feel to them. Blending, which is in the name itself, is decent but nothing amazing. You can manage to help the blending out some by incorporating some solvent but we wish that the oil in the core would stand out more and allow it to be blended better when dry.
Packaging and Presentation – 3.5/5
The Spectrum Noir Colored Pencils come in an attractive tin. Hopefully, you enjoy the tin look because in order to purchase all of the colors you’ll have to have five of these tins laying around! It would be preferred to have a special offering that has all 120 colors in a large tin or wood box but oh well. The pencils themselves are round and have the color of the pencil itself colored on the outside, although there is no easy-to-read labeling on the pencil that tells the user what color it is.
Cost – 3.5/5
These pencils are available in the mid-priced range, which puts them squarely in the intermediate market. For a set of 24 this isn’t too bad, but the “bulk deal” you will sometimes get when purchasing the larger sets with more colors is not going to be enjoyed here since there are no larger sets. And since you will really need to purchase all of the sets to get the full range of colors, it does add up. For the performance of these pencils, this is still a fair price on a set by set basis.
Overall Ranking – 3/5
The Spectrum Noir Colore Pencils do nothing inherently bad but nothing really jumps off the table, either. Performance is fine and the blending ability is there, albeit there will be some variance from one pencil to the next. We do appreciate the originality in combining wax and oil together into a single core, it could use a bit more tweaking to really maximize the effort.
Depending on what type of “feel” your pictures normally have will affect which set(s) you look into. While we can see what they were going for here it still would have been nice to have an option just to purchase all of the colors at once. An acceptable choice for the price range but plan on purchasing multiple sets if you like to color a wide range of subjects.