stabilo original colored pencil review

Visual Appeal
Overall Ranking

Stabilo Original Colored Pencils

1-39 count pack

Wax core

Hexagonal barrel



Great Control

Can Be Used Both Wet and Dry

Tough Core


Limited Darker Colors

Not Good for Covering Large Areas

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Stabilo Original Colored Pencils Review

Updated by Brandon F. on July 13, 2020

Stabilo’s Original Colored Pencil set is a wax-based pencil that is designed for artists ranging from beginners up to seasoned professionals.  It comes with an extremely thin 2.5mm diameter core which makes it great for intricate areas.  And being semi water-soluble, it can also enjoy some of the benefits of a watercolor pencil while still retaining many of the more traditional features of a dry colored pencil.  Asking prices typically fall into the intermediate-range and set sizes range from singles up to 39.

Visual Appeal – 3.5/5

stabilo original colored pencil fine details

Since these pencils do have such a thin core, their focus will be on intricate areas of an art piece.  They will be great for drawing hair/fur, small tree branches, or providing high levels of detail onto various objects that you may be drawing.  But where they may struggle is in producing large amounts of color which are necessary for more subtle parts of a drawing such as blue skies, the sides of solid buildings, etc.

The color that is produced is relatively vivid.  This is important for a pencil with such a thin core as a very subtle color output would result in you having to make a lot of passes to get the intensity that you are looking for.

Part of this has to do with the color choices.  Stabilo has seemed to put a lot of focus on “brighter” colors.  You will find a nice selection of yellows and reds.  In addition to this, there is an acceptable selection of blues and greens.  And for their size, they produce a good amount of color intensity when you want it.

stabilo original colored pencil color selection

What is somewhat lacking is in the darker colors.  There are a few “earthy” tones but for people who are looking to build up detailed areas of a darker part of a drawing or simply prefer darker tones to their work in general, you may find yourself having to pick through other larger sets to find the exact color that you are looking for.  This color gap is particularly noticeable in the smaller 12 and 24 count sets (although this will be an issue with any small set that you go with).

That being said, these pencils are what Stabilo calls a “partially aquarelle” set.  In other words, they are partially water-soluble.  We found that adding a bit of water to them does bump up the blending some and this helps to fill some of those color gaps (more on that in the next section).

Usability and Durability – 4/5

stabilo original colored pencil fine point

As we mentioned above, the Stabilo Original Colored Pencils are best used for detailed areas.  When focusing on these areas, you will find that you have great user control.  The core is thin but strong and the hard wax that is used allows you to push down a surprising amount of force without chipping or breaking.  And as is typical of many colored pencils with small cores, you will find a hexagonal barrel.  This is because most people prefer the added grip that a hexagonal barrel as compared to a round barrel.

But for larger areas of a piece where you simply want broad strokes of color, save your time and stick with a traditional set of pencils with a larger core.  You will find that you are spending way too much time trying to fill in color when you could simply switch over to a larger pencil and have the same results in half the time.

As for blending, you can do so both wet and dry (since these are semi-water soluble).  However, we found that we preferred adding a bit of water to the tip of the pencil.  It essentially creates a highly controlled watercolor pencil.  You won’t get the level of blending and color manipulation of a traditional watercolor pencil but it is just enough to make these thin pencils’ strokes a bit more demonstrative.

Sharpening is about average.  While the core is quite tough, it is still very thin.  And if you are aggressive with your pencil sharpener then you may find yourself accidentally chipping the core.

Packaging and Presentation – 4/5

stabilo original colored pencil case

If you decide to go with a set rather than singles, they will come packaged in a pretty standard metal box that you are likely used to seeing from Stabilo.  Inside the box is a thin plastic insert with grooves that allows you to lay the pencils down next to each other for easy identification.  It also helps to stop them from stacking up on top of each other (a common complaint of cardboard boxes).

stabilo original colored pencil markings

The pencils themselves come in a solid color-coordinated outer barrel.  While there may be some slight variances between the color of the barrel and the actual color produced by the pencil, isn’t far off.  You will find a couple of small semi-gloss silver rings at the base.  And directly above these rings will be additional information about the pencils: the brand name, the type of colored pencil, the Stabilo color code, and a lightfast rating that ranges from 1 to 5 stars.

Overall, it is a safe look.  We have certainly seen more attractive pencils and cases but at this price point, we can’t complain too much.

Cost – 4/5

If Stabilo hopes to make their Original Colored Pencils suitable for artists of every type, then they need to price them in a way that makes them easily obtainable by artists at just about any budget.  And in that regard, we feel that they have succeeded.

These certainly aren’t budget colored pencils.  For those on an extremely tight budget, these may still be more than you want to spend (and there are other pencil brands out there for you).  But for those willing to spend a few extra bucks, you will find that the performance of these far surpasses most of your ultra-low-cost pencils.

And compared to other pencils at this price point, we feel that the quality, performance, and presentation are competitive.  However, it is worth noting that these pencils are a sort of “specialty” pencil (because of their thin cores) and we would recommend that any artist have another set of thicker-cored pencils to complement these (which means spending more money!).

Overall Ranking – 4/5

The Stabilo Original Colored Pencils are a solid performer for those after a pencil with a thin core to use for detailed parts of their drawings.  The core, despite being thin, is quite strong and produces some solid color (of course part of this has to do with the high concentration of bright colors in the set).  Another nice perk is that the wax material is semi water-soluble.  This allows you to open up blending capabilities on what would otherwise be quite limited. 

The packaging and overall performance also align well with the asking price.  This is a “good for everyone” type of pencil: just make sure that you have another support set of colored pencils with a thicker core for the parts of your drawing that don’t require intricate details.

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