Wanshui Colored Pencils
168 count pack
Enormous Selection of Colors
Quite Brittle Lead
Some Inconsistencies with Color Output
Wanshui Colored Pencils Review
Updated by Brandon F. on July 13, 2020
Wanshui is a relatively new brand to us but they are gaining popularity on a variety of online marketplaces. The particular set that we are going to discuss in this review is their enormous 168-count set. While the large size will likely catch your attention based on its size alone, there is another notable quality that you will immediately notice: the great asking price. Even more interesting is that these cores are heavily comprised of oil (something which traditionally has been reserved for higher-end pencils).
Visual Appeal – 4/5
When you are working with a set as large as this one, you will have a lot of colors at your disposal. Wanshui is proud to declare that there are no duplicate colors in their large 168 pack set. However, this does come with a caveat: included in this number are several “specialty” colors such as metallic and fluorescent. Some people may find little use with these types of pencils while others will love that they are included.
Even if we ignore these unique colors and focus on the core colors, you still have a pretty large number of pencils to choose from. However, for a selection of this size, we were a bit disappointed with the distribution of color options.
For instance, you will find an enormous selection of browns and purples. You may be hard-pressed to differentiate one purple from another. However, there are far fewer yellows, blues, and off-whites (which, in our experience, are used much more frequently in most pieces compared to purple).
The color output is quite vivid. This can, for a large part, be attributed to Wanshui’s decision to go with an oil core. This core is on the softer side so a stroke removes quite a bit of the core, resulting in powerful and deep lines of color. Conversely, if you let up on the application pressure, you will enjoy more subtle colors that are good for backgrounds. We appreciate the versatility of these pencils (particularly at this price point).
One complaint that we have (and that we have seen others mention) is the inconsistency of color application on certain pencils. As you work your way down the core, you may occasionally find that the core slightly changes color. We aren’t sure if this is because of the manufacturer accidentally mixing two colors into a core or what. But it is certainly frustrating! Thankfully it seems to be an outlier and won’t affect most of the pencils.
Usability and Durability – 3/5
In terms of blending, we are quite pleased. You can easily layer different pencils and also spread the color over a large area with relative ease. Again, you can thank the decision to use an oil core for this. We didn’t have as much to say about trying to mix with water or solvents but most oil pencils aren’t great at this sort of thing anyway.
The core is about the average thickness of a colored pencil. This gives it a “happy medium” between being able to cover a lot of area while still being thin enough to allow you to do detailed areas of your piece. And while we usually prefer a hexagonal barrel over a round, this is a personal preference that others may not agree on.
Now on to the durability: we had some serious issues with the lead breaking and chipping while using. And from reading reviews from others, we aren’t alone in this. Wanshui may have gone a bit overboard in just how much oil they used. The result are pencils that can be quite challenging to properly sharpen. And on top of that, people that tend to push down pretty hard while the color may find that they continuously break the point off.
Packaging and Presentation – 2.5/5
Another good reminder that these are budget pencils is in their packaging. They come in a very cheap and flimsy plastic liner that is prone to be bent, resulting in pencils stacking upon each other. Also, you receive 5 of these flimsy plastic sheets as opposed to one large one. This, of course, means more than you have to keep up with. And seeing how the pencil leads are easily broken, it would have been nice to have a case that better protects them.
As for the pencils, they are also very Spartan in appearance. They come in a solid color barrel that has “Guang Hui” and the color number of the pencil stamped in silver leaf. We assume Guang Hui is the actual pencil type. This same brand of pencil has been reported as being sold by other art distributors under different names such as Hero. The barrel color, for the most part, is a pretty accurate representation of the true core color.
Cost – 5/5
Easily the biggest selling point and likely the engine that has driven Wanshui Colored Pencils to the popularity that they have enjoyed online is their asking price. These are extremely affordable pencils. They will rival the traditional heavy-hitters of the art world (Crayola, Sargent Art, etc.) when it comes to cost per pencil. And what makes them even more appealing is that they achieve this price point while utilizing an oil core (which typically cost more to produce than a wax core).
Of course, some sacrifices have to be made (as you can see in the discussion above). But at this asking price, it makes it much easier to overlook some of them.
Overall Ranking – 3.5/5
Wanshui Colored Pencils have captured some attention in the art world thanks to their extremely affordable pencils that come with an oil core. Their popular set of 168-count pencils promises to give you plenty of pencils to color with.
We are quite happy with the vividness of these pencils. They manage to put out a lot of colors but can still handle more subtle areas if you let off the pressure. And strokes are quite smooth.
However, despite the enormous selection of colors, there are still some noticeably color gaps present. We would have hoped that with this large of a quantity, that wouldn’t be an issue. Also, the oil core does come back to haunt us some due to how easy it is to chip and also how difficult it is to sharpen. If you are someone that tends to push down with a lot of force, you might become quite frustrated.
And to achieve this great asking price, you will see some noticeable sacrifices that are made when it comes to packaging and presentation. The case is very thin and flimsy and the pencils are very plain in appearance.