The Art Gear Guide  

The Art Gear Guide is your one stop shop for the most recent, up to date, honest reviews on all your favourite art supply products. 


Caran D'Ache Pablo Review

Caran D'Ache Pablo Review

Caran D'Ache Pablo Colored Pencil Review

Before I begin with my review of the Caran D'Ache Pablo colored pencil, I'd just like to say how honoured and privileged I am on becoming the new review columnist for "COLORED PENCIL Magazine"I'd like to say a huge thank you to Sally Robertson, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine for taking me under her wing and helping guide me along this new adventure and also to Sally's husband Ed for his help.

As a result of this new adventure and the fact that I have been receiving many personal emails and messages from lots of you to review a much wider range of art supplies, as opposed to just colored pencils, as was my initial aim, I have decided to change my format. I will be changing my blog from "Colored Pencil Reviews" to "The Art Gear Guide". This change will be reflected in all my social media platforms, however, more details on the change will follow soon. 

Caran D'Ache Pablo 

I have been reviewing art supplies now for just over a year, primarily colored pencil, and with the exception of a few companies, I have reviewed a product from every colored pencil manufacture on the market. I think at this stage of my reviewing life, I've reviewed enough wonderful products to permit me in saying that there really is no pencil quite like a Caran D'Ache Pencil. In every single pencil, regardless of the brand, Luminance, Pablo, Supracolor soft or Museum Aquarelle, the craftsmanship is immediately evident. 

The Caran D'Ache Pablo has long been a target of mine to review, especially after I purchased my pride and joy, 76 Luminance set about eight months ago. However, waiting to get my hands on these pencils has been a painful one and so I've tried to pass the time by researching the Pablo as much as I could. during my research, I discovered one statement about the pencils that stood out much more than any other and that was the constant comparison to the Faber Castel Polychromos. These comparisons referred to the hardness of the Pablo's core and the amazing ability to obtain fine detail with the Pablo just as you can with the Polychromos. However, during my testing of the Pablo, I couldn't really see the comparisons, in my opinion the Pablo and Ploychromos are two very different pencils.  

The Pablo Pencil 

Before I get into the performance of the pencil, let me highlight the characteristics. The first point to notice is the hexagonal shape of the Pablo, so many pencil artist's have their own desire when it comes to the shape of a pencil, for me personally, I prefer a round barrel, however, the eloquence of of the Pablo and its beautiful balanced weight allows me to over look such microscopic flaws, if indeed the shape can be viewed in such light.

The perfectly formed hexagonal barrel is set at 6.9mm, sporting the most buttery smooth 3.8mm core. Along one strip of the hexagonal barrel, laid in gold leaf is printed; Permanent Colour; followed by the pencil brand, Pablo; then the iconic Caran D'Ache name and finally the proud location of the company Swiss Made. 

Emblazoned on the opposite side, is perhaps the most important display that all pencil artists want to know. The color name of the pencil is inscribed along the Cedar wood casing in both Swiss and English, this is followed by a numerical code which correlates to that particular color for ordering purposes. Finally, close to the very end of the pencil, thus the last bit of information to disappear as a result of the sharpening process, is the star rating, indicating the lightfast rating for that individual pencil. The end of the pencil is capped, protecting the core and a gold band encompasses the end of every pencil, a purely decorative purposes.

A fair amount of controversy has followed the Pablo and the Luminance combined, many artists claim the Pablo to be an oil based pencil and the Luminance a wax based. I decided to put this matter to bed and contact Caran D'Ache themselves and get the correct information for the purpose of this review.

According to Caran D'Ache, the Pablo is indeed an oil based pencil, whereas the Luminance is a wax and oil mix based pencil, which is why so many seem to think the Luminance are 100% wax. In a way, this confusion, only highlights the excellence put into the crafting of these wonderful pencils.  

Pablo Performance 

I'm not going to beat about the bush here or mince my words, when I first lifted out of the tin, my Pablo pencil and began laying down color, I was instantly in love and immediately found my new favourite pencil after the Caran D'Ache Luminance. The Pablo defies all the laws surrounding other colored pencils, whilst sporting an incredibly hard and durable core, the application of the pigment is like laying butter. The two should not go hand in hand, yet they do. 

With the softness of the pigment, one would perhaps expect a bit of bloom or tackiness when layering; again this was not the case in my testing. layering was effortless, whilst blending was as simple as blending with watercolors, well not quite, but you get the point.  

The vibrancy of the pigments is something you really need to see with your own eyes. I have provided an image of the swatch I completed, which does give you an indication of the pigment royalty, but as with most incredible spectacles in life, viewing the Grand Canyon in a glossy magazine is not quite the same as being stood on the edge of the canyon taking in the view with your own eyes.

Pablo Sets & Pricing

Caran D'Ache products are inexcusably expensive and only when you use a Pablo pencil in between your own fingers, will you begin to understand the reasons behind such expense and the old saying, "You get what you pay for" . Don't get me wrong, it does hit me right in the heart when I try out a new pencil such as the Pablo and know that it will take me the best part of a year to save for the largest set, never the less, that is a goal I am happy to let my children starve for. There is no need to express individual price points for each set, simply due to the large variation of pricing around the world and in various art supply stores. 

Sets available in the Pablo range are as follows, tins of 12, 18, 30, 40, 80 and 120, you can also get a 120 wooden box gift set, which is not simply just a packaging container but a beautifully crafted wooden box that will keep your pencils safe and organised for many years to come. 

The Pablo, as with all Caran D'Ache pencils is available in open stock, which is even more reason to save and purchase the 120 set, once you have the set you have it for life. As you use one particular color to the end, you can simple replace that color and your set will always be replenished. 

Caran D'Ache Pablo Conclusion

I really go out of my way to remain impartial throughout all of my reviews, I feel impartiality is important, however, I also feel honesty and transparency are equally important qualities. With every Caran D'Ache product I review, I try so hard to find impurities, kinks in their armour and expose their wizardry ways, but in truth it is so difficult to do so. The excellent craftsmanship that evidently goes into their products is blindly obvious. In fact, I often sit and visualize the Caran D'Ache castle, nestled in the Swiss Alps, depicting a scene not out of place from that of the great watch and clock masters. Luminance white haired old men sat with round rimmed spectacles over a cluttered desk, painstakingly hand crafting each beautiful Caran D'Ache pencil. Fantasy, I know, but not too far from the truth I am sure.

As a colored pencil artist, you will really find it difficult to use a better pencil than the Pablo. Of course the wonderful thing about art and the art world we surround ourselves in, is that everything is subjective, we all have our own styles and so you personally may have already found your best pencil. Even if that is the case, I would still very much implore you to at least try a set of these wonderful Pablo pencils and not to be put off with the phrase that seems to follow the Pablo about, pigeon holing it as a detailed only pencil. This is not the case, sure you can achieve amazing detail with the pencil, but you can achieve a lot more besides.

Thank you to Sally for this wonderful opportunity and thank you to all of you wonderful people who have supported me on my blog and youtube channel, without you none of this would be possible for me and I really hope to see you all still come and show love and support at "The Art Gear Guide" officially now open. You can also see, as always, my video review of the Caran D'Ache Pablo colored pencil on my YouTube Channel

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