The Art Gear Guide  

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Caran D'Ache Supracolor Soft

Caran D'Ache Supracolor Soft

Caran D'Ache Supracolor Soft

The chances are, if you are reading this post, my review of the Caran D'Ache Supracolor Soft coloured pencils, then you are already aware of the Caran D'Ache name, and if not, don't worry, after reading this review you will begin to understand all the hype surrounding the name. 

Caran D'Ache is a Swiss born company, headquartered in Geneva and producers of high quality art supplies. On the companies web site, they state that the excellence in craftsmanship surrounding the old Swiss watchmakers and Jewellers of the 18 and 1900's, has very much been carried on in the production of Caran D'Ache products. I am personally no artist, however, I have used Caran D'ache products and compared them with others in their field and can without hesitation, vouch for the above claim. 

Pencil Specs

The Caran D'Ache Supracolor Soft is a water soluble, hexagonal in shape, as are most of the water soluble pencils I have used. A lot of artists, particularly those using drafting boards set at an angle, prefer using hexagonal pencils as they are much more convenient with regards to the pencil rolling of the drawing area. Though pencils are not chosen exclusively for their shape. The Supracolor Soft sports an adequate 3.8mm core of high quality pigment, encased in a 6.9mm Cedar wood casing, carved from the finest Cedar wood. 

Written along one side of the pencil is the pencil brand, "Supracolor II Soft", followed by the icon of a paintbrush, indicating the water solubility of the product. Further along is the company name "Caran D'Ache", and then the location of the company HQ is labeled "Swiss Made". Finally, on the same side is a number 3888, indicated on all the pencils, although I am not sure of it's relevance. 

On the opposite side of the pencil, is the name of the colour written. Of course each pencil is painted the same colour as its core, allowing for quick selection, however, I have come to realise the importance of companies printing the actual name of the colour alongside the pencil. Next to the name of the colour is a number which corresponds to the colour of the pencil, thus allowing for individual ordering of replacement pencils. Finally, and arguably most importantly to the artist, is the depiction of either one, two or three stars. The stars refer to the lightfast rating of the pigment in that individual pencil, three stars indicating highest lightfastness and one star, least lightfast. 

although the Supracolor Soft are a water soluble pencil, they can be used as you would an ordinary coloured pencil. The coverage of the Supracolor dry is quite chalky, you can also blend the pigment dry, using a blender, but again, this leaves an ever so slightly chalky residue. Although they can be used as you would any other pencil, my testing of using solvent did not work too favourably, perhaps because of the binding agent used to permit the pencils watercolour properties. 


Laying down the pigment is incredibly soft, as the title would suggest, it is this property that allows for a consistent and full coverage. When conducting my testing of this pencil, I used Daler and Rowney Watercolour paper. To see the actual tests I conducted, you can watch my YouTube video review of this pencil, you can either click the link, or select the YouTube tab above in the navigation bar. This will give you a better understanding of this particular testing. 

The real fun and magic begins when you use the Supracolor soft pencils as they were intended to be used. With lower quality watercolour pencils, when you lay down colour and then apply water to it via a water brush or ordinary paint brush, the pencil lines can still be seen underneath the activated watercolor paint. With the Caran D'Ache Supracolor Soft this was not the case at all. As soon as the water was applied, the lines disappeared and watercolor appeared, creating beautiful vibrant colour.   

I briefly mentioned the lightfast indication of the Caran D'Ache Supracolor Soft pencil, but not the pencils themselves. I have reviewed the 40 set and within this set only 4 pencils are rated one star, 25 are rated two stars and 11 are rated the highest rating of three stars. I am not sure if the pencils being water soluble has anything to do with the lightfastness of the pencil, I say this because ordinarily, Caran Dache products normally hold a majority of the set at the highest rating and one or two at the lower rating, so it was a little surprising to not find the same in this set. 


For the Supracolor Soft range, you can chose from the following sets, 12, 18, 30, 40, 80 and 120, Caran D'Ache also offer beautiful box sets of 80 and 120. Although the quality you get from Caran D'Ache is second to none, you pay for it. It is no secret that Caran D'Ache products are incredibly expensive, however, I have never heard an artist yet say that the product they purchased was not worth the money. 

Here in the UK, and I have used Amazon to get an indication of prices due to the global access of Amazon, prices for the Supracolor Soft pencils are in line with Caran D'Ache products. A 12 set would cost £15, 40 set approximately £55 or the 120 set in a tin £185. Obviously the box sets are going to cost more with the 80 box set starting at £170 and the 120 box set £255


The Caran D'Ache Supracolor Soft pencils did not let me down, I was so excited to get them and have had so much fun using them, they are an absolute joy to use. I would definitely recommend the Caran D'Ache Supracolor Soft colored pencils, if your budget allows, get the largest set you can. I personally would love to get the 120 one day. 

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