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Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils

When it comes to colored pencils, or any art supplies with the Faber Castell brand applied to them, you can pretty much guarantee that you are holding a quality product. With the Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer, there is no exception.

Watercolor pencils have become an incredibly popular medium, allowing for all the beauty and movement of conventional watercolor paints, while allowing for the all the detailed precision and portability of a pencil. Given the wonderful advantages of combining watercolor paint and the humble pencil, it is hardly surprising that watercolor pencils have become a very popular medium.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Sets

To get us started with this excellent brand of pencil, we will take a look at the available sets. The biggest set in the range is 120, which is a fantastic range of colors especially were watercolor pencils are concerned. When you consider how easy it is to mix watercolors as opposed to colored pencil pigment, to establish new hues etc, with 120 colors the combinations seem endless. 

Starting with the smallest, if you are looking to get started with watercolor pencils and have never tried them before, the 12 tin set of Albrecht Dürer is an excellent place to start. Moving forward is the 24 set, 36 set, 60 set, and finally the 120 set, all of which are packaged in sturdy tins. If however, you are looking for something a little bit more extravagant, the 72 set and 120 sets are both available in luxurious wood cases, stylish, functional  and making the pencils incredibly accessible. 

As is the case with many Faber Castell products, the Albrecht Dürer is sold in open stock format. For a lot of artists, this is quite an important box for a pencil to tick, before they will even consider investing in the pencil. The reasons for this are, when working on a commission, you may in all likely hood find yourself using one or two colors more than the others, in which case you do not want to buy a new set every time you run out of a single color.    

Pencil Characteristics 

The first thing that you notice when you hold a Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer pencil is that, it is an incredibly robust and sturdy pencil, a work horse. I think perhaps some of this may come down to the dimensions of the pencil.

There is an incredibly generous 5.3mm core, housed within an ample 8.3mm cedar wood, hexagonal barrel. In the time that I have been reviewing and using pencils, I have found that most of the water soluble pencils are quite a bit thicker than others. I am not sure the reasoning on this, however, I suspect it has to do with the actual materials in the core. Regardless, this allows the artist to lay down a beautiful coverage of pigment and once activated with water, the real magic begins to form.  

As I have mentioned many times before in my reviews, the shape of the pencil is actually really quite significant to various artists. Of course the shape does not affect the performance, however, some artists will look to another pencil if it is round or hexagonal. I myself prefer the round pencils, but not to the extent I would avoid hexagonal. The benefits of the hexagonal pencils is stability when on a desk, less likely to roll off and drop onto the floor, which can be critical for pencils. For many fine art colored pencil artists, spending vast amounts of money on these pencils, the last thing they want is pencils dropping and shattering, rendering them useless when sharpened. 

Working from the core to the end of the pencil, one side has the name of the pigment stamped in silver font in two languages, German and English, after which is a numerical code which corresponds to the pigment color for open stock ordering purposes. Most importantly just to the side of the numerical code is the lightfast star rating system, which I talk about in more detail below. Never the less this is such a crucial bit of information to have stamped on all pencils, allowing the artists to chose their pigments according to lightfastness. 

On the opposite side of the barrel, again working from the core to the end of the pencil is stamped the location of Faber Castell's HQ, which is "Germany". Next to this, an icon depicting a paintbrush, indicating a water soluble pencil, is also stamped in silver leaf. Moving along, the brand name, "Albrecht Dürer" is stamped, followed by the highly recognisable Faber Castell logo of the jousting horses and the Faber Castell name. Finally, a delicate silver band is placed indicating the end of the pencil, of which is capped. The silver band is more decorative than anything else, as the pigment color is indicated by the entire body of the pencil painted the same color. Occasionally, colored pencils will indicate the pigment of an individual pencil by displaying the color on an inch or so of the pencil's end.

Faber Castell have been incredibly clever in the way that they have manufactured both the Albrecht Dürer and Polychromos pencils. To quickly glance at the 120 sets of both pencils, they look incredibly similar, however, for those of you with both 120 sets, you will know that the Albrecht Dürer and Polychromos are easily identified with their distinctive barrel shapes, one being hexagonal and the other round. Also, with the water soluble Albrecht Dürer, there is a very clear paintbrush icon stamped on the barrel.    

Lightfast Ratings

The lightfast ratings of any art product is incredibly important, especially if you are considering or are painting commissions. The lightfastness of an art medium, in this case watercolor pencils, refers to how long colors in the painting remain as beautiful and bold, as the day they were applied. When a painting is hung or displayed, sunlight in a lot of cases, will dance upon your painting day after day. If the lightfast ratings in the pigments you used were low or non existent, the colors will fade in a relatively short period of time. If on the other hand the lightfast ratings are high, your masterpiece will remain as beautiful as the day you painted it, hence the importance of Lightfastness.

Faber Castell make identifying the lightfastness of individual pigments incredibly easy. Along the barrel of the pencil, each pencils lightfastness is indicated with either one, two or three stars, three stars indicating the highest lightfastness. With the 120 set of Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer, 64 of the 120 pencils are rated three stars, 48 pencils are rated two stars and only 8 pencils rated one star. This is an incredibly pleasing number of highly lightfast pencils within a large set, of course colored pencil artists of the highest level would prefer 100% lightfast ratings across all pencils, however, some pigments just don't offer this ability.

Albrecht Dürer Performance 

Now onto the most important aspect of the pencil, the performance. When using the pencils dry, simply laying down color onto the watercolor paper, the core does crumble a little bit, but I have found this to be the case with may watersoluble pencils I've reviewed. But it is worth mentioning that this is not always a problem when talking about water soluble pencils as perhaps it would be with wax or oil based pencils. Wax crumbs need to be delicately brushed away from your drawing otherwise they may be smudged or smeared across the paper. With Water Soluble pencils, the crumbs once activated will dissolve into watercolor paint, allowing you to use it and move it about.

The coverage is smooth and consistent, with the core strong and robust. with some watercolor pencils I have reviewed in the past, the cores have been brittle and not held up well to sharpening; this is most certainly not the case with the Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer.

For me personally, the mark of quality watercolor pencils is how they react once activated with water. Low quality watercolor pencils tend to leave directional pencil marks under the paint. What I mean by this is, when you lay down the color, as you would with any pencil, you can naturally see pencil marks, so to speak. With good quality watercolor pencils, once you activate the paint with the brush, all of the paint dissolves and becomes the watercolor you want to paint with. Low quality watercolor leaves pencil marks, not all the paint reacts with the water. As you can see from the images, with the Albrecht Dürer, nothing is left, only beautifully crisp, clear watercolor paint, allowing you to create anything your imagination can muster with 120 beautiful watercolor paints and goodness knows how many other colors through mixing.

Albrecht Dürer Dry On Black 

As always, I have included a small sample of the pencil on black paper, just to show you the opaqueness or transparency of the pigment. Often within a set of pencils, different colors will behave differently on black paper, as you can see in this test however, the pigments to my eye are consistently opaque. 

Of course Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer are a water soluble pigment and as you can see here, I have only applied the pigment in its dry form. The reason I have done this is simply due to the fact I don't have black watercolor paper and to wet the pigment on non watercolor paper would give unfair and terrible results with fragments of the paper dislodging and appearing unsightly. I will however look into getting black watercolor paper for future reviews were water soluble pencils are concerned. 

I don't normally recommend art materials, I try to simply give my opinion on them and how they have preformed throughout the various tests I conduct, hopefully helping you guys to make a better informed decision. I don't want to change that now, however, I am really finding it difficult not to recommend the Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor pencils. With such versatility, either as a dry medium or paint in pencil form, along with 120 beautiful colors to chose from, it is hard to resist this high quality medium. But ultimately the choice has to be yours. 


Faber Castell are a well known company to all colored pencil enthusiasts and with good reason, they have been creating and manufacturing high quality art materials since 1761, that is a long time to refine and perfect a trade, something Faber Castell has accomplished with perfection. 

The Albrecht Dürer line in their pencil arsenal not only sports a wide array of high quality, highly lightfast pigments, but they also offer suitable set sizes to fit all budgets and needs. If you are interested in water soluble pencils for creating art, you really could not go wrong with the Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer. 

You can also see my video review of the Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer on my YouTube channel, here you will also get details on how to enter into an awesome GIVEAWAY !!!, just click the link for further details. Also for all colored pencil enthusiasts, you should definitely check out COLORED PENCIL Magazine, the finest print and digital magazine out there for all of us pencil artists.  




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