Koh-I-Noor Polycolor Colored Pencil Review
Quite recently I had been asked by one of the amazing people who visit my channel, if I would review both the Lyra Rembrant Polycolor and the Koh-I-Noor Ploycolor colored pencils. Of course being asked to review anything by people who take the time out of their busy day to visit your channel, makes that review all the more important and so I purchased both requested sets. This is my review of the Koh-I-Noor Polycolor 36 set, you can also check out my video review of the pencils and see them perform by following this link to my youtube channel.
Koh-I-Noor was originally set up in Vienna, way back in 1790, so a company well established in the pencil market. The man who started the ball rolling for this company was Josef Hardtmuth. After a while, the company set up subsidiaries all over Europe and Asia, Poland, China, Italy, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania to name a few. It is difficult to establish if each subsidiary produces an individual product such as watercolor pencils made in Poland and Polycolor made in Italy etc, or if it is simply pot luck when you order a product as to where in the world it has been produced.
But on to the actual pencils. I am not going to lie, when I first purchased the Koh-I-Noor Polycolor I really didn't think that they would be up to much and this spark of infinite wisdom came from the price and just how inexpensive they were. Sometimes it is nice being so monumentally wrong.
The pencils themselves are a wax based pencil, when laying down the colour, the very much reminded me of Prismacolor. A few people have commented on my video, half agreeing with my observation, but not fully. I think perhaps, on closer inspection, if I really had to super analyse the colour coverage, Prismas allow for an ever so slightly better coverage, never the less, the Koh-I-Noor are packed with bright vibrant pigment which is a delight to apply. One area the absolutely do out perform Prismacolor on is the ability to sharpen the Koh-I-Noor, without losing three quarters of the pencil before you even get the chance to use the pencil.
The core of the Koh-I-Noor is an average 3.6mm encased in a 7mm cedar wood casing. They are a hexagonal shape and lend well to artists working on tilted boards, as opposed to round pencils constantly making a break for it across your workspace. The dimensions of the pencils are not actually on the companies site or the package, however, I have compared their girth with the Derwent Studio pencils and to my observation they are identical with regards to size.
The lightfast rating of the Koh-I-Noor is somewhat of a mystery; on the companies web site, beside each Polycolor set, is written,
"Artistic sets of water fast crayons excellent in the light permanency purity of colors and color range up to 72 different color shades."
Unfortunately this statement does not fill me full of confidence with regards to the lightfast rating, ratings have been put in place to allow artists a much better and clearer understanding of the product they are using. I am very lucky in that people visiting my youtube video review of the Koh-I-Noor, have given me links to various sites stating their lightfastness, and I managed to find this chart which seems to be legitimate, you will need to click on the image and zoom in to see the ratings on each pencil.
No Colour Names
One of the things that many coloured pencil artists find incredibly important is the colour name being printed on the actual pencil, unfortunately with the Koh-I-Noor, they have left this out. There is a reference number toward the bottom of the pencil, which you will need when and if you need to purchase individual open stock pencils. As you can see in the images below, only the name of the company and their brand of pencil is visible on the pencil.
Colored Pencil companies pretty much produce the same types of sets with regards to the numbers, however, I found a very different patter with the Koh-I-Noor brand and the sets they have available. Counting down, the largest set in the Polycolor range is 72, then 48 and 36, however, it is the lower sets that get very interesting. They produce three 24 sets, one set is random colours, another is portrait based with lots of skin tone colours and the third and final 24 set is landscape, obviously with lots of landscape colours. But it doesn't stop there. Koh-I-Noor also produce two 12 sets, a Grey set of 12 and a Brown set of 12. When I first noticed this I thought to myself that there couldn't possibly be 12 greys in the 72 set and therefore the same might be for the other sets. If this was the case, I know that coloured pencil artists try to get the biggest sets they can and for the most part this would be 120 or 132. So why have Koh-I-Noor not, alongside their packs, included a large set combining every colour they have in the Polycolor range. I have taken a look and again fantastic people who visit my youtube channel have informed me that the 72 set definitely does not contain 12 greys and 8 of the 12 brown are not included in the 72 set. Obviously this is not the end of the world, however, it is confusing as to why they would do this, counting the colours they produce in the Polycolor line, they could absolutely produce a 120 set, perhaps sometime down the line we might just see such a set.
Finally the price bracket for the Koh-I-Noor. Given the quality of these pencils, I would say that they are perhaps, pound for pound, the best value coloured pencils on the market. Thats not to say they are the best overall, just that their pricing is incredibly competitive. My 36 set cost me £26 including delivery and a set of 72 will cost approximately £49 on Amazon.
All in all I thought the Koh-I-Noor performed exceptionally well, the laying down of the color was very creamy, layering is as can be expected with wax based pencils, after about four or five layers, blooming started, but once solvent such as Zest-it was applied, more layers could be applied. Dry blending was also a pleasure, producing bright consistent colours. The colours themselves are bright and vivid. The paper I used in my testing of the Koh-I-Noor was Daler & Rowney 140lb hot press watercolour paper, however, I then tried them on the Strathmore Colored Pencil paper, which is slightly toothier and layering was much better. I would definitely recommend the Koh-I-Noor Polycolor pencils, and I would especially tell new comers to the coloured pencil world to buy a set of these