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. 


Koh-I-Noor Woodless Pencils

Koh-I-Noor Woodless Pencils

Koh-I-Noor Woodless Pencils

This is the second product of Koh-I-Noor's that I have reviewed and I have to say, when I first became hooked on colored pencils and the art they could produce, if used with the correct papers and correct techniques, the Koh-I-Noor Polycolor were among one of my first reviews. At the time, being new to the world of art and in particular, the world of colored pencils, I had never really heard of Koh-I-Noor, which was clearly due to my own lack of research and understanding. 

Two years on, and I have to say, in my opinion, Koh-I-Noor is among one of the top companies in the world of colored pencils and colored pencil accessories. They are a joy to communicate with and manufacture an impressive array of art supplies.

Donation Money 

Before I get into the review, I would just like to mention something, the money I used to purchase the Koh-I-Noor Woodless colored pencils, was from money donated to The Art Gear Guide. A few months ago, after months of emails and messages from wonderful people asking how they could help support the channel, I finally agreed to add a donation button.

I hate the idea of asking people for money, or begging, I've always wanted to do things on my own. I decided, that if I was going to add such a form of support, that all money donated would go straight back into the channel in the form of products to review or equipment to enhance the video quality of my YouTube reviews or other similar enhancements.  

I also decided that not only would any money donated go into the channel, but if it was used to purchase a product for review, that product would be used as a giveaway item. I feel that this way, I am giving back to the community and all you wonderful people who have supported and befriended me over the years. The pencils being reviewed now, have been purchased using money donated to the channel and they will be given away to one lucky winner. For details on how to enter the giveaway, please head over to my YouTube review of the pencils. 

Koh-I-Noor Woodless Pencil Features 

So I am sure I am stating the very obvious here, however, I will continue. The Koh-I-Noor Woodless pencils are simply just the core of your normal colored pencils without the wood barrel. This obviously means that the entirety of the pencil is pigment and only a very thin layer of lacquer is protecting the pigment.

The Koh-I-Noor Woodless colored pencil is a generous 7.3mm diameter of pure pigment, no wood barrel eating into precious space for additional pigment. I have received many emails and messages asking for these wonderful pencils to be reviewed, however, before actually getting my hands on them, I must admit, I thought they would have a waxy residue to the touch, but this is absolutely not the case. 

First of, the pencils are actually an oil based pencil and as previously mentioned, the lacquer surrounding the pencils prevents any such residue, oil or otherwise from becoming an issue.

Along the side of the pencil is quite a lot of information, in fact, although the Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils may not be considered fine art quality, I have reviewed many fine art quality colored pencils with much less information printed on the barrel. 

Working from the tip to the end, first is printed the company name, "Koh-I-Noor", followed by "Progresso" which is the brand name. Further along is a number which corresponds to the pigment color which is also printed on the barrel toward the end of the pencil as you can see in the images. Perhaps most surprisingly and refering to my statement about other fine art quality products, the lightfast rating is printed on the barrel in the form of a star system. 5 Stars representing the most lightfast and one star the least. 

Of the 24 colors included in the largest set available, twelve pencils are rated five stars, six are rated 4 stars, three pencils rated three stars and finally, three pencils rated two stars. So half the pencils are rated the highest lightfast which is an excellent ratio.  


I have to admit that when I purchased the Koh-I-Noor Woodless Pencils, I thought that sharpening would perhaps be an issue, but again, I was wrong and there was no issue whatsoever. I used a few different sharpeners just to make sure and all of them performed just as if I was sharpening an ordinary colored pencil. I used the Derwent Superpoint Manual Crank, an M&R hand crank sharpener, a pocket brass M&R sharpener and a KUM, they all worked perfectly. 

I have learnt many things during my time reviewing and testing art supplies, but perhaps the most important lesson learned, is to not allowed any preconceived stupid ideas cloud my judgement. Perhaps it was the look of the pencils, but I sincerely thought that they would perform like children's crayons and as usual with matters such as this, I was wrong. I was and am incredibly pleasantly surprised with the quality and happen to think the Koh-I-Noor Woodless pencils are excellent. 

Koh-I-Noor Woodless Colored Pencil Performance

As I have mentioned, the pencils are oil based, so quite a hard core and they actually also hold a point incredibly well when sharpened. As you can see from the images below, I have added a row of color using just one light layer, the next row is five light layers and the third row is one heavy application of pigment. 

I have also tested the pigment with various blending techniques, the first is just dry blending, using the pencils themselves to blend color. Next I drew two circles and blended one using odourless mineral spirits and the second using the white pencil in the set. to see real time effects of these methods, check out my YouTube video review to give you a better understanding.  On top of this test I have applied the pigment from these woodless pencils to some black paper, just to allow for a visual representation against a dark background.

With the entirety of the pencil being pigment, I have heard a lot of people suggest that they are good for filling in background colors, this is true to a certain extent, but not perhaps as you may imagine. With a wax crayon you can remove the paper, lay the crayon on its side and very quickly cover the paper in pigment. This cannot be done with the woodless pencils due to the lacquer, never the less, because of their rich vibrant pigment, laying down color is a joy. 

Available Sets of Koh-I-Noor Woodless Colored Pencils.

Unfortunately, this is one of the very few downsides to the pencils, in fact I could only muster two negative comments about these pencils, but the comments are nit picking at its finest. The largest set of the Koh-I-Noor Woodless Colored Pencils is the 24 set I am showing you here, other sets are available of 6 and 12. There are a total of 26 colors, however the largest set is the 24 set but a Gold and Silver pencil can also be purchased open stock. Do not get confused with the Koh-I-Noor Woodless Aquarelle pencils as they are available in a 48 set. they look a little bit similar only they are lacquer or covered in a grey / silver metallic looking protective cover. 

As I mentioned at the top of this section, I only have two small negative issues, one was the lack of colors, I love them so much I'd love to see at least a 48 set as there is for the watercolor version. My other negative comment is regarding the packaging, this again is a very small issue, but it is my job to highlight these points. The 24 set comes in a cardboard sleeve and inside the sleeve is two plastic trays, however, the pencils rattle around in the trays and are not fitted securely. Although my pencils arrived with absolutely nothing wrong with them, there is potential for the pencils to shatter in the trays during transit. I actually love the trays but I'd like to see the pencils held in place better.  

With regards to pricing, for what they are and considering the lightfast ratings, they are incredibly reasonably priced. In the UK, for the set of 6 woodless pencil approximately £5  12 set approx £7,  and the 24 set will cost approximately £12  and of course, they can be purchased in open stock

In America, a set of 6 Koh-I-Noor Woodless colored pencils will cost $6, a set of 12 will cost approx $11, the 24 set $16 and finally a pencils open stock will cost just under $1. 

In Europe the 6 set will cost €4, the set of 12 woodless pencils approximately €7, the 24 set €18 and finally open stock will cost €1


I actually love the Koh-I-Noor Woodless Colored Pencils, which I was so surprised about for all the reasons I mentioned in the review, all reasons that I had unnecessarily considered before so much as holding a woodless pencil in my hand. 

Although I love them and think they are fantastic quality, I don't think they are the type of pencils that would be used in fine art project or commission, but anything else they are perfect for. I think they are also perfect for slightly older children at school. I feel that we lose so many young children at an early age from art because they have been given colored pencils that come with coloring books and lay down zero pigment. If a child is unable to see results, they will give up pretty fast, however, if a child was given these to try, instant results as soon as pigment hits the paper, bright, vivid pigment with effortless lay down, is just what a young mind wants. 

They are oil based, so if you perhaps suffer with pains in your hands or have lost grip in your hands, they may not be for you, just based on the fact you may be required to add a little bit more pressure than a soft wax pencil. But this is a limit only you will know and I would suggest getting a few open stock pencils first, before completely writing them off if you suffer with hand difficulties. 

Don't forget to check out my YouTube review of these pencils by simply clicking the link and for details in taking part in the giveaway. Thank you so much, take care and I wish you all the happiness, good health and success in the world. 



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