Schpirerr Farben Colored Pencil Review
Schpirerr Farben Colored Pencil Review
This is my Schpirerr Farben Colored Pencil Review, since I first became aware of them, which actually was not that long ago. They are however incredibly difficult to get hold of here in the UK and I had to have mine sent to me by the wonderful Ann Kullberg of Color Magazine, who knew I was wanting to review them and the next thing I know, a set has arrived. The origin and home of the pencils is a little confusing to pin point however I will discuss this a little further into the review.
As always I have completed a piece of art with the pencil to try and help best demonstrate their ability, however, I have to say that I feel this is my own personal best piece of art, which I think speaks volumes for the pencils. Let’s get into the review and see everything there is to know about the Schpirerr Farben Colored Pencils.
Schpirerr Farben Colored Pencil Characteristics.
The Schpirerr Farben pencils come pre sharpened and in this state they measure approximately seven inches. The barrel of the pencil is almost split equally down the middle with the lower half toward the core on all pencils lacquered a striking gold and the top half of the pencil the pigment indicator. This of course makes visually selecting a color incredibly easy. In the middle of each pencil between the gold lacquer and pigment indicator lacquer is a decorative silver band
The barrel is quite slim at 7.3mm sporting a core of 3.3mm, the Schpirerr Farben pencil feels light in the hand and very comfortable to draw with. I have over the years received messages from subscribers sharing their own personal stories with me and some of them who have issues with their hands, be it Arthritis, disability or other debilitating ailments, can experience difficulty gripping slimmer barrels. For artists who suffer with this type of issue, there are attachments that can be purchased to make your grip around the pencil a lot more comfortable, I have provided links.
There is very little information printed on the pencil barrel, the barrel itself is very minimalistic. One one side is the pigment name, this is closely followed with a number which corresponds to the actual pigment and both are separated by a decorative diamond. On the opposite side of the barrel is the pencil name “Schpirerr Farben”, which no matter how many times I write the word down, I always get the spelling wrong and I also probably butcher the pronunciation in my review video, which I apologise for.
The Schpirerr Farben pencil sharpens really well, I used a few different sharpeners and they all performed well. I did experience some issues with about three of the pencils, having the core point fall out and having to resharpen, however, I did drop the pencils from my desk so I would recommend protecting these pencils. I know in the grand scheme of things, the last thing a colored pencil artist wants to happen, is for their pencils to be dropped from any height for fear of shattering the core. However, there are certain pencils much more robust than others and can endure minor damage, whereas others need to be wrapped up in cotton wool, for me the Schpirerr Farben fall somewhere in the middle of this scale, so caution is advised.
Schpirerr Farben Sets Available
This is a real easy section of the review to tackle, there is only one set of the Schpirerr Farben available and that is the 72 set. I think the price of the set, which we will discuss further, dictates that smaller sets such as 12 or 24 set’s would be ridiculously low in price and not worth manufacturing. That is just a guess and my own opinion, I think the 72 set is perfect for any colored pencil enthusiast.
There are no open stock availability with the Schpirerr Farben pencils, which I know and understand can be a cause for concern with colored pencil artists. Toward the end of my demonstration art piece, it was becoming clear to me that I was going to have to finish the art work of, because I had used a lot of browns and one of two of the pencils were incredibly low down, but I knew if I wanted to continue the art, I wasn’t able to purchase the colors individually. I really hope that the company see how popular their product has become and perhaps look into set sizes and open stock availability.
Schpirerr Farben Lightfast Information
I have reached out to Schpirerr Farben requesting information on their lightfast rating, but so far have not received a reply, so as I write this review, there are no specific lightfast testing results for the pencils. On the Schpirerr Farben Facebook page, they mention that the pencils comply with ASTM D-4236, it is important to note that a lot of people see ASTM and think that means the pencils are lightfast tested, which is not always the case.
ASTM stands for American Society for Testing and Materials, if you check out their website, your brain will fry because they have hundreds of codes like this and they all mean different things for different materials. We here in the Colored Pencil world are so used to seeing ASTM D - 6901, which is directly linked to the lightfast testing that is carried out on certain pencils, but we become so used to it, and I include myself in this, that whenever we see ASTM we don’t even look at the numbers and just think lightfast tested.
In fact the number D-4236 corresponds to the toxicity testing and regulations that is carried out on the pencils and please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way suggesting that pencil companies are trying to pull the wool over anyones eyes, not at all, it is fantastic that they mention all the of the testing and standards that their product has passed, however, if you are a commission colored pencil artist and Lightfastness is an important aspect of the pencils, then it is worth knowing what the ASMT standards are that correlate to colored pencils.
Schpirerr Farben Colored Pencils Performance
I have to say right from the get go, I was amazed at the unbelievable quality of these pencils in comparison and ratio to their price point. I knew the price of the pencils prior to receiving them and so I have fallen into the trap before of wrongly assuming, inexpensive pencils equals cheap quality, which of course I have proven time and time again not to always be the case. Whilst with the Schpirerr Farben, I knew not to expect a terrible quality pencil, however, I seriously did not expect my experience with them be so remarkable.
The Schpirerr Farben website and the actual tin of the pencils state that they are oil based pencils, I have spoke about this oil v wax issue many times, concluding after considerable research, that there really is no such thing as a 100% oil based pencil or 100% wax based pencil. I much prefer to describe my own experience with the pencil in many comparative ways.
The core of the Schpirerr Farben literally glides effortlessly across the paper, of which I tested five different papers. With the use of a light touch, the pigment levels dispensed were more than generous, leaving a definitive layer of rich pigment
The core has a softness to it, almost like a thick silky mixture effortlessly dropping pigment with each gentle touch. I managed as always to apply five light layers, on one group of layers I blended with a pencil blender and the other group I used Zest-It Odourless Mineral Spirts. Both methods created pleasing results and in particular I was really happy with the odourless mineral spirits. After applying the odourless mineral spirits, I again applied a further five layers and with each new layer achieving the richness and depth a colored pencil desires. I completed this process a total of four times, thus creating twenty layers, after each group of five applying OMS (Odourless Mineral Spirits)
The papers that I tested the Schpirerr Farben on was, Strathmore 400 Series Bristol Smooth, 300 Series Bristol Velum, 500 Series Bristol Plate, 140lb Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper and finally Clairfontaine Pastel Mat. I also tested them on a Derwent Adult Coloring book, I understand this may be a pointless test given the huge range of adult colouring books currently on the market, however I feel that completing a test at least on one book, allows me a better understanding than not doing any testing, aiding my ability to hopefully answer questions from interested adult coloring book artists.
As always I completed some simple testing with the pencils on black paper, as you can see from the image the Schpirerr Farben perform beautifully on this test, the soft thick silky consistency I spoke of earlier I feel is what gives the pigments the rich opaque appearance you can see in the image.
I have also added a sample of the art work I completed with the Schpirerr Farben pencils and I have to say I think I have completed my best work yet with these pencils. I try to offer the readers and viewers of The Art Gear Guide, as many genres as I can possible create when demonstrating art supplies. I feel sticking to one subject matter all the time would become boring and so I try to create as wide a range as possible; ranging from Botanical, birds, very new to animals, anime / manga, movie characters such as Star Wars and Superhero’s. This particular art work was my second time ever trying to draw a horse and my first time introducing a horse as part of a demonstration.
The only negative thing I have to say about the Schpirerr Farben colored pencils and I think this perhaps more a personal issue than a generic issue. When I was creating my art work, the gorgeous ruby browns and bronze pigments were to die for, however, when it came to me trying to replicate the brass rings on the bridal of the horse, the small selection of yellows, I found to be more along the lines of too pale or more inclined toward the peach side of the spectrum. I know metallic brass is not created using just yellow, and all the other Sienna’s and warm greys that I needed where in the set, I just felt the yellows were somewhat lacking.
Schpirerr Farben Pricing
As I mentioned previously, when I review and discuss a particular product, I am very much considering the price point of the product and other products on the market at a similar price. When I complete all my reviews, I never ever mention any other companies, I stick to the one product and leave it at that, however, I have already added a few comparison videos to The Art Gear Guide and will beading many more. But it is important to note that whilst I have absolutely loved using the Schpirerr Farben colored pencils, I am not trying to suggest they are in line with some of the highest graded pencils on the market, but it is important to understand every thing is comparable, and that is the case with my reviews.
I wanted to clear this up as I have been asked a few times about this. I will however say this, sometime I review a product that is seriously inexpensive and think that the company could absolutely justify charging more for their product and that is very much the case for the Schpirerr Farben pencils. Now I know people are shouting at their screens, “The cheaper the better, don’t give companies ideas” and I totally get that, but I feel this is my way of sending a message to the company as to how much I rate their product, I am not suggesting companies take my advice, they have much smarter minds than mine to advise them on the market their product is aimed toward.
Here in the UK, as I mentioned, they are incredibly difficult to obtain, what I would suggest to anyone living in the UK, who would really love a set of the Schpirerr Farben pencils, to contact someone they know and trust in America and see if you can both come to some arrangement on getting a set sent to you. I have asked the company if they have plans to sell in the UK and if so when, but again, as of yet I have not had a reply, I will amend this section if and when they reply. I did manage to find some sets that can be purchased on Ebay in the US and they will ship to the UK for £9 and the set will cost £28
At the time of writing this review, I was unable to locate pricing from Amazon but I could locate some on E-bay in America or Europe. The price of the 72 set in the US is $36 and in the EU the set cost €33.
I do know that few months ago the company had to announce that they stock had run out due to the high demand they came under for sale, which although inconvenient for us colored pencil nerds and lovers, I also see it as a good thing. High demand will hopefully equate to sales in Europe, the UK, Australia etc.
Schpirerr Farben Conclusion
As you can tell from the review, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the Schpirerr Farben colored pencils, so much so that the issues I addressed in the review, I sincerely hope are rectified. The minor issues that I am referring to is perhaps offering another size set, whilst 72 is perfect for me, it isn’t always the case for everyone no matter the cost.
The other issue is the open stock availability, to address this I think would make the pencils even more desirable to colored pencil artists. I do however feel that my issue with the yellows is one of a personal matter and not something an entire company should consider addressing, overall the colour selection is stunningly gorgeous.
Finally the lightfast ratings I don’t see as anything that needs addressing in terms of actually testing the pencils for lightfastness. Not every colored pencil set on the market has to be highly lightfast, yes of course lightfastness is an important aspect for colored pencil artists, just not every colored pencil artist.
I would also like to see perhaps a little bit more communication between the company and their customers. I always like to reach out to the companies who’s product I am reviewing, just to inform them I am conducting a review of their product and to also 100% verify my information. So far the vast majority of companies I have contacted have been incredibly helpful, even those that may have been slightly less helpful, still acknowledged the inquiry in some way. I have not received anything from Schpirerr Farben, which I hope is simply due to the high demand on the company to sell their pencils given how wonderful they are and not some other negative reason.
Don’t forget, you can as always check out my YouTube Video review of the pencils as well as my speed drawing video of the art work I created using the Schpirerr Farben pencils. I have also a page on The Art Gear Guide showing still images of the art work at various stages of completion. I hope that all four formats that I provide of a single product review, a written review, video review, speed drawing demonstration and still images of the art work, help you guys understand the product a bit better. However it is important to know that you can ask me questions any time at all and if I don’t know the answer I will always contact the company and get them to answer it on your behalf.
Every review I conduct is done so with as much scientific testing and demonstrating that one can possibly achieve with art products, however, inevitably my own personal opinion will unavoidably creep into the review. There is no such thing as the best pencil in the world generally speaking, but there is a best pencil in the world for you and only you. We each have our own unique styles, likes and dislikes in a product, we all have a different idea as to what is right for us, the art world, not just the actual art but the tools and process implemented in creating art are one of the most subjective.