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. 

 

Soho Urban Artists Professional Colored Pencils

Soho Urban Artists Professional Colored Pencils

Soho Urban Artists Professional Colored Pencils

The Soho Urban Artist brand is the brand pencil belonging to the famous Jerry's Artarama. For those of you who may not know, especially if you live outside the US, Jerry's Artarama is a huge chain of art stores based in the US. Jerry's was founded by the late great Jerry Goldstein, very much a family run business, some of you may be more familiar with Michael Goldstein, Grandson of Jerry and heads up most of the social media side of this all American, family chain.  

Although the Soho brand is well known for being part of the Jerry's brand, as I mentioned, unfortunately for those of us here in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, they wont be so easy to come across. Unless you know a kind hearted soul living in the US willing to send you a set of these pencils, you might otherwise find it difficult to get your hands on them, which is of course a shame. You can on certain items have them shipped outside the US from Jerry's but you need to check their site for more details on shipping fees and customs fees etc. 

Soho Urban Artists Professional Colored Pencils Available Sets

For this range of pencils, the available sets is very much what you would expect from a popular brand of colored pencils. Starting with the smallest set of 12, then 24, 36 and the largest set being 72. Most importantly, the Soho colored pencils are also available open stock, given they are professional grade pencils, the fact they are available open stock is such an important feature for a colored pencil artist. 

Whilst on the topic of available sets, it is worth noting that the Soho brand has been manufactured by the highly respected Cretacolor, an Austrian based company, however, providers of Jerry's Soho range. I think, for those new to the Soho range, this will instantly set minds at rest as I know for some people, unknown brands are gingerly approached. However, by the time you have read this review, I hope; Cretacolor reputation aside, Jerry's Soho pencils will be high on your list should you not already have them.  

Soho Urban Artist Professional Colored Pencil Characteristics 

The Soho Urban Artist colored pencils come packaged in a plain tin, covered with a cardboard sleeve depicting all the various information about the pencils. On the back of the sleeve is an incredibly clear color swatch indicating all the colors within the tin. Within the 72 set tin, the pencils are held in place with two thin plastic trays. I would recommend taking caution when lifting the top layer as the plastic tray can bend if not held correctly. For me personally, this is not a major problem as the tin protects the pencils and the tray simply keeps them in place. 

The first thing I noticed when I lifted a pencil from the tin was the balanced weight to the pencil, felling really nice in the hand. The Soho sports a generous 3.8mm core, encased in sturdy 7.5mm hexagonal barrel. Every barrel is lacquered in a striking black Matt finish with each pencil capped with an inch long flash indicating the pencils pigment for quick and easy color identification

the information printed along the barrel and I am happy to report is incredibly easy to read, against the beautiful black matt finish the information is printed in white. Some pencil manufactures opt for a metallic styled print, which can on occasions make reading in certain lighting difficult, not so with the Soho. 

On one side of the barrel is printed the pencil name "Soho Urban Artist" followed by "Colored Pencil". As always, I try my best to offer a fair and balanced account of all my reviews and look hard for imperfections or flaws, no matter how hard I tried I couldn't find anything worth writing about with the Soho pencils, so this is as bad as my criticism gets for them. I think perhaps the printing of "Colored Pencil" on every barrel is unnecessary, I think that it could be left off altogether or perhaps something relevant to the pencil printed, such as lightfast ratings. And that is as bad as it gets for the Soho pencils. After the "Colored Pencil" print,  the manufacturing location of the pencil is also printed, "Austria".

On the opposite side toward the core of the pencil is printed a bar code, followed by the pigment name and finally a three digit number corresponding to the pigment in its open stock form. There is a thin white band separating the black barrel from the inch long flash identifying the pigment. 

Soho Urban Artist Professional Colored Pencils Performance.

I have to say, I found the Soho pencils quite difficult to pin down an accurate description on and I don't mean that in a bad way, there are some traits of the pencil that you would not expect to be present given other certain traits, which I will of course explain.  

The core is a wax based core, however, despite the laying down of color being smooth and consistent and with the core actually feeling soft when laying down heavier applications, the core holds it's point more like an oil based pencil. 

I had an issue with the pencils when I first started to use them, however this was simply down to the choice of paper I was using and actually illustrates my point perfectly about there being no such thing as a bad pencil. All student, kids and artist grade colored pencils are more than adequate for providing beautiful art, it is simply a matter of ensuring you have the right paper for said pencil and you are creating the right subject for the palette. 

I first started using the Soho Urban Artists on a Hot Pressed Watercolor paper from Derwent, a paper I use often, however, due to its smooth surface, I was finding it difficult to layer and to get deep rich pigment. I also tried some Bristol Velum paper and although the results were slightly better, I still wasn't happy with my results.

I checked through my vast array of paper and found a pastel paper from Canson, I used the smoother side of the paper, although it being smoother than the pastel side, it had significant tooth. When I started using the Soho Urban Artists on this paper, it was seriously like someone had handed me a completely different set of pencils, I was shocked at how different the pencils reacted in comparison to the other papers I tired. The richness of colors in my final speed drawing piece were much deeper and vibrant than my previous few attempts and I was much happier with it.  

The palette choice for the entire range is exceptional, fantastic range of light, dark and mid-tone ranges of primary and secondary colors, a generous selection of browns and greys, colors I sometimes feel are overlooked with other brands. 

I created both dry blending tests and odourless mineral spirit blending, of which both methods reacted favourably. The wax reacted well to the Zest-It Odourless Mineral Spirits that I used as did the white Soho pencil when dry blending.

Soho Lightfast Information

Unfortunately I was unable to pin point exact information regarding the Soho Urban Artists lightfast ratings. It is clearly stated on the Soho packaging that the pigments give superior lightfastness, which I do not doubt in the slightest as this is not a claim that could be made without testing. 

However, it would be nice for Cretacolor to perhaps add a chart with the lightfast ratings for individual pigments or remove the printed "Colored Pencil" from the barrel and replace with a star system or something similar. A lot of Colored Pencil artist like to know which is their most lightfast pencils and least, allowing them the ability to pick a chose pigments accordingly.         

Soho Urban Artist Pricing 

As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, unfortunately Jerry's is only US based and so, for those of us outside the United States to buy products from Jerry's Artarama, you are most likely going to need a family member or friend living in the US to purchase and ship the product on your behalf. Strictly speaking, you can have certain items shipped outside the US from Jerry's but you really need to check out their web site and shipping terms before doing so and of course find out the customs fees in your own country as well. Here in the UK, when an item is shipped from the States, even though the postage for the item has been paid for by the sender in the US, the UK Government add more fees that you must pay to have the item released. Occasionally you will find sets of Soho Urban Artist Colored Pencils on Amazon or E-Bay so it is worth checking these places out if you are after a set. As I write this review there is a 72 set available on Amazon UK and I have added the link for this. 

However, the prices for the Soho Urban Artist pencils are incredibly good considering the quality of the pencils. For the smallest 12 set of Soho Urban Artists, you will pay $14.29, The 24 set will cost $28.79, the 36 set will cost $42.99 and the largest 72 set will cost $85.49

It is also worth mentioning, that Jerry's are always running amazing offers and coupon deals which will reduce these prices and so before deciding on which set to buy, check out the Jerry's Artarama web site as you might discover the prices above slashed by a considerable amount. 

Soho Urban Artist Professional Colored Pencil Conclusion  

I was really honoured and privilege to have had the opportunity of reviewing these excellent pencils from Jerry's Artarama. With regards to overall performance, I really loved using them, although a wax based pencil, they obtain the right amount of pigment so as not to create bloom with every pencil stroke. The pigment levels are perfect for the type of colored pencil artist who likes to layer, but it is also because of this that the Soho Urban Artist pencils sharpen incredibly well and maintain an excellent point for a considerable period of time. 

Using the right paper is of course important as I discovered, however, it is also worth mentioning that the perfect paper for me my not be for you. A lot of things depend on this, things such as how heavy handed you are when layering, whether or not you layer with a light hand and enjoy the process of layering. Also using odourless mineral spirits or pencil blenders will also determine how the pencils perform. I personally prefer not to use OMS with colored pencils, however, my final piece with the Soho Urban Artist Colored Pencils, I used OMS and got beautiful results as the pigment reacted wonderfully to the process.  

However, despite their excellent layering abilities, when required, vibrant pigment levels are released with a heavier application. With this range of versatility in a single pencil, it is clear to see why Jerry's Artarama hold them dear to their range and why so many other Colored Pencil Artist have nothing but praise for the Soho Urban Artist Professional Colored Pencil.  

Don't forget to check out my YouTube video review as well as my speed drawing using and demonstrating the Soho Urban Artist Colored Pencils. 

Derwent Lightfast Review

Derwent Lightfast Review