I think it is a safe assumption to make when I say that most, if not all of us, know the Stabilo name, be it from our school days and the stationary we used, the amazing Stabilo Fine Liners that so many artists love to use including myself and so many other stationary/art supplies.
So about six months ago I looked about to see if they made colored pencils for me to review and obviously they did, however, at the time and here in the UK, they were not the easiest pencils to find. Many of the places I searched were either out of stock or stopped selling them, so I decided to try later. A month or so ago I decided to try again and I was pleasantly surprised to find sets available. However I contacted the company and spoke to a lovely lady who helped me out regarding information and sent me a few sets to review, this is the first of those sets I will be reviewing.
I am so glad that I persisted in reviewing these pencils because I had so much fun with them and feel they are a really wonderful set of pencils. To be honest, since using them, I have often wondered why I have not heard more about them on other review channels or forums etc. Perhaps with the wonderful explosion of colored pencil artists manifesting in the last year or so and the colored pencil medium in general taking off, more people will.
Stabilo Sets Available
My only disgruntlement with the Stabilo range, and this is a minor issue and one I am nit picking over, is the limited range of colors available. For this particular range of Stabilo, the Aquacolor, there is a set of 12, 24 and 36 also the pencils can be purchased in open stock.
The reason I mentioned the limited range is simply because I love the pencils so much. I must admit however, when it comes to water soluble type pencils, a set of 36 is actually quite a lot given that the colors can be mixed and blended much easier than that of water resistant pencils such as wax and oil based pigments.
Stabilo Pencil Characteristics
surprisingly the core of the Stabilo Aquacolor Pencils is 2.8mm and the barrel is 7mm, which in comparison to other water soluble pencils, they are quite thin. Throughout all the pencils I have reviewed I have discovered that most water soluble and pastel type pencils sport quite thick cores and therefore barrels. This difference in dimensions for the Stabilo Aquacolor has obviously no bearing on performance.
The barrel is hexagonal in shape and each barrel is lacquered the same color as the pigment, this makes color identification quick and easy. However, as I always mention, when you get a new set of pencils it is always best to create a color swatch, this way you get to see exactly how the color will react on the paper you use.
Along the barrel, in gold print is the company name and the pencil name "Stabilo Aquacolor", this is followed with a paintbrush icon indicating a water soluble pencil and finally toward the end of the pencil is printed a number. The 1600 part of the number (1600/354) indicates the pencil is Aquacolor and the second number is the pigment color, all used for ordering purposes.
Unfortunately, with the Aquacolor brand of Stabilo, this information is not easy to locate. There are no lightfast ratings on the pencil and I was unable to locate anything about this subject on their web site. So I would air on the side of caution and perhaps not use them for commissioned pieces as they require the most lightfast products.
Stabilo Aquacolor Performance
I have absolutely loved using these pencils, in fact I also have been playing about with the Stabilo Pastel pencils and I love them also. When applying the pencils dry, they lay down so rich and smooth, in fact they feel very similar to a really soft wax based pencil. As you will be able to see in the video demonstration of this pencil, once the pigment is activated with water, the colour is fabulous and incredibly rich.
As I have already mentioned, throughout all the forums, live streams and testing of pencils I have done, the Stabilo pencils don't seem to be mentioned much, however, I really hope to change this because they really are outstanding pencils.
The Rose below is the drawing I completed using the Stabilo Aquacolor pencils, this is really the first watercolor pencil drawing I have done and so I was really pleased with the outcome. You can also see this drawing in full, sped up, on the video review, just click the link.
Taking into consideration everything I have said about these pencils and how much I love them, then we talk about the price and this just makes them even more attractive. It is difficult to obtain excellent quality pencils for a cheap price, but here they are.
In the Us a set of 12 Stabilo Aquacolor will cost you $11, the 24 set will cost $19 and the biggest set of 36 will cost you $28.
And for the lovely people in Europe, a 12 set of Stabilo Aquacolor will cost €8, the 24 set will cost you €16 and the 36 set will cost you €23. So all in all not very expensive, no matter where you live and excellent pencils into the bargain. I would like to mention to readers and viewers of Australia that as soon as Amazon open up a store for art supplies I will also include prices for you guys. I know that there are plenty of Art stores all over Australia that I could take pricing from, however, it is just more universal and easier to use Amazon.
I am really impressed with the Stabilo Aquacolor and the pricing is excellent, as far as I am concerned, an incredibly under rated pencil and I hope, with the explosion of adult coloring books and the medium in general, I really hope that the Stabilo pencil is more discussed and used.