To date, the vast majority of my reviews have been, unintentionally, colored pencils from the higher ends of the spectrum with regards quality and pricing. However, I feel it is equally important to review the less expensive colored pencils, the type of pencils that should be given to our children in order to see if they are of artistic influence or not. But so many parents, myself included a while ago, cringe over spending five pounds on colored pencils, as so many of us don't really understand the medium and what colored pencils can truly produce in the right hands.
Myself and COLORED PENCIL Magazine have decided to review the Staedtler Ergosoft, a much less expensive colored pencil in relation to past reviews, but as I have discovered and I hope I will demonstrate in this review, certainly no less important than other higher end brands.
I think so many young children are given coloring books to help pass the time or as methods to help stimulate their minds. As parents, and I've been guilty of this in the past myself, money is obviously important and so the five free colored pencils that come with the coloring book, will be enough. However, when the young inquisitive mind tries to use the pencils in the book, very little to no color actual leaves the pencil and so the child digs deeper and scribbles with all their might in an attempt to squeeze the last bit of pigment from the pencil, but to no avail. It is at this time that the child stops and going forward in their life, associates art as a chore, an unexciting experience. For a little bit of extra money, that horrible experience could have been avoided and an entirely different world of opportunity opened.
Staedtler Ergosoft Features
So lets get into the review of the Staedtler Ergosoft colored pencil and why I think they are an excellent pencil on so many levels. Before I move on I just want to clear up right from the get go, they are not artist grade pencils and there is no lightfast information for them.
Staedtler are a German based company, a name I am sure everyone is familiar with. Staedtler make so many wonderful stationary supplies and on a global scale, millions of people world wide have used a Staedtler product at one time or another.
The barrel of the Ergosoft is triangular, which sounds uncomfortable to hold in your hand, however, I personally feel this shape of barrel, is much more natural than round or hexagonal. The triangular shape forces the fingers to hold the pencil as we have all been taught, I am not saying this is the correct way to hold a pencil, simply the way we are taught.
The Staedtler Ergosoft is a wood barrel, however, there is a softness to its touch, I am not quite sure if the wood barrel has been covered in a soft plastic lacquer, whatever the material, it is very comfortable.
There is no pigment name printed on the barrel or in any color chart that I can find, so perhaps creating your own color swatch with the pencils might be a good idea. There is a designated area on the barrel of the pencil, were you can print your child's name before sending them to school, which I think is an excellent feature; as a parent myself, I know just how much stuff goes missing when the kids head back to school.
Another amazing feature of this pencil, although not directly of the pencil, is the packaging the pencils come in. One or two pencils that I have reviewed lately, have had packaging of a similar ilk. The package is made from a strong plastic, however, once opened, it transforms an otherwise average pencil package into a well constructed display stand. This isn't just simply an aesthetic feature but an incredibly functional one. As you can see from the images, once opened, the pencils are held in such a way that access to them is effortless, also allowing the artist to see the pigments they want.
Staedtler Ergosoft ABS Anti-Break-System
I am sure most of you have heard of the anti breaking systems in vehicles, well, now the same system is in pencils, well, not quite. Staedtler have developed an incredible system to help prevent the core of the pencil from breaking, which is fantastic. The Anti Break System protects the core from all the knocks and shattering that a pencil would otherwise experience inside a school bag or just on a very active table filled with kids.
The system is actually visible as soon as you look at the pencil core. Just between the wood barrel and the pencil core, a small white layer can be seen, it is this white layer that is the anti breaking system. The white layer is a resin of material, used to cushion and protect the core between the barrel from drops and knocks that would otherwise cause shattering in the core. This is a wonderful system to have in place considering the Staedtler Ergosoft is primarily aimed at the school demographic.
Staedtler School and Above.
Although school children are the main focus of the Staedtler Ergosoft, it is not the only group using the pencil. Adult coloring books are taking the world by storm at the minute, producing fantastic artists and wonderful illustrators. So many of the adult coloring books are works of art in their own right and collectively and as a community, adult coloring books have helped in so many other areas of life.
Many of the adult coloring book artists use artist grade colored pencils, however, before jumping into that huge pool, the Staedtler Ergosoft is a wonderful place to start and this is why.
Staedtler Ergosoft Performance.
The Staedtler Ergosoft are so called for a good reason, the core has a soft and manageable texture. Most soft cored pencils have a tendency to be very delicate and break, however, with the anti breaking system in place, this is covered. The barrels triangular form does not hinder the pencils sharpening ability at all, the Ergosoft sharpens perfectly with all four of the sharpeners I used, I will say however, when using the hand crank sharpeners, for the first couple of turns, when the pencil is brand new, you can feel the sharpener try to grip the pencil. This is soon overcome once the sharpening begins.
I was incredibly surprised at just how well Ergosoft layered, perhaps a lot of people using the Ergosoft may not think of it as a pencil that can layer, but as you can see from the images below and my YouTube video review of the pencil, the layering ability is excellent.
With regards to blending, a little bit more work is needed, but never the less, blending is absolutely possible both dry and using OMS. On top of all this, the pigment of the Staedtler Ergosoft showed up a treat on the black paper, really opaque and very bright over all, again I was pleasantly surprised with the performance on black paper.
Staedtler Ergosoft Sets
From what I can ascertain, Staedtler have three brands of colored pencil, Staedtler Noris Club, Staedtler Noris and Staedtler Ergosoft. With the Ergosoft, the pencil we are reviewing here, the largest set is 24 and they also have a set of 12. I personally would love to see this particular range of pencil extended to 36 or 48, giving a little bit more choice to the younger artists using this pencil.
That being said, the colors available in the 24 range are an excellent selection. As previously stated, color names are not present on the pencils, however, in the 24 set there are 4 blues, 4 greens, 3 purples, 3 reds, 2 yellows, 2 oranges a nice flesh tone, 2 browns, a grey and black and white.
The price point for the Ergosoft is another very attractive feature, making them in my opinion, perfect for all of the situations I have spoke about. In the UK, the set of 12 it will cost £6 and for the 24 set approximately £17. In the US for the 12 set $11 and for the 24 set $17 and finally in Europe a set of Staedtler Ergosoft 12 set will cost €9 and the 24 set €14.
I think the Staedtler Ergosoft is an excellent colored pencil considering its price range. Of course you are not going to be able to do a high quality colored pencil art commission using them, but for the audience they are intended, I really think the Ergosoft are an excellent pencil. I also feel that if the Ergosoft and pencils like them are used to get children started in colored pencil art, as opposed to the free pencils given away with children's coloring books, then we just might see more excellent colored pencil artists grace our galleries. As always you can check out our YouTube review of the Staedtler Ergosoft at this link.