Tombow 1500 Colored Pencil Review
Tombow 1500 Colored Pencil Review
Quite a while ago I added a review of the Tombow Irojiten Colored Pencils to the Art Gear Guide, or as it was known back then, “Coloured Pencil Reviews”. this is a review of another pencil from the Japanese masters at Tombow and we will take a look into how different the Tombow 1500 are to the Irojiten.
For many colored pencil artists, regardless of whether or not they loved the Tombow Irojiten, they still purchased them on account of their unique packaging. Of course it goes without saying that with art supplies, the packaging has absolutely no impact on how they perform, never the less, the Irojiten colored pencils struck a cord with artists and
Tombow 1500 Colored Pencil Characteristics
The Tombow 1500 colored pencils are incredibly light in the hand, I know that most colored pencil barrels are made from Californian Cedar wood, which is a good quality material and gives a little bit of weight to the pencil overall. However, I cant however find a definitive account of the material used to make the barrels, which makes me think it could be something else given it’s incredibly lightweight feel.
The barrel of the Tombow 1500 is 7.2mm in diameter, which is pretty average for a colored pencil, sporting a 3.2mm core or gorgeously rich pigment. The entirety of the barrels are painted the same color as the core pigment, this of course makes pigment selection for the artists visually very easy.
With regards to information printed along the barrel, the first piece of print in gold leaf is either “Homo Graph” or Mono Graph” I am personally finding it difficult to clearly identify this on the barrels. Following this is printed simply “Color Pencil” and then the unmistakably recognisable Tombow logo of the Dragonfly and the “Tombow” name. Finally on this side of the barrel is the number 1500, correlating to the actual brand of this Tombow pencil.
On the opposite side of the barrel is printed the pigment name, however, there is a difference with this pigment identification. Only artists of Japanese origin or language experts will make out the pigment name given the script being in Japanese. Although non Japanese speaking people will not understand the pigment name, on the inside lid of the Tombow 1500 tins, there is a very clear chart depicting the Japanese print with the English translation beside it. So the artist can visually locate the same script on their barrel to that on the inside lid and discover the pigment name. I guess the only downside to this is visually impaired people will perhaps find it difficult to make out both the barrel print and inside tin lid print. If this is the case, it may be worth your while making a color chart swatch and get someone to help you locate the English translation of the pigment and write that name on the swatch you make for future identification purposes.
Following the Japanese pigment script on the barrel is a number which corresponds to the open stock value of the pencils, however, at the time of writing this review I have yet to locate open stock pencils on Amazon UK, but I will discuss this further into the review.
Tombow 1500 Colored Pencil Performance
As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, I have reviewed the Tombow Irojiten, which as an actual colored pencil tool for artists, was not a very well loved pencil, due to a light pigment application and a very hard core. The Tombow 1500 is a very different pencil.
The Tombow 1500 colored pencil is classified as a Wax based pencil, however, this is yet another pencil which demonstrates my own personal dislike to this classification of Wax and Oil based pencils. As soon as one mentions that a colored pencils is wax based, most people automatically assume the core to be soft and oil based pencils the cores to be hard. However this is of course not the case due to the many variations of wax used in pencils, the various baking methods and also binding agents used.
The core is harder than one would expect a wax pencil to be, however, as soon as you apply the pigment to the paper, you will start to notice the traits of a wax pencil. The application is smooth and consistent, when you apply pressure to the pencil and release a heavy application of pigment, there is a slight level of bloom but nothing serious at all.
The layering ability of the pencil is really impressive, I tried this on various different paper types and the paper I found to display the best outcomes was the Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Plate and the Canson Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper. I also completed some art with the Tombow 1500 colored pencils and they were used in conjunction with alcohol markers, thus displaying the ability of the pencil to work well with other mediums.
I also mention earlier about the material used for the barrel of the Tombow 1500, most colored pencil barrels are made from Californian Cedar wood, but I am unable to find the makeup of this barrel. Never the less, sharpening the pencils was easy and effortless. Of the 36 pencils I had, I sharpened every one of them at least once and approximately 20 of them multiple times; not once did a barrel split or chip or a core fall out or snap.
As always I have added some images of the Tombow 1500 colored pencils swatched so you can see the full range of pigments on paper. I have added the pigment names below the actual swatched images as well as an image of the Tombow 1500 pencils on black paper. Adding this test gives artists and colored pencil enthusiasts alike an indication as to how the pigments will perform on dark paper.
Tombow 1500 Colored Pencil Sets Available
this is were things go down hill slightly for the Tombow 1500 colored pencils, I have really enjoyed testing and using the pencils and they performed beautifully on the art work I created. However, the only sets available for the Tombow 1500 is a 12 set, 24 set and 36 set. I have tried to contact Tombow to find out if they have any future plans to extend the range, but as of yet I have not heard back from them, which given the time of year, I am not surprised (Christmas 2018)
There are also some sets available that also include a pencil wrap, basically gift sets but nothing that extends the number of pencils available. It is only because I have enjoyed the pencils so much that I personally would love to see at the very least a maximum largest set of 72.
Tombow 1500 Colored Pencil Pricing
Most people I spoke to about the Tombow Irojiten pencils, told me that as far as they were concerned, the Irojiten were extremely over priced, I really do not think this will be the general consensus for the Tombow 1500.
Here in the UK, the Tombow 1500 Colored Pencil sets will cost you the following, for the set of 12 Tombow 1500 colored pencils you will pay £13.96, the 24 set will cost you £23 and the largest set of 36 Tombow 1500 colored pencils will cost you £29.90
For my wonderful American artist friends, you will have to pay the following for the Tombow 1500 colored pencils, for the 12 set you will pay $9.79 for the 24 set you will pay $16 and for the largest set of 36 Tombow 1500 colored pencils you will have to pay $19.00
For our colored pencil artist friends in Europe, the prices of the Tombow 1500 colored pencils range from the following; for the 12 set of Tombow 1500 you will pay $14.10, for the 24 set at the time of writing this review I was unable to locate prices and for the largest 36 set of Tombow 1500 colored pencils you will pay €38.25
For any sets I was unable to locate prices or add links for, I will continue to search and as soon as they become available I will of course update the review.
Tombow 1500 Colored Pencil Lightfast Information
According to the Tombow USA web site, the Tombow 1500 colored pencils are artist grade wax based pencils, which is not a claim I personally dispute. I have tried to locate an official lightfast rating for the pencils but have been unable to do so, there are lightfast tests on the internet if you look hard enough, but these tests have been conducted unofficially by fellow artists, but when it comes to reviews I must only consider results from official sources
I know there are people who would say that if the pencils do not meet the highest lightfast rating, then they cannot be classed as artist grade pencils. This is a topic and debate that I have given a lot of thought and consideration to and I am unsure as to whether or not I’m in total agreement with, however, this is perhaps an article for another day that will get a polite and professional debate going.
Tombow 1500 Colored Pencil Conclusion
I really enjoyed using the Tombow 1500 Colored Pencils, they ticked a lot of the boxes that a colored pencil enthusiast will look for in a pencil, with the exception of good lightfast ratings. I tried a few papers as I always do for my reviews and as with every colored pencil, one or two papers did not bring out the best of the 1500 pencils.
I also tried the pencils in two adult coloring books that I have kept for the soul purpose of review testing and they performed really quite well. Given that the Tombow 1500 colored pencils only extend to a 36 set and the absence of lightfast testing, I would not recommend the pencils to be used for a commission piece or a competition piece with certain criteria to meet. However, for colorists, crafters and colored pencil artists like myself who just draw for myself, the Tombow 1500 is an excellent choice. I am also taking heavily into consideration the pricing of the pencils, if they had of been sold at a similar price point to the Irojiten, I think this would be a very different conclusion.
To watch my real time YouTube video review of the Tombow 1500 colored pencils you can click the link, if you would like to watch the speed drawing of the artwork performed with the pencils you can follow this link. Alternatively if you would just like to take a look at some images of the art work at various stages of completion, simply follow the link.