Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Colored Pencil Test

I recently decided to switch colored pencil brands for my art class, as I'm not entirely happy with what I've been using with students over the past several years. Admittedly, my current choice was made based on price, and not necessarily on quality. The pencils broke often, and the boldness of the color was lacking, despite what the package said.

I tried having students use drawing boards for smoother results, but the pigment and quality varied from pencil to pencil in the same set. Some students were getting solid, bold color, and others were not.

I felt apprehensive about purchasing the class set of a different brand without knowing anything about their performance. My solution was to buy sets of 12 colors, of certain brands (student grade) that also offered class packs.

I chose to analyze 5 categories that I felt were most important in evaluating a colored pencil for use in the middle school classroom. The 5 categories are, Shape, Color, Crumble or Flake, Boldness, and Hardness. 

I tested each pencil on 70# White Sulphite Paper using Red, Blue, Yellow, & Black, as they are common in all sets.

Here is my assessment of each:

School Smart   $1.79  
These pencils created a dull mark that was not solid or bold. The pencils flaked while drawing, were somewhat hard, and left a poor mark.

PRANG   $2.39
Similar to the School Smart pencils, these created dull color that was somewhat transparent. This set also flaked while drawing, were somewhat hard, and left a poor mark.

REEVES   $5.99
Although none of these pencils are labeled with the color name, the color applied was bold, bright, and opaque on the paper. They did not flake or break down when using them. They have a medium softness that made me feel in control of the color application. The color was vivid and stood out in relation to the other pencils I tested.

SAX   $8.69
These pencils created an area of vivid color but flaked more than any pencil I tested. They are soft, and easily made a solid area of consistent, bright color.

Crayola   $2.89
Despite the claim on the box for bold, intense color, these pencils created an average mark by comparison. They are soft with a moderate amount of flaking, and need to be sharpened often.

Colored Pencil Test Results

Final Assessment: 
Overall, for the price range I tested (student grade), the REEVES pencils performed the best due to their application of consistent, bold color, without flaking. The SAX pencils also performed well, but flaked quite a bit, leading me to believe they would need to be sharpened often, would get used up quickly, and would leave a messier page. The other pencils did not perform at a level that I felt would suitably assist my students in creating their best work.

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