Koh-i-Noor Polycolor Colored Pencils

Box of Koh-I-Nor professional colored pencils

Posted On November 11, 2018

When it comes to artist grade coloured pencils Koh-i-Noor Polycolor is definitely not my first choice but also these are not to be easily dismissed when thinking of buying your first coloured pencil set.

Koh-i-Noor is a Czech company founded in 1790 by Joseph Hardmut producing quality art supplies and office materials in over eighty countries worldwide. I would say the artist-grade Polycolor coloured pencils they produce seem to be of an average quality. Nothing spectacular and breathtaking but also not something I would say not to buy if you are with a limited budget or just starting out in the artistic drawing.

Basic characteristics

The overall look of the Polycolor pencil is very satisfying. Pencils are About 7 inches long, they come already sharpened in the package, they have 3.8mm wide oil-based water-resistant leads which are wrapped in quality California cedar casings. The shape of the barrel is hexagonal which makes the pencils very pleasant to use, they lay nicely in the hand.

The colours on the pencils are the almost exact match of the colours what you get when you use them on the paper although some might be a bit different so my advice to you would be to make your own colour chart.

On the pencil itself, you will see the name of the company in gold letters, brand name and the number of the colour which helps you to easily replace any of the pencils from the set when needed.

It would be nice if the writing on the pencil contained the actual name of the colour because it would be much easier using them. The bottom part of each pencil also has a gold finish which gives them a nice classy look. Polycolor coloured pencils come in several different sets and they do offer very nice packaging options.

Open box of Koh-I -Nor colored pencils


Sets available on the market are set of 12, 24, 36, 48, and 72 pencils. You can purchase the pencils in tin casings which are great because they protect the pencils from damaging, nice classy retro casing,  modern scroll pencil case which is very practical for the outdoor drawing, cardboard and wooden casing.

Sets could go to much more colours because there are two different sets of pencils of which most colours are not included in any of the sets, set of greys and set of browns. Both sets contain 12 pencils and there are just a few of each in the biggest set they produce the 72 pieces one.

There are three different 24 pieces sets on the market one with colours for portrait drawing, one for landscapes and one with random colours. Also, many of the colours included in sets tend to look almost the same. There are a couple of blues and a couple of purples that leave almost the same colour trace on the paper so at the end you get even fewer colours then you bought.

It would be really nice if they would include all the colours in Polycolor series into one big set because most of the artist prefer buying the biggest set available when it comes to colours.


While I was growing up these were my personal favourite,  the best coloured pencils ever. But in time the criteria grows and you learn what else do you need in what you use. Drawing with these is a nice experience until you try other pencils of same art grade quality. Again, I am not saying you should dismiss them entirely without giving them a try, we are all different and different things suit us.

There is nothing really wrong with these they are a strong average I am just pointing out the fact that you can get better pencils for a reasonable price.

Lead in the pencils is 3.8mm oil based. You may find some reviews telling you different but what says on the box of the pencils is what matters, I am sure that manufactures at the end know the best what they used for the colours.

The confusion comes probably because of the mentioning of special oils which are used to make the lead water*resistant, but the actual pigments used for the Koh-i-Noor Polycolor pencils are bound with oil which means leads are oil based, and apart from some reviews I really never seen expression wax-based tied to Polycolor on any of the pencil cases.

When used they do seem more similar to Prismacolor which are wax-based, then to Polychromos which are oil based. They leave a nice creamy trace on the paper. Pigments used for these are really incredible. There are many nice bright pure colours in the Polycolor series.

Some of the pencils in the set tend to be creamier than the others, but still, I did not notice that they break any easier than the others even when used a bit rougher. The California Cedar casing and good quality of the leads allow you to sharpen them to a very thin point which makes them ideal for drawing small precise details.

Also, the leads do not break as much as the ones of Prismacolor which means these are durable so you really get your moneys worth with them. Polycolor pencils don’t blend as good as Prismacolor but still not too bad so I would not say that is a downside.

They do tend to bloom after too many layers are used, in my case that was five, but this also can be fixed if you use colour solvent while working with these, if you remove the residue of pigment on the added layers before you add new ones and if you use a rougher drawing paper.

I would not say these are good for covering large surfaces because it really takes you ages to do it which is a bit frustrating for more temperament artists but they do perform nicely when used for doing detailed work over already added colours with softer pencils.

When it comes to resistance to light you can get a nice detailed chart and simply pick those that satisfy your criteria but overall I would say they are as good as any. Price of the Koh-i-Noor Polycolor is more than competitive on the market of artist grade pencils and when it comes to that you get what you pay for.

Pros and cons


  • Excellent pigments
  • Good resistance to light
  • Nice creamy lead
  • Very good price


  • Not enough colours
  • The similarity of many blues and purples
  • Blending is not that good

Overall conclusion

All in all, Polycolors are not that bad nor are they that good but considering the price I would definitely recommend them for those who are just beginning to draw. If you have any questions regarding the subject please leave them below and I will be happy to answer.

Written by Magdalena

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